Nov 20, 2012

Laying it Bare in Key West

I have 3 questions about CrissCross (1992), the downbeat but very brightly-lit movie starring David Arnott as a 12-year old boy whose mom works as a topless dancer.  And that's the least of his problems.  His biggest: his name is actually Criss Cross.

1. Who decided to cast decidedly homophobic Goldie Hawn as the mother of a gay kid?

Ok, maybe the producers weren't expecting a gay reading.  But it's hard to miss: as Criss (David Arnott) rides his bike down the mean streets of Key West, searching for a way to make money so Mom won't have to strip anymore (he hits on a plan to steal drugs being smuggled in on a fishing boat, with tragic results), he tries again and again to establish a same-sex bond.

First a male peer, Buggs (Damian Vantriglia); then the grizzled Emmett (James Gammon), who advises him that "The only thing worse than being lonely with yourself is being lonely with someone."

If you're trying to make gay mecca Key West gay-free, shouldn't you patrol for same-sex friendships, and give the kid a girlfriend (he does have a girl who's a friend)?

2.  Why the nudity?

I know it's hot in Florida,  and it's nice that all the male actors are barechested all the time.  It's understandable, I guess, that the kid rides around shirtless, in Daisy Duke short-shorts. But why the nude butt, when the movie is R-rated, so gay kids can't even get in to see it?

50 years ago, preteens were commonly filmed nude in movies to signify their innocence.  But this kid is anything but innocent.

3. What happened to David Arnott?

He gives a good, understated performance, reminiscent of Chris Makepeace in Meatballs (although that's a completely different genre).  He handles the gay-vague subtext with panache.  One one expects him to have a long career as a serious actor, or at least some ecstatic "fave rave" articles in Tiger Beat.  But this was his first movie -- he beat out 3,000 hopefuls in open auditions -- and his last.  Maybe he didn't like acting.