FILM: Breakfast with Scot

New movie tackles masculinity and gender roles

It’s high time for queer family movies. Enter Breakfast with Scot, a loveable flick that takes an unashamed look at the inner namby-pamby in us all. Eric (Tom Cavanagh) is a former hockey pro who enjoys a quiet closeted life with his partner Sam (Ben Shenkman). But when these two straight-acting gay men are forced to take care of 11-year-old Scot (Noah Bernett) and his mammoth sissydom their hetero-normative world begins to fall apart.

I must admit the premise had me worried: The film could have easily become a hokey mix of Annie meets The Bird Cage. But Breakfast with Scot stays true to its characters and delightfully steers clear of any corniness. What we get are likeable parents and kids who are genuine and quite often funny.

Breaking such new ground is director Laurie Lynd (House, Virtual Mom) helming his first theatrical feature in more than 10 years. There’s a naturalness to the dialogue and to the characters that is seamless and enjoyable. Chalk this up to the succinct screenplay by playwright Sean Reycraft (based on the novel by Michael Downing).

In addition, the actors are commendable, never portraying the characters as clichéd or unrealistic. This rings particularly true of newcomer Bernett. Scot’s character is adorable and not resigned to being the mincing gay boy. He even grows to like hockey.

The film was catapulted into fame (and some controversy) when it garnered the full-on endorsement of the NHL and the Maple Leafs — a coup that has eluded many a big-budget film. Breakfast with Scot is set in Toronto, with Cavanagh playing a former goon with the Leafs and Shenkman playing the team’s lawyer.

Not everyone was thrilled with the endorsement, however, especially rightwing fanatics like James Hartline (an ex-gay I might add) who immediately denounced the NHL and its alignment with the “radical homosexual movement.” But the NHL (which still boasts no openly gay player) stuck to its guns and upheld its support of the film.

The film works because it’s not only a story about an older gay man still coming to terms with his gayness, but it’s about parents whose kids force them to face their own demons.

Moreover the movie comments on the limitations of gender roles put on men — gay or straight. A lot of gay male culture today still reinforces a “traditional” masculinity.

Breakfast with Scot is poised to bridge the large boy-girl chasm of kids’ entertainment. It’s wonderful to see a movie that warmly and humourously entreats us to embrace our sissiness — a life lesson from which both straight kids and gay adults could all learn a lot.

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TV & Film, Culture, Arts, Toronto

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