HBO // 2006 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 30th, 2006
The family vacation...O'Donell-style!
Don't you hate it when an acquaintance or friend whips out awful vacation videos, and you have to smile and pretend you're interested in watching them frolic on a beach you never went to? Well, welcome to All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise where we are treated to 91 minutes of footage shot on a cruise from New York City to the Bahamas. The difference here is all the families on-board the cruise are gay men or lesbian women with children. So the documentary touts itself as a bold statement about what family means today. Yet still, I couldn't escape the sinking feeling that I was all set to watch a bunch of people on a vacation I never went on.
The film has no narrative thread, it merely interviews the passengers and watches them interact. The blended families are certainly interesting, and any one of them could easily make for a fascinating documentary subject. Unfortunately this feature looks at so many people it becomes a mish mash of faces, and ironically I had trouble keeping everyone straight. There are tons of moving stories, but in the end it becomes all about Rosie and her wife with support from anonymous faces. There are some dramatic moments too, such as when protesters greet the cruise in some destinations. That's where the real action happens, and it's the most compelling reason to watch. Strangely, O'Donell is absent during this episode in the Bahamas. Where is the angry dyke when you need her?
Why did this have to be a documentary? Lord, how I yearned to see an all lesbian version of The Poseidon Adventure with O'Donnell taking on the Shelly Winters role. If the cruise liner had hit an iceberg, we could have seen a gay Titanic with a drag queen rescuing the jewels some sugar daddy gave her. Now that would be entertainment, but this is a message movie. Unfortunately the political statement will only be one of affirmation, because critics of the GLBT community won't last five minutes.
The DVD presentation is fine. Picture clarity is good, but varies according to the sources. The stereo soundtrack picks up dialogue clearly enough. The only extra is a photo gallery which provides text summaries of where each family is today. There are no "skip to a scene" menus, but the feature is divided up in to logical chapters which you can manually navigate through. There isn't really anything meaty in this feature other than the film itself.
So what exactly will people walk away with? My biggest revelation was a gay cruise seems to be as cheesy as a straight one. The entertainers are cringe-worthy, there's food everywhere, and a lot of junkie souvenirs available in every port. You'll be subjected to a lot of "we're normal families" sentiments, and stories about the challenges these people face. The kids are cute, Rosie gets political, and the stories are touching in many ways. It's amazing how many sperm donors get found! Yes, All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise gives a whole new meaning to finding "seamen" on the ocean.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery With the Families