The Right to Love: An American Family: Film Review

Getty Images
Well-meaning doc doesn't shed much light on the gay marriage debate.

Documentary makes its case for same-sex marriage by chronicling a loving gay couple and their two adopted children.

The hot-button issue of gay marriage is the subject of Cassie Jaye’s documentary that puts a personal light on the debate via an extended profile of a married gay couple and their two adopted children. But while The Right to Love: An American Family certainly means well, it contains nothing particularly illuminating in its chronicling of the battle over California’s controversial Proposition 8 which takes up a good chunk of its running time.

The filmmaker became aware of the couple, Bryan Leffew and Jay Foxworthy, via their YouTube series of videos depicting them as a typical American family consisting of two loving parents and their young  kids, the sole difference being that the parents happen to both be men.

It’s an important message, but the feature length treatment doesn’t do it any favors, with the subjects coming across as very nice guys whose domestic situation seems all too ordinary. That, of course, is the point, but it doesn’t make for particularly compelling viewing.

Augmenting the family’s tale is extensive archival news footage concerning the Prop. 8 debate, including  not very revelatory television news segments featuring both gay marriage proponents (Rachel Maddow, Whoopi Goldberg) and opponents (Kirk Cameron, Ann Coulter). There’s also a now ironic clip of Joe Biden emphatically stating both his and Barack Obama’s opposition to gay marriage.

The filmmaker also throws such related topics into the mix as the epidemic of gay bullying and its often tragic results, although in such brief, cursory fashion that one wishes that it had been the film’s main topic.

Opened: Sept. 14 (Jaye Bird Productions)
Director/editor: Cassie Jaye
Producers: Christina Clack, Cassie Jaye, Nena Jaye, Ford Austin, Marc Wasserman
Executive producer: Jay Pugh
Directors of photography: Cassie Jaye, Nena Jaye
Music: Edwin Wendler
Not rated, 90 min.