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Any Day Now

2012 | 94 min | R | 2.39:1

Any Day Now


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Theatrical release date

 14 December, 2012
 06 September, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

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Any Day Now


Screenshots from Any Day Now Blu-ray

Any Day Now Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, December 19, 2012

One would have to be a Grinch to be anything but a puddle of tears at the conclusion of “Any Day Now.” After all, it’s a potent story about human rights, set during a time when injustice toward the gay community was a common occurrence, finding those capable of great love shut down simply due to their sexual orientation. However significant the story, it’s difficult to swallow how co-screenwriter/director Travis Fine treats the effort, selecting a Very Special Movie approach for material that deserves nuance and patience, relying on shameless manipulation to communicate simple ideas on prejudice and parenting. Every melodramatic cliché is handed the white glove treatment in this maudlin misfire.

In 1979, Rudy (Alan Cumming) is an aspiring singer making a few bucks as a drag queen in West Hollywood. Spying lawyer Paul (Garret Dillahunt) in his bar one night, the pair spark up instant chemistry, though Rudy doesn’t expect much from a man barely comfortable with his newfound sexual awareness. Living next to junkie Marianna (Jamie Anne Allman), Rudy is horrified to find her Down’s syndrome son, Marco (Isaac Leyva), neglected, soon taking in the boy to protect him from a brutal foster care system. With Marianna in jail, Rudy considers temporary custody of Marco, leaning on Paul for legal help while watching their relationship grow quickly, with the trio forming a family that allows the child a chance to blossom. Trouble comes when Rudy and Paul’s ruse to pose as cousins is decoded by Paul’s intolerant boss (a mercilessly hammy Chris Mulkey), triggering a wave of legal difficulties when the custody struggle is challenged, forcing the couple to defend their relationship while Marco’s needs are largely ignored.

“Any Day Now” is based on a true story, though the extent of realism is never settled. I’m not debating the facts of the case, the despicable treatment of homosexuals in 1979, or the determination of those who hate. What I object to is Fine’s handling of the picture, which avoids a rigorously dramatic approach to play softball with an enraging issue, making a Lifetime Original with a challenging subject matter, complete with Disney villains and prepared speeches, diluting the crushing nature of the violation in play. Perhaps finding the balancing act of sympathy too great, Fine colors the conflicts in “Any Day Now” with Crayons, making sure that every moment of the movie is devoted to keeping the viewer firmly in Rudy and Paul’s corner as they’re dragged through Hell by judgmental outsiders and a biased legal system.

There are no dimensions to these characters, with Rudy and Paul offered limited screen time to become an authentic couple. They’re treated angelically, taking on an impossible mission of guardianship with Marco, an overweight, borderline non-verbal special-needs boy who’s been nightmarishly neglected by his cokehead mother. We don’t see the couple face a bruising reality of cohabitation or parental difficulty, taking to life together easily and swiftly, despite their disparate backgrounds and Paul’s relatively newfound stance outside the closet. Their treatment of Marco is tender but unsophisticated, with Fine resisting the complexity of the situation by boiling down parental joy to permissive dinners of donuts, bedtime stories, and educational improvement, while triggering tears from the boy on a few occasions to keep the audience sufficiently disarmed. And if that doesn’t work, Cumming is gifted a few scenes of musical performance where Rudy pours his heart out in song.

Once the legal battle commences, all reason is tossed out the nearest window. Lawyers are allowed to spew snark openly in the courtroom and a critical moment where Rudy is cruelly bested on the witness stand by a legal bulldog (a bored Gregg Henry, playing his umpteenth villain) over Marco’s choice of a doll as his favorite toy doesn’t make any sense. I’m no lawyer, but I could produce at least two witnesses who’ve seen the child with the doll prior to his time with the gay couple. Again, “Any Day Now” is not a film of details, only sweeping emotions, yet it cheats to achieve a mournful sense of loss when the basic unfairness and humiliation of it all is more than enough to stir up passionate feelings.

Performances by Dillahunt and Cumming are invested but they have little to play, and the pair battle some of the worst disco wigs seen in the 2012 film year. The actors match the melodramatic atmosphere Fine works to inflate, and while the duo share a few fine scenes of commitment and confession, they lack support from the screenplay, which is more than willing to sever subtlety to make obvious points of betrayal. The ending is also bothersome, predictably calling on sacrifice to make a point of obvious guardianship. It’s an overdose of manipulation in an exceedingly needy and unnecessarily oversimplified picture.

Starring: Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Frances Fisher, Gregg Henry, Chris Mulkey, Alan Rachins
Director: Travis Fine

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