15 January 2013 | mbs
Enjoyable enough mix of The Expendables and The Birdcage (somehow this actually works)
The Parade (i keep forgetting that that's the actual title as the parade itself doesn't even happen til the last 10 or 15 minutes of the movie) is a mostly enjoyable comedic farce that starts out like a guy ritchie film (big tough gang affiliated guy gets his dog shot at and immediately wants revenge...now! but not before taking the dog to a vet and holding the vet at gunpoint to fix the dog!) you think that that British gangster tone is what's gonna dominate the rest of the film but then the guy ritchie vibe gradually gives way to a variation on The Birdcage--with the vet and his wedding planner boyfriend getting beyond tired of being signaled out for being gay (their little pink car is continually getting spray pained curses and insults on and in fact the wedding planner is part of a lgbt group planning a gay pride march that is in danger of being torn apart by a massive group of skinheads) The vet eventually gets the idea to hire the gang-boss whom he was scared of as a big burly protector for the parade--and in the process maybe, maybe teach him how to be a little more macho, and how to stand up for himself so he's not being picked on by every single person in his life outside his boyfriend (even his own dad is just such a jerk to him in one quick scene) This then turns into an Expendables kind of film as the gang-boss tries to get his old friends to help him protect the group from the raging skinheads(essentially becoming an old gang of aging but still tough as nails gang of ex mercenaries and soldiers getting back together for one last seemingly impossible mission) somehow the film also manages to mix in bits of Analyze This (trying to teach the not very macho guy to act tough to impress the other mercenaries in said gang--which was a lot like when De Niro had to try to toughen up Billy Crystal so that the other mobsters would take him seriously at the end of that movie)
Its The Birdcage Meets The Expendables basically--and you know what? the 2 movies manage to merge their plot lines together a lot smoother then you'd expect such a film that brought those 2 wildly different films to mind. It helps that the film is very well acted and very well written (and directed) Both the gang-boss and the schlubby vet who yearns to be tough emerge as very complex characters both of whom have things in their past they regret, and things in their present they love but would love to be able to appreciate more then they currently do. The interactions between the 2 men really are the heart of this film and i really think the film wouldn't be half as affecting if the 2 actors didn't have as much chemistry playing off each other as they do. They're both well acted and well written leading characters and the fact that you can feel for the both of them helps the film gets its point across that both guys essentially have much much much more in common then either one would care to admit.
The other supporting characters are pretty good too--the tough as nails fiancée of the gang-boss really steals a good number of her scenes she's in, and you can really understand why the gang-boss would do anything to continue to be engaged to her--even if its not apparent at first, it becomes clear eventually that she is the only person who both understands him and appreciates him for both who he is and who he could be (ie that he's capable of change which not even he believes for most of the movie) If the other mercenaries once they come into the story are not as well defined as the two other men and the fiancée, they at least provide a good counterpoint for the gang-boss and indeed provide a number of humorous moments all their own.
The only problem i think i had with the film overall is that when the ending hit, it was both a lot sadder then anything in the film prior to that would have made you think was coming, and somehow cements the very realness of what you were just watching. Its precisely that sadness that gives the film an unexpected depth of feeling that the film in its light hearted amusing way made you forget the film had. It really hammers home the point of the entire film we were just watching, and if some people feel that that point was more heavy handed then everything that came before--i feel like those people are overlooking just how harsh some of the insults thrown at and how scary some of the actual physical violence that was threatened at the gay couple throughout the film actually were. Also that skinhead rally and climactic parade truly were both scary, tense, and somehow also funny and heartbreaking as well. This film really does strike an amazing balancing act in terms of tone and emotion, but the film mostly manages to maintain that tone by just being good company. Its not a perfect film by any means-its goes on a little longer then it needs to, the film's other lgbt characters never really emerge as actual people, the subplot involving the gang-boss's son seemingly gets resolved out of nowhere, but you know the film is so jovial that none of that really matters, and the film itself is a rather memorable one, one that even if its mostly comedic somehow manages the neat trick of also making you care about its main two characters which carries the film a lot more then you would even think possible when the film started.