Feb 11, 2023

"Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again": The trailer shows a gay couple and no fade-out kiss, but....


I lived in New York for four years, but never went to the Museum of Natural History -- I was more of a MOMA guy.  And I've never seen any of the Night at the Museum movies, about the statues of historical figures in dioramas coming to life and befuddling security guard Ben Stiller and his son Skyler Gisondo.  

But the trailer to the Disney Plus animated Night at the Museum: Kamunrah Rises Again does not feature any boy-girl kissing -- a relief because earlier today I tried the fourth season of You, on Netflix, due to the promise of a gay character, and was treated to a "recap" involving 15 men and women swallowing each other's tongues. 

Plus the trailer appears to show a gay couple, two cavemen with their arms around each other, so I'll give it a try.

Scene 1
: We zoom through a diverse New York to the Museum, past dioramas with Sacajawea, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, a barrel-chested caveman, a monkey, a cowboy, a Roman soldier, Teddy Roosevelt, a T-Rex skeleton, and a future exhibit, "Kahmunrah: The Disappointing Son."  He's an Egyptian pharaoh with standard Disney villain's long face and (I assume) British posh accent.  

A rather chunky security guard enters, singing about his new job (he's just doing this until he makes it on Broadway), and stares as if he's never been inside the museum before.  Wouldn't he have seen it during his interview, at least?  He ignores the Instruction Manual and takes a nap.  Then the sun goes down...

He wakes up to a monkey and Teddy Roosevelt.  Then a mastadon, Sacajawea'a bear, a cave man and woman (I guess they were a heterosexual couple), and an additional cave man, who talks in stereotyped "Me Tarzan" talk.  Actually languages begin complex, with multiple noun cases and irregular verbs, and become simpler over time. Then two miniatures, the cowboy and the Roman soldier. Joan of Arc tries to kill him.  The T-Rex skeleton eats him and "poops him out."  And so on, until he scrams.  The denizens chuckle: they got rid of him in just two minutes!

Wait -- don't they inform new hires that the museum has a coming-to-life problem? No wonder they flee in terror!

Scene 2: Larry, the Ben Stiller character who originally discovered the coming-to-life problem, asks the denizens to stop scaring away the security guards.  They argue that he wasn't a good fit; they want Larry's son.   No way!  Instead, he calls the chubby, feminine McPhee, who is in a bubble bath, with cucumber slices over his eyes.  

McPhee thinks his mother is calling, and criticizes her bath-drawing ability.  Then he covers by saying that "Mother" is a pet name for his supermodel girlfriend. Oh, no, a gay stereotype, complete with mother-obsession and fake girlfriend.  I am disgustipated.

He tells Larry to hire a new guard.

The denizens repeat: hire your son.  "But Nick can't take care of you.  He's a screw-up!  And he's still in high school."   In most states, 16-17 year olds can only work until 9:00 pm on school nights and 11:00 pm on weekends, so Nick would automatically be disqualified.

Ok, the caveman-gay couple was just a tease, and there's a homophobic stereotype (maybe two, if Kamunrah turns out to be swishy).  I'm just going to fast-forward to the end, to see if this movie can be redeemed by the lack of a boy-girl fade-out kiss.

Nope.  Not a kiss, but Nick and his girlfriend holding hands as they walk blissfully into the future.  Ugh.

Feb 6, 2023

"The Culprit Hanzawa": A Muscular, Naked Shadow Being Finds a Boyfriend


The Culprit Hanzawa, on Netflix, is a spinoff/spoof of the anime Detective Conan, which I've never heard of -- Conan the Barbarian solving crimes?  Twelve 10-minute episodes, and none mentioning a wife or girlfriend, so I'm in.

Episode 1, Scene 1: A muscular, naked shadow person gyrates, dances with ping pong paddles,  (bulge but no visible penis), and stares out onto a pink and black city.  He then gyrates again, accompanied by a teenage girl and a little girl, while his baby form dances with a cat and a chicken.  Then all five of them dance together.  Sorry, that was just a 9-minute long intro.  On to the episode.

Real Scene 1: The muscular, naked shadow person, carrying a knapsack -- Hanzawa?  -- gets off the train at Beika Town.  The other passengers warn him not to get off -- he'll be killed!  But he reassures them: "Don't worry -- I'll be doing the killing."

He walks through a blank crowd, thinking: "This is the legendary city of crime.  He's bound to be here. I came here to kill him."  But he doesn't get the ticket slot right, and trips. A teenage girl laughs at him; he briefly considers murdering her, but there's no time.

Scene 2: First step: finding an apartment.  He can only afford 50,000 yen ($376).  One advertised for only 32,000 yen is obviously a trick, so he goes in planning to murder the rental agent.  But he's on the level!  

