Film

Outfest Review: Late Bloomer Comes of Age in ‘Cubby’

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Leaving home at age 26, Mark (played by director Mark Blane) is finally moving out of his parent’s garage and heading to New York City as the comedy “Cubby” unfolds.

An adult child living with parents isn’t so unusual with the cost of rent these days. But Mark’s issues go way beyond affordability.

As we meet our immature and dysfunctional leading man, his mother (played by Patricia Richardson), is dropping him and his worldly possessions–all contained in one small box–on a sidewalk.

Any responsible adult would question whether Mark is capable of caring for himself, let alone be able to get a job and find a home in a new city.

His mother seems to wonder that too. But she’s eager to let him go on his way, so she hops in the car and heads back to Indiana. She does insist, however, that he send her his address—when he gets one. And reminds him that “you’re going to have to get a therapist and a prescribing psychiatrist.” 

Mark calls his college friend Noah looking for a place to live. Whoa, Mark went to college, there’s a shocker. At this point it’s apparent the character is suppose to be hapless, humorous and queer, not mentally unstable and a danger to society.

Noah has an extra room, and Mark moves into the “collective,” with assorted men and women, and he isn’t the most considerate roommate: He lies, takes other people’s stuff, and sticks his hand in other people’s food. Ick. But the roomies take him at his word that he has a job at a Manhattan gallery. 

He is an artist—at least we see that he’s good at drawing pictures of naked and leather-clad men. Some of the pictures have an artistic feel, others look like gay porn.

Adding a fun, whimsical aspect to the film are animated sketches and doodles over some scenes, like Snapchat popups on film.

Mark has a fantasy friend, Leatherman, his own superhero inspired by the magazines he found under his mother’s bed as a 6-year-old. At school kids were mean to him, he says in voice-over, as he pleasures himself while gazing at a magazine.

“I’d think of Leatherman and ask, ‘what would Leatherman do?’” 

Mark immediately gets a job–not in a gallery, as he told his mother, but as a babysitter for a 6-year-old named Milo. How he got through an interview with Milo’s parents is a mystery. We don’t see that scene, presumably because there’s no way Blane could stay in character and persuade any parent that Mark has the capacity to care for a child. 

But he and Milo bond. “Milo gets me, he’s my best friend,” Mark says. He picks up Milo from school (trouble starts when he’s an hour late), protects him from bullies, makes him laugh, and teaches him about art. 

Mark doesn’t always make wise choices—big surprise—but he genuinely cares about Milo, and begins to “grow up” as he guides the boy through his travails. Mark also meets Russell, a neighbor who’s obviously interested in Mark, but Mark has some things to figure out before he’s ready for an adult relationship.  

Ultimately the film, reportedly based on Blane’s own story, is about a man maturing and finding his niche. Perhaps Blane went a little over-the-top in an effort to create a misfit, venturing a little too close to “creeper” territory than intended.  

But no one is ever in danger or gets arrested in “Cubby,” and Mark finds a way to fit in, finally, in the big city. 

Cubby” is directed by Mark Blane and Ben Mankoff.

For more information about this and other Outfest films go to Outfest.org.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and is currently producing a documentary for her own company, Saving Grace Films.

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