as reviewed by Skylaire Alfvegren
If this ridiculous romp were being given a big-budget push, there's no doubt Jerry Falwell and his asinine Moral Majority would flog it with the same hypocritical zeal they applied to Tinky Winky. Cross your little fingers that suburban Bible-thumpers aren't hip to But I'm A Cheerleader, because it's in the boonies that this freaky fairy tale will find its audience.
Homosexuality. It's best corrected before college. Squeaky clean Megan (Natasha Lyonne) thinks the fuzzy feelings she has for her fellow cheerleaders are normal until her friends and family stage an "intervention" and ship her off to a rehabilitation center for queer teens.
Under the direction of operator Mary (Cathy Moriarty, as a cinematic sister to Mary Woronov's Rock N' Roll High School principal), the naive, blond-tressed Megan refuses to admit she's a lesbian until the taunts of sneering tomboy Graham (Clea DuVall) sink in. While pondering her true nature (and the wrath of her picture perfect Christian parents), Megan and the other kids undergo a "five step recovery process" which includes family therapy and cockamamie heterosexual identity exercises. In front of surreal, monochromatic backdrops, the boys flounce under cars and on football fields while the girls change diapers and scrub linoleum.
Obviously inspired by Welcome to the Dollhouse, Heavenly Creatures and the complete works of John Waters, first-time director Jamie Babbit has assembled a stellar cast (including Waters' star Mink Stole, Creatures' Melanie Lynskey, Bud Cort and RuPaul Charles as a not-quite rehabilitated counselor), although she forgets to direct them most of the time. But her directorial short-comings are canceled out by Lyonne's perfect sweetness, as well as the very individual personalities of the other campers.
But I'm A Cheerleader has a message. But it's not to convince impressionable youngsters to hop the lavender fence. (After all, it's religious zealots that recruit, not homosexuals.) You are who you are, and no one can change that. (But if you're a cute teenage girl confused about her sexuality, feel free to drop me a line here at iFuse.)