By Tyler Davidson
By Tyler Davidson
“Gray Matters” is a romantic comedy that sets out to turn the old “boy meets girl” formula on its head. While writer and director Sue Kramer should be lauded for her ambition, especially considering this is her debut, the picture can be generously called mediocre.
We are introduced to Sam (Tom Cavanagh) and Gray (Heather Graham), a couple which seems destined to stay together forever. They have the same interests, the same sense of humor, and any other components integral to a healthy relationship. Only they’re brother and sister.
Now, before you think this film is shaping up to be a follow-up to another Graham disaster, 2001’s “Say It Isn’t So,” (if you don’t get that reference, count yourself lucky) don’t worry; the film stops just short of having the two lock lips on-screen, with the constantly witty banter between the two seeming much more like playful flirting than sibling rivalry.
Instead, the movie sets off on a series of bizarre and unlikely events when the siblings meet Charlie (Bridget Moynahan), and Sam proposes the next day.
Gray proceeds to make out with a very drunk Charlie the night before her wedding (following a completely un-needed cameo by Gloria Gaynor) and spends the rest of the picture struggling with her sexuality, not to mention whining to a terrible shrink (Sissy Spacek), a ridiculously irritating best friend (Molly Shannon), a wistful Scottish cabbie (Alan Cumming) and generally anyone else that will listen.
Certain elements of the film are tired plot devices that can be seen coming from a mile away. For instance, a post-kiss Gray, acting on advice from the aforementioned horrible shrink (who seems to think it completely and absolutely impossible for Gray to be a homosexual), garners two dates within minutes of each other, thinking this to be her ticket to sanity. The laughs and hysterics come when, wouldn’t you know it? One is a masochistic sexual deviant and the other turns out to be gay himself. Oh, the hilarity!
According to Kramer, the story for “Gray Matters” was inspired by her sister. Upon hearing something like this, the film should be a powerful, feel-good movie that, though a comedy, should be taken seriously. However, Graham’s only consistent trait in the film is her consistent overacting, which tragically makes it almost impossible to take such a serious matter as it should be taken.
In the writing department, Kramer tries far too hard, making every character in the movie extra witty. With clever quips at each and every turn (especially for Cavanagh’s Sam), it makes the dialogue so forced and unrealistic that none of the characters are worth investing in emotionally. The script forces Gray’s neurosis on the viewer in completely unnecessary manners, such as a rapid fire barrage of questions when she first meets Charlie, or a complex hot dog order that takes about a minute and a half just to recite (get it? She’s picky!)
While not wholly awful, Kramer has crafted a contrived, irritating picture that makes for an unfortunate debut. She has the potential in her to make a great movie, but on her first try, overworked dialogue, unbelievable story aspects, and Graham’s overacting have come together to make a movie that…well, just doesn’t matter.