Passing for Gay
How to succeed in business without really trying.
By Lois Wadsworth

THE CLOSET: Written and directed by Francis Veber. Produced by Alain Poiré. Production director, Philippe Desmoulins, Henri Brichetti. Editor, Georges Klotz. Art direction, Hugues Tissander. Music, Vladimir Cosma. Costumes Jacqueline Bouchard. Cinematographer, Yves Agostini. Starring Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu, Michel Aumont, Michèle Laroque, Thierry Lhermitte and Jean Rochefort. Miramax Zoë, 2001. R. 86 minutes.

Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) and Mlle. Bertrand (Michele Laroque), surprised by someone at the door.
Say "French sex farce" and you immediately think of La Cage aux Folles or its American re-make, The Birdcage. Broad humor that explores homophobia and hypocrisy are part of The Closet's appeal, but so are affecting performances by Daniel Auteuil (The Widow of St. Pierre, The Girl on the Bridge), Gérard Depardieu and Michel Aumont. The film's focus is not gays as such but rather the politically correct stance taken by closet bigots towards gays.

Francois Pignon (Daniel Auteuil) likes his work at the rubber factory; he's been there nearly 20 years. So he's surprised one morning when he overhears a swaggering bully named Félix Santini (Gérard Depardieu) a problematic co-worker who broke Pignon's collarbone in a rugby game gleefully tell another man that the quiet, dull accountant is getting fired.

Dejected, Pignon calls his ex-wife and teenaged son, but neither will answer the phone. They actually think he's pretty square, too. When Pignon arrives home, a new neighbor, Belone (Michel Aumont), encourages him to take part in a goofy plan: Send pictures of Pignon as a gay man to the office, then watch what happens.

When Pignon arrives the following day, everyone from the director of the company, Kopel (Jean Rochefort), to Pignon's accounting department boss, Mlle. Bertrand (Michèle Laroque), has seen the manipulated photos of him at a gay bar. Thanks to the ever-grinding rumor mill, Pignon suddenly becomes a valuable employee who's not being fired after all. (Pignon doesn't know his reprieve is because company officials don't want to upset their gay condom customers.) But when Santini starts speaking to him and being nice to him, Pignon wonders exactly what's going on.

Eventually, of course, all the characters are drawn into the charade his former wife, his son, his boss, several other employees, the bully and his wife and everybody has a stake in Pignon's gayness except himself. It's a clever little tale, light and funny, with only occasional lapses into superfluous subplots. But as farce, it isn't subtle. Take for instance the Gay Pride Parade the company insists Pignon must take part in wearing condom-like headgear, or the hilarious practice sessions of the rugby team, with all its relentless, unconscious verbiage about asses, butts, buns, bums ... you get the drift.

Writer/director Francis Veber's 1997 dark comedy, The Dinner Game, covers a similar unmasking of the ulterior motives of a group of well-to-do men who each bring to dinner an eccentric they've picked up. The man who brings the most idiotic specimen wins. Of course, the plot backfires. Here, what each character really thinks about Pignon is expressed as well as how each now begins to relate differently to him. The payoff is Pignon's decency and sense of fairplay, which makes him a hero.

A slight, sardonic look beneath corporate veneer, the picture's broad strokes of farce give it an uneven but enjoyable texture. The Closet opens Friday, September 21. Entertaining.

Films open the Friday following date of EW publication unless otherwise noted.

America's Sweethearts: Directed by Joe Roth as a spoof on Hollywood's publicity industry, a famous Hollywood couple played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack) try to fool movie critics on a junket that they're still together. Also stars Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal. PG-13 Cinemark.

Animal: Wimp Marvin (Rob Schneider) becomes a super cop after surgery following an accident leaves him with animal organs. Now, his instincts are taking over, and it isn't a nice picture. Luke Greenfield makes his directorial debut; also stars Coleen Haskell. PG-13. Cinemark.

Bubble Boy, The: Comedy about immune deficient boy who falls in love with the girl next door who builds a mobile bubble suit to pursue her. Directed by Blair Hayes, film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Swoozie Kurtz, Marley Shelton. PG-13. Movies 12.

Cats and Dogs: An inside look at pet wars at home while grown up people are at work. Kitty (Sean Hayes, voice) has grandiose plans other critters want to stop. Live-action comedy directed by Larry Guterman also features animatronic, computer-generated action. PG. Movies 12.

Closet, The: Francis Veber's French sex farce offers light entertainment for these times, but it's especially enjoyable because of lucid and inventive performances by Daniel Auteuil, Gérard Depardieu and Michel Aumont. A comic examination of the politically correct stance taken by corporate bigots towards gays. R. Bijou. See review.

