“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 that 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 HBO run.
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 player 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.