Picks and Pans Review: The Sum of Us

updated 03/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jack Thompson, Russell Crowe

This adaptation of the off-Broadway play is so brave, so honest, so life-affirming, so vacuous. Bearing in mind the crowded couches on talk shows and in therapists' offices, Thompson is that rare breed of dad indeed: totally accepting of his twenty-something plumber son (Crowe) and the son's homosexuality. Thompson buys Crowe erotic magazines and offers drinks to a man (John Polson) Crowe has long fancied and has finally brought 'round to the family's small home in Sydney. Bidding Crowe and his would-be lover good night, dear old Dad cheerfully signs off with, "Don't do anything I wouldn't do." Crowe isn't the only one looking for romance. When Thompson, a middle-aged widower, meets a companionable divorcee (Deborah Kennedy), he tells her everything about himself—except the fact that his son is gay (or, as Thompson likes to put it, "cheerful"). Kennedy's reaction when he does break the news sets into motion a series of events that changes forever the relationship between father and son.

But what is meant to be comic too often comes off as nudge-nudge, wink-wink arch. What is meant to be poignant and dramatic is, instead, precious and melodramatic. However well-meaning and earnestly performed, The Sum of Us doesn't add up to much. (Not rated)

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