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Almost Normal

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Product Details

Special Features

  • Commentary by director Mark Moody
  • Deleted scenes and outtakes
  • The trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Brad Jenkins (newcomer Andrew Keitch) is a gay man who's just turned 40 and feels very single. He confides his wish to "be normal" to his lifelong best friend Julie (Joan Lauckner), who is urging him to attend his family reunion. Brad ends up going, but feels even worse being with his relatives, who are content with the suburban married pleasures of barbecue and scrabble. A bit tipsy after the party, Brad crashes his car driving home on a back road. When he comes to, he finds himself magically transported back in time. He's a teenager at his old high school, but to Brad's surprise, things have changed radically. Everyone is gay!

Almost Normal describes itself as "Back to the Future meets Peggy Sue Got Married," and that gives you a good idea of what this gay-themed comedy is all about. Like those earlier movies, it's good-natured, amusing, and conventionally mainstream in its storytelling... except, of course, for the fact that it's a low-budget contemporary fantasy intended (more or less exclusively) for a gay audience. It's also the kind of too-eager-to-please comedy (like My Big Fat Greek Wedding) that you'll either love or hate in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but if you make it that far you may find yourself enjoying the movie's low-key charm and easygoing appeal. Granted, some of the acting (by a cast of complete unknowns) is amateurish and some of the dialogue is so bad it's laughable, but the "what if?" scenario yields a few interesting situations, satisfying a fantasy notion that many gay viewers will instantly identify with: What if you could relive your painful high-school days, only this time, instead of being in the ostracized gay minority, you discover that almost everyone is gay, and it's the straight kids who are "abnormal"?! That's the surprise in store for Brad (Andrew Keitsch), a gay, perpetually single 40-year-old teacher who crashes his car, is knocked unconscious, and has a Wizard of Oz-like dream in which he's back in high school, in an all-gay society where same-sex couples have children via sex with "parental partners," gym showers are co-ed, and straight kids are outcasts. It seems like an ideal situation, but Almost Normal has a lesson to teach about growing comfortable and content with one's own sexual identity, regardless of societal expectations. The role-reversal fantasy is treated far too literally, and it's not all that clever to begin with, but writer-director Marc Moody gives it a light spin that's harmless and well-intentioned. Almost Normal is the kind of movie that is typically found on the fringes of lesser-known film festivals, but it's likely to find an appreciative audience on DVD. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

This movie has a lot of heart, comedy, and great acting.
R. Gottfried
I really wish I could be kinder to this movie because I wanted to like it but my vocabulary fails me when I attempt to describe how bad this.
General Pete
The entire crew of "Almost normal" should go to hell to had let it happen and kill all the magic in a blink.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 64 people found the following review helpful By James Morris on November 19, 2005
Format: DVD
An in-depth review of this film must include crucial plot details, so if you don't like "spoilers" please stop reading now. Some reviewers of this film have misinterpreted the writer's vision. Ostensibly a standard gay comedy, Almost Normal would be rather forgettable, if it wasn't also a social satire, designed to illustrate what it's like to be gay in a straight world. As satire, it succeeds very well, and in some ways as brilliantly as one could hope to expect. In spots, the plot is too confusing to produce the intended impact, but I give it an A for effort.

Brad is nice-looking, single, gay, on the cusp of his 40th birthday, and somewhat discontent. He ogles sports jocks when they're not looking, goes on dates with guys who are miles below his desirability level, and frequently argues with his best friend Julie, who is also his sister-in-law. At a party for his parents' 45th wedding anniversary, things have just about hit the boiling point. A reunion with his best high school buddy reminds him that his friend stopped talking to him when he came out. His mother still dreams that he'll find some nice girl, and as he remarks to Julie, sometimes he just wishes that he was "normal". Not that he dislikes being gay, but he is weary of being different from the heterosexuals that surrounded him. As a gay man, I found it easy to identify with this sentiment.

Events at the party annoy him so much that he gets drunk, even though he recently gave up alcohol. Seeking some fun, he slips out of the party and drives to a local gay cruising area, where he crashes his car into a tree. As we suspect (and our suspicions are confirmed much later in the film) much of the remainder of the film is a dream sequence that plays in his mind while he lies unconscious in a hospital.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 6, 2006
Format: DVD
Marc Moody has written and directed a film that is so earnest and reaches so high for making a significant statement that it is difficult not to admire the result. ALMOST NORMAL is so obviously a gay version of 'Back to the Future' by its own admission that it becomes a bit tedious and silly, and when accompanied by low budget and tenuous production values it is a little squeaky in achieving its self-imposed high standards, it comes very close to being a forgettable effort. So why is it so popular? It has spirit!

Brad (J. Andrew Keitch in a fine film debut) is a 40-year-old closeted gay college professor in Nebraska who lives in fear of derision and is frustrated he is unable to live his life in a happy relationship. His good friend Julie (Joan Lauckner) is supportive and encourages Brad to return home for his parent's wedding anniversary. Brad does so reluctantly, finds the usual homophobic atmosphere and in a moment of weakness, drinks too much and has an auto accident. Miraculously, when he awakens, he has the appearance of a handsome high school kid and when he wanders into the world he discovers that there has been a major reversal: now it is normal to be gay and grossly distasteful to be a straight breeder. Even his parents are gay with breeder hosts for procreation purposes. Brad sees reverse discrimination now, is sought after by the high school jock Roland (Tim Hammer), enjoys the freedom of being openly gay, but meets the now new Julie and is strangely attracted to her, having to hide his new 'straight alliance' in a new closet. And the resolution of this new dilemma is the message of the film.

Everything about the idea of the film makes the viewer want to love it, and it is a sweet little diversion of a film with some thinking material about prejudices.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Blake Fraina VINE VOICE on February 12, 2008
Format: DVD
This low budget dramedy is a real odd duck. The premise is an homage to the Kathleen Turner film Peggy Sue Gets Married - a forty-ish college professor (J. Andrew Keitch) has a car accident and wakes up to find himself back in high school but in a world where it's considered normal to be gay and aberrant to be straight. The queer thing (no pun intended) about the story is that, in the bizarro world, where he finally has a shot at the straight jock he'd longed for in the real world, instead he falls for his sister-in-law (Joan Lauckner), who had harbored a secret crush on him in real life. Naturally they're found out, ostracized and he is "straight-bashed," making for plenty of opportunities for indignant speechifying. But all that seemed minor in the scheme of things. The big problem I had with this one is...what exactly is the point? Once a misfit, always a misfit?

There are some affecting performances, particularly Keitch and Lauckner and overall, the production values seem fairly high for an indie. Unfortunately, much of the humour (satirizing homophobia) is a bit tired and a spiel near the end decrying prejudice seemed extremely strident and unnecessary, since one is safe to assume everyone watching the film is probably gay friendly already.

Not awful. Just don't expect too much.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles Henry Blackledge on April 17, 2006
Format: DVD
I saw this film at the verzaubert International Queer Film Festival in Germany last year. This was my second favorite film after Loggerheads. Almost Normal on the surface can be considered a gay, low-budget version of Back to the Future and Peggy Sue got married but upon closer examination, you'll see that it is an excellent social satire that will have you thinking about it long after you watch it. Admittedly some of the acting is amatuerish but I really enjoyed the story.
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