When we first spy Alan Cumming in "Any Day Now," a feature-length soap about a gay couple fighting for custody of a teen with Down syndrome, the Scottish actor is lip-synching with a drag trio in a West Hollywood gay bar in 1979. In walks Paul (Garret Dillahunt), a closeted L7 of a young lawyer from the local DA's office. A glance from star to bar seals the deal.
Rudy Donatello (given an unconvincing Queens accent by Cumming) quickly shows both his fearlessness and his ill-advised volatility when he lips off to a cop pointing a gun at the two men after their first "date" in Paul's car.
The main plot also unfolds in short order, as Rudy rescues a mentally disabled 14-year-old boy from the world's worst mom, a grouchy, foul-mouthed hooker and druggie who lives down the hall in his apartment building. When she is carted off to the slammer, Rudy moves in with Paul and they share guardianship of Marco (Isaac Leyva).
"Any Day Now," lovingly produced on a small budget, switches between a few primary modes -- agenda-mentary, romance, courtroom drama, tearjerker -- without engaging very convincingly in any of them.
Rudy and Paul's romance goes from nightclub pickup to a devoted domestic partnership with a special-needs child in the blink of an eye. A more nuanced script could have shown the period's homophobia without making devil's horns sprout from the head of every straight person in a position of power. The one exception is a special-ed teacher who testifies about Marco's progress under the loving guardianship of the two gay men.
Cumming is kitted out with a shoulder-length wig for a look that switches between Count Chocula and a late Joan Crawford. He uses his 100-watt dimpled grin to good advantage, but no amount of charisma will save an actor forced to utter such hackneyed lines as (to Paul), "Here's your chance to kick open dat closet door and do some world-changin'" or (to Marco), "Trust me honey, we can all do with extra luck in this crazy world."
Warned to stay cool on the witness stand in a hearing about keeping Marco, Rudy (natch) launches into full-on righteous histrionics. Paul never seems that annoyed. Must be love.
Claude Peck • 612-673-7977 • Twitter: @ClaudePeck