Mar 23, 2014

Steam: Beefcake, Ludicrous Characters, Hysterical Over-Reactions

You're an out-and-proud lesbian dating a college freshman who is just starting to come out.  You invite her to a party to be held on Thanksgiving Day, and she says "Thanks, but I should really spend that day with my family."  What do you do?

That's right -- you throw a conniption fit.  "You're letting your family control you!  You have to choose between me and them!"

You're an elderly man.  In a grocery story, you are attracted to an elderly woman, who tells you that she's buying walnuts for brownies.  You want to make a date with her.  What do you do?

That's right: you follow her around, yelling: "Only fools put walnuts in brownies!  You obviously know nothing about cooking!"  That's guaranteed to get her interested!

You're a middle-aged man.  Your mother died 11 years ago.  Your elderly father shows up at Thanksgiving dinner with a lady friend, and announces that they've been dating for a few months.  What do you do?

That's right -- you blow up.  "You're acting like a fool! You're disrespecting the memory of my mother!"

Just one more: You're a middle-aged divorcee interested in your son's football coach.  One day after practice a woman picks him up; he says "Hi, honey, how've you been?", and they drive off together.  That night he knocks on your door and asks you for a date.  What do you do?

That's right -- you start screaming.  "How dare you ask me for a date when you have a girlfriend!  I'm not that desperate!  I have my pride....oh, she's your sister?"

Steam (2007) has these and many more crazy scenes, as characters scream, argue, and  issue ultimatums in order to attract romantic partners, and have the most histrionic over-reactions to issues that most people in real life would find trivial at best.

You have to see this movie.  It is hilarious.  The characters are ludicrous, utterly bizarre.  No one on Earth would act like they do.

Who wears a tie on a casual movie date?
What parent insists that their daughter, away in college, drive all the way home every Sunday for church?
What pastor drops by for a visit, sees you through the window pretending not to be home, and then bangs hard on the window until you give up and let him in?

And be advised: the plot synopsis on Netflix is completely wrong.

The stories of three very different women intersect in the steam room at the local gym. There, they share an unlikely friendship in this earnest drama.

There is no friendship between the three women, or rather three female stereotypes: elderly black lady (Ruby Dee), middle-aged soccer mom (Ally Sheedy), newly-out lesbian activist (Kate Siegel).

Early on, they all appear in the steam room and exchange trivial chitchat, but they do not discuss their problems and do not socialize elsewhere.  Then the steam room is forgotten as the movie concentrates on the absurd ways that they begin new relationships and the absurdly overwrought objections of their families.

But there is some nice beefcake, including Alan Ritchson (top photo) as the son's football coach who wears the tie on a casual movie date (for which, by the way, the marquee shows the wrong movie), and Cylk Cozart (second photo) as the elderly man's son who goes into hysterics at Thanksgiving dinner.

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