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Shake It All About (November 22/03)

Shake It All About just might be the first unabashedly sentimental romance featuring gay men instead of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.

The film stars Mads Mikkelsen and Troels Lyby as Jacob and Jorgen, a seemingly happy gay couple that share a lot of the same friends - including a beautiful woman named Caroline (Charlotte Munck). After sharing a passionate kiss with Caroline at his own birthday party, Jacob finds himself thinking about the woman more and more. The two eventually begin an affair, which Jorgen eventually finds out about (and, in a twist right out of a Douglas Sirk flick, Jorgen loses an eye after crashing his car in a jealous rage). Jacob and Jorgen finally break up, but that's not necessarily the end of the story.

Aside from the homosexual angle, there's not much in Shake It All About we haven't seen before. But the movie remains entertaining primarily because the characters are so likeable, even when they're doing fairly unlikable things. Though we're never told whether or not Jacob's always been bisexual or if this is just a one-time thing, his reluctance to choose a side never becomes as obnoxious as it could have. Like Alyssa in Chasing Amy, Jacob seems to be the sort that's attracted to the person first and the gender second.

The film's portrait of Jacob and Jorgen's relationship feels authentic, though their cartoonish gay friends are a tad much. The screenplay, by Klaus Bondam and Hella Joof (who also directs), doesn't make the mistake of idealizing their love; the two have fights and generally behave the way one expects a long-term couple to. But the predictable nature in which events unfolds lends the film a sitcom-esque quality, one that oftentimes threatens to undermine the central characters' effectiveness. This is particularly true of the conclusion, which adopts a tone of a mystical fairy-tale; it's undeniably cute, but awfully silly.

Still, the winning performances by the three leads keeps the film's occasional missteps easy enough to take. And hey, how many other movies are around that feature a guy riding a horse to win back the man he loves?

out of

© David Nusair