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Although the worst of them would set aside ninety seconds of act three to recap what the characters learned this week, old sitcoms have nothing worthwhile to teach us. Nonetheless, Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? gets all its tropes, beats, and characters from ghastly sitcoms of the 1990s — long-running trash like Full House, Home Improvement, Family Matters, and The Nanny.
Its inventory includes Cloris Leachman as a libidinous, dirty-talking old lady and Horatio Sanz as a stereotypical flabby husband with a super-hot wife (Fernanda Romero) — a Latina who, at one infuriating point, actually says, “Ay, chihuahua!”
Since it takes its plot from an even older, hoarier source — Lysistrata, by Aristophanes — it also plays on the sitcom convention that guys are always horny and that women can painlessly abstain from sex. (Fuck you, Raymond.) This particular 95-minute sitcom is a Very Special Episode about gun control — after a ridiculous gunshot incident at an elementary school, the women of a small Texas town withhold sex from their husbands until they disarm.
The film combines agonizing scenes of didactic earnestness about gun violence with the absolutely soul-crushing ennui of flaccid marriage jokes. It’s as incongruous as it sounds — referencing the Sandy Hook massacre in a film that includes hapless, blue-balled husbands holding ice packs over their aching groins is almost unimaginably tone-deaf, like mourning the Holocaust on The King of Queens. The U.S. gun regulatory regime is a national crisis; here, it’s a prompt for Leachman to demonstrate the operation of a vibrator.
Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?
Written and directed by Matt Cooper
Opens September 16, Cinema Village