It turns out to be an amazing room in a high-rise condo, with a great view of the town!  So why is it so cheap?  A pro golfer bludgeoned his girlfriend to death here. For a murderer, Hanzawa is rather skittish about other people's murders, and refuses.  But all of the other rooms in the condo were sites of murders, too: non-stigmatized property is rare, and expensive, in the Legendary Crime City.  He considers murdering the rental agent to make the price go down..  The end.

Scene 3:
Not the end.  After three minutes of closing credits, we move on to Hanzawa walking through the city, wondering how he is going to find the guy he wants to kill.  He overhears two teenage girls discussing the pop star Yoko Okino  The real end?  But...nothing happened except looking for an apartment,  thinking about murdering random people, and a name-drop.  I'd better go on.

Episode 2: This time the intro is only 2.5 minutes long.

Scene 1: Hanzawa sitting on a street corner, watching tv: The murderer at the apartment complex has been captured.  The commentators praise the crime as "a work of genius," which angers Hanzawa.  He continues to look for an apartment.

Suddenly he sees a cheerful fat onigiri kid crossing the street, and almost being creamed.  (Onigiri are rice balls.)  He has a brainstorm: "If we live together, a stigmatized apartment won't be scary!"  So he's going to move in with an onigiri kid?

The rental agent shows him a room in a "share house": furnished, with tv, microwave, and so on.  He decides to take it, and meets one of his new housemates: Hanbashi, another naked, muscular, shadow person wearing a ski cap. They bond over their shared desire to kill the rental agent, and decide to have a sleepover.  Different rooms in the same house, and they need a sleepover?   Definite gay subtext here.

Scene 2:  In the bedroom, the two muscular shadow beings are bonding.  Hanzawa reflects: "The first person I've ever been able to open up to.  I'll live here while waiting to kill that guy."  

Scene 3: Late at night, the rental agent is stumbling home drunk, muttering that he's going to increase his rental fee to get even with the "country bumpkin" Hanzawa, and increase the renewal fee for the "partying rapper" Hanbashi.  A muscular shadow being kills him, and a little boy gives chase, throwing a bento box at him.  

Scene 4: Hanzawa awakens after the sleepover (he slept in a sleeping bag on the floor of Hanbashi's room).  Looking for Hanbashi, he wanders into the main area, turns on the tv, and sees a story about the rental agent's murder.  Hanbashi has been arrested (he still has a fish from the bento box in his mouth).  Hanzawa is irate.  The end.

Detective Conan is a manga series and anime about a high school detective who has been turned into a little boy but continues to work on cases, pretending that they have actually been solved by his detective foster-father. He has a cameo in Scene 4, as the boy with the bento box. 

 As far as I can tell, Hanzawa appears only in the spin-off series, but apparently all of Conan's foes are stylized as muscular, naked shadow men, so he may be a composite.  No doubt Conan is the "he" that Hanzawa has come to town to kill.

He is voiced by Shouta Aoi, a Japanese singer and actor known for his androgynous stage presence.  So I expect that there will be more gay subtexts and not a lot of heterosexual romance going on.

Feb 5, 2023

One Day at a Time

Why would gay teenage boys like One Day at a Time (1975-1984), the sitcom about Indianapolis divorcee Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) and her two teenage daughters?  Sure, it was hip and "with it," one of the stable of realistic comedy-dramas that Norman Lear trotted out -- All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Alice, Maude -- for audiences sick of 1960s fantasy and hillbilly fare.

But there were no gay characters.  No "mistaken for gay" episodes.  No episodes where regulars discover that their brother/college buddy/coworker/coach is gay -- even Alice had one of those.  For all its hipness, nothing but weeks and months and years of dreary heteronormativity.

So what was the attraction?

1. The endless parade of boyfriends.  Practically every hunk in Hollywood over age 30 played one of Ms. Romano's beaus, and practically every Tiger Beat fave rave guest starred as Barbara or Julie's dates.  Two long-running teen dreams were Chuck (William Kirby Cullen) for Julie:

And Cliff (Scott Colomby) for Barbara (standing next to competition John Putch).  Colomby later played the slim, androgynous Tony in Caddyshack.

Eventually Julie married the hunky Max Horvath (Michael Lembeck, center), and Barbara married stick-in-the-mud Mark Royer (Boyd Gaines, left)

2. In 1980, after Ann's boyfriend dies, she adopts his 14-year old son, Alex Handris (Glenn Scarpelli).  Usually end-of-series cast additions are a disaster, but Alex brought wit, style, and humor to the doddering series.

And a decided lack of interest in girls, in spite of the "I'm so into girls!" lines that the scripts made him say.

Glenn Scarpelli came out a few years after the show ended.  Today he runs a public tv station in Sedona, Arizona with partner Jude Belanger. He also seems to have joined a gym:

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