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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

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Plot Overview

football and flagpolitical speechboy and girlWe have a geo­graph­ical opening pan­ning a map of the U.S. from the left coast to New England, across the various states, to end up focused on Maine's capital Augusta where Governor Conrad Welling (James Brolin) is speech­ifying for re-election in 2006. Among those gathered to hear him are his campaign manager Ben Grandy (Eric Dane) and his daughter Maggie (Bonnie Sommer­ville.) He proposes to her on the spot for a double rush. Okay.

fishingintegrated poolPer Maggie's sug­ges­tion Ben asks his brother Shel (John Stamos) to be their wed­ding plan­ner. Shel is more a party plan­ner than any­thing so formal as a wedding, but he's up for it. They were close until college when Ben was getting inter­ested in girls, while Shel was after boys. Oh, well.

kid drawingphone talkWhen the governor's political opponent Senator Ray Brighton (John Bourgeois) comes out supporting a constitutional amendment codifying traditional marriage “the way God intended it” between a man and a woman, the incumbent calls Ben asking him to draft a speech in response. When Shel hears it also being against same-sex marriage, he takes umbrage and starts a strike. The strike has legs effecting the closures of: limo services, beauty salons, florist shops, restaurants, and the like. The U.S. map gets shaded in as from a child coloring from right to left, marking economies that shut down. It's a polarizing issue affecting even couples who are on opposite sides of it. Ben and Maggie are at loggerheads. Shel's boy­friend Ted Moore (Sean Maher) is a state prosecutor who holds his career dear like a character in a Patrick Gale short story who's “paying lip service, at least, to the importance of encouraging racial and sexual equality at the Bar and of intro­ducing certain radical reforms in the law” (99).


Martin Luther King
Jr.Ben's contention is, “Civil unions are the same as marriage.” Shel's rejoinder is, “And sitting in the back of the bus is just as comfortable as sitting in the front—” He insists, “We will not be treated like second class citizens because of who we love.” This is an echo of Martin Luther King's (MLK) Letter From Birmingham Jail in which he penned a litany of complaints, rejected the counsel of “gradualism,” and touted “the fierce urgency of NOW.” He ends his letter with an apology: “If I have said any­thing in this letter that is an over­­state­­ment of the truth and is indicative of an unreason­able impatience, I beg you to forgive me.” Robert H. Bork in Slouching Towards Gomorrah (238) writes:

[Researchers] Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer … quote Charles Murray: “There's hardly a single outcome—black voting rights, access to public accommodation, employment, particularly in white collar jobs—that couldn't have been predicted on the basis of pre–1964 trend lines.” “That's pretty devastating,” the authors say. “It suggests that we have spent trillions of dollars to create an out­come that would have happened even if the govern­ment had done nothing.”

Shel asks, “You think it's fine that we be treated different than every­body else?” Ben offers a compromise, “That's not true. You can still have a wedding. You just have to marry a woman.” This is similar to the incident where two angels showed up to warn Lot that God was about to destroy the wicked city of Sodom where he was living. The Sodomites wanted to molest his visitors, but Lot gave them an alternative: (Gen. 19:8-11) “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for there­fore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied them­selves to find the door.”

The compromise offer of the virgins is temperate, a solution of moderation. The blind men strug­gling to find the door to get at the hand­some angels is an exercise in determined self-control to pursue their nasty ends. Just so we're on the same page regarding temperance, let's examine a quote from Patrick Gale's short story, Wig:

“Scrabble was one of the few pastimes at which her husband seemed dim beside her. … in private she knew it maddened him. She learned early on in their relation­ship to temper her glee at triumphing over him” (7).

To temper is the verb form for to moderate. Temperate is adjectival as, for example, we live in a temperate zone, neither too hot nor too cold, Temperance is the noun form of moderation. They all derive from the same Latin word temperare meaning to moderate, be moderate.

The sodomites had swell self-control along the lines of a character described by author John Fowles: “Dangerous isn't the word—but someone … very self-controlled. A tiny bit obsessional? I mean some­one who wouldn't be easily stopped if he'd argued him­self into something” (227).

Which translation is God's word?

I've been noticing that modernized, Protestant, English Bibles have substituted self-control for temperance, which is a malapropism. It can mean the opposite of the other as it would here, depending on the circumstance.


ole gloryThe criticism directed at the governor is that, “even though he supports gay rights, he thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman.” Shel feels that, “if you don't treat people equally, it stops being America.” The governor feels that regardless of “equality” one can't just ignore thousands of years of history. We might as well look at history.

