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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

PARTNER(S) -- movie review by porfle

(NOTE: This review originally appeared online at in 2006.)

I've watched four new movies this past week, and the only one I really liked was -- believe it or not -- the "romantic comedy."  I know, I can't believe it, either.  Judging from the DVD cover, I thought PARTNER(S) (2005) would be nauseating, but it turned out to be pretty funny.

Dave (Jay Harrington) just broke up his girlfriend because she took a bath ("She's disgusting!  She just lies around in her own filth...yecch!") and moved in with his gay pal, Christopher (Michael Ian Black, from all those VH1 "I Love The 60s-90s" things).  He runs into Christopher's sexy neighbor, Lucy (Brooke Langton, SWINGERS) in the hallway, and -- shockingly -- they don't "meet cute"!  This movie's off to a good start already.  Trouble is, though, she thinks Dave's gay.

Meanwhile, the law firm Dave works for has an opening for a partner, and Dave will be competing against the resident witch, Katherine (Julie Bowen, HAPPY GILMORE).  He's afraid she has the edge since the firm doesn't have any females in that position, until a thought strikes him -- they don't have any gays, either.  So Dave decides to come out of the closet. 

Katherine doesn't believe it for a second -- after all, she and Dave actually had sex once -- but everyone else is convinced, and Dave lands an important case helping a big company fight a discrimination lawsuit brought by a man who claims he was fired for being gay.  Coincidentally, the company is owned by Lucy's father, and she's an executive.  And they both think Dave's the perfect lawyer for the job since he's gay, even though he really isn't.

With Christopher's help, Dave fine-tunes his gayness.  He learns about tops and bottoms, scooping out your bagel ("carbs are the enemy"), and the difference between being in shape and being in "gay shape."  But Katherine makes it her business to expose him, while stealing the big case and the partnership away from him at the same time. 

This is the kind of "romantic comedy" I can go for -- it's intelligent without being self-conscious about it, it's full of gay humor without being either grossly un-PC or having a preachy, pro-gay axe to grind, and it doesn't let the "romantic" get in the way of the "comedy."  As you probably guessed, Dave and Lucy fall in love, giving rise to all the predictable complications inherent in such a situation, but this is peripheral to the rest of the proceedings and refreshingly devoid of cuteness.  

Although it isn't an all-out screwball comedy (don't expect LA CAGE AUX FOLLES II) or a slapstick farce (the Farrelly Brothers might've had a field day with this premise, but it would've been an entirely different movie), PARTNER(S) has a droll, understated sense of humor with an abundance of funny dialogue in place of pratfalls and goofy doubletakes.  Here's Dave's two assistants discussing his recent admission:

"I've been thinking about it, man -- the signs were everywhere!  You remember how, during the Olympics, how into figure-skating he got?  And he knew all the names of the jumps and everything?  He was like 'Oh, that's a mistake...that was only a double skow-cow, and' remember that?"
"That...wasn't Dave.  That was me."
"Oh.  I didn't mean --"
"And for the last time, it's SOW cow.  SOW...COW."

And Dave's boss (Saul Rubinek of TRUE ROMANCE and UNFORGIVEN) anxiously confides to his wife as they wait for Dave and Christopher to join them at dinner:

"I don't think I've ever had dinner...with gay people before."
"You probably just didn't realize it, darling."
"Oh right, right...Edward Banks.  What am I thinking?  Edward Banks is gay, and I've had dinner with him plenty of times."
"Edward Banks isn't gay, darling.  He's just British."

The entire cast is fine, especially Julie Bowen -- her deft underplaying as cast-iron bitch Katherine makes the character funnier.  Wendel Meldrum (the boss' wife, Sandy) you may recognize as Kramer's "low-talker" girlfriend from the "Puffy Shirt" episode of "Seinfeld."  Jay Paulson and Josh Cooke, as Dave's assistants, provide a lot of the funniest moments as they solemnly discuss the mysteries of gayness.  Michael Ian Black's Christopher is a believable gay character devoid of the usual prissy schtick.  And Jay Harrington as Dave comes off well just by playing it straight -- so to speak.

PARTNER(S) isn't hilarious and doesn't move at a breakneck pace, but it makes the most of its premise without having a bunch of boa-bedecked drag queens flouncing around in tight skirts and skyscraper heels.  And if you're in the right mood, you should have a gay old time watching it.

Buy it at


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