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Common Ground (2000)

This movie contains three short stories dealing with the theme of homosexuality. In "A Friend of Dorothy", a woman joins the Navy during the 1950's and discovers lesbianism. In "Mr. Roberts... See full summary »

Director:

Donna Deitch
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Playwright Tony Kushner adapts his political epic about the AIDS crisis during the mid-1980s and centers the story around a group of separate but connected individuals.

Stars: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Erik Knudsen ... Young Johnny Burroughs
Brittany Murphy ... Dorothy Nelson
Jason Priestley ... Billy
Margot Kidder ... Mrs. Nelson
Helen Shaver ... Janet
Mimi Rogers ... McPherson
David Hemblen ... Chester Burroughs
Aron Tager ... Mr. Manos
Paulino Nunes ... Navy Recruiter
Brian Kerwin ... Chuck Dawson
Shirley Josephs Shirley Josephs ... Mrs. Manos
Ann Holloway Ann Holloway ... Mrs. Burgess
Patti Medwid Patti Medwid ... Mrs. Dawson
Sean O'Neill ... Barber Shop Boy
Andrew Butcher ... Barber Shop Boy
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Storyline

This movie contains three short stories dealing with the theme of homosexuality. In "A Friend of Dorothy", a woman joins the Navy during the 1950's and discovers lesbianism. In "Mr. Roberts", a teacher in a 1970's classroom struggles with his closeted gay status. Finally in "Amos and Andy", a father wrestles with his own emotional acceptance of a present day wedding between his son and another man. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, sexuality and violence | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 January 2000 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Historias comunes See more »

Filming Locations:

Milton, Ontario, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Dorothy presents a blue discharge to the school principal in the 1950s. Blue discharges were discontinued in 1947. Further, the principal calls it a "dishonorable" discharge. Blue discharges were neither honorable nor dishonorable; they were administrative. See more »

Quotes

Don: There's no wrong time for a show tune.
See more »

Connections

References The Wizard of Oz (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Too many cooks make for a bland dish...
25 January 2002 | by cchaseSee all my reviews

As a gay man and a rabid movie fan, I have been fortunate to witness the growing pains of the gay and lesbian film genre first hand. We've come so far from when gay characters in film were lisping, screamingly neurotic, self-hating stereotypes to the present day, where those cliches still pop up occasionally, but mostly in bad parodies and even worse "comedies." That said, even with the caliber of films that have come before (LONGTIME COMPANION, PHILADELPHIA, BOYS DON'T CRY, etc.), there's quite a bit of proof that gay filmmaking still has a long way to go. Part of that evidence can be found in movies like COMMON GROUND.

Made almost as a knee-jerk response to HBO's vastly superior IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK 2, which addressed three generations of lesbians who lived in the same house (sound familiar?), GROUND has all the ingredients for a superb film...and maybe too many cooks to stir the pot. Prominent playwrights Paula Vogel (HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE) Terence McNally (THE RITZ, CORPUS CHRISTI), and Harvey Fierstein (TORCH SONG TRILOGY) each contribute a segment, which all by itself made me want to give it a try. But all the sassiness, the controversy, the juice and personality that makes the work of these authors so invigorating has been sucked out of these stories and replaced with such a sense of SOLEMN EARNESTNESS, that it comes off as a third-grade level history lesson; "Our Town" with queers.

With Eric Stoltz narrating and providing the movie's connective link, as a Vietnam war vet who has lived all his life in Homer, the small town where the stories are set, we are guided through three different eras and situations:

In the first, (a knowing nod to HBO's effort), Brittany Murphy (DON'T SAY A WORD) plays a young woman ostracized first by her family, then by the town when she dares to "experiment" with another woman.

The second and best segment of the bunch, finds Jonathan Taylor-Thomas as a senior high school swimming champ coming to terms with his sexuality, the price he pays for wanting to be himself, at the risk of raising the ire of his bigoted classmates, and his attempts to turn to his favorite teacher, French instructor "Monsieur Robert" (JEFFREY'S Steven Weber), who is struggling himself with balancing his career while living in the closet.

The last (and the cheesiest) of the vignettes comes from, of all people, Harvey Fierstein, who also does a guest cameo as the planner/co-ordinator of Homer's first all-male wedding. ALLY MCBEAL alum James LeGros plays the more jittery of the two grooms, who's definitely having second thoughts, but gets a nudge towards the altar from--can you believe it?--his crusty, old-fashioned, initially disapproving curmudgeon of a father, who had actually planned on leading the protest staged by his vet buddies at the town's memorial, which is located conveniently near the church. And who better to play the crusty curmudgeon than Ed Asner? Beau Bridges even puts in an appearance as the not entirely approving-nor-disapproving church padre. And look for Thea Gill (pre-QUEER AS FOLK) as half of the lesbian couple serving as surrogate moms for the new groom's impending addition to the family.

I never thought I'd accuse Harvey of being 'cute' with his writing, but this is so cute and oozingly precious, that you may find yourself gagging more than Linda Lovelace. Maybe it's truly a sign of progress that I can even take advantage of the opportunity to criticize this movie, since once upon a time, we were lucky to get even a halfway decent movie-of-the-week, let alone a full-length made-for-cable feature.

But unless you've never seen WILL AND GRACE or SIX FEET UNDER or QUEER AS FOLK, never heard of Brandon Teena or Matthew Sheppard or Stonewall or RuPaul, and you think that "camp" is something that's only related to the Army or the Boy Scouts, COMMON GROUND will hold no new surprises for you whatsoever. It's so safe and sanitary, you could even show it to your liberal-minded grandma and her friends.

And that's the important question here, folks. If this was to be their introduction to the subject of being gay, would you want to?

I'd say maybe as an appetizer. Then show them the first few episodes of QAF as the main course, with a helping of SIX FEET UNDER for dessert. Then top it off with WILL AND GRACE for coffee.

But please, don't feed them this all by itself. It will probably leave them feeling hungry for more. I just felt empty at the thought of such a missed opportunity.

Nice try, Showtime. Now, how about giving us THE FRONT RUNNER?


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