Review: ‘All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise’

All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise" is a touching but rarely adventurous collage of gay and lesbian families on a boat trip to the Bahamas which becomes an oasis of love and acceptance. Aside from her comedy routines and kitschy Broadway numbers endemic to all cruises, Rosie O'Donnell herself takes a backseat to the emotional stories of same-sex couples and their struggles to have and keep their children.

“All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise” is a touching but rarely adventurous collage of gay and lesbian families on a boat trip to the Bahamas which becomes an oasis of love and acceptance. Aside from her comedy routines and kitschy Broadway numbers endemic to all cruises, Rosie O’Donnell herself takes a backseat to the emotional stories of same-sex couples and their struggles to have and keep their children. Well-made docu is a natural pickup for gay fests before, and possibly after, its April 6 bow on HBO.

Directed with no-frills focus by Shari Cookson, this happy-sad celebration encourages parents and children to discuss their longing for public acceptance, to moving if sometimes monotonous effect. Camera subjects include Rosie and Kelli O’Donnell and their four children; two lesbians struggling to conceive (and two gay men who offer donor assistance); and former NFL star Esera Tuaolo, who describes his own journey out of the closet. In docu’s most electrifying moment, as droves of Bible-waving protesters in the Bahamas sing “What a mighty God we serve,” the cruise minister sings it right back at them, wrenchingly dramatizing the unbridgeable divide between two equally convicted sides.

All Aboard! Rosie's Family Cruise

Production

An HBO Documentary Films presentation of a Sceneworks production in association with Kidro Prods. Produced by Shari Cookson, John Hoffman. Executive producers, Sheila Nevins, Kelli O'Donnell, Rosie O'Donnell. Co-producer, Charlton McMillan. Directed by Shari Cookson.

Crew

Camera (color), Maryse Alberti; editor, Charlton McMillan; music supervisor, Gerry Gershman. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Spectrum), Jan. 22, 2006. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Rosie O'Donnell, Kelli O'Donnell.
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