Say Uncle

For his writing and directing debut, actor Peter Paige (Childstar) takes an extremely touchy subject in the wrong way. Paige is Paul Johnson, a gay man who happens to like children. Really like children. Unfortunately, some parents only see a creepy single man who wants to be around kids, and brand him as a pedophile. Oh, and Say Uncle is part comedy. This mixing of dramatic and comedic elements is Paige's downfall. While the material makes for extremely strong drama, the comedic elements should be absent or reworked as satire (they kind of are here, but not to much effect). Say Uncle combines the two, and the only effect is to make the characters seem colossally naive, even stupid.

Johnson loves his godson Morgan, and will go over to play with him as often as possible. The news that Morgan is moving to Japan with his parents devastates Johnson. He wants to be around children as much as he can, so he goes to play in the park. The mothers first think he is a father. But when they realize that Johnson has no children, it becomes eerie. Maggie Butler (Kathy Najimy, Rat Race, The Wedding Planner) believes he is a pedophile. She may not have any proof, but he fits the profile. He is single, creepy, and gay. Butler begins a crusade to bring Johnson to justice.

There are some serious issues here. The primary one is the hysteria surrounding Johnson. While the Butler character may feel like a stretch, there are probably many parents who would act like her in similar circumstances. She takes for truth what she thinks she believes is true, without any evidence to support it. The result is a witch-hunt against an innocent man. Butler's refusal to listen to any common sense if the one part of her character that feels unrealistic. Johnson is another matter completely. As Paige portrays and writes him, Johnson seems like a simple-minded person. He has the best of intentions, but is basically a moron. Once his friends leave, he revisits the house, as if nothing happened. Worse, his love for children is so great that it is detrimental to his job.

The Johnson character feels like somebody that exists in a movie. Sure, there are people like this, but Paige takes it to an extreme. Johnson and his friends have no idea that his actions could be misconstrued as something sinister. He is flabbergasted when told he cannot adopt a baby. In a real world where people like Michael Jackson's alleged antics make constantly make the news, the idea that somebody like Johnson would be so much in the dark is a bit ridiculous. Paige made Johnson this way for the purpose of the story, but went so far as to render the story unbelievable. And adding some comedic elements to the story further degrades whatever story is left.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for some language.

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