An Outcast Takes on the Mean Girls in Spork


Mirroring the way that many gay men adopted the film The Wizard of Oz as a potent cultural totem, frizzy-haired, white, adolescent hermaphrodite Spork (“neither spoon nor fork”) embraces the all-black remake The Wiz (critically maligned upon release, adding to its underdog allure) as her personal touchstone, eventually coming to really grasp its tagline “Believe in yourself.” As played by young actress Savannah Stehlin, Spork is hugely endearing as she bumbles and stumbles while trying to figure out who she is. But writer-director J.B. Ghuman Jr. shoehorns the character into a witlessly stitched homage to other films—notably Heathers. Tormented by the bitchy-sassy clique of rich-girl racists, and embraced by the sassy-bitchy dance team of black girls, Spork comes into her own when Tootsie Roll, her best friend and leader of the dance troupe, is injured and the rhythm-challenged Spork has to take her place in a dance competition. Ghuman might have managed to salvage the film from its weak script if he’d had a firmer grasp on tone, and a better melding of the mish-mash of pop culture references. Instead, Spork is slack in pacing and energy, never rising to its ambition of over-the-top outrageousness (its racial stereotypes are offensive mainly for being so tired) and never fully hitting its marks emotionally.