GARRISON KEILLOR: THE MAN ON THE RADIO IN THE RED SHOES
★ 1/2 out of four stars. Not rated. Theater: Oak Street.
"The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes" is an utterly pedantic TV documentary inexplicably given life on the big screen. Here, the filmmakers show different performances, talk to fans and members of the show, and follow Keillor as he rambles on about New York, death and whatever else, all the while revealing nothing new.
This would be best served as filler for a slow afternoon on public television (it is, in fact, part of PBS's "American Masters" series, and is a weak entry even there). Oak Street Cinema could get a dozen better films or TV shows -- including a documentary on the Duluth band Low that, like "Red Shoes," was part of the recent Sound Unseen festival there.
BREAKFAST WITH SCOT
★★ 1/2 out of four stars
Rating: PG-13; thematic content, some drug material and language.
Why is "Breakfast With Scot" in theaters instead of set for broadcast on the Lifetime, Hallmark or ABC Family channels? You'll probably find yourself thinking the same thing, but that isn't to say the film isn't entertaining -- just an incredible anachronism. The setup for "Breakfast With Scot" is almost a cliché: A gay couple get stuck with the child of a deceased relative and find themselves having to learn how to be parents.
Predictably, one of the partners, Eric, is a former hockey pro turned sportscaster, which means he's in the closet at work. The twist is that instead of the kind of all-American jock kid the producers tossed into Jack's life on "Will & Grace," Scot shows up on Eric and Sam's doorstep with a charm bracelet on his wrist and a feather boa in his suitcase.
The issue for Sam and Eric is both simple and the key to the story: Do you let the kid be who he wants to be, or try to make him "normal"? Because Sam is more comfortable in his own skin, and sexuality, he becomes the more permissive parent. Meanwhile, Eric tries to make Scot into something he's not, not only because he wants the kid to have what he perceives as an easier life, but also because he's terrified that Scot's unabashed flamboyance will call attention to Eric's own sexuality.
Again, predictably, we know the ending from the opening credits: Eric and Sam learn to love Scot for who he is, and Eric learns to love himself.
The film, based on the novel by Michael Downing, benefits from solid performances by the always reliable Tom Cavanagh as Eric and equally appealing Ben Shenkman as Sam. But what elevates it way above the merely adequate script by Sean Reycraft and Laurie Lynd's competent direction is young Noah Bernett as Scot. This kid is natural, credible, appealing and, at every turn, real. The movie sags when he's not onscreen. He makes a nice film much better than that.
DAVID WIEGAND, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE