Judge Daryl Loomis prefers "Good King Wenceslas."
…and he's staying for dinner, too.
Professional athletes do not have a reputation for their queer-friendly mindset. However, while there is no reason to expect that the percentage of gay athletes would be any lower than in the general population, I can think of a grand total of zero openly gay athletes currently playing in any major sport. For an example of why athletes might feel the need to stay closeted, one only needs to look at the comments of Tim Hardaway regarding John Amici when he came out. Director Laurie Lynd uses this issue to build her story in Breakfast with Scot, combining it with the equally divisive subject of gay couples parenting, and manages to do so with a light touch and humor that gets the point across without political posturing.
Facts of the Case
Once upon a time, Eric McNally (Tom Cavanaugh, The Cake Eaters) was one of the hardest hitters in the NHL, a hatchetman for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A freak shoulder injury ended his career, though, and now he sits in the booth, trying to make his way as a sportscaster. He loves his partner, Sam (Ben Shenkman, Americanese), very much, but he stays in the closet out of fear of alienation in his professional life. No matter what Eric and Sam want, however, their lives are turned upside-down by a ridiculously flamboyant orphan boy named Scot (Noah Bernett, Burning Mussolini), whose charm bracelets and bright scarves fly in the face of the image the couple has tried to cultivate. Scot's loving honesty is affecting, though, and they start to learn acceptance through him.
Breakfast with Scot is a commendable film, if not a great one. The deftness with which Laurie Lynd mixes political issues with family entertainment is striking. It never seems that she tries to make a point, but, in the end, it's a point well taken. By using the sports setting and a light comic touch, Lynd eases us into these issues without hitting the audience over the head with it, teaching acceptance and delivering solid family entertainment.
Eric and Sam are not the most affectionate couple in the world, but they really do have strong feelings for one another. Sam is more than ready to express his love in public, but Eric has always lived in such an ultra-masculine world, that he's scared to death of coming out. Sam accepts this as a part of Eric, but it eats at him. Enter Scot, a boy of fairly convoluted origin (I think he is supposed to be the son of Sam's brother's girlfriend, but the relationships are often unclear), who has been thrown into their lives. Eric doesn't like kids one bit, but he loves Sam enough to understand how important Scot's well-being is to him. He'll help take care of Scot, as long as it's a short term thing. The trouble for Eric begins when he meets the boy; the kid's love of belting out Christmas carols and dabbling in his dead mother's makeup is all a little too femme for this man's man.
It's fear that drives Eric's disgust with Scot's choices and shame that leads him to try to mask them. He's a famous face in Toronto; taking Scot out shopping for a coat with the kid prancing around, in his mind, increases his chances of being found out. Scot's a boy, and his sexuality is irrelevant, but his honesty with himself is everything that Eric cannot be. As a result, Eric comes off as a pretty big jerk, especially when he tries to butch the poor kid up by getting him to play hockey and taking away all that he perceives as girly. It's a disgusting representation of self-denial and, while it's hard to like Eric much at the start, it is his journey toward acceptance that we follow, and that transformation makes Breakfast with Scot a worthwhile story.
Filmed in Toronto, the setting is pretty, but Lynd's filming style is simple and utilitarian. Longish takes, a natural color palette, and straightforward photography let the story breathe without much outside influence. The actors all put in fine work as well, with a special nod to young Noah Burnett; whose mincing Scot is funny, charming, and wholly sympathetic throughout the film. He is appropriately off-putting at first, but his loving nature and soft heart quickly grow on you. Cavanaugh and Shenkman are a believably non-affectionate couple. Eric carries the majority of the story and, though Shenkman has something of a lesser part, both are very strong in their roles.
E1's release of Breakfast with Scot is strong on the technical details, but devoid of extras. The Toronto streets look great on the anamorphic transfer, which is clean and bright. Scot's colorful wardrobe necessitates a strong transfer, and it's up to the task. The colors are strong and black levels are solid. The two soundtracks are nearly identical in quality, with the surround track carrying a little more punch in the hockey scenes. It's a fairly subdued film overall, though, so the speakers don't get a whole lot of action, but all the dialog is nice and clear. There are no extras on the disc.
Breakfast with Scot is good family entertainment with an excellent message of acceptance of oneself and others. There's nothing here that stands out as spectacular, but it's totally solid all around with good performances. Recommended family fare.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
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