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2 by 4
2 by 4
Actors: Norman Barbera, Ronan Carr, Bradley Fitts, Conor Foran, Karen Giordano
Genres: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
UR     2004     1hr 29min

Irish Construction worker Johnny Maher likes roughing it up, in the North Bronx. At night he sings Karaoke and drinks whiskey with his mates. This great American life with girlfriend Maria is threatened by the horrors of J...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Norman Barbera, Ronan Carr, Bradley Fitts, Conor Foran, Karen Giordano
Genres: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Sub-Genres: Drama, Gay & Lesbian
Studio: Ariztical
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/10/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 29min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Winner of WORST SUBTITLES award
Bob Lind | Phoenix, AZ United States | 11/09/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)

"In 1998's "2 X 4" (2 BY 4), the writer/director Jimmy Smallhorne plays Johnnie Maher, an immigrant Irishman who works as a foreman for his uncle's construction company in the Bronx (NY). His coworkers, friends, and (it seems) neighbors are also all recent Irish immigrants, who spend their day working at non-union cheap labor, and their nights drinking, singing (badly) Karaoke and doing cocaine. But Johnnie has some deeper problems, manifested in terrifying nightmares, that hint of something in his past he is trying to repress. This is one more problem which his girlfriend Maria has to deal with, besides the fact that Johnnie admits he has also had bisexual experiences.

The good news: The film won a prize at Sundance for cinematogrpahy, and I have to admit the photography is generally very good. Unfortunately, the acting is poor, the direction beyond awful (and Mr. Smallhorne can be blamed for most of those two), with very sloppy continuity (For example, there are three scenes throughout the film where Johnny is walking into the front door of his apartment building, and the building is different in all three!)

Last, but far from least: The film dialogue is in English, with English subtitles. (No, that's not a typo. Got that?) The *really* bad news is that the subtitles are often needed, since the actors (with the exception of Chris O'Neil, who plays Uncle Trump .... Trump, a construction company in NYC, get it?), besides all having heavy Northern Irish accents, rarely project their voice loud enough to be heard or speak clearly. And this definitely wins my award for WORST SUBTITLES in any film EVER, since they are rarely coordinated with what is actually being said on the screen (More often then not, they are a full 5 seconds early or late), they don't separate character's dialogue (If three people are talking, their dialogue is COMBINED on the screen, with no indication who is who), the subtitles include dialogue or lyrics being heard on a radio or TV (which has nothing to do with the movie) and, at one point, the subtitles included numbers which are likely used by the director to time scenes in editing. The final touch: the subtitles CANNOT be turned off, so you HAVE to look at them!

Some simulated sex scenes, but no nudity below the waist. No DVD extras beyond scene selection. Believe me, the 2 out of 5 stars is quite generous. And it is a shame, as the story could have been told a lot better.
Interesting, If Uneven
James Morris | Jackson Heights, NY United States | 10/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is another example of films marketed to a gay audience that are really only marginally gay, or to be more precise, of marginal gay interest. Johnny Maher is a non-union construction worker, foreman to his uncle Trump's rag-tag group of Irish immigrant day laborers. You get the feeling that these people may as well be back in Dublin, or even Belfast. Johnny has nightmares concerning the scars on his back and the death of his mother, but seems to be able to recall few childhood memories. Meanwhile, his uncle Trump keeps delaying payday for Johnny and his friends, and you get the idea quickly that his uncle is a low-life, a scam artist and probably very twisted on a sexual level. Our theories are expanded when his uncle is arrested for indecent exposure in a gay cruising area, claiming that he was in the bushes only to relieve himself. Our suspicions are then confirmed when Johnny catches his uncle having S&M sex with an African American hunk, and suddenly you understand why Trump has been late with his crew's last few paychecks.

Johnny eventually realizes what all those bad dreams are about, even though we don't. We don't because, like much of this film, the scene in which Johnny's nightmare is revealed is confusing and extremely vague, leaving the viewer to figure out most of the implications on their own. The film has yellow subtitles (even though it's in English) but the Irish Brogues are so thick, in many spots I was grateful for them. The homoeroticism is so minor, and the scenes in gay bars and those with the male hustlers (one for Johnny and one for his uncle) so brief, that I kept debating whether or not to file this one in my gay section after all. But I did like the gritty realism, and the lead actor / director had a quirky sort of masculine hunkiness that I found interesting. The acting is sincere and I dare say even first rate, as are the production values, including the camera work and lighting.

There is an engaging scene in which the tender side of the constructions workers is revealed when one of them is found to be carrying around a poem he not only wrote but has successfully published. The guys all kid him until he is forced to read the simple, somber verse aloud, and all present are effected by its sincerity. Although it sounds trite, it was far more effective than one would expect, and that's coming from someone not easily swayed by sentiment.

In my last review of a Culture Q Connection video, Ben and Arthur, I swore I'd never buy another CQC title. I purchased 2 X 4 without noticing the CQC logo. It doesn't have much to do with gay culture, but I did like it a lot more than Ben and Arthur or Visions of Sugarplums, two dreadful and dismal CQC releases. Since they also released the DVD version of Breaking the Surface (the Greg Louganis Story), Culture Q Connection is now batting two for two with me, which is better than I would have given them if I'd only purchased Ben and Arthur or Visions of Sugarplums. While not for everyone, I wound up enjoying 2 X 4 more than I expected to.