TransAmerica

Film
CROSS PURPOSES Huffman, left, sets off alarms with traveling companion Zegers.
CROSS PURPOSES Huffman, left, sets off alarms with traveling companion Zegers.

Time Out says

Just about the sweetest dramedy on gender reassignment you'll see this season, TransAmerica should have no problems appealing to mainstream viewers who are happy with their current family values and below-the- belt equipment. The film is well acted and occasionally moving, but it's also gone to absurd lengths with its characters—sending them across the country and even under the scalpel—for the sake of a fairly conservative feel-gooder.

Desperate Housewives' Felicity Huffman plays the quivering Bree, formerly Stanley, a much-modified Angeleno well on her way to the final cut. (If it's a woman playing a man who wants to become a woman, it must be Oscar time.) Only days before her operation, though, permission is denied by her psychologist due to a surprise complication—namely Bree's teenage son, Toby (Zegers), conceived during her only act of hetero sex and now requiring bail money, attention and closure. Without letting on that she is his "father" (much less a man), Bree flies to New York under the stealth guise of a female social worker and takes Toby into custody.

TransAmerica thus plays out in predictable fashion, with the suspense deriving from how long Bree can keep her double whammy of a secret from Toby. But despite the leads' dedication to their preposterous roles, you can't help but wonder if the hot-button scenario isn't itself a manipulative guise under which hides a conventional story between an estranged mother and son. The gender issues quickly feel underserved; when even creepy Burt Young can pass as Bree's concerned father, you know this is a film content to tuck its unsettling potential out of sight. (Opens Fri; IFC Center.)
—Joshua Rothkopf

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