Friday, November 08, 2013

"Birthday Cake" (the feature following the short "Groom's Cake") really does show us a "modern family"

The long short “Groom’s Cake” (40 minutes) followed by the feature “Birthday Cake” (80 minutes), both by Chad Darnell, tell us, mostly in mockumentary style – somewhat exaggerated from “Modern Family” – the story of two gay men who, in the last days of California’s Proposition 8, decide to adopt a baby, and then a year later, give the child her first birthday party. Of course, they have to tell their families that they’re going to “have” a baby first. 
The short is more “documentary” in style than the feature.  The humor in the characters – the macho, lean and muscular  actor Steve James (Rib Hillis) and his lover Daniel Ferguson, a bit softer and smoother in appearance, played by Chad himself. Chad has a tendency toward a nervous stomach in this sequence. I’ve known married men with that issue They get interviewed by a social worker (Sarah Beth Basak) and make mincemeat of it – all three of them.  They’ll name the kid Sam, but practicality forced Chad to use a girl for the followup film.   So, call her Sami (like in “Days of our Lives”).

The feature brings together a whole slew of extended family, workers and friends for dinners and gatherings in the couple’s Valley home (it seems to be near the “Traffic Jam” intersection of the 405 and 101).  There are lots of verbal jabs; at one point, Steve’s mother says to him that if he is going to be gay, at least he could pick a visibly more manly lover.  But soon the clowns are hired and the Valley toddlers show up for the birthday party.  There is the abuse of an energy drink which can spice up a punch, and then the kids and adults go wild.  Things happen, with the various outputs of body orifices (including at least one afterbirth).  In the end, the kids still are all right, and the two lovers give us an epilogue. Brian Nolan looks a little bit young to be a practicing pediatrician.

The script makes some odd references to other movies (even “The Box”), and there is a chocolate birthday cake made in the form of a baby that recalls to me “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”.  The cake becomes the butt of literal jokes, mildly racy, with references to what some people are missing.  There’s reference to an obscure TV series called “The Cliff”. 
I attended a screening sponsored by Reel Affirmations at the Jewish Community Center in  Washington DC.  The director Chad was present for a QA, and there was a champagne reception.

The official site is here.
Chad says that the feature was not selected for Outfest but was for most other LGBT film festivals. It will be distributed by Artizical.   

1 comment:

Chad Darnell said...

Thank you!!