The tagline for Liberty’s Secret describes it as “a girl-meets-girl musical-movie. About the song and dance of politics.” Personally, I would have described it as Jenny’s Wedding meets But I’m a Cheerleader meets musical theater. It’s silly and lighthearted, even when dealing with serious issues like reparative therapy and being outed to a homophobic parent. Liberty’s Secret is fun to watch; the audience at Michigan Theater laughed and applauded throughout the movie on the night that it premiered. The musical-movie tells the story of Liberty Smith (Jaclene Wilk), a twenty-four year old pastor’s daughter who is invited to become a campaign surrogate for a struggling Republican presidential candidate. Liberty stars in a musical campaign ad, singing and dancing her way into American hearts–as well as the heart of the campaign staffer supervising her, Nikki Levine (Cara AnnMarie).
This story is not new. It is the same coming out, girl-meets-girl and deals with homophobic family story that has been the plot of so many lesbian movies. While I can happily report that no lesbians die or turn into evil murderers, it was obviously a movie written, directed, and produced by a straight man. The lead actresses, while excellent performers were so obviously straight to all the lesbians I spoke to afterwards. Their kisses (numbering only three, and all very chaste) were hard to believe and awkward. A few other moments made me wince. In one of Nikki’s numbers early on, she complains about how all the women she’s dated have been air-headed barbies, as a parade of femmes seek her affection. Personally, I’ve never heard another lesbian speak of women that way. Besides the lead actresses, the other characters were relatively flat–something which doesn’t bother me at all in the context of the male characters. Unfortunately though, the only woman of color in the film is Levine’s boss, who seems to function only to fulfill the trope of wise old black woman, guiding Levine and helping Smith’s pastor father come to accept her as a lesbian.
Ultimately, though, I enjoyed myself and found it entertaining and worth watching. The actresses are a pleasure to watch, even if not entirely believable. Happy lesbian movies with a u-haul ending are few and far between and this is certainly one of them, no matter how silly and corny it is. The musical numbers are cute and silly, the performers are talented, and the cinematography is quite good. I laughed and shook my head at the bad jokes and made my own jokes with the lesbian friends I was there with. If you’re looking for a cute lesbian musical that doesn’t take itself too seriously, this is the movie for you. It’s the kind of silly rom-com musical that straight people get, only this time, it has lesbians. It will soon be available to pre-order on vhx, and you can watch the trailer here.
Tia is a 20-something cat lesbian working on a master’s degree, taking care of kids, and trying to collect enough lesbian t-shirts to wear a different one every day of the year. She lives in Northwest Ohio with her lesbian cat.