The “eeww factor” (that grossed out feeling that some people still get when they think of GLBT people) is the single motivation for a myriad of ridiculous explanations to justify why we’re denied acceptance and respect. It is the veil over the eyes of the prejudiced that prevents them from seeing us as their equals.
When was the last time you went “home” for the holidays? If you’re family is anything like mine, your choice has hinged on the fact that you know that the “eeww factor” would rear its head in one way or another (with or without a partner at your side). Well-thought and pre-planned conversation topics are met with awkward silence, and you are never left alone in a room with the children. If this sounds familiar and you happen to also be behind on the bills, consider taking Ethan Mao’s approach this Thanksgiving. Just for kicks!
Asian California boy Ethan Mao is kicked out of the house by his impetuous father who yields to the “eeww factor” after learning of Ethan’s sexuality. Surviving on the streets by hustling puts him on a path that crosses with Remigio’s; a seasoned hustler who takes Ethan under his wing and into his home. In need of money and in search of a keepsake of his deceased mother, Ethan sneaks home while his family is on a Thanksgiving excursion. But when the family returns unexpectedly, Ethan’s repressed anger is unleashed and the cranberry sauce hits the fan.
The exotic cutie in the lead role (Jun Hee Lee) holds his own for a newcomer in a movie that seems rushed. Like many low-budget independents, “Ethan Mao” sacrifices character development by hurrying through scenes with less action, and even some with. The result is a film that is less engaging. The damage done by the beeline is mended though by Julia Nickson-Soul, who you may recognize from the second “Rambo” movie. Her portrayal of Sarah, the wicked step-mom, is both quirky and sinister. Ethan’s relationships with his brother and father are convincing enough. And although the movie doesn’t end the way I would’ve liked, the audience is left with the feeling that their appetite has been satisfied.
Still debating whether or not to face the folks? I say give em a shot…I mean, go ahead. Who knows, something interesting may happen. Worst comes to worst, at least you come away with a free meal, and maybe a few other things! I’m gonna go watch another movie, see ya.
Ethan Mao: C+
(2004, runtime 88 min.)
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