It’s in the water (1996)

Keri Jo Chapman, Theresa Garrett

This is one of those films, and in this genre there are many that unfortunately fall into this category (I’m looking at you Everything Relative), that you always feel slightly embarrassed to admit that you enjoyed as much as you did (and continue to do so…). It’s cheesy, so full of clichés you could stand a spoon up in them and create decent Brie, and in some cases, namely Sloan, some abysmal acting that makes you cringe so much your shoulders hurt from being up near your ears every time they come on screen. No, really, I know why she is there; she’s there to be the foil for the small town mentality and to illustrate that gullibility and ignorance in order to instigate the It’s in the water plot. Shame since she hacks me off every time I see her, but she is kind of necessary… but mostly she’s there to piss me off. 😉

Alex (Chapman, who doesn’t appear to have been in anything else since, apparently having retired from acting) seems to be playing a part; that of a society, American League daughter, which initially is kind of a surprise, since almost immediately she strikes you as being independent and capable of thought and not in the slightest bit interested in any of that… junk. She has an insanely annoying and controlling mother, of the clichéd, small town, Dallas-esque (TV soap, not the place) type with big hair and makeup, attitudes and opinions to match.

At first glance; Alex is married and does all the things expected of her, barring wearing clothes her mother approves of (bad fashion sense… obviously this equals lesbian and we really should see her turn around coming!) yet she obviously doesn’t agree with the lifestyle or the opinions and actions of the league, she is portrayed, as if she is simply going through the motions for everyone else’s benefit, her life is a charade, she perhaps just doesn’t fully realise it yet. It isn’t until she re-meets her best friend from High School, Grace (Garrett) at the AIDS Hope house where Grace is a nurse and Alex and the League ‘volunteer’, that she begins to more seriously question and buck against the ‘norm’ of the town.

Grace has recently left her abusive marriage (in part because she was having an affair with another (female) nurse) and moved back to her mother’s in Azalea Springs. One evening Grace comes out to Alex whilst explaining why she is back in the small town. This admission seems to be the catalyst in making Alex question everything about her life more than she already had begun to, including a brilliant scene at a video store where she rents a pile of films ostensibly for ‘educational’ purposes… (Though if someone could explain the inclusion of “The Godfather part 3”… I’d be grateful).

It eventually transpires that she’s falling for (not from, except in the eyes of the town and her mother) Grace, which was really kind of inevitable, not in a ‘she’s the only gay in the village’ way, more in a; you could see the attraction from the start way, before Grace said she was a lesbian. This is only a good thing for the plot realism.

The Alex/Grace storyline is handled nicely, not too heavy handed or forced, their chemistry made the eventual romance wholly believable. The same cannot be said for some of the dialogue in this film, which is at times clunky and often badly delivered.

The other main plot line is about Mark a closeted gay guy, who attends a group for reformed homosexual men… which given the range of clichéd (not) gay men in that group, you can tell is clearly not working very well. He meets a man at the group who thought the group was for something else entirely. Theirs is also a nice relationship, but lacks the focus that is given to Alex and Grace as if it’s there more to round out the plot and representation of different people.

Best line? Comes right at the end from Grace to Sloan and is funny more for the surprise than for what is said.

As satirical commentary on small town views, actions and clichés this film covers it all, and gets away with being utterly cheesy because of that… but it is cheesy, so much so that it has its own ‘cheese box’[1]

Additionally I quite like some of the discontinuity/gaffs, such as the tape marks on the floor for ‘Alex’ and ‘Grace’ to stand on… keep an open eye.

I give this film two ratings; personal and technical.

Technically I think 5/10 would be a rather generous rating, overly cheesy, not great acting etc

Personal 8/10 for sheer fun and satire and for not taking itself entirely seriously as a film… which is nice.


[1] Pushing Daisies; the fridge is known as a ‘cheese box’ to Chuck and her Aunts…and rightly so.

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About Nerdsbian

I am a nerd for ALL seasons. I am a genderqueer wlw Librarian who unsurprisingly likes reading...a lot But I love being outside too...sometimes even reading at the same time. Also animals, any and all of them. Never yet met one that didn't get on with me and vice versa. I do a couple of different voluntary jobs (animal charity related) and have recently completed my MA.
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