Film Review: Is That a Gun In Your Pocket?

This tepid war-of-the-sexes comedy doesn't have much bite, despite its timely topic.
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Rockford, Texas (motto: "Live Free, Shoot Straight”), is a nice, quiet little town where pretty much everybody gets along and everyday life seems largely untouched by decades of social change. Wives keep house and shoulder the bulk of the parenting, husbands bring home the bacon (most of them employed by reclusive millionaire Cyrus Rockford), children go to school and respect their elders, and everybody has a gun, including folks who have a bunch of them. Pistols, shotguns, semi-automatic weapons...they're as wholesome and traditional as high-school baseball games, even if there are girls on the field now.

Glenn and Jenna Keely (Matt Passmore and Andrea Anders) and their two kids—pre-teen Lance (Garren Stitt) and sulky teen hottie Sandy (Katherine McNamara)—are just another ordinary family until Lance takes his dad's handgun to school. All he wants to do is show it to his friends, but it goes off accidentally and while no one is badly hurt (in fact the only person hurt at all is shot in the buttocks, presumably because that's about the only place you can shoot someone and have it sound kind of funny), the incident sparks a firestorm. Jenna wants all the guns out of the house—after all, Glenn's Mauser was in a locked box and Lance, showing the kind of initiative and perseverance kids can always muster for things they're not supposed to do, found the key.

Glenn balks for reasons spelled out, if you will, by the movie's poster, which features a lady's hand tying the barrel of a man's pistol into a knot. So Jenna and her book-club friends call a sex strike—despite the fact that it appears no books are ever read, someone appears to be acquainted with Aristophanes' Lysistrata or perhaps Spike Lee's Chi-Raq...it's hard to decide which seems less likely, especially since Rockford's only movie theatre is more inclined to programming like a festival of movies with "gun" in the title. But the guys, pride wounded, dig in their heels, with hilarious consequences...that appears to have been the intent, anyway.

Humor is, of course, subjective. But when the funniest thing about writer-director Matt Cooper's movie is the title, a decades-old quip by professional bawd Mae West, it's safe to say the project is comedically challenged. The second-funniest thing is Cloris Leachman as requisite trash-talking granny Maxine, also an old joke but one that benefits from Leachman's astringent delivery and Maxine's magnificent disdain for good ol' gals who confess to preferring ice cream to hanky-panky. As topical satire the film is toothless, a string of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus gags about clueless husbands and underappreciated wives spiced up with a bit of juvenile lewdness. In the end, no amount of "torn from today's headlines" window dressing can make it feel like anything more than a vintage sitcom in tacky new clothes.

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