Hearts in Atlantis: Anthony Hopkins and Hope Davis star in Scott Hicks' late-1950s adventure drama. Written by William Goldman, based on Stephen King's novel. PG-13. Sneak 9/21 and 9/22. Cinemark.

Scary Movie 2: The Wayans brothers' sequel to last year's genre spoof, with Keenan Ivory Wayans directing brothers Marlon and Shawn (who also wrote the script). The bros, trapped inside a haunted house, enlist the help of James Woods, exorcist. R. Movies 12.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence: Steven Spielberg directs this film, a project of the late Stanley Kubrick, that's set in a future filled with environmental catastrophes. Haley Joel Osment plays an 11-year old android aware of his own existence who wants to become a boy; Jude Law plays a sex toy android. Also, Frances O'Connor and William Hurt. Imperfect gotta-see movie for newcomers and second-timers. PG-13. Movies 12. See review.

American Pie 2: Same cast Chris Klein, Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas but a different director, J. B. Rogers, and a super-secretive writer, Adam Herz. R. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Bridget Jones' Diary: Renée Zellwegger plays the neurotic but witty Londoner on the prowl for a man. Hugh Grant's her boss, and Colin Firth is an old friend. All three give excellent performances, especially Zellwegger. Sharon Maguire's directorial debut. Script by Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis. Funnier on second viewing, this smart, good-hearted romp is highly recommended. R. Movies 12.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin: WWII-era romance stars Nic Cage as an Italian soldier and Penelope Cruz; it's set on a gorgeous Greek island. Trailer shows zero chemistry between stars. Unhappily, John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) directs. Also stars John Hurt, Christian Bale, Irene Papas and David Morrissey. R. Cinema World.

Curse of the Jade Scorpion, The: Woody Allen's 1940s comedy stars Allen, Helen Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, Elizabeth Berkeley, Wallace Shawn, David Ogden Stiers and Charlize Theron. Allen's a NY insurance investigator who gets involved in a crime caper. PG-13. Cinema World.

Deep End, The: Scott McGehee and David Siegel's excellent thriller stars the fabulous Tilda Swinton as a resourceful suburban housewife. Jonathan Tucker plays her gay son, whom she's trying to protect, and Goran Visnjic is a blackmailer who falls for her. Highest recommendations. R. Bijou. See review.

Dr. Dolittle 2: Eddie Murphy is back as the good doctor, but the animals have changed. They've become activists who plan to go on strike to save their forest in Steve Carr's new film. And they're hungry for sex advice. PG. Movies 12.

Fast and Furious, The: Undercover cop (Paul Walker) infiltrates gang-like LA street racing teams in Rob Cohen's action-adventure that also stars Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight). PG-13. Movies 12.

Glass House, The: Psychological nightmare stars Leelee Sobieski as an orphaned girl (and her brother) taken in by her parents' best friends(Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgard. PG-13. Cinemark.

Hardball: Keanu Reeves plays a soft-spoken baseball coach for an inner city middle school who helps the team come together. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: Director Kevin Smith in his screen persona, Silent Bob, co-stars with Jason Mewes as Jay in this insider comedy. Someone is making a movie about their lives, and they want money for it. R. Cinema World. Cinemark. See review.

Jeepers Creepers: Summer shock schlock designed to scare the pants off teens and other adolescents, despite its rating. Written and directed by Victor Salva, supernatural thriller stars Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck. R. Cinemark.

Jurassic Park 3: Sam Neill reprises his role as paleontologist Grant. Joe Johnston directs. Grant takes a rich adventurer (William H. Macy) and his wife (Téa Leoni) for a fly-by of the forbidden island. Lots of dinosaurs! PG-13. Movies 12.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: Angelina Jolie plays the video game action heroine, and Simon West directs. Also stars Jon Voight and Iain Glen. PG-13. Movies 12.

Legally Blonde: Reese Witherspoon plays a LA natural blonde who goes to Harvard Law School to persuade Warner (Matthew Davis) that she's the one for him. Directed by Robert Luketic. Also stars Selma Blair, Victor Garber, Holland Taylor, Jennifer Coolidge and Luke Wilson. PG-13. Movies 12. See review.

Musketeer, The: Action adventure based on Alexandre Dumas classic is directed by Peter Hyams stars Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rhea, Tim Roth and Justin Chambers. Xin Xin Xiong, choreographer of Once Upon a Time in China, orchestrates fight sequences. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

O Othello: One of summer's most anticipated films is Tim Blake's contemporary retelling of Shakespeare's famous tale of treachery and jealousy. Set in elite Southern boarding school, film stars Mekhi Phifer as the only black student and athelete on campus, Josh Hartnett as his best friend and Julia Stiles as his girlfriend. Also, Martin Sheen, Andrew Keegan, Rain Phoenix and Elden Hensen. R. Cinemark. See review.

