Brother on the Down-Low Outed by His Kid in DVD Comedy
Dirty Laundry (2006)
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Actors: Loretta Devine, Jenifer Lewis, Veronica Webb, Alec Mapa, Greg Alan
Directors: Maurice Jamal
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2008
Run Time: 108 minutes
DVD Review by Kam Williams
Good (2 stars)
Sheldon (Rockmond Dunbar), a writer for a Manhattan magazine, hasn’t been back to Georgia in over a decade because he hasn’t figured out how to break the news to family and friends in his tight-knit black community that he's a homosexual. To protect his secret, he's created an alter ego, and goes by the name of Patrick in New York City, where he's secretly shacking up with a flamboyant white guy named Ryan (Joey Costello).
Their gay bliss is suddenly shattered when a little angel named Gabriel (Aaron Grady Shaw) unexpectedly arrives on their doorstep. Turns out that the boy is Sheldon's ten year-old son, the result of a liaison from when he was still on the down-low.
Now, the emotionally-needy kid has been sent to find his father by his paternal grandmother, Evelyn (Loretta Devine). Ill-equipped either to explain Gabriel's appearance or to handle the responsibility of raising a child, Sheldon heads to Georgia, his young offspring in tow.
So unfolds Dirty Laundry, an out of the closet comedy written and directed by Maurice Jamal. The bulk of the movie takes place in and around matriarch Evelyn's house, where we meet an array of colorful African-American characters, familiar cookie-cutter stereotypes ranging from the Greek chorus of Bible-thumping church ladies to the shameless narcissist (Jenifer Lewis) to the clueless Neanderthal (Jamal) to the sassy trash-talker (Sommore).
Because the film's opening act is littered with the generally jive behavior of an assortment of two-dimensional stick figures, it's a little hard swallow the notion that Sheldon and his lifemate would be so readily embraced. Even though homophobia is undoubtedly an issue in the ’hood, the motley ensemble's supportive response to Sheldon's revealing his sexual preference proves to be a surprisingly sweet way to bring down the curtain on this well-meaning message movie.