Jesus defined marriage as God having made it heterosexual in the beginning, (Matt. 19:4-5) “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” Marriage was the first human institution God made, before there was any America, before there was any civil authority or state of any kind.

By and by we get to a definition of marriage from Dr. Ide: “The Contemporary Christian standard was defined not by the bible but generated by Roman law as defined by the jurist Modes­tinus who argued that marriage was ‘consortium omnis vitae, divini et humani iuris communi­catio: a life-long partner­ship, and a sharing of civil and religious rights’” (83–5). The religious rights occur in the context of what Catholics and Orthodox call a domestic church, the civil rights within the domestic partner­ship of the civil union. The latter conveys benefits, mentioned in the movie, of “tax benefits, health insurance, Social Security, property rights, and hundreds of others.” The domestic church sanctifies sex within its dynamic, (1Cor. 7:2-4) “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and like­wise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and like­wise also the husband hath not power of his own body but the wife.” America's equality does not conflate the church with the state; we have separation.

One Way

Martin Luther (1483–1546) the German church reformer introduced the concept of “companionate marriage” that was observable even in a Catholic church. It has caught on in culture; that's how we generally regard it every­where. It has allowed the political issue of redefining marriage to be couched in terms of it not mattering whom we love.

Then we come to America. According to cultural historian David Hackett Fischer, the Puritans had “a cultural idea of marriage that was unique to the Puritan colonies. … The Puritans of New England rejected all the Anglican ideas. They believed that marriage was not a religious but a civil contract” (77). In the New England states—& NY & DC—the civil contract was the whole kit and caboodle, so once laws against sodomy were abolished it was a simple matter of equal rights to open (civil) marriage to homo­sexuals. The rest of the states did not abide such a redefinition, but the courts stepped in to force acceptance of same-sex marriage. What for homos used to be called a domestic partner­ship is now called marriage, but that's only what it was anyway.

WW takes place in the early days of the movement and in a New England state where Puritanism had already influenced the culture, so there's less at stake with this “war” than else­where. Yet in the movie the conservatives prevailed with 60% of the polling. And the groom's family was Lutheran. Lutherans are big on being law-abiding, unlike MLK who felt free to pick and choose which laws to follow, especially as pertains to marching sans parade permit.

In the end it was a moot point. Maggie's goal was “saying ‘I do’ in front of my family and friends,” and the generic officiator of their wedding announced, “We are gathered here to witness and celebrate in holy matrimony the union of Ben Grandy and —” Holy means separated, which is what God did with marriage for his purposes. There was never any question of America inter­fering with the Almighty. The word matrimony derives from the Latin mater meaning mother, and monium meaning the state of, matrimony in the Catholic catechism being the state in which a woman is permitted to enter mother­hood. The word marriage doesn't even appear in their catechism. There is never any question in the viewers' mind that Ben and Maggie who had been living together in sin are now legit, although since we don't see any paper­work done, there's a possibility that the civil rewards may have been neglected. Ben and Shel, of course, would be prevented by Nature from bearing children.

These two dudes are ambivalent about making their arrangement permanent, but if some day they do go down to the VFW Hall and sign them­selves up for some hard-won permanence, it still wouldn't be what Ben and Maggie have. The fight over the marital label is a touchy issue, but in this movie it is treated with good humor.

Production Values

” (TV Movie 2006) was directed by Jim Fall. It was written by Stephen Mazur. It stars John Stamos, Eric Dane and Bonnie Somerville. Stamos nailed it as the radical Shel. The rest of the cast were uncompromisingly proficient.

red maple leavesIt was rated in Canada: PG (Canadian Home Video rating.) The editing was fine. The pace moved right along. The subject's treatment was balanced though I can't see how any­one could stand on the fence. The setting did look like New England in spring turned to summer. It was shot on location in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The bride-to-be was pretty, patient and funny, a real catch. The movie did not bog us down in the issues, but it presented points amenable to discussion as it went along. Runtime was 1½ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

As a movie queer in places, it's not for queasy stomachs but it was not shot to be offensive and the crew did their level best to keep it light­hearted. I consider the subject matter to be a handicap though a right candidate for lemonade made from overly ripe lemons. It's a good one to leave on the shelf.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: On a par with watching TV. Suspense: Predictable. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Bork, Robert H. Slouching Towards Gomorrah. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. Print.

Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford UP, 1989. Print, Web.

Fowles, John. The Ebony Tower. Copy­right © 1974 by J.R. Fowles Limited. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1974. First Edition. Print.

Gale, Patrick. Dangerous Pleasures. London: Harper­Collins Pub., 1996. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Letter From Birmingham Jail. 1963. Public domain.