Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom
Directed by Patrik-Ian Polk
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 101 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 24.99
Release Date: February 3, 2009
Review Date: January 25, 2009
When a television series becomes a feature film, the filmmakers must take special care that they introduce characters already known to a TV audience to those in the theater who have never seen the series before and at the same time not bore their core audience who‘s already infinitely familiar with the characters before they ever walk into the theater. This is the one thing about Patrik-Ian Polk’s Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom that the writer-director got stunningly right. Never having seen the series before either on Logo or on DVD, I had no idea who any of these characters were before spinning the disc. And yet, within a half hour, I was perfectly comfortable with all in the group (and also eager to find out even more backstories on them by getting my hands on the season box sets). Sadly, though, the film’s writer-director hasn’t really given his show the expansive feel of a feature film. The movie instead feels like a series of episodes strung together bopping back and forth with each principal character until the conflicts are all resolved in a TV-friendly manner. The dramatic depths that a feature film can offer just aren’t exploited to their fullest in the script, and that’s the film’s biggest disappointment.
Screenwriter Noah (Darryl Stephens) and his boy friend Wade (Jensen Atwood) have decided on a marriage to take place at Wade’s summer home at Martha’s Vineyard. Along for the festivities are wedding planner Alex (Rodney Chester), shaky married couple Eddie (Jonathan Julian) and Chance (Douglas Spearman), horndog Ricky (Christian Vincent) with his date Brandon (Gary LeRoi Gray), and surprise guest rap star Baby Gat (Jason Steed). During the course of the long weekend, there are the usual squabbles, misunderstandings, break-ups, and make-ups leading up to the wedding vows. Before they happen, a few unexpected family members show up to make things even more interesting.
With its weekend cadre of gay men living and loving in their own unique way, the film reminded me most of Terrence McNally’s Love, Valour, Compassion. Like that film, Jumping the Broom features couples who have unspoken passions and are hiding infidelities and other secrets (though Love, Valour, Compassion covers three weekend situations and is infinitely more dramatic and poignant than this film). The situations and emotions on display here seem sitcom-light: lots of stumbling on something innocent (a romp in a hot tub, a drunken late night kiss) and misunderstanding in fits of pique which simple explanations would easily render moot. There is one cherishable moment: when the resident house stud confesses what he’s really been hiding and feeling in a tear-filled early morning revelation that’s not only the best scene in the film but also the best acted (by Christian Vincent) putting some of the other somewhat amateurish theatrics to shame. And the wedding vows sequence is also nicely written and delivered by the two leading men bringing the movie to a satisfying close. It’s not great drama or great comedy, but it gets the job done.
Leading men Darryl Stephens and particularly Jensen Atwood make a believable couple, sorting through conflicting feelings and a continual stream of put-downs and wisecracks. Less effective is the other couple Jonathan Julian and Douglas Spearman who seem less free and easy in their camaraderie with the others and with one another. Jennia Fredrique puts in a flashy but somewhat overdone appearance as Noah’s boss, but for overdone, nothing beats the flaming of Rodney Chester’s outrageous Alex. Tony-winner Tonya Pinkins makes a brief appearance in a couple of scenes as Wade’s disapproving mother, but the role isn‘t particularly well written, and Pinkins can‘t do much with it. Phoebe Snow provides a lovely song “Something Real” for the wedding sequence and appears on screen to perform it.
Though the liner notes convey that the image is full screen, it’s actually framed at 1.78:1 and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. Though the image is expectedly clean given its recent vintage, the image is surprisingly soft with only average black levels and shadow detail. Fleshtones do appear natural and color overall is well delivered. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track places the dialog into the center channel and reserves the surrounds for the heavy concentration of music that often overpowers the visuals. It’s well recorded, but volume levels are sometimes a bit over pumped compared to the sound design for the rest of the movie.
“Noah’s Arc: Behind the Broom” is a 21 ½-minute “making of” documentary featuring comments from writer-director Patrik-Ian Polk, producer Carol Ann Shine, and all of the principal cast members, all expressing their delight to be working together again after the series was canceled. It’s in nonanamorphic widescreen.
Director Patrik-Ian Polk offers his director’s diaries, off-the-cuff video clips shot during the film’s production schedule. Rather random and not very interesting, it’s in 4:3 and runs 12 ½ minutes.
“Noah’s Wedding Video” is home video footage shot during the reception sequence of the movie and set to music as a wedding video might have been shot. It runs for 1 ¾ minutes in 4:3.
“Cast Photo Shoots” is a montage of shots and interviews taken during the photography session for the movie’s poster. It runs 6 ¼ minutes and is in nonanamorphic widescreen.
There are eleven deleted scenes which can be viewed individually or in one 18 ¼-minute chunk. None contain any material absolutely necessary for the film and were all wisely eliminated.
The disc offers excerpts from Logo’s Shirts & Skins series. They’re in nonanamorphic widescreen and run 21 ¾ minutes.
The disc offers, among others, previews of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, The Big Gay Sketch Show, and Rick & Steve.
An entertaining enough comedy-drama, Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom gives the show’s fans more of what they enjoyed during that series’ two season television run. The bonuses on the disc will also entertain those who can’t get enough of these actors or their characters.