DVD Review - Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!

John Lloyd Young (front), the future Frankie Valli, with
Jai Rodriguez in "Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!"
This film premiered in 2009 at a film festival in Canada. It then played at various film festivals before getting a limited theatrical run, but it ultimately has taken five years to get a DVD release.

There's interest here because the titular character is played by John Lloyd Young, the Broadway actor who is currently starring in the screen adaptation of the same role that made him a name on the New York stage. This is Young's first film role, which he did a half-decade ago. It's now being mass packaged around the same time of Young's second film role, Jersey Boys, also getting a mass release now.

However, this film is less about Young than it is Lainie Kazan (Beaches and My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13). Kazan plays Shirley Hirsch and Rubinek plays Martin Hirsch. They're a middle-age, married couple. They're also Jewish, a fact Shirley keeps reiterating and emphasizing to a point where she's discriminating against other faiths and ethnicities that you'd almost think her racist.

Most films that are about a person coming out and admitting to be gay to friends or family for the first time focus on the gay person and what they're going through. This movie instead focuses on the people who are told this information, specifically the parents. Whereas most movies would side-line Kazan and Rubinek, the directorial debut of Evgeny Afineevsky puts Kazan and Rubinek front and center, each getting the most screen time.

The trajectory traces their ignorance to their son's homosexuality, their denial of it, their resistance and eventually their acceptance and embracing of it. Kazan and Rubinek handle the comedy like pros and take us through this trajectory with a great amount of humor. Given the title and Kazan's character, you expect her to say that titular line, but it is hilarious when she actually delivers it.

Kazan perhaps shines when she's being overly or stereotypically Jewish. Rubinek is perhaps his funniest here when he's tasked to be sexual. There are three different scenes where Rubinek is put into sexual positions. If the circumstances and tone were more serious and realistic, Rubinek could also be believable as a viable sexual partner. Yet, he's also great at comic asides or snide remarks out the side of his mouth.

A quote on the front of the DVD cover calls the movie accurately "a Jewish Mambo Italiano." Émile Gaudreault's Mambo Italiano came out in 2003 and instead of being Jewish, the parents are staunchly and stereotypically Italian. Yes, Afineevsky's film mirrors it, but the problem is the last act of this movie rushes a lot of things that feel contrived and highly artificial.

Saul Rubinek (left) and Lainie Kazan,
the true stars of "Oy Vey! My Son is Gay!"
John Lloyd Young does play Nelson Hirsch and his parents Shirley and Martin are the first people we meet. Nelson is in love with Angelo Ferraro, played by Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). Rodriguez is half Puerto Rican, but Angelo is presumably Italian, which is Rodriguez's other half, ironic given the comparisons to Gaudreault's film. One of the main characters in Gaudreault's film was also named Angelo. Yet, the last act here features the introduction to Angelo's parents and a funny dinner scene between the families.

From that conflict till the end, it feels like a hurried resolution. The filmmakers do so by introducing the idea of Nelson and Angelo wanting to have a baby. This is an idea that literally comes out of nowhere. I get that since this is a movie about the parents, for parents the idea of a grandchild can sometime come out of nowhere, but for a narrative, it only makes things a bit jumbled. The idea of a baby is then used as a way of solving a lot of the issues of the main characters, which might be true to life, but here it comes across as hackneyed and somewhat easy.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and partial nudity (by way of Carmen Electra) and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 31 mins.


Popular Posts