Transamerica

Writer-director Duncan Taylor's debut feature is a flawed but nevertheless endearing father-son road trip with a distinctive twist: Dad is a pre-op transsexual who's one cut away from becoming a woman, while sonny boy is a crank-addicted, underage male prostitute who has no idea that the "woman" behind the wheel is actually his father. Having finally saved...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Writer-director Duncan Taylor's debut feature is a flawed but nevertheless endearing father-son road trip with a distinctive twist: Dad is a pre-op transsexual who's one cut away from becoming a woman, while sonny boy is a crank-addicted, underage male prostitute who has no idea that the "woman" behind the wheel is actually his father. Having finally saved enough money working two jobs in L.A., cross-dressing, estrogen-enhanced Stanley Chopak (Desperate Housewives' wonderful Felicity Huffman) is finally about to fulfill his dream of becoming the person he's always felt he is inside: Bree Osborne. Stanley/Bree's carefully laid plans, however, go awry when Bree receives a collect call from a New York City correctional facility where a 17-year-old hustler named Toby (Kevin Zegers) is being held for drug possession. Suddenly realizing that Stanley Chopak's heterosexual one-night stand back in college wasn't so fruitless after all, Bree nevertheless refuses to take the call: Nothing is going to keep her from her date with a gender-reassignment surgeon. Alarmed that so loose a thread should be left dangling before the operation, Bree's therapist, Margaret (Elizabeth Pena), refuses to sign the necessary consent form until Bree resolves the matter. Bree reluctantly agrees to fly to New York and deal with Toby — which basically amounts to sticking him with his nearest living relative — but has no intention of telling Toby that she's his father, or even that she's a he. Posing as a missionary from a Christian church group ("Our Lady of the Potential Father"), Bree posts bail and takes Toby to lunch. Over a burger and fries, Toby is surprisingly, defiantly honest: He turns tricks, likes drugs and wants to move to L.A. and star in movies — porn movies. And when Toby tells Bree that his mother's dead but he's got a stepfather in some tiny Kentucky backwater, Bree rethinks her plans. Promising to drive him to L.A., she'll instead drop him off in Kentucky. Nothing, however, can prepare her for what she finds when they get there, and what begins as a road trip of necessity turns into an emotional journey home for father/mother and son. It's a wonderful premise — even though it's a tad hard to believe that any teenager who's been turning tricks in New York City wouldn't know a transsexual when he sees one — and Bree is wonderfully written. She's smart and strong and steadfast, and Huffman, whose performance defies the very notion of gender based on sex, refuses to allow Bree to ever descend into stereotypes. Tucker's loose script, however, makes a few too many stops along the way for the sake of rim-shot one-liners. They may add a bit more tiger to Bree's tank, but they make this excursion a bit longer than necessary.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Writer-director Duncan Taylor's debut feature is a flawed but nevertheless endearing father-son road trip with a distinctive twist: Dad is a pre-op transsexual who's one cut away from becoming a woman, while sonny boy is a crank-addicted, underage male pro… (more)

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