But I'm A Cheerleader (2000)

Director: Jamie Babbit

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Clea DuVall, Dante Basco, RuPaul Charles, Eddie Cibrian, Bud Cort, Melanie Lynskey, Wesley Mann, Joel Michaely, Richard Moll, Kip Pardue, Katrina Phillips, Ione Skye, Douglas Spain, Mink Stole, Katharine Towne, Brandt Wille, Cathy Moriarty

For her directorial debut, Jamie Babbit wanted to make a "gay Clueless" by blending 90s rom-com charm with John Waters style satire. The film was negatively received upon release, yet became a cult classic which inspired a musical adaptation, with a TV series on the way. The story sees high-school cheerleader Megan (Natasha Lyonne) finding her suburban experience upended when her straight-laced parents suspect she may be a lesbian. They send her to a ‘rehabilitation’ camp called True Directions, run by the strict and prudish Mary (Cathy Moriarty), intending to convert its campers to heterosexuality with a five-step program.

Struggling to come to terms with herself, Megan's goal is to return to normality, yet this sweet lead is drawn to the more self-confident Graham (Clea DuVall). As opposites attract, the bond is wonderfully depicted by the performers, making one believe in this romance burgeoning within a hateful place. Aiding matters is a lovely soundtrack, helping sweep viewers along up to the heartfelt ending.

Screenwriter Brian Wayne Peterson captures the ignorance of homophobia, believing disregarding peoples true identities comes from love. There's an assumption those who are different are the same, as vegetarianism is considered a sign of same-sex attraction, while a camper is enrolled due to assumptions regarding how they look. This is an example of how people can be grouped together just for going against the norm, serving to further isolate them. Offering support are Larry and Lloyd, a lovely couple wishing to help those experiencing what they once did. They take the kids to a gay bar and offer what no other adult has; a chance to be themselves.

There's no forgetting the reality of these young characters, forcibly imprisoned because their parents refuse to accept who they are. Babbit just approaches things in a pastel-coloured satire to lighten the mood. As the camp counsellors plan tasks to reinforce hetero-normative identities, they're humorously oblivious to the suggestive imagery hiding in plain sight. The characters are made to fit into regressive roles to enforce heterosexuality, yet it serves to strengthen the resolve of some characters into accepting their true selves. What's been crafted is an engaging tale of love and acceptance, as relevant today as it was decades ago.

But I'm A Cheerleader - Director's Cut is available on Blu-Ray from June 21st. Pre-order it now from Amazon UK.