Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Spork contemplating a spork.
Spork, dir. J. B. Ghuman, Jr., 2010 USA, 90 min. 
Sun. 6/19, 1:00 @ Castro, SPOR19C

“Spork” (Savannah Stehlin) is the nickname given to a girl-identified 13-year-old with an intersex condition. (She views herself as something of a hybrid, hence the name.) Her classmates mostly view her as a freak and an outcast, as much for her frizzy hair as for her unusual biology. With help from some of her friends, including the irrepressible neighbor girl Tootsie Roll (Sydney Park), Spork decides to enter the dance competition in hopes of winning the $236 prize in spite of her lack of rhythm and graceful moves.
The cast is young and energetic, although at times a bit too much so; Tootsie Roll, in particular, brings to mind the phrase, “Try decaf!” The story is very, very, very, very, very weird — oh, did I mention that it’s weird? — but cute and definitely unforgettable. The character of Chunk (Kevin Chung) is a standout, the sort of offbeat friend many of us might’ve wished for in our early teens; unfortunately, the mean girl Betsy Byotch and her crew are broadly drawn caricatures of the cliché. Spork is also a landmark in the portrayal of people with intersex conditions in comedy, in that the intersex condition itself is peripheral to the comedy: the character is mostly just a misfit, with many other facets to focus on. Keep an eye out for several notable cameos, including Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) as the sex-ed teacher, Beth Grant (Sissy from Sordid Lives) as the principal, and Chad Allen (from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and more recently the Donald Strachey mysteries) as Loogie, a friend of Spork’s brother Spit who gets a girl pregnant.

The screener copy I was given for review was a rough cut, missing some special effects and other post-production niceties. I am hopeful that the final cut will also smooth out some of the rough spots in the film itself, giving it a better flow. As it stands, I’ll say “Recommended.”

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