Transamerica Duncan Tucker

In a year of few decent roles for leading actresses, Felicity Huffman found herself the potential dark horse to beat Reese Witherspoon at this past year’s Academy Awards. She didn't but that tag pushed her from beyond being simply another desperate housewife to the brink of distinguished actress-hood. But while Huffman is quite good, the film is nothing spectacular, as its DVD release confirms. Toward the end of last year, Transamerica received the full Weinstein Company hype-machine treatment. But when viewed on the small screen months after Huffman's Oscar buzz has faded, it turns out that Transamerica is just a simple road movie about fathers, sons and the importance of being oneself. It doesn’t achieve much but it doesn’t try too hard either. Born Stanley, Bree is about to have her final operation en route to becoming a woman. However, a film wouldn’t be a film without some conflict, so enter Toby (Ontarian Kevin Zegers, miles from Road To Avonlea), the 17-year-old son Bree never knew she had. Bree ends up having to bail Toby out of jail and is not particularly ready to inform him of the situation. So, Bree takes him on a road trip across America that will, ahem, change their lives forever (the double meaning of the title is perhaps the most clever part of the movie). The concept and themes of father-son trauma are nothing new, even in this transsexual as father context, and director Tucker doesn't exhibit himself as any sort of extraordinary new talent. But Huffman does make Transamerica more than what it could have been. Huffman throws herself into every aspect of the role and the faults are that of the script and not of her. However, an Oscar is not in order and luckily Ms. Witherspoon saw to that. The DVD features a cute music video for Dolly Parton's theme for the film (which infamously lost the Oscar to "Its Hard Out Here For A Pimp”). Beyond that, it's pretty standard: a worthwhile commentary by director Duncan Tucker, a behind-the-scenes featurette and two "conversations” between Tucker and both Huffman and Zegers. All of them are very pleasant, just like the movie. But if you're expecting anything more than that it's not here. (Alliance Atlantis)