DVD Review - Walk a Mile in My Pradas

Nathaniel Marston (far left) and
Tom Archdeacon (far right)
Tony Parisi is a manly man. He sometimes acts like an over-grown frat boy or an east coast wise guy, but he's certainly tough and rough and unquestionably heterosexual, the straightest straight man you'll find. You know so because he doesn't do women's work like cooking and cleaning but more so because he's extremely homophobic and not homophobic in the way that might lead you to think "the lady doth protest too much" but homophobic in the way that he literally doesn't like gay people. He doesn't like the way they talk, the way they walk, and the sight of two men kissing certainly makes him want to vomit.

His homophobia is put to the test when his boss, Joe Bergers, played by Tom Arnold, hires him to work a construction job that's designed by a gay man at a house owned by another gay man. Tony's way of dealing is throwing jokes at that gay designer named Steve Morris, played by Tom Archdeacon. Each joke that Tony throws is increasingly more hurtful, and increasingly more insensitive. Things come to a boil when Tony encounters Steve and his boyfriend Michael at Joe's Christmas party.

What follows would lead you to believe that director Joey Sylvester is going to deliver yet another "body swap" movie not unlike Freaky Friday or more recently The Change-Up starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. Even based on the title, you might assume that Tony and Steve are going to switch skins and Tony is going to literally walk a mile in Steve's Prada shoes and vice versa.

Yet, screenwriters Rick Karatas and Tom Archdeacon, the same guy who plays Steve, do something that I've only seen utilized one other time. Filmmaker Tom Gustafson's Were the World Mine (2008) had its main character use a love potion, inspired from a Shakespearean play, to transform a homophobic rugby player into a man lusting after another man. Here, it's not a potion but instead a glowing, angel ornament.

Like Zoltar in Big (1988) or Jambi from Pee-wee's Playhouse, the angel ornament grants wishes, and a heated wish turns Tony totally gay. How do we know Tony has turned gay? The writers employ some stereotypical tactics. Tony's change in behavior is actually a salad works of gay clichés. Conversely, Steve espouses and embraces every single heterosexual cliché, as he journeys from gay to straight.

As such, the actions of the characters after the exchange of sexual orientations aren't necessarily funny as they are a series of awkward and possibly embarrassing situations. This may or may not be a bad thing because it reminded me in various ways of Bridesmaids, starring Kristen Wiig.

Bridesmaids built itself on awkward and embarrassing situations, but those situations were more drawn out and raunchy. Walk a Mile in My Pradas appears not to be as bold, not willing to go as far. Yet, I couldn't help but keep thinking about Bridesmaids as I watched this movie and this is probably due to the presence of Laura, played by Lindsay Hollister. Hollister who hits a lot of the same notes that Melissa McCarthy did. Laura is in fact an echo of McCarthy's character in Bridesmaids.

The real scene stealer though is Tom Arnold who even in his few moments here is by far the funniest person on screen. Nathaniel Marston, a former soap stud who stars as Tony, does get some hilarious one-liners, but Arnold cracked me up without even having to speak. His mannerisms or even side-glances had me giggling.

The goal ultimately is to teach Tony to be more tolerant or understanding or plain nice toward gay people, which the filmmakers predictably if not heartily do, but what they stumble across is a more intriguing idea. Both Tony and Steve are in relationships at the time they switch sexualities. The dilemma, especially for Tony who is about to marry his British girlfriend, Sarah, is whether or not a person can love and even wed a person to whom they're not sexually attracted.

The obvious answer is no, so says the significant others, Sarah and even Michael. Yet, it's not as if both Tony and Steve lose their minds or forget the lives they had with their respective partners. Essentially, their sexual organs don't respond the same. Being gay, therefore, is reduced to residing in that one organ, whereas some might argue that being gay mainly resides north, in the heart. Some might argue that being gay is about who you love. Both guys in this situation never have their heart orientations change. If Tony never stopped loving or wanting to be Sarah, is he truly gay?

That's the issue running underneath the surface of this movie. It's not dealt with any depth, but I think the emotional predicament of it comes through, more so with Marston than with Archdeacon, but his is still an interesting performance. Even though I think it works on many more levels, this is a gay version of The Change-Up, only far less gross.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended 14 and Up.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 27 mins.
Buy "Walk a Mile in My Pradas"

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