Even Alan Cumming's obvious shoulder-length wig, the mournful piano music and messages delivered with all the subtlety of a Goodyear blimp cannot dent the heartfelt center of "Any Day Now."
It opens in 1979 West Hollywood, where the talented Rudy Donatello (Mr. Cumming) is part of a trio of female impersonators performing at a gay club. He catches the eye of a new customer, Paul (Garret Dillahunt), a closeted lawyer working for the district attorney's office.
3 stars = Good
Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Isaac Leyva.
R for sexual content, language and some drug use.
In a quick succession of events, the men hook up, Rudy is threatened with eviction from his apartment and discovers his disagreeable next-door neighbor has left her 14-year-old son, Marco, a boy with Down syndrome, home alone. Turns out she's been picked up by the police and charged with drug possession.
When Family Services comes for Marco, they toss his few belongings into a garbage bag and hustle him off to a foster home, but he doesn't stay put. When Rudy spots him wandering the street, he takes him in and Paul eventually shelters them both but suggests it won't be easy to try to watch over Marco.
No one is more passionate in his advocacy for Marco than Rudy: "Marco didn't ask to be born to a junkie, didn't ask to be different, didn't ask for none of this. And I just don't see why he should be punished any more for stuff that ain't his fault."
Paul goes the legal route to try for temporary custody of Marco, although he lies to anyone who asks that Rudy is his cousin. The three become a family -- birthdays, Halloween, homework -- but outsiders threaten to expose their real relationship and tear them apart.
"Any Day Now" was inspired by a real-life New Yorker named Rudy, who befriended a neighbor who was the mentally and physically challenged child of a drug addict. The original script, set in New York and written by George Arthur Bloom, was rewritten, expanded and relocated to California by director Travis Fine.
He calls himself a fan of gritty character-driven dramas of the 1970s, and "Any Day Now" seems like a vintage made-for-TV movie but with today's language, sexual content and drug use.
It is saved by its three core performers: Mr. Cumming, a Tony Award winner for "Cabaret" who gets to flex his musical and dramatic muscles here and step far outside his Eli Gold persona on "The Good Wife"; Mr. Dillahunt from TV's "Raising Hope"; and young Isaac Leyva, who auditioned a few weeks after starting a performing arts school for adults with disabilities in Inglewood, Calif., and tenderly conveys Marco's emotions.
"Any Day Now" feels dated as a message movie but not as a story of three outsiders -- a transplanted singer from Queens, a divorced native of Walla Walla, Wash., who became a lawyer to change the world and a boy who just wants a place to call home and someone to tell him a bedtime story -- brought together.
The writer-director employs a heavy hand throughout, and that includes the ending, which eschews a fairy-tale finish for one with more emotional wallop.
Opens today at the Regent Square Theater.