Osmosis Jones: Directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly with others, this live action/animated comedy goes inside the body to the sites of the most yucky sites. Stars Bill Murray, Molly Shannon and the voices of Chris Rock, David Hyde Pierce and Laurence Fishburne. PG. Movies 12.

Others, The: A haunted Victorian mansion, a rigid and icy mother (Nicole Kidman) and two special kids who see things makes this one of the scariest movies made, critics say. Directed by Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar with style, it's very highly recommended. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Planet of the Apes: Re-imagining of the 1968 original by filmmaker Tim Burton has great makeup and quicker-witted, stronger apes who act more like real ones. Tim Roth walks away with the show as the menacing chimpanzee who wants to kill all humans. Stars Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti and Tim Roth. PG-13. Cinemark. See review.

Princess Diaries, The: Directed by Garry Marshall, this comedy about a S.F. teen who finds out she's a princess stars Anne Hathaway, Hector Elizondo, Julie Andrews, Robert Schwartzman and Heather Matarazzo. G. Cinemark.

Rat Race: Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr. and other desperate folks make fools of themselves looking for a $2 million jackpot hidden somewhere in New Mexico. Directed by Jerry Zucker of Airplane! fame. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Rock Star: Mark Wahlberg is the ultimate fan of a heavy metal rock legend, but he also plays with a local tribute band until the night he's called to replace the lead singer he worships. Jennifer Aniston is his hometown girlfriend. Stephen Herek directs John Stockwell's script, based on a true story. Also stars Jason Flemyng, Timothy Olyphant, Timothy Spall and Dominic West. R. Cinemark.

Rush Hour 2: Brett Ratner returns to direct Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as detectives who travel to Hong Kong, LA and Vegas looking for a master criminal. Also stars Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, The Road Home). PG-13. Cinemark.

Score, The: This Frank Oz action movie stars Robert De Niro as a career criminal who breaks his own rule to take an unknown (Edward Norton) as partner on a heist. Also stars Marlon Brando, Angela Bassett. Great acting. R. Cinema World. See review.

Shrek: Computer-animated fairy tale (by DreamWorks' Pacific Data Images, makers of Antz) stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow. Entertaining and funny for kids and grown-ups. PG. Movies 12. See review.

Spy Kids: Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) directs this youth-oriented tale about superspies (Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino) who leave the life to marry and have a family. When they're kidnapped, only their kids can save them. PG. Movies 12.

Two Can Play That Game: Shanté (Viveca A. Fox) gets even when her sweetie (Morris Chestnut) sees another woman (Gabrielle Union), and she gets a lot of help from her friends. R. Cinemark.

Use the links provided below for specific show times.

Bijou Art Cinemas
Bijou Theater 686-2458 | 492 E. 13th

Regal Cinemas
Cinema World 342-6536 | Valley River Center
Springfield Quad 726-9073 |

Cinemark Theaters
Movies 12 741-1231 | Gateway Mall
Movies before 12:30 are Sat. Sun. only. $1.50 all shows all days.
Cinemark 17 741-1231 | Gateway Mall

Releases subject to change. Available the Tuesday following date of EW publication, sometimes sooner:

Along Came a Spider
: Morgan Freeman stars as Detective Alex Cross in the prequel to Kiss the Girls, this time with Monica Potter as his partner. Directed by Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors), thriller also stars Dylan Baker and Michael Wincott. R.

Citizen Kane (1941): Special Edition DVD two-disc set contains "The Battle Over Citizen Kane" documentary. Beautifully restored, this b&w masterpiece contains great deep-focus cinematography. Directed by Orson Welles, this great American film stars Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Agnes Moorehead and Everett Sloane.

Forsaken: Vampire flick stars Kerr Smith and Brendan Fehr. Directed by J.S. Cardone. The New York Times notes that if it had exercised restraint, flick could have been much scarier. "But like most movies of its ilk, it trots out its full arsenal of shock tactics far too early in the game and squanders the suspense it has accumulated." R.

Heartbreakers: Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt play mother/daughter con artists who have perfected their scam but are not entirely without feeling. Ray Liotta and Gene Hackman are marked men. David Mirkin directs. PG-13.

Knight's Tale, A: Aimed at 12-year-olds but enjoyable to adults as well, this medieval adventure fantasy stars Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Mark Addy, Rufus Sewell. Directed by Brian Helgeland, co-writer of L.A. Confidential. PG-13.

One Night at McCool's: Crime/sex comedy stars Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser, John Goodman and Liv Tyler playing one-note characters. She's trouble. As Dillon's character notes, all the sex and violence in one night is a bit much. Directed by Harald Zwart. R. See review.

Next week: The Mummy Returns.

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