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Gray Matters

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: 6/19/2007

All ratings out of


Review by Mike Long, Posted 5/25/2007

Welcome to yet another exciting edition of "Movie with familiar faces which went (pretty much) directly to video". I love this segment where we realize that combined star-power is no guarantee that a movie will play at your local multi-plex Today's entry is Gray Matters, starring Heather Graham, Tom Cavanagh, and Bridget Moynahan. Actually, instead of going straight to video, this one feel as if it should have gone directly to the Lifetime Network. (To be fair, Gray Matters did play in three cities in the U.S.)

Gray (Heather Graham) and Sam (Tom Cavanagh) have many things in common; They share an apartment, they both love old movies, and they both like to dance. They are also brother and sister. Shocked to learn that people often mistake them for a couple, Gray and Sam both become determined to find someone to date. While on a fake dog walk in the Dog Park, Sam meets Charlie (Bridget Moynahan) and is instantly attracted to her. After one date, Sam and Charlie decide to get married. Meanwhile, Gray asks out a series of men and none of them work out.

While in Las Vegas for the wedding, Gray and Charlie get very drunk and share a kiss. Gray is very shocked by this event. She's also very shocked by the fact that she enjoyed kissing Charlie and can't stop thinking about her. Could Gray be gay? And what will she do now that she's attracted to her brother's fiancee?

It's 2007 and I have to ask, "Is homosexuality still a serious issue?" I honestly don't know the answer to that question, and Gray Matters didn't help me. The movie is incredibly lightweight, to the point that it borders on being fluff. (I can't accuse it of being fluff though, as it just barely grazes the fluff bubble.) Yes, the film is essentially a romantic-comedy, but one would assume that Gray's predicament is a serious one. A person facing the fact that they aren't what they think they are seems like a heavy idea, and there's nothing wrong with tackling a serious issue with levity, but this movie never crosses into drama territory. Gray thinks she straight, she kisses Charlie, and suddenly she thinks she's gay. The movie moves along just that quickly and handles the topic just that superficially.

This would all be (sort of) excusable if Gray Matters was indeed funny, but it strikes out in that arena as well. The movie offers a few laughs, most coming from Gray's bizarre co-worker played by Molly Shannon, but for the most part, the jokes fall flat. The dialogue isn't very clever and when a movie stoops to having Gray's therapist Sissy Spacek (or her stunt double at least) doing physical comedy, something has gone wrong.

The unsatisfying nature of Gray Matters can be blamed on several factors. First-time writer/director Sue Kramer states that she made the film because her sister is gay. Well, I don't know if her sister would appreciate this movie which can't decide if coming out is a big deal or not. The cast also comes into question. I've always thought of Heather Graham as someone who was just there (although I did like her turn on Scrubs), but she's almost non-existent here. Her line-readings fall flat and there's no emotion in her performance. Tom Cavanagh is always good for a goofy laugh (again, see Scrubs), but he's too restrained here, and his comedic talents are wasted. Of the primary cast, Bridget Moynahan is actually the best, because as long as she makes Charlie likable and attractive, then she's done her job.

Maybe it's a good thing that in the 21st century, a movie can take a laissez-faire attitude towards being gay. This shows just how far we've come. The problem is that it also makes for a pretty lackluster movie. Gray Matters has an interesting premise that dies on the vine right before our eyes. The familiar cast is wasted in this flat movie.

Gray Matters comes out of the closet and onto DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks fairly good, as the picture is sharp and clear, showing no intrusive grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look especially good here, most notably the pinks and greens. The image has a nice amount of depth, best illustrated in the park scenes. I did note some minor video noise, but this could be exclusive to the preview copy which I received. The DVD features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which exhibits the traits usually found in a romantic-comedy. The dialogue is clear and audible and there's no hissing or distortion. The stereo effects are fine and the in-movie music sounds very good. But, there's very little in the way of surround sound or subwoofer effects.

The Gray Matters DVD contains only two extras, both of which are uninspiring. "The Making of Gray Matters" (4 minutes) is the standard electronic press-kit presentation where we get clips from the movie, some sound-bites from the cast and director and a few behind-the-scenes shots. The other extra is the trailer for Gray Matters, which is 16 x 9.

Review Copyright 2007 by Mike Long