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Better than Chocolate

Starring Wendy Crewson, Karen Dwyer, Christina Cox, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Marya Delver and Peter Outerbridge
Screenplay by Peggy Thompson
Directed by Anne Wheeler
website: www.betterthanchocolate.com

IN SHORT: still, not for breeders, but strong on story. [Rated [R], 103 minutes]

The fact of the matter is that most of the gay themed movies I've reviewed this year are all about the self-discovery process of coming out. Actually, most of 'em are, I just don't write 'em all up. So, as if to cleanse the palate, Cranky took in a lesbian themed flick this time out and was pleasantly surprised. It isn't a matter of what kind of sex is up on the screen, though I do admit I'd much rather watch lesbian sex than gay sex. What makes Better Than Chocolate easier on this breeder is that coming out is just one of several concurrent stories that play out among the half dozen or so principal characters, all of whom are looking for monogamous relationships.

Set in Canada, the central focus of the movie is a lesbian bookstore (with a good side business in sextoys, which are prominently featured in all the early scenes). The Ten Percent Bookstore (as in 10% of the population is gay...) is battling Canadian customs, who have embargoed their book orders. Frances (Ann Marie MacDonald) is the very repressed store owner, whose employee Maggie (Karen Dwyer) is sleeping on a couch in the back. Two things happen simultaneously as the film starts up. First, ex-law student Maggie falls head over heels for an itinerant painter, Kim (Christina Cox) who lives in a van, paints portraits for cash and has rescued her from a gang of fag-bashers. Second, Maggie's mom Lila (Wendy Crewson) dumps the hubby for cheating and tells her loving daughter that she's bringing younger brother Paul (Kevin Mundy) to town with her; make up the spare room. Maggie finds an apartment, fast, belonging to some sort of safe sex instructor. Kim moves in and helps hide all the toys. Mom, of course, has no idea that any of this stuff exists, or that her daughter is gay. She's more concerned with why Maggie has dropped out of school, and when the grandkids are coming.

The newly single Lila is distressed because there ain't no sex if you're single and over 40, so she develops a jones for chocolate which will set up the ribald joke that caps this flick. Setting up her new life, Lila builds a strong friendship with Judy (Peter Outerbridge) who is enamored of Frances. Judy, if you looked twice at the credit, is actually Jeremy, a guy waiting for the final and irreversible snip snip.

Better Than Chocolate is not the kind of flick I'd lug a date to, though it's much easier to sit through a quartet of strong stories rather than the sturm und drang of the typical male coming out stuff. There is one straight affair in the film, between Paul and other bookstore employee Carla (Marya Delver). Carla is, as David Bowie once put it, tri-sexual (as in she'll try anything). There's a bit with skin heads that sets up a needlessly overemotional climax (sic) and puts an awful twist on what had been a light romantic comedy, emphasis on romance and comedy.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Better Than Chocolate, he would have paid...

$3.00

It's not for us breeders, short of those who want a cheap thrill and can't rent anything by Ginger Lynn. As far as gay themed flicks go, it's top notch.

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.