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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rainbow Reviews! (The 1st Unicorn Babble movie review) - Amanda (2009)

Greetings, darlings! Welcome to the first Rainbow Review here on Unicorn Babble! 

In what I hope will be an ongoing babble, I will address/review/critique or otherwise babble about movies “of interest” to an LGBTQ audience. I will rate these films good, bad or indifferent for their potential impact on the LGBTQ community, either internally or in the eyes of the outside world. Movies will be selected on my whim, with no particular criteria as far as release date, etc. Sound like fun? I hope so! Let’s jump in with...

Amanda (2009) – Adrenaline Motion Pictures / Osiris Entertainment. Writer/Director: Steve Marra

Rainbow Rating: DD (Destructive and Disappointing)

NOTE: Contains SPOILERS, lots of SPOILERS.
(However, since I don’t recommend viewing the film, you may not mind having it spoiled for you.)

An open letter to Steve Marra

Dear Steve;

It was with eager anticipation that I sat down to watch your film, ‘Amanda’. The premise was both intriguing and engaging: “A successful businessman meets the woman of his dreams, Amanda, only to discover she harbors a shocking little secret about her past.”  Seeing as the movie came up in the ‘Gay and Lesbian films’ section of Netflix, the ‘shocking little secret’ wasn't terribly, well, secret. If anyone was in doubt, the poster made it even more obvious, showing a pair of female legs with a pair of men’s boxer shorts around her shapely ankles.

Steve, this movie had SO much potential! And it came so close to fulfilling that potential – and then threw it to the floor and stomped all over it, urinated on it for good measure, and kicked it into the corner.

I am fighting for the words to express to you how much you let us down with this flick – not only the LGBTQ community, but yourself, too. The movie actually felt disjointed at the points where it diverged from its potential to the train-wreck it became in its final minutes, as if even you knew you were selling out. In case you are somehow not aware, let me explain where you went right – and wrong.

This movie had the opportunity to make some really positive statements to the world at large about LGBTQ folks, especially transgender men and women. Joe’s journey from homophobe to a more accepting and open-minded individual – demonstrated by his changing reactions to seeing gay and lesbian people – worked. In the movie, as in real life, people are often offended or disgusted by things that they haven’t been exposed to before. As Joe’s ignorance about gay couples erodes, his compassion and understanding increases. Good work there.

The relationship between Joe and Amanda was handled really well in the beginning. (However, naming the transwoman Amanda – ‘a man, duh!’ – was unnecessary. It was probably meant to be clever, but it overshot that straight to insulting. Lose two points for that one, Steve.) When they met, they were undeniably attracted to each other. Her reticence to get involved was spot-on, especially her keeping sex at arm’s length as they got closer and closer. We did think she was making a questionable choice by not telling him about her ‘past’ before they got married, but we tried to understand her fear and desire to be accepted and loved before revealing that she once had a penis. When Joe rejected Amanda the morning after the wedding, when she confessed she had been born a man, even that felt true. He was surprised, he felt deceived, and it was a natural reaction.

That in no way contributes to the ‘DD’ Rainbow Rating (for ‘Destructive and Disappointing) I've given your film. You get that rating for the ‘surprise’ ending. The transwoman? She’s not trans. She was born female, was always female, and – yup! – is still female.

Turns out she lied, as part of a wager between her super-rich parents about whether anyone could love her unconditionally. In what plays out as an unnecessary and completely ridiculous plot ‘twist’,  Amanda’s parents made some kind of bet that if she found unconditional love by her 26th birthday, she would inherit a fantastic sum of money. If she didn't – nada. So, as the deadline approached, she snared a very na├»ve man, formed a relationship with him that may (or may not) have involved real love on her part, then the morning after their wedding ‘tested’ his love by telling him the absolutely worst thing she could think of, something that you sent the message loud and clear is sure to disgust any man and make him hate and despise her: that she is a transwoman. 

Steve, Steve, Steve… I’m holding my head now, shaking it. You came so close to making a really meaningful and powerful picture. The weeks after Joe left Amanda for being (supposedly) a transwoman, when he agonized his way through therapy, speed-dating, and other futile attempts to forget about her and move on with his life, were golden. His slow realization that he really did love Amanda, no matter what gender she was born, was even more so. When he made up his mind and went back to her, and declared his unconditional love, and his belief that love has no gender, that should have been the triumphant, shining moment. If you had ended the film there, you would have gotten a ‘Big O’ Rainbow Rating (Outstanding!). Instead, you caved and turned what could have been a boundary-pushing breakthrough film into a standard boy-meets-girl Hollywood piece of pablum that elevates and enlightens no one, and in fact sends the decidedly twisted message that “love has no gender – as long as it’s really between a bio-boy and a bio-girl”.

BOO, Steve. Bad call. You had the chance to make a very accepting and LGBTQ-friendly statement, but decided to go with ‘insulting and homophobic’ instead. I will do you the credit of dearly hoping that originally you had intended to tell the uplifting story of a bio-man and a transwoman finding unconditional love, but some studio executive stepped in and told you that you would only get the funding if you scrapped it and changed the ending (and added in the garbage about the guy in the black BMW) – like Jenny and the saga of ‘Lez Girls’ in the L Word, but in real life. Please tell me that’s what happened. And if it is, I hope you’ll try again someday – and stick to your guns next time and don’t throw us under the bus. The LGBTQ community faces enough challenges without movie-makers telling the world that a happy ending only comes to straight folks.

Extremely sincerely –

The Babbling Unicorn


Have you seen this movie? What were your thoughts on it? How do you feel about stories like this one, that denigrate LGBTQ people or make them the butt of jokes/insults?

OR - Want to recommend another movie for the Unicorn to review?

Sound off! The Unicorn wants to know! And – as always – be fabulous to each other!


  1. Dreadful movie with the wrong message.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on it, and glad I wasn't the only one who thought so. I imagine the main reason most people kept watching was that they hoped to see an uplifting, empowering ending - not the cop-out! Argh. Sell-out moviemakers make kittens cry.

  2. Kittens crying. I haven't seen Amanda, but I would love to have you review Coffee Date. I enjoyed it, but would be curious to hear your thoughts on it.

    1. I'll be happy to look for it! Thanks for the comment and the fabulous suggestion!

  3. I'd love to see your thoughts about 'Kaboom'. I believe it's on Netflix; if not, I can e-mail you the file. Excellent review. I'd really like to see this movie removed from the 'Gay/Lesbian' section, though.

    1. Hi, James - thank you for the suggestion! I just found Kaboom on Netflix and have added it to my Rainbow Review queue!

      Thanks for reading, and keep being fabulous!


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Please be kind to each other - I welcome discussion and conversation, but if you're deliberately nasty to someone, that makes kittens cry. Let's keep it fabulous!

~ The Unicorn