What better way to poke fun at gun-ownership issues than to use laughs for criticism. This is the well-intentioned journey that writer-director Matt Cooper embarks on with Is That A Gun in Your Pocket? Set in Rockford, Texas, the film presents a small family, with Jenna (Andrea Anders) as the mother and wife who, after a shooting incident with her son, decides to start a movement to get rid of guns. However, her husband Glenn (Matt Passmore) happens to be a hunting aficionado. His hobby is “his only outlet.” It is in these early scenes that the film establishes that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, in the most unsubtle way possible.
The film, loosely based on Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, which had a woman take on the impossible task of ending the Peloponnesian War by withholding sexual favors from their partners in order to push them to consider peace. However, in this movie, this “battle of the sexes” is presented in a raunchy manner that is far from a quest for peace and quickly becomes about tacky jokes on women versus men and “the power of pussy.” The assumption here is so gendered and reductive, it’s as if all men were pro-gun ownership and all women were pro-gun control. This perspective falls far short of capturing an important social issue. A decent cast here is not enough to save this film from its screenplay. There are a series of events and complications — contrived mostly –deployed for laughs that are just not funny. For instance, Jenna decides to run for mayor only after her husband publicly announces that she is too busy for anything other than running the household.
The cast includes a married couple trying to conceive a baby. Luis (Horatio Sanz) and Connie (Fernanda Romero) play an exaggerated version of a Latino stereotype, complete with heavy accents, lots of cleavage for Connie and “a spicy attitude.” They are supposed to be comedy relief, but Cooper’s approach feels as skittish as the exaggerated Texas accent and narrow-mindedness bestowed on the male characters. Speaking of exaggeration , as the women in the film start acting overtly sexual to entice their men to give up their guns, the “sex strike” even makes it to the evening news.
When all is said and done, there is a big probability that the audience may find itself uncomfortable with the full length of this movie. The final montage takes the raunchy humor to unfortunate consequences and misses the mark, even for laughs. It is unfortunate that Cooper does not take full advantage of a great supporting cast, like Cloris Leachman, who plays an even more exaggerated version of the outspoken and over-sexed older lady. Or John Heard as the sheriff, who is perpetually biased against listening to the women in his town.
This movie, billed as a comedy, only left me eager to laugh. More sitcom than film, Is That A Gun in Your Pocket? has some funny skit-like moments but overall falls short of being a good movie. Most of the comedic moments rely on crude jokes that are superficial. I would prefer to watch “South Park” any day, those crude jokes are at least insightful about many social issues, including gun control.
Is That A Gun in Your Pocket? runs 97 minutes and is rated R. It opens on Sept. 30, and it will be playing in South Florida at the AMC Sunset Place. For nationwide screenings, please click here. All images and a screener links was provided by The Vault, Inc. for the purposes of this review.