The Sum Of Us

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Jack Thompson, Russell Crowe

his 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 divorc└ee (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) J.K.