James D. Leverton | San Marcos, CA USA | 08/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fox DVD will undoubtedly showcase Jim Carrey for his supporting performance in "Doing Time on Maple Drive," a stellar cable TV movie from 1992, but buyer beware: his is a straight, supporting dramatic performance. He is very good, but the real shining star of this small Ken Olin-directed gem is the talented William McNamara, who is unforgettable as the "good" son in a seemingly perfect, but actually dysfunctional, family led by James B. Sikking and Bebe Besch. "Chicago Hope"'s Jayne Brook rounds out the cast as a daughter who evidently married beneath her status and joins alcoholic older brother Carrey as the profound disappointments in a family who has laid all its future hopes and dreams on its children. Apparently, it's up to youngest son McNamara to rise above the rubble his siblings have made of their lives and carry on the family's grand promise. Unfortunately, he has a secret that will come crashing down on everyone involved.
When the story opens, McNamara is bringing fiance Lori Loughlin home to meet the family. And it's a joyous homecoming, but it's clear something is wrong with the relationship. Then the unthinkable happens and Loughlin discovers McNamara's secret: he is gay and has left a long-term boyfriend to marry her simply to please his parents, who supposedly don't know the truth. Then she leaves and he is left to explain to his family why his bride has abandoned him and why he may very well be their biggest disappointment of all.
The great thing about "Doing Time on Maple Drive" is how honest it is, and how refreshingly free of melodrama the writers and director Olin have made it. McNamara's secret is revealed slowly, and when the family finally finds out about it, their reactions are honest and true. That the mother takes it hardest of all is a refreshing twist, and Sikking's father has a final heart-to-heart with his son which is beautiful, yet heartbreaking, to behold. What is refreshing is that the film isn't about homosexuality as much as it is about family dynamics and how important it is for parents not to base too much of their hopes and dreams on their children. The ironic thing is that McNamara will undoubtedly be a success in life, and should be a source of undying pride for his parents, but because of his sexuality he will always be the family's embarassing secret.
The performances in "Doing Time on Maple Drive" are universally excellent, with McNamara and Sikking the standouts. Besch is also pitch-perfect as a mother who is loving on the outside, but as cold-hearted and unforgiving on the inside as was Mary Tyler Moore in "Ordinary People." Brook and Loughlin offer solid support, but Carrey is a revelation, especially those who missed his stellar dramatic work in "Man on the Moon" and "Eternal Sunshine." Made just before "Ace Ventura" made him a comedic superstar, his alcoholic son is tender and achingly true. And director Ken Olin handles everything with appropriate restraint and a total lack of exploitation.
"Doing Time on Maple Drive" is a terrific TV movie and a welcome edition to DVD. Don't let the subject matter scare you off. It is respectfully and tastefully handled, and for once serves a more universal truth than simply preaching to the choir about homosexual rights. After one viewing, you may ask yourself the same question I have for years: Why is William McNamara not a major star? You may be as baffled as me. ***** (out of *****)"
Wonderful film finally available...
Tim E. Jay | Minneapolis, MN United States | 07/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this film we have: The alcoholic son; the homosexual son who is trying to be heterosexual to please himself and his family; the overlooked daughter and her husband with marital issues; the ultra conservative, emotionally unavailable father who is extremely hard on his children; and the mother who cares WAY too much what other people think and would rather hide behind a lie she has known for quite sometime. Not to mention the poor girl who thinks her fiance is straight, has to face her own pain in finding otherwise.
For a TV movie, this film is great. This is about a dysfunctional family. It is not only a "coming out" story, but also about an alcoholic son portrayed by Jim Carrey, who, along with the daughter's husband, seem to be the only people who can see how screwed up the family really is. The gay son, who on this occasion, brings home his new fiance, is forced to come out of the closet. He is so used to trying to put a pretty face on everything and not showing things for what they really are...which he seems to get from his parents. Basically, all at one time the s--t hits the fan, so to speak. It is definitely not an uplifting film, but shows how a dyfunctional family who hides their secrets and refuse to come to terms with their problems, will eventually fall apart and have to find a way to rebuild again, on different terms, through unconditional love and support. This is a wonderful film to show teenage children the dangers of alcoholism, and how important it is to love and support your children unconditionally regardless of their issues and sexual orientation. It can show the catastrophic results that can and usually will occur when people don't face their problems. What should parents care more about, their family image or their children? This would be great to show Jr. High, High School, and College students. I saw it when I was in high school and it helped me tremendously. I then showed it to a friend in college struggling with his sexuality and his religious parents who would not accept him. He came to terms with it as did his parents. They now accept him for who he is. Just goes to show how facing your problems and trying to understand an issue, will only help you and your loved ones in the future."
