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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Off Sides and Holding

Three to Tango on IMDb

Plot Overview

architectshandshakeFive Chicago football friends have rooted for their team through six grueling seasons. The black fan at times tells a white one to tone down his enthusiasm, i.e. limit his high-fives (“You're white, man. Let it go.”) Two of them Oscar Novak (Matthew Perry) and Peter Stein­berg (Oliver Platt) are architects in business together. Steinberg is the senior partner. He's unabashedly gay.

College News

football playerTheir favorite player is running back Kevin Cartwright (Cylk Cozart) who is a hunk on the field or off. Though seen with a lot of (white) chicks, KC is a latent homo­sexual. His recent fling was with glass artist Amy Post (Neve Campbell) who's going through “a string of unavailable men.” She started in college with a foreign exchange student, study partner whose home country couldn't abide their lesbianism, passed through Mr. Football, with social connections that ‘society's child’ couldn't quite trans­cend—she's white and he's black,—and now she's mistress to BSD Charles Newman (Dylan McDermott) who's married. As luck would have it Newman is taking bids on a new cultural center and offers favorable encourage­ment to Novak & Steinberg.

exhibit gathering

secretary and bossboy
and girlNewman's secre­tary Lenore (Deb­orah Rush) who's accus­tomed to seeing res­trained, hetero displays—air kisses, cheek busses—catches the two foot­ball fans in a manly squeeze and mistakes them for homos. It's confirmed by two competing architects—them­selves closet queers—who go ahead and tarnish the others' reputation. This gets passed on to Newman who seeking a safe spy on his mistress taps Oscar for observing her (“keep her close”) at an art exhibit not realizing he's straight. Out of loyalty to his partner Peter who needs the pending job offer, he goes along with the assignment. Nature takes its course and their boy-girl chemistry heats up. What follows is a formulaic rom-com with the added dimension of homophobic irony.


colored man on hornbugs waltzingThe starry-eyed couple stops for a bite at a greasy spoon the Canary Restaurant where the waiter (Michael Proud­foot) pushes the special: tuna melt. Rather than argue with him they accept his recom­mendation and throw up later. It was an open sandwich of American cheese over expired tuna, an unsavory combination reminiscent of the forced scenes in which a negro busses a white girl. But if you wait till the end credits roll, you will see the place trans­formed into a swinging hot spot with black musicians enter­taining a mixed audience. In the same vein, the movie opens with lively swing/jazz music danced to by a man & woman in silhouette, the lady changing partners at times with­out missing a beat. The colored band members are spot­lighted in turn on their instruments of trumpet, trombone, cello, mike, sax & drums. This black dance form incorporates many moves that are gender-specific, the man and woman doing different ones choreo­graphed to the same music. It's easier, say, for the man to throw the lighter-framed woman into the air than vice versa.

loversThe movie proper opens with an executive and his mistress clothed, in bed, in a master closet off an office adorned with Buddha statues. The heathen, we figure, have mistresses as well as wives; in western culture the mistresses are in the closet.

fishingMadonna with childThe executive lines up a pending contractor whom he thinks is gay to keep an eye on his mistress while he must attend to his wife's plans. The whole thing gets out of hand and we see the contractor's dad beating his head against the wall when he finds out his son's a pervert. There's a statue of the Virgin there in the garage, so this must represent the Church's feeling on the matter. His mom, though, is cool with it. Go figure. When he loses credibility with the lady of his desire, Peter advises him, “You do know there are other fish in the sea?” Oscar replies, “But what if you found the fish?”

Here have arisen conflicts à la, (Prov. 30:33) “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” The idea in the proverb is that a state of peace and conciliation can change to one of war just as a liquid (milk) can change to solid (butter) through constant agitation (churning.) Or hit a critical area (nose) and it bleeds. It was the sap's prolonged misrepresentations to the woman that eventually brought down the curtain on what­ever they had going, and she meeting the exec's wife portends doom to that arrangement, too.

hand crank ice cream makerAmy's glass blowing is demonstrated in this movie: heating some in the kiln, extracting a globule, inserting a pipe and blowing into it to expand it into a bubble, then dousing it in water to settle its form or break it if it's not what was desired. One would think it the same as turning liquid milk into solid butter, or vice versa, but it's not quite. Peter the well educated architect knows his materials well enough to under­stand that glass—even at room temperature—is an amorphous solid. The liquid when doused first becomes super­cooled then when cooled below the glass transition temperature, it solidifies into a state somehere between liquid and solid. The chemical bonds don't belong to any crystalline lattice to qualify it as an ordinary solid.

This state of limbo is a viable representation for homosexuality being not so much what you are (fixed) but whom you do (malleable.) Different homos are that way to different degrees. The foot­baller was questioning but never got his feet wet. Amy had one all-but-forgotten lesbian episode in college. Oscar was gay under social pressure but then came to his senses. There was one scene in an AA meeting in which a troubled man stood up and announced, “I'm gay,” to receive support from his fellow sufferers. These alcoholics never consider them­selves cured but learn to keep it in check from day to day with help from a higher power. Same with homo­sexuality from a Christian perspective: if you can't get over it some­how, then you just have to learn to resist the inclination as one does any temptation until the Lord receives you into glory.

When Amy said she almost had a crush on Oscar, that was internal, we take it at face value for what she says. Human sex is supposed to function according to the equipment one has, male or female. Some people's heads are not in line with with their bodies. David Burns, M.D. has given one example of a work­able sex reorientation therapy in his popular 1985 book, Intimate Connections, pp. 239–40, but none is tried in this movie.

Production Values

” (1999) was directed by Damon Santostefano. It was written by Rodney Patrick Vaccaro and Aline Brosh McKenna. It stars Neve Campbell, Matthew Perry and Dylan McDermott. The cast were experienced actors who played their parts in this rom-com like a walk in the park. Neve Campbell had a no nudity clause in her contract.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for sex-related situations and language. Although there were a couple solid punches landed on noses, they didn't bleed. A lot of the racy content was conveyed through innuendo, raised eyebrows, shrugged shoulders, and humming. Situational under­standing also contributed. Runtime is 1½ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This one is not for the faint of heart and the short ninety minute exposure is welcome. Judging from the differing reactions of the lead's parents to his non-revelation, one might be well advised to tread lightly if he brings a date. Its subject material is good to avoid, but if you can't, at least here's a humorous treatment of it. I have an engineering background, so I picked up on the glass analogy straight off. Depending on people's view­points they might be laughing in different places or for different reasons. It takes all kinds.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Predictable. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.