Do I Sound Gay? is documentary by way of dinner party conversation. This largely light-hearted consideration of the stereotypically ‘gay voice’ hews closer to a chat between friends than investigative journalism.
Which is fine! For about 45 minutes, the film’s frivolity is what keeps it appealing; director and ‘subject’ David Thorpe – who undergoes speech therapy throughout the film, like a much milder Super Size Me – is winningly personable, as are his friends. It’s only when the documentary starts to drift away from personal experience and idle conjecture that it flounders.
The subject matter doesn’t require one definitive answer; unpacking why this person sounds like this and that person sounds like this is realistically beyond the purview of a frothy doco. But the back end of Do I Sound Gay? sprawls too broadly. Talking heads (Tim Gunn, Dan Savage, George Takei, others) offer off-the-cuff, fairly shallow commentary. Meanwhile, diversions into pop culture history – à la The Celluloid Closet – are too brief to resonate.
Such diminishing returns are a shortcoming of Thorpe’s approach; dinner party chats don’t tend to stretch for over an hour without a change of subject or some serious depth, neither of which eventuate here. Enjoyable, educational; mostly forgettable.