Outstanding cast and exceptional script
T. Hulse | 06/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This 1992 made for TV movie is exceptional. The cast is one of the finest matched to the story, I've seen in some time. The story is well written and feels real. It is able to draw you in and get you to invest yourself into the events on screen. It is not racey in regard to nudity but it has profanity so it is not best for small children. It is an excellent tool to educate narrow minds and bring some understanding to, not just the gay issue but also to parents and the expectations they put on thier children as well as what those expectations can do to the children. The film was very well made and I highly recommend you see it. It was an excellant addition to my collection."
Kaikea | California | 10/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An excellent plot of a young man struggling to accept himself, and attempting to hide his sexuality from a family that does not communicate well until tragedy strikes"
Top TV Film!
B. Berthold | Somewhere out west... | 11/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The truth shall set you free...might be a more apt title for this little 'made for TV' gem in which Jim Carrey stars in one of his first roles. 'Doing Time on Maple Drive' is a powerful drama about one family's cathartic acceptance of the truths which threaten to destroy it.
On the surface, the Carters are the epitome of the 'perfect' suburban family. Three handsome children, neatly trimmed front lawn, the flag waving outside. The all-American family. The first scenes tell everything. While the Stars and Stripes hang outside the front door, Lisa Carter (Bibi Besch) polishes the family pictures as if they were sacred relics, masks of a happiness that is conspicuously absent from this family. Lisa sets the table for the arrival of their youngest son, Matt (William Mc Namara) and his bride-to-be, Allison (Lori Laughlin). Next scene and father (James Sikking) pulls up the driveway with his eldest son, Tim. The black sheep of the family, Tim is just there as a sad reminder of what he 'could have been.' He could have gone to West Point if he hadn't flunked out, if had he just done what his father had wanted him to do. And now, he is the household ghost, symbol of failure, burden to his parents. Ignored, he takes to the bottle which further alienates him from his family. His father won't even let him pass through the front door lest mom smell the stench of alcohol.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Carters are masters at seeing what they want to see. Denied the successful son with Tim, they place all hopes on Matt. Young and handsome, he soon plans to marry his Yale sweetheart, Allison and walk into the role of perfect child, fulfilling the wishes of his parents. And somewhat pushed to the back is the daughter, Karen (Jayne Brook). Married and theoretically 'free' from her family, she is still prisoner to her father's expectations, rather than partner to her journalist husband. He wants a child, but she's afraid her father might not approve.
The film reaches its climax with skill and tension. And the clues that something is amiss are everywhere. Why isn't Tim going to be best man at Matt's wedding? And why isn't Matt's best friend from Yale being invited to the wedding? Smiles are forced, subjects are avoided and nobody listens to one another, until the outsider, Allison, refuses to join the game. By chance, she finds a love-letter from Matt addressed to his university friend,Kyle, the one strangely missing from their wedding's guest list. Not only is Matt forced to acknowledge who he is, he has to explain to his family why his bride-to-be has suddenly called off the wedding. Matt tries to escape this confrontation by nearly killing himself. Surviving the car crash, he still has to survive the even more painful crash with his family. Will the Carters survive the shattering of their wall of forced smiles, family photos, and lies?
'Doing Time on Maple Drive' does a wonderful job of dissecting the so-called 'dysfunctional family.' The perfomances are tight and convincing all across the board, especially those of William McNamara and James B. Sikking. Their father-son relationship is portrayed with power and tenderness. Carrey's performance is also tops, proving just how versatile an actor he is. My favorite though was Lori Loughlin. She managed to play the part of star-struck lover thrown a hard one brilliantly. She's fascinating to watch as she starts to doubt Matt's honesty and is forced into a truly painful decision.
Ken Olin's film is a must for those of us who know the Carter's dilemma first hand. Cathartic and instructive, 'Doing Time on Maple Drive' leaves you with a guarded optimism, an affirmation that the truth can not only set us free but keep us together as well. "