Sunday, December 4, 2016

Just One of the Girls (Michael Keusch, 1993)

Judging by the film's goofy poster (i.e. video box), you would think that Just One of the Girls was going to be yet another puerile slab of frat boy-approved horndog twaddle. Sure, it's got scenes that practically scream frat boy-approved horndog twaddle (a male character in drag hits himself in the nuts with his mop while scoping naked chicks in the girls' shower). But the film, directed by Michael Keusch, has a lot to say about gender identity. Seriously, it does. While the lead character, played by Corey Haim, initially embraces cross-dressing in order to not become a victim of bully-based violence, his decision to do so has far-reaching repercussions. Who should we begin with? Oh, let's start with my favourite character, Kurt Stark (Cameron Bancroft, a good Winnipeg kid). His character not only has the film's most interesting arc, Kurt's the only character with an arc. Think about it. He starts off as your stereotypical bully (a casualty of heterosexual peer pressure if I ever saw one), then he inadvertently falls in love with a cross-dresser (though, I like to think he knew all along that he was in love with a cross-dresser), and eventually... well, I won't spoil what he eventually becomes. But I will say this, it's quite shocking. Yes, shocking. I mean, I don't know if anyone remembers what life was like for gay and transgendered people back in the 1980s and early 90s, but I recall it being quite hostile.

Just for the record, I'm talking about suburban Toronto (the atmosphere was so anti-LGBTQ+, you risked life and limb by simply wearing the colour pink - screw pink, anything that wasn't blue, white or grey could land you a severe beating). And get this, these so-called suburbanites would pack themselves into cars and drive up and down Yonge St. yelling "fags" and "faggot" at random people walking down the street.

Anyway, as I was saying, the evolution of the Kurt character from a thuggish lout to a sensitive, fair-minded champion of love and compassion was a thing of beauty. Personally, I thought Kurt's growth as a human being usurped the novelty of seeing Corey Haim in women's clothes.

And I'm not just saying that because I found Corey Haim's wardrobe choices to be atrocious, I genuinely found Kurt's journey to be much more satisfying in the long run. What's that? Why did I find Corey's wardrobe to be atrocious? I hated the fact that they kept putting Corey in baggy shirts. They made him look like he was wearing football pads. And don't get me started on that bulky wig and those awful cowboy boots.

They're called pumps, Corey. Like, seriously. Someone get this girl some heels, stat.

Not to harp on it, but what's the point of cross-dressing if you don't wear heels? Exactly, there isn't one. It's true, finding heels that are your size can be a bit of a challenge (trust me, I know). But that's no excuse. At the end of the day, I'll just chalk up Corey Haim's multiple drag fails as minor quibbles, as the film itself is still breezy and on the cusp of being funny at times.

And it doesn't hurt that Molly Parker plays a bitchy cheerleader (head cheerleader, no less) and a pre-Jagged Little Pill Alanis Morrisette plays a pop singer named Alanis ("Always too hot never too cold / You make your best shot too hot to hold").

You're probably asking yourself: How does a seemingly straight, cisgender vest enthusiast end up being a gender-bending cheerleader? Well, that's easy. Desperate to attend a school with a kick ass music program, Chris Calder (Corey Haim) tricks his father (Kevin McNulty) into signing the registration form. Only problem being, a bully named Kurt is gunning for Chris. Unable to attend school of his dreams, Chris decides trick Kurt by dressing in women's clothes.

Wait, why doesn't Chris simply enter the school through the back or one of the many side doors? I mean, Kurt and his goons can't be everywhere at once.

Actually, I think the reason Chris doesn't use the back and/or side door is because he secretly wants to wear women's clothes. And this whole Kurt situation gives him the perfect excuse. In addition, it allows him to get close to Marie Stark (Nicole Eggert), the girl he has a crush on. Of course, the plan hits a bit of a snag when Kurt falls for the girl version of Chris, or "Chrissy," as he likes to call him/her. Not to mention, the whole Marie thing is bound to backfire. How long can Chris keep his gaff in place before Marie finds out he's a dude? (What's a gaff?) It's a device some women use to tuck their dick and balls between their legs in order to hide their junk-bulge. I've read that you can make your own gaff by simply using the waistband of a pair of pantyhose and by cutting the top piece off a sock... Search the YouTube by typing in "How to tuck" for more info.

Surprisingly, the whole to tuck or not to tuck issue isn't raised once during the course of this movie, which was filmed, by the way, in Vancouver, B.C. (hence the surplus of Canadian actors, Haim and Bancroft included). Now, I'm not saying that this is a flaw or anything like that (the lack of gaff humour, not the fact that the film was shot in Vancouver thing). It just seemed like a missed opportunity, as I'm sure a ton of tuck-related comical situations could have been mined. Oh, well.

Speaking of which, the situation Chris' father is put in is definitely comical. First he tries to teach his son to box, then he finds out he might be gay, after that he learns that he's a cross-dresser. Talk about your emotional roller-coaster.

I think that just about covers everything... Hold on. Did I mention that there's a ton of first-rate female nudity? Including shots of bush? I think I did... But anyway, if you're a guy or girl who digs naked women, you'll appreciate these scenes. Oh, the film's dance/housey soundtrack (which includes three Alanis songs) is pretty club/gay-friendly.


  1. just mentioned you and cafe flesh, come on over

  2. I can't believe that I've heard of this one before. Maybe because I avoid all things Corey Haim. I can't wait to get this movie now. Plus Molly freaking Parker. I love her. By the way, that thing you said about car loads of suburbanites driving down Younge St yelling out "faggot" as they drove past, happened to me too but on Church St. and in 2008.

    1. I guess I was being a tad naive by thinking that things like that didn't happen anymore. Church St.?!? 2008?!? Ugh.