Leave it on the Floor

18 08 2012

Had to run away from the credits of Mosquita y Mari to the Granville 7 in order to catch this movie.

Synopsis: after getting kicked out of his home for being gay, young Brad finds a community and family in an underground group of misfits and outcasts (and dancers).

Super awesome things: what a sassy, sassy movie.  Just from the trailer, I was expecting glam and lots and lots of dancing, but I wasn’t expecting there to be so much attitude and — if I may use this word in the gay context — fierceness.  Almost all the characters have varying degrees of sass and bitchiness, which is really fun to watch.  However, the standout element in this fun, musical flick, is actually the music.  With a cast that is made up of people of colour, what would one expect?  R&B and Rap.  That’s what I thought, anyway.  But the songs range from simple pop songs (“I’m Willing”, sung by the big-voiced Barbie-Q) to a tango (“Don’t Jump Baby”), to an inventive dark, gothic/gangster blend (“This is My Lament”).  In terms of its musicality, Leave it on the Floor has some of the best music I’ve heard amongst all other queer musicals, thanks in part to the surprisingly well-written and creative lyrics (written by the screenwriter Glenn Gaylord himself), and, again, surprising production work.  If there’s one reason to watch this film, it’s for the songs.

Other positive things about this movie are that this is a film with a cast of c0lour, and a pretty good film at that too.  Other films like Find Me are just downright terrible, so it’s good to see that not all films featuring a cast of colour are that bad.  One of the best things about this film is that it doesn’t take itself that seriously — one scene or another is interrupted with a sassy remark, and this keeps the film entertaining and fun.

Not so awesome things: Like with The Intouchables, when you leave the theatre, you’ll be smiling and feel like you watched something really entertaining and cool.  Which is true and not a bad thing.  But upon further thinking, you might realize the film doesn’t delve past anything substantial, and that’s a bit of a disappointment.  Unlike the previous film I saw, Mosquita y Mari, there’s a scene where the more traditional Black community argue with the flashy performers via song (“His Name is Shawn”) — all this during a funeral!  The song builds up and up, expecting a climax of some sort, and then — the dancers and entertainers leave.  That’s it.
The film even gives itself a second chance when Brad’s mother shows up in prison to taunt her son and tell him he’s not welcome (still) in her house.  There’s a look of regret and sadness as she tells him she doesn’t even want her son in her house anyway, but then she disappears too, and it just seems as if the more conservative Black community haven’t learn anything.  I almost wanted them to be witness to the runway shows just so they’d see just how happy and fun their sons, cousins, brothers really are.  But that never happens.

Similarly, what troubles this film from being more than just good is its pacing and its handle on more serious issues like the one mentioned above.  These scenes just don’t come off with authenticity because of the wild, crazy, fun tone set up in the beginning — its as if you watched Glee for a bit while high, and then started watching The Laramie Project.  These scenes don’t work well because we don’t take them seriously.  Hell, I didn’t even take Brad seriously.  The film must have realized this, though, because instead of resolving anything, say for example, the Black community vs. the queer community, or the conflict between Carter vs. Princess, it decides to forgo and sort of resolution and instead skip to the finale where the cast sings and performs the titular song (which, I thought, was a bit of a disappointment because the song itself was a tad empty).

The lesson learned?  You can’t always get along with people, so just sing and dance with your friends and chosen family, apparently.

Good for watching: before going out to a club.  It will make you itch to dance.  And I don’t even like dancing.

Overall: a fun film that unfortunately fails to tackle or comment on real issues.

Grade: B

PS.  Cameron Koa, who plays the underused Duke, is freaking adorable!  I just had to say that.