Inspired by a true story, Jorge Ameer's "The House of Adam" tells of an ill-fated romance between a diner waiter, Adam (Jared Cadwell), and a closeted cop, Anthony (John Shaw), living in a mountain community. Adam's boss is Anthony's ailing father (Thomas Michael Kappler); plot complications bring Anthony home with his fiancee (Alexis Karriker), but he finds himself unexpectedly drawn to the hard-working, low-key Adam. Meanwhile, Adam is intermittently harassed by a thuggish trio of profoundly homophobic religious fundamentalists.
There's a viable premise here for a strong picture but this film is no "Brokeback Mountain." It's too slack, too lacking in style and pace, and it nose dives into a superfluous and overly sentimental foray into the supernatural. Since the film evokes no sense of community life, it is hard to tell whether the villainous trio is an aberration or a reflection of local attitudes. Ameer is clearly sincere and impassioned, and Shaw and especially Cadwell are poised, but the film is too vague in too many aspects and too increasingly improbable to succeed.
-- Kevin Thomas
"The House of Adam." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes. At the Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500.
'Allah' may build cultural bridges
"Look at this stage," exclaims Muslim comic Mohammed Amer as he steps into the commodious performance space. "This is a lot of room for a Palestinian!"
"Allah Made Me Funny: Live in Concert" is a showcase for Palestinian, Indian, and African American stand-up comics Amer, Azhar Usman and Preacher Moss, respectively, but it's also a popgun shot across the bow in the culture wars. "Allah" seeks to calm xenophobic concerns by showing that the issues and family foibles of Muslims are the same as anyone's. Happily, it's reasonably successful -- and remarkably clean for a stand-up concert film.
Usman, his expansive presence made larger by a bushy black beard, probably has the best material of the three. He plays off his appearance ("Not many of you have ever seen someone who looks like me smile before") and eloquently rips President George W. Bush for pronouncing "terrorists" as "terrace."
Moss looks primed for Hollywood with his sparkplug stature and polished delivery. He gets mileage out of his physicality and onstage personas, including an angry black weatherman and his mother, dismayed at his conversion to Islam.
The interstitial glimpses of the comics' home lives are insufficient; the film would benefit from more in-depth looks offstage. But it has the potential to be culturally bridging in its way, and that makes looking for Muslim comedy in the Western world worthwhile.
-- Michael Ordona
"Allah Made Me Funny: Live in Concert." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd.; West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500.