Sundance: Molly Shannon Cancer Dramedy ‘Other People’ Brings Audience to Tears

Other People Sundance 2016
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Molly Shannon is best known for her outrageous “Saturday Night Live” impersonations, but the woman behind Mary Catherine Gallagher impressed Sundance Film Festival audiences with her subtle, serious turn as a woman struggling with terminal cancer in “Other People.”

The film, a dramedy about a gay man (Jesse Plemons) who moves home to Sacramento to take care of his mother (Shannon), kicked off the 32nd edition of the Park City, Utah festival.

As the credits rolled on the film,  loud sobs echoed across the Eccles Theater, as many members of the crowd stood and cheered for first-time director (and “SNL” writer) Chris Kelly as well as his cast — including Bradley Whitford and Maude Apatow — and producers Adam Scott and Naomi Scott.

Kelly revealed that the story was mostly autobiographical. “This is sort based on my life,” he said. “When trying to cast this movie, I wanted funny people. That’s what I remember — death isn’t just sad all the time.”

He noted that there are humorous moments even when watching a loved one grapple with a debilitating illness.

“There’d be this horrible, sad, depressing experience and then my mom would be like, ‘I just got done trying medical marijuana,” said Kelly.

Shannon drew the loudest applause as she took the stage and the buzz in Park City is that the actress could get some awards attention if the right distributor picks up the film. During the audience Q&A, Shannon talked about how she started her career as a dramatic actress studying at NYU, and had to catch her breath after reading the script. “It’s just so touching when someone pulls straight from his heart,” she said.

A stream of older audience members left mid-way through the film, perhaps because of its frank depiction of sex between two men, but part of “Other People’s” charm is that it’s the rare movie that features gay characters as three-dimensional figures. Plemons character David is unable to connect with a father (Bradley Whitford) who refuses to accept that his son is gay.

“This is as much about loss as it was acceptance,” said Plemons.

Another scene-stealing performance is from 14-year-old J.J. Totah, who plays the flamboyant younger brother of one of David’s hometown friends and stages a drag dance show for his neighbors. Totah said he helped developed the character with Kelly, including his character’s obsession with carrara marble. “My character is unique and comfortable with himself,” he said, when an audience member noted he’d never seen anything like him in a movie before. “Use color and paint a picture, honey. That’s what we should all do.”

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  1. GayPeopleSuck says:

    Americans are fed up with the LBGTQXYZ agenda. We are tired of people calling mental illness normal. Homosexuality IS NOT normal. I don’t care if two male dolphins go at it or it “happens in nature” Rare occurrences does not make something normal. Gays are mentally ill people or its done by choice as perversion or rebellion. There is no positive things to come out of a homosexual lifestyle. I am not religious but you go against nature. Your anus wasn’t made to be an entrance. We have let feminism ruin America. Giving women power they did not need. Look where it has got us. The constant promotion of homosexuality and groups like blacks, gays, and women are never happy no matter how much they win. They just need to find ways to stay relevant when Americans have grown apathetic to their pathetic perpetual state of victimhood and butthurt. Look what feminism and gays have given us. Women with 2-3-4+ baby dads, fatherless homes, destroying the nuclear family, women blame men for everything that makes them insecure when in fact 90% of the time its other women that make them feel insecure and down about themselves, increase in STDs, and many other various problems. Look where our values have gone when we have allowed women to much power in our society. Our society is going to the gutter thanks to women emasculating men and making America week. Anything that ends with -ism is not seeking equality, but looking to be superior.

  2. tlsnyder42 says:

    Another movie I can skip. . .

  3. Scott Overcash says:

    Molly was good in Me, and Earl and the Dying Girl.

  4. Tyler B. says:

    As a Christian who has actually seen the film, I’d like to give my two cents. Molly Shannon’s performance is moving and really does carry the film. Kelly’s writing and direction is spot-on and impressive for a first-time film director. I look forward to viewing his future work. The “gay sex” scene is not graphic, nor titilating, nor gratuitous. The entire film is an honest portrayal of a year in the life of a young gay writer that is factually based. I did not feel that a homosexual agenda was pushed or that the father’s character was shown as an idiotic right-wing churchgoer. For me, family relationships were at center-stage, not politics. If you want to take shots at Hollywood and the media, by all means, go for it. Keep in mind, though, that you have no idea what this particular movie contains, what it’s about, or what its agenda is. As a faithful Christian, I have no qualms in saying that I enjoyed this film and in no way felt attacked or offended by the time the credits rolled.

