Flawless [1999]

Who could possibly be the target audience for Flawless? Walter (Robert De Niro) is a homophobic policeman who suffers a stroke while responding to gunshots in his own apartment building; for speech therapy, he starts taking singing lessons from his neighbor Rusty (Philip Seymour Hoffman of Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and Happiness), a gay drag queen who's saving up money for a sex-change operation. However, there's another story line that takes up at least as much time as that one, about a drug dealer and his goons trying to find money that was stolen from them, brutally beating up everyone in their path. Furthermore, the local gay community (in New York City) seems to consist entirely of drag queens and Log Cabin Republicans, and one of Walter's cop buddies goggles at drag queens as if he's just arrived from the middle of Iowa. All the characters--including various prostitutes, drug dealers, a hotel clerk who's a weaselly mama's boy, as well as the aforementioned drag queens and cops--are horrific stereotypes. De Niro and Hoffman, both extremely talented actors, do all they can to overcome their cliché-studded dialogue, but they never seem to be in the same movie. Written and directed by Joel Schumacher, whose eclectic career includes Batman & Robin, A Time to Kill, Flatliners, and St. Elmo's Fire. --Bret Fetzer

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