Saturday, September 16, 2017

Movie Review: "Second Nature" (2017)

Image Courtesy of October Coast
Director: Michael Cross
Year: 2017
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Amanda and Bret, who are both running for mayor, accidentally make a wish on a magic mirror for the other to understand what it's like to be the opposite gender. The next day, they wake up in a world where societal gender roles are reversed as women now 'act like men' and men now 'act like women.'
Mirror, mirror. (Image Courtesy of October Coast)
What if the world were run by women? Can you imagine what it would be like? There's just one catch: they all have to 'act like men' in order to do it. "Second Nature" is a film that takes the "Freaky Friday" concept and throws a very pertinent, very relevant twist on it. Instead of two people living in the other person's shoes for a period of time, the entirety of society has traded places. Gender roles have been completely flipped on their head. Director Michael Cross imagines the world where men are objectified and judged by their physical appearance alone, where they make less money, and how they are expected to be homemakers. It is an interesting concept with a clear political message meant to raise awareness about how women are treated in our society.
We have a feeling she could get used to this! (Image Courtesy of October Coast)
Collette Wolfe stars as Amanda Maxwell, a real estate agent who throws her hat in the mayoral race against her boss Bret Johnson, played by Sam Huntington. Bret's best claim to fame is clearing the path for a 'Honkers' restaurant to come to town. His main goal as mayor is to make room for some strip clubs and other male frequented establishments. No matter how stupid his ideas seem to be, they are heavily praised and applauded because he is a man. As for Amanda, despite having good ideas and being clearly more qualified, she is regularly patronized and judged for her haircut and sensible choice in clothing rather than being lauded for her ideas. Gee, we wonder if there are any real world parallels being drawn here?!
BUT HER CLOTHING CHOICES!!! (Image Courtesy of October Coast)
The question is, is "Second Nature" successful in conveying its message in a comedic and entertaining fashion? One may question if it is a bit too ham-fisted in using hyperbolic gender stereotypes. The answer may depend on whether or not the viewer is man or a woman. One could take offense that the male attitudes are always portrayed as chauvinistic, womanizing, and crude, or that female attitudes are represented as passive, jealous, and weak. There is a certain implication that says in order to be in power, you have to be able to piss standing up. Maybe we are reading into too much, but there is a literal scene where women are the ones who pee standing at urinals in this alternate universe, so probably not.
Literally peeing while standing. (Image Courtesy of October Coast)
There are some things in "Second Nature" that can be funny, but this at its core, this is just an extended one-gag movie that runs for 80 minutes. Does that make it bad automatically? No way, but the gender reversal is the joke every time over and over. "Look! This lady is swilling beer and ogling a man!" "Look! A man is making breakfast and being jealous about his girlfriend talking to another man!" "Look! A woman is repairing a car! "Look! A man is being sexually assaulted!" "Look! Instead of Honkers, the restaurant is called Peckers!"...Ok, that last one is actually kind of funny. Wolfe and Huntington have good chemistry as opponents in their mayoral race and really in all of life, so watching them have to work together when it is Amanda who is the revered one is actually really fun.
Is there a real Peckers restaurant? Asking for a friend. (Image Courtesy of October Coast)
In the end, one may applaud this movie's attempt to make a point about gender roles in society. Then again, another person could just as easily condemn it for reinforcing the stereotype that the only way to be successful is to act like a chauvinistic alpha bro asshole in order to get a leadership role regardless of whether you have a penis or a vagina. "Second Nature" does manage to garner some laughs, but this isn't really a comedy you need to run out and see as soon as possible.
My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ---%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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