DVD Review - I Want to Get Married

Back in the fall of 2008, in the lead up to the election of President Barack Obama, residents of California had another choice to make at the ballot box. Residents had to vote on Proposition 8, the initiative to make same-sex marriage illegal. Despite same-sex marriage being recognized for years in that state, the possibility that gay people would have that right taken away was a real threat. Many gay people, therefore, rushed to the altar before the vote because of the grandfather clause that allowed anyone married prior to the vote to stay married.

This rush to get to the altar is the underlying premise of Billy Clift's I Want to Get Married. Paul Roll is a thirty-something gay man in the rush, but most are already in a committed relationship, so the jump into matrimony isn't a far jump for them to make. Paul, unfortunately, at the outset, isn't in a committed relationship. He's isn't in a relationship at all. With only a week left till the Prop 8 vote, the question becomes if Paul will be able to tie the knot with anyone.

There's also another dilemma. Paul is an advertising executive, a more dorky Don Draper. His latest client, which is providing him money that his company desperately needs, is a political group known as The Family, and the Family's chief concern is passing Prop 8 and taking away future gay weddings. The Family is paying Paul to wage a TV commercial and online campaign to that effect. Paul's British, business partner, Terry, objects to the inherent hypocrisy but Paul is hard up for cash and thinks he can get away with it.

Matthew Montgomery stars as Paul Roll. According to Scott Cranin, the programmer for Philadelphia Qfest, one of the biggest LGBT film festivals in the country, Montgomery is "an unheralded superstar in the American independent gay filmmaking scene." Qfest gave Montgomery its 2010 Artistic Achievement Award in Acting, and, as an actor, Montgomery has done a variety of things, but, I Want to Get Married stands as something different.

Paul is what I would describe as a Caucasian Urkel. I'm sure quite a few might recall Steve Urkel from the TV series Family Matters. Like Urkel, Paul has the geeky glasses, the bow tie, the nasally voice, and the speech patterns that almost mimic Jim Parsons' in The Big Bang Theory. Montgomery plays up this Urkel-like shtick. He plays up these quirks and eccentricities, like a character-actor would, which is something he's not done before. It represents a departure for Montgomery, as well as a departure for gay films.

There have been plenty of movies about heterosexual geeks and nerds finding love. One recent example is Napoleon Dynamite (2004), but there haven't been too many movies about gay geeks. The only one that comes to mind is Conrad Boys (2005). It's probably because most independent gay films market themselves on sex appeal, the promise of well-muscled, shirtless and sometimes pants-less boys. Steve Urkel was fun to mock, but watching him have sex is probably not all that bankable.

Matthew Montgomery (left) and
Peter Stickles in "I Want to Get Married"
Peter Stickles co-stars as Jim, the political activist who catches Paul's heart. Stickles said Montgomery pushed for him to be his co-star. A year ago when they were filming this movie, Stickles said he signed up because he liked that this movie wasn't all about sex like your average gay film. Obviously, Stickles was referring to this movie's theme of marriage equality and acceptance of it.

Yet, Stickles said of the four or five days he was on set, he watched Montgomery take a character, which had little description in the screenplay, and create something that perhaps is bankable. From an acting perspective, Stickles said Montgomery's "transformation was incredible and endearing." I would agree, but, looking more broadly in scope, I'd say that what's really incredible and endearing is that Montgomery has given the gay community an unlikely hero, if certainly an unlikely leading man.

As for Stickles, he told me that while this movie ends with an experience that made him feel like he was actually getting hitched, he has no plans on getting married himself. The actor who counts Jaws (1975) as one of his all-time favorite films is set to play the villain in the upcoming sequel to Showgirls. Stickles isn't new to being the bad boy. He played a stalker in Shortbus, the movie for which he's most known. He played a killer in 2 Minutes Later, a thriller made in my hometown of Philadelphia. He even played a vampire in the Here! TV series The Lair.

I Want to Get Married.
Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 55 mins.

Buy "I Want to Get Married"

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