This week’s review of La Mission complains that the movie tries to do too much. It wants to be both a love letter to the spiritually charged street culture of San Fran’s Mission District AND a family drama about a recovering alcoholic (Benjamin Bratt) forced to examine the roots of his violent machismo after his beloved son (Jeremy Ray Valdez) turns out to be gay. The final grade is — Street Vibe: A, Family Drama: C-.
Watching it, I was reminded of an obscure 1994 Australian comedy called The Sum of Us, also about a working-class dad’s attempts to understand his gay son. This must-see curiosity starred a pre-Gladiator Russell Crowe as the soccer-playing, tight shorts-wearing, bloke-snogging son whose father (the late Jack Thompson) took a personal interest in finding his grown-up boy a long-term boyfriend. The Sum of Us is not a great movie, but it’s a unique one. And as Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood fast approaches, it demonstrates that Crowe – early in his career, at least — didn’t give a shit if passionately kissing another guy on film might hurt his prospects as an actor.