#REVIEW: “A KID LIKE JAKE” (2018 INSIDE OUT LGBT FILM FESTIVAL)
Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
In A KID LIKE JAKE, Claire Danes and Jim Parsons play married couple Alex and Greg Wheeler, living a comfortable life in picturesque Brooklyn with their 4-year-old son Jake who attends a pre-kindergarten class. Greg is a therapist and Alex has given up her law career to be a fulltime stay at home mom. They are both devoted to their precocious son who has a penchant to wearing frilly skirts and relating more to Disney princesses than G.I. Joe. Realizing that sending Jake to a private school is beyond their financial means, Judy (another feather in the cap of brilliant Octavia Spencer performances), the child development specialist at the pre-school, suggests they apply for monetary aid from the private schools and mention Jake’s gender-bending traits and personality as an added bonus for consideration.
The central theme of A KID LIKE JAKE is fascinating take on gender identity. Is Jake a transgender child or is he just curious about things that are usually not associated with young boys? Is he too young to be raised in a gender-specific way? Are parents/adults equipped to make judgement calls?
The Movie tries to address these questions with earnest but tends to disintegrate with the shrillness of Alex‘s character. At first she is somewhat taken aback at the suggestion that her son may be “different”, but Alex winds-up becoming combative, first with Judy, then with her friends and ultimately blaming her husband for his compliance and non-action. It’s scene after scene of emotional turmoils. Thankfully, some levity and humour are interspersed throughout with Alex’s overbearing mother (Ann Dowd is a joy) and with Sandra, one of Greg’s patients, where Amy Landecker beautifully overwhelms the screen. However, these characters do nothing to enhance the plot – they are there for comic relief only from the seriousness of the movie.
A KID LIKE JAKE must be commended for tackling a subject matter than is foreign to many people. It doesn’t always succeed but it is admirable.