Sweet and sour tale of tolerance
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, December 14, 2012
“Any Day Now” seeks to remind those who care about tolerance and equality just how far we’ve come, and how far we have left to go. Set in 1979, it’s the story of a same-sex couple who fight bigotry and legal bias to retain custody of an abandoned teenage boy with Down syndrome who unexpectedly comes into their lives.
The sweet but depressing tale is buoyed by nice performances, especially by Alan Cumming as Rudy, a down-on-his luck drag performer and aspiring singer who quickly steps into the role of surrogate father after his neighbor, the child’s mother (Jamie Anne Allman), is arrested for drugs and prostitution. There are a couple of touching scenes where Cumming gets to express Rudy’s emotions in song instead of speechifying. That’s a nice fit for the actor, who is a fine vocalist.
As Rudy’s boyfriend, Paul, Garret Dillahunt is somewhat wooden, but the actor’s stiffness actually works for his character, a closeted lawyer who spearheads the couple’s battle for legal guardianship of Marco (Isaac Leyva).
For the most part, “Any Day Now” navigates a course between melodrama and “Mr. Mom”-style comedy. Rudy and Paul are initially at a bit of a loss over what to feed Marco, whose favorite food -- make that the only thing he’ll eat -- seems to be doughnuts. But while the comedy is pretty much kept in check, the film is sometimes swamped by its own tears.
“Is my mommy coming back?” asks Marco during a lumpy-throated bedtime-story session with Rudy. In response to Rudy’s question about what kind of stories Marco wants to hear, the boy says, “I like happy ending.”
If you do, too, you might want to think twice about this film. “Any Day Now” is a two-hankie weeper.
At its heart, it’s a well-meaning film. But the direction by Travis Fine (who wrote the script with George Arthur Bloom) is unnecessarily heavy-handed, when a light touch would serve its message better.
To be sure, homophobia in 1979 was more naked and widespread than it is today. But Chris Mulkey plays Paul’s boss -- a conniving snake who not only engineers Paul’s dismissal from the district attorney’s office, but also the wildly premature release of Marco’s dangerously screwed-up mother -- with a reptilian malevolence that comes across as cartoonish.
The film’s title suggests the wry irony of hindsight: We’ve come a long way, baby, but we’re not there yet. “Any Day Now” could do with a little more of that astringent humor and a little less sap.
Contains sexual dialogue, brief sensuality, obscenity and drug use.