"Oh my God, I sounded just like a mother!" Mrs. Pascal, played
with devilish wickedness by Genevieve Bujold, tells her son. "Didn't I
sound just like a mother?" "You are a mother," her son Marty tells her
disgustedly. "I know, but I still can't believe it. I look at you
people and wonder, how did you ever fit in my womb?"
Marty, you see, is a grown-up twin. Although his sister, who
thinks she is Jackie-O, is certifiably insane, Marty fits right in with
the rest of this highly dysfunctional family in the witty black comedy
THE HOUSE OF YES.
Mother and daughter, played in a brilliant performance by Parker
Posey, are both varying degrees of wacko. Most dysfunctional families
in the movies are more angry and mean-spirited than diabolically
abnormal as this one is. The daughter's fantasy of being Jackie-O is
probably the most sane part of her being. Mrs. Pascal is the sort that
will not let Jackie-O keep a hairbrush downstairs since food is kept on
that level. She explains to Marty's new fiancee, Lesly (Tori
Spelling), soon after their first meeting that Jackie-O was holding
Marty's private part when she came out of the womb.
The dialog by Wendy MacLeod, based on the play by Mark Waters, is
so sharp and biting that it seems in danger of cutting through the
celluloid at any moment. The script, reminiscent of a David Mamet
play, flows smoothly with its fast paced intelligence and mesmerizing
set of bizarre characters. The exaggerated setup has Lesly and Marty
arriving at the family's out of the way mansion during a Thanksgiving
In this storm are two sane individuals. The fiancee is a giddy,
school-girl type, embarrassed by everything, a complete contrast to her
rival Jackie-O's bitter pseudo-sophistication. As the two twins'
younger brother, Anthony, Freddie Prinze Jr. plays the All-America boy
type whose only foible is his explicit obsession of bedding his
brother's fiancee that night.
"We all have our secrets," Jackie-O tells her potential
sister-in-law, and boy, does she have a few. This is a house filled
with them. (When Lesly calls it the family's "home" to Mrs. Pascal --
they've never had a visitor before Lesly -- Mrs. Pascal becomes
discombobulated until she realizes that Lesly is talking about their
In a film that gives new meaning to the phrase, "made for each
other," the twin's biggest, but not their only secret, is that they've
had a long-term incestuous relationship. They don't like to discuss
it, although they are not particularly ashamed of it. Perfect for
viewers who can appreciate perverse comedy, this story never pulls its
Jackie-O tries in many ways, few subtle, to show that she is a
better match for Marty than that ditzy fiancee of his. In one scene
Marty and Lesly are playing chop sticks together on the piano when
Jackie-O pushes her aside and starts playing a challenging classical
piece for four hands. Marty joins her as his fiancee looks on with
The chemistry between Parker Posey and Josh Hamilton is nothing
short of amazing. They put down their little brother and most of the
other sane people in the world. Their ripostes are engaging filmmaking
at its best. Director Mark Waters keeps the show's energy level high
and lets the leads sling zingers at each other at a furious pace. His
crisp direction ensures the movie has nary an ounce of fat on it.
Jackie-O is temperamentally incapable of being nice. And being
jealous, she cuts Lesly down mercilessly. "Were you poor?" Jackie-O
asks her when she finds that Lesly committed the crime of growing up
impoverished. "Did you eat pies? Chicken pot pies?" "Pancakes
actually, lots of pancakes," Lesly replies with her usual sincerity.
"A Donut King, so is she like the queen?," Jackie-O cattily
inquires of Marty when she learns that Lesly works at a Donut King.
"Are we entertaining royalty?"
With Rolfe Kent's whimsically sinister music it never seems clear
where the story is headed. Will it end in a big emotional explosion, a
murder, people slowly cutting each other up with words, a familial
catharsis, a weather disaster or what? The emotionally charged play is
clearly going somewhere, and the engaging characters captivate the
audience with their spell. I'll not say more except that the ending is
perfect and a bit of a surprise.
THE HOUSE OF YES runs a blazing fast 1:25. It is rated R for
sexual situations and conversations, mature themes, violent overtones
and some profanity. The movie would be fine for older and mature
teenagers, i.e., treat the movie as it were rated NC-17.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes