Out of all the Russell Crowe films, The Sum of Us probably ranks among the top two or three that I've never been interested in seeing, partially because of the subject matter (which simply doesn't appeal or interest me) and also because seeing the great Maximus snogging guys is not only extremely awkward to watch but simply something I don't want to see.
The Sum of Us is the story of widowed Harry Mitchell (Jack Thompson) and his gay son Jeff. Harry is openly accepting of his son's lifestyle, maybe at times a little too overly accepting as Harry continuously embarrasses his son around his dates with his blunt comments and jokes. Jeff always had a bit of problem in the area of self confidence, and when he meets a guy he really likes things seem to move a little too fast for the other guy and ends up scaring him off. This sends Jeff into a bit of a depression but he's still got his father to support him, pushing him forward to keep searching for love. Meanwhile his father is finding some love of his own life as he's connected with a woman through a dating service and they appear to hit it off brilliantly, even eventually planning to get married.
The Sum of Us is the story of an usual bond between a father and his gay son. While I don't support the gay lifestyle and can still recognize the deeper meaning of the film which is the close family bond between Harry and his son, which is portrayed the best in the film's final twenty minutes following Harry's change in condition. This was the highlight of the film for me where the real emotion and essence of the story truly shines through. The first hour and fifteen minutes I found to be a little more of a chore to sit through as it's not only made up of a lot of drawn out conversation scenes but an encounter between Jeff and Greg which gets too hot and heavy too fast. First off I don't care to see it, second there's no building of a relationship it's simply two horny guys wanting to get it on. Had this been the way my favorite romance film, The Notebook, started out I'd be saying the same thing, it's lust not love, there's nothing charming or entertaining about it.
Franky there's somethings in life I simply don't want to witness, and Australia's very own gladiator getting all flirty and sweaty with other guys is simply something I don't want to watch, or consider entertainment. Plus I can't really say Jeff's "encounter" with Greg adds as much to the film as his relationship with his father. Some believe that Russell plays a gay man very well, I don't know what think, mainly because Russell playing such a role is so completely off the norm that I don't know how to process it when I see it. There are definitely some scenes in the film Russell does a good job, but they're scenes that had nothing at all to do with his "gayness", and in those scenes he simply appears to be a straight guy. It's these times that you almost forget he's gay at all, and it's not until Greg comes along that he seems to really turn that aspect of the character on. The best performance in the film though has to be from Jack Thompson, while Russell is good, Jack makes most of the first hour bearable to sit through.
Overall, The Sum of Us was not really my cup of tea. The first hour simply didn't appeal to me mainly because the encounter with Greg was awkward and then overblown when it doesn't work out. What is Jeff supposed to expect when the basis of their first meeting seems to be tearing each others clothes off!?! It's really the final twenty minutes where Jeff's relationship and love for his father is really explored. That was my favorite part of the film, it was the most interesting, the most emotional and the best performed, where the first hour simply drags on a bit too much and relies too much on Russell's encounter with Greg to carry the story. In the end, The Sum of Us is probably my least favorite Russell Crowe film, but I can appreciate certain aspects of the story and the characters, it's just not one I'm likely to revisit again.