Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage



Knight at the Movies: Fruitvale Station; Girl Most Likely
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

This article shared 4730 times since Wed Jul 24, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

In light of the not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, it's not hard to see why audiences have embraced Fruitvale Station, the fact-based story of the last day in the life of 22 year-old Oscar Grant, yet another young African American male killed amidst tragic circumstances. Critics have also heavily praised the film, the feature debut of 27-year-old Ryan Coogler. And the movie certainly has its share of compelling moments—especially as it heads into the last sequences surrounding Grant's death. But it's also more than a tad manipulative that shading could have helped alleviate.

Early in the morning hours of Jan. 1, 2009, Grant and his girlfriend Sophina were heading back to their Oakland home on the BART train after celebrating New Year's Eve with friends in San Francisco. After an altercation on the packed train, two white transit officers detained Grant and several of his friends on the platform of the Fruitvale stop. As recorded by cellphones and video cameras of the train's passengers, Grant was shot in the back by one of the officers, Johannes Mehserle, and died later that day from his wounds. Mehserle's claim that in the midst of the escalating situation he thought he was reaching for his Taser instead of his gun was accepted in court and he received only a two-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter—a verdict that, not surprisingly, sparked outrage and protests.

Coogler's film (which he also wrote) begins with the actual cellphone footage of Grant being shot and then flashes back to show his final day. Oscar (played by Michael B. Jordan in a career-defining performance) rises with a troubling premonition but his worries are soon displaced by the need to again convince the gorgeous Sophina (the luminous Melonie Diaz) that a recent incident of infidelity was an anomaly. But Sophina isn't so sure Oscar can be trusted and neither does Oscar's mother, Wanda (Octavia Spencer, Oscar winner for The Help who also produced Fruitvale, along with Forrest Whitaker).

There are reasons for this—Oscar has had a couple of stints in jail and his road to recovery and his relationship with Sophina and his mother has been shaky. He's a bit of a hothead and is still lying to Sophina—about losing his job and the fact that he's resorted to selling pot to make ends meet. Although Oscar keeps making mistakes he wants to turn his life around,and his relationship with his infant daughter is solid.

For a while Coogler has kept the manipulation mostly in check (an incident with a dog hit by a car which Oscar witnesses being a major exception) but with the scene where Oscar picks up his daughter from day care, the balance unnecessarily tips. From that point, every goodbye, every conversation—no matter how benign—is weighed with the knowledge that it will be Oscar's last and Coogler can't resist stressing this. By the time the young couple head out for their New Year's Eve celebration there's almost a sense of the lamb going to the slaughter.

Coogler redeems his film with the actual incident that begins on the train ride home from an evening of fun and fireworks in San Francisco. Oscar's friends come on to two young women, who promptly kiss and cuddle, making their preferences clear. The other passengers are loudly supportive of the women but in the next moment Oscar is spotted by a hated fellow ex-con and things quickly escalate, leading to their horrendous conclusion.

Flawed though it is by overstating the obvious, Fruitvale Station is also sensitively acted and well-intentioned—and has the bonus of offering a thought-provoking alternative to the mammoth superhero blockbuster (take your pick) playing next door.

Based on the savage reviews and no doubt less-than-stellar box office for Girl Most Likely—SNL alumna Kristeen Wiig's follow-up to the massively successful Bridesmaids—there's apparently not much room in the hearts of moviegoers for a gentle, female-driven comedy. With its plethora of whacked-out, eccentric characters and sometimes hard-to-believe situations, some of the negative criticism is admittedly warranted.

And yeah, the movie—written by Michelle Morgan and helmed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (HBO's Cinema Verite and American Splendor)—does have its sitcomish roots. But it also provides lots of laughs and surrounds Wiig with a great supporting cast for her to underact with—including Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Glee's Darren Criss, Bob Balaban and stage actor Christopher Fitzgerald. What it skips on—and here I'm going to sound as prudish as Grandma Moses—is foul language (not one F-bomb is spewed), crude situations (mostly) and vulgarity, hence the movie's gentle spirit (in itself, a reason to recommend it).

The story follows Wiig as Imogene, a girl from the trashy side of the tracks in New Jersey who has always dreamed of a big career in Manhattan as a renowned playwright. After initial promise, Imogene's once-potential career is floundering, she's been fired, her snooty boyfriend has moved on and her snobbish gal pals are doing their best to ditch her. Imogene stages a phony suicide attempt and wakes up in the psych ward with only one option—returning home to Jersey in the custody of her sexed-up, gambling-addicted mother (Bening). Once there, Imogene finds that mom has rented out her room to a wannabe singer (Criss), her brother, who runs a crab shack on the boardwalk is still obsessed with his odd aquatic/science experiments, and that mother has taken a new lover—a purported CIA agent named George Bouche (Dillon). The scene is set for a broad class-conscious comedy with a lot of sight gags and droll one-liners from Wiig and company.

Subtle it ain't, and it's easy to see that Wiig is going to need to expand her underplaying shtick to keep the attention of movie audiences but Girl Most Likely is also a lot more entertaining than the majority of its critical raspberries would suggest.

This article shared 4730 times since Wed Jul 24, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Actor formerly known as Ellen Page comes out as trans
Elliot Page has come out as transgender. The star of movies like Juno and TV shows like The Umbrella Academy, formerly known as Ellen Page, posted about his transition on social media on Dec. 1, according ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Singer Justin Utley, Gus Kenworthy, video game, 'Jackplot' film
OUTMusic Award winner Justin Utley has released the single "All Is Bright"—his first holiday release, a press release noted. Utley described the song as a little-bit of Lumineers/Mumford & Sons mixed in with a lot-a-bit of ...

Gay News

Laverne Cox 'in shock' but okay after transphobic attack
Transgender actress/activist Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) said she was "definitely in shock" and "triggered" but okay after an anti-trans attack while walking with a friend in a Los Angeles park, USA Today reported. ...

Gay News

'The Prom' out Dec. 11 on Netflix
The Prom—a musical-comedy film directed by Ryan Murphy and adapted by Chad Beguelin and Bob Martin (from their and Matthew Sklar's 2018 Broadway musical of the same name)—will be out on Netflix on Dec. 11. The ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ: Awards, 'Bebop,' Andy Cohen, Mariah Carey, Revry
The American Music Awards aired live Nov. 22 and some of the biggest names in music took home awards; Taraji P. Henson hosted. According to, Doja Cat won new artist of the year and Becky ...

Gay News

MOVIES Paul Bettany talks 'Uncle Frank' and his own closeted father
In the critically acclaimed Amazon Studios movie Uncle Frank, out Nov. 25, Paul Bethany (the Avengers and Iron Man series; Master and Commander; The Da Vinci Code) plays the title character—a literature professor who has two ...

Gay News

MOVIES Peter Macdissi reflects on making 'Uncle Frank'
In the Amazon Studios movie Uncle Frank, out Nov. 25, Peter Macdissi plays Walid "Wally" Nadeem—the partner of the title character (played by Paul Bettany). However, the dynamics are a bit different in that Frank Bledsoe ...

Gay News

Hubbard Street Dance presents surrealist film online Dec. 3, 5 and 6
--From a press release - CHICAGO — Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) continues its 2020/21 43rd season with a virtual premiere presentation of new work from former Hubbard Street dancer and acclaimed choreographer Jonathan Fredrickson ...

Gay News

Day With(out) Art: Transmissions launches online Nov. 30
--From a press release - NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2020 — Visual AIDS, the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to raising AIDS and HIV awareness through dialogue, art exhibitions and public forums, announces their ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wentworth Miller, Whitney, lesbian author, Mark Wahlberg
Out actor Wentworth Miller said he doesn't want to be involved in a new season of the TV show Prison Break if it happens, according to Deadline. On Instagram, he thanked fans for his support and ...

Gay News

MOVIES Trans-focused Born to Be to be released Nov. 20
Born To Be—a hit documentary on the country's first hospital center for transgender medical care—will open in Philadelphia on Friday, Nov. 20 (also the Transgender Day of Remembrance) with Gene Sickle Film Center Virtual Cinema. The ...

Gay News

THEATER Pride Arts artistic director resigns; PFP keeps Zak
Two controversial developments have occurred at Pride Arts (in which Pride Films & Plays, PFP, is the main tenant). According to a letter from PrideArts President Cheri Tatar that Windy City Times obtained, PFP Artistic Director ...

Gay News

MOVIES Henry Golding gets intimate in 'Monsoon'
Taking a turn from larger-budget movies such as A Simple Favor and Crazy Rich Asians, actor Henry Golding stars in the intimate film Monsoon. The movie features Golding as Kit, a young British-Vietnamese man who returns ...

Gay News

Mama Gloria, about Chicago's elder, trans, activist icon, to screen
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — Luchina Fisher's Mama Gloria, an important and timely documentary about Chicago's trailblazing Black trans elder icon and activist Gloria Allen, will hold nationwide screenings during Transgender Awareness ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rock Hudson, The CW, Jillian Michaels, Isis King
Among Kino Lorber's December DVD and Blu-ray releases is a three-movie set (with the 1953-54 features Seminole, Golden Blade and Bengal Brigade) starring the late actor Rock Hudson, a press release noted. Co-stars in the films ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Archives OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.