'Queen of Knives' — Kooky comedy sequel almost works

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Sunday May 5, 2024
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Gene Pope and Barbara Tirrell in 'Queen of Knives' (photo: Freestyle Digital Media)
Gene Pope and Barbara Tirrell in 'Queen of Knives' (photo: Freestyle Digital Media)

Although it isn't being promoted as such, "Queen of Knives" (Freestyle Digital Media/Pope 3), now available on VOD platforms and DVD, is a sequel to 2020's "King of Knives." In fact, it features many of the same lead characters and actors, including father Frank (Gene Pope), mother Kathy (Mel Harris, whom some will remember from her Emmy-nominated turn as Hope Steadman on "thirtysomething"), and daughters Sadie (Emily Bennet) and Kaitlin (the Liza-esque Roxi Pope).

Wake-and-bake pothead Frank, who left the cutthroat world of being a bigwig at an ad agency and wears a ponytail, lives in Brooklyn near where he grew up. Newly out lesbian Kathy is divorcing Frank and got to keep the house in Westchester. Her girlfriend is Joanne (Tara Westwood), who also happens to be Kathy and Frank's accountant.

Daughter Sadie has a good job that she regularly jeopardizes by having sex with hot co-worker Jay (Arthur Langlie) on her boss' desk which is all kind of against company policy.

Queer daughter Kaitlin is a writer who is in a relationship with nonbinary Mattie (Carmen Lobue), a chef at a restaurant in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

Not to be outdone in the relationship department, Frank is suddenly involved with woo-woo Autumn (Alexandra Renzo), after she runs him over with her bicycle on the Promenade.

With a setup and kooky cast of characters such as this, you might expect "Queen of Knives" to be predictable (it is), cliché (it is), and full of comedic and serious moments (it is). It's also even queerer than just Kathy and Joanne, as well as Kaitlin and Mattie's, relationships. There's a whole subplot involving the death of Frank and Kathy's son Danny.

While never actually coming out and saying it, there's an implication that not only was his death a suicide, but also that he might have ended his life because his parents didn't accept him. The vagueness of this doesn't do the movie any favors.

Additionally, Autumn has many queer friends, which leads to a scene at a gallery opening for Braden (Neptune), who makes phallic art. Then, as if we were a bunch of Dorothys in Oz, we are whisked through a secret phone booth into a speakeasy for a drag show. It is there that we encounter performer Enchantress aka Sebastian (Justin Sams), whom Frank recognizes as the tarot card reader who had an impact on his life (hence the movie's title).

One of the biggest issues with "Queen of Knives" movie is the acting, especially in the case of Gene Pope, who muddles his way through every scene in which he appears (and there are many, as he also co-wrote and produced the movie). Harris does her best with what she's given, and supporting players, including Barbara Tirrell (who plays Masha, a neighborhood woman Frank befriends), add a little variety to the story. Rating: C-


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