Whenever you see “poignant comedy” in online movie summaries, you should be concerned. Some of the best comedies in contemporary cinema are shameless attacks on the moral fabric of society, pushing our boundaries by redefining the very notion of what we perceive to be funny.
That’s why poignant as an adjective is so problematic. It usually indicates the exact opposite of comedy, as seen in American writer-director James Vasquez’s Ready? Ok!
This movie follows a young, single mother’s struggle to understand and accept her pre-teen son’s desire to join his Catholic school’s cheer squad. This newfound passion, combined with his interest in cross-dressing and dolls, leads her to believe that he may grow up to be a homosexual.
She is also trying to come to terms with her absentee father’s death and the return of her wandering salesman brother. All of this takes place in Normal Heights, a community that, as you would expect, is less than receptive to this mother’s troubles.
Don’t let the peppy, opening cheer sequence to Ready? Ok! fool you. This is a family drama. Although this movie has all the right elements for a campy satirical romp, the dialogue and cinematography works against the situational nature of the comedy.
Vasquez’s primary experience comes from off-Broadway theatre, including Shakespearian festivals. This is particularly noticeable in character dialogue, which seems either too convenient or too contrived to be believable. There are also a number of extremely long monologues that bog down the plot, which again gives a sense that you are watching the film version of a stage play.
Vasquez’s cinematography is also agonizing at times. Scenes almost always begin with a close up shot of characters with little variation in camera angles or camera position. The director also relies too heavily on black screen fade outs to move the plot forward in time.
The strength in this film is its cast. Carrie Preston’s (Transamerica) turn as the mother shows how a great actress can help salvage a questionable script. Michael Preston (Lost) also brings a lot of fun to this film as the gay neighbour of mother and son. Preston is a fairy godmother and plays his part marvellously.
Ready? OK! is perfect for anyone who is looking to satisfy their inner child or for younger teen audiences.