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Review: A case for redefining 'Family'

'The Right to Love: An American Family' tackles an important issue but could be more effective in its call to action.

September 06, 2012|By Gary Goldstein
  • A scene from "The Right to Love: An American Family."
A scene from "The Right to Love: An American Family." (Handout )

Cassie Jaye's "The Right to Love: An American Family" is a well-assembled documentary about a vital topic — marriage equality — that revolves around popular YouTube bloggers Jay Foxworthy and Bryan Leffew, an appealing and articulate pair of married gay dads.

Yet, it's expressly because the film is so intimately focused on these two men and their adopted young children (instead of, say, profiling a variety of LGBT-led families) that it often resembles more of a self-serving home video diary than the broad-based call to action that was clearly intended.

Jaye does, however, succinctly recapture many key moments from the national gay marriage debate that have occurred since California's Proposition 8 passed in 2008. Utilizing archival TV news footage, cable talk show bits with such naysayers as Kirk Cameron and Ann Coulter, an enlightened interview with the Rev. Justin R. Cannon and chats with Leffew's selectively supportive family members, the movie paints a clear picture of the polarizing, largely unsettled state of marriage equality.

Jaye's later segue, though, into such other LGBT-related topics as bullying, teen suicide and gay adoption laws, while all crucial issues, ends up diffusing the film's initial thrust.

Still, if the movie makes even a few fence-sitters rethink the concept of family or the touchy conflation of marriage and religion, it will have achieved its goal.

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"The Right to Love: An American Family." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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