  5. thez says:

    Where do all of these people come from on this comment board? Christ it’s pathetic. So many ill-informed opinions on homosexuality. I’m surprised you cave-dwelling troglodytes can even navigate a webpage.

  6. Some Dude says:

    Lol. Now you Varity folk can feel the power of us drudgebots. A perfectly good movie was ruined because of a gratuitous gay sex scene.

    It could have made money if the scene had been edited out. Peeps are tired of the film industry pushing an agenda.

  7. keeeeeeeeeen says:

    As a Christian, I’m truly disgusted by this. I defy any of you to find a single example where Christ instructed us to condemn and cast stones at other sinners. Everyone here is a sinner and Christ broke bread with everyone alike. He knew prostitution was a sin He didn’t support but He defended the prostitute…Some of you would just call her a slut online.
    Frankly, I choose to model my morals AND my conduct on Christ’s example and I think it’s disgusting that some people will invoke His name while betraying His example. Teach and evangelize what you believe, but to do so with hatred and condemnation for the sinner (never mind the hypocrisy of leaving one’s own sins unspoken) is NOT Christian.

    • ThatsSoGay says:

      I’m disgusted by a Christian who defends an anything-goes lifestyle and tries to play the Jesus card. His Apostles wrote it all down for you. Look it up. Oh, and he defended the prostitute, yet surprisingly, you left out the “Go and SIN no more”. Stop apologizing for what Christians should detest. Actually, just STOP calling yourself a Christian. Love for all is NOT support for all. Do not judge does not mean condone everything.

    • I seriously doubt you are a Christian . Jesus does not hate gay people but they must repent and allowed themselves to be changed by the Spirit of God – which is MORE THAN able to change the hearts and minds and sexual lives of men and women.`

      If you preach “acceptance” for that which He died to enable forgiveness for and regeneration then you are a mocker of His cross. I’m not talking about hating anyone ..He did not ‘hate gays’ when in the form and Oneness with His Father , He declared homosexuality damaging to men and Israel that He decreed stoning for it.

      • Bliz says:

        All u christians that act like u personally know jesus…get a room with the guy, well i guess u do with confessional

    • Kunta Kinte says:

      So your idea is remain silent and condone sin, because that’s nicer? Why are you such a faggot?

  8. Bobby Jay says:

    Praise God for AIDS!

  9. Roy Vay says:

    As a Heterosexual Germaphone, I would like to state that Gay Men are more of man than I am.
    If you can put that there, where that comes out and enjoy it and not be bothered by the smell.. Well Sirs, you have my respect. No go wash off the corn and carrots, put on your Izod’s with a Sweater tied around your shoulder and go accept the Key to the City!

  10. Phil Thekoons says:


  11. Citizenfour says:

    Enough with the gay agenda. There are so many life stories that can be told and put into films, without a gay agenda behind it. The vast majority of Americans are not gay. It is a small percentage, less than 3% who enjoy the penis up the shooter. Just because we have a person impersonating as the President who had gay sex most of his life, does not mean, we condone it as a nation. Take it back to the closets!

  12. Jooish Agenda says:

    I cancelled Netflix because I could not remove or even hide the gay section. A customer service rep finally confided with me that Netflix was promoting homo movies and management deliberately decided not to let the user remove the category. Many people complained apparently, but Netflix is on board with the perverse agenda.

  13. Jtom says:

    Hollywood and marketers – if you haven’t learned this by now, you will only see failure. People want to IDENTIFY with the actors on the screen. Check the CDC studies on what percent of the male population would identify with having a male lover. They will be your potential audience – less than 2% of the population. I don’t identify with that group, so I will not be watching this movie. I don’t identify with the family of two fathers seving their adopted children soup, so your commercial does not move me to buy your product. It’s not a matter of homophobia, it’s just what group I and 98% of the population identify with.

  14. Thomas M. says:

    Not everyone wants to see two people depicted as or actually having sex. Whether religious or not. To quote a long time friend, “watching sex in movies porn or not, is like watching other people golf, ski, or play baseball. If I am not right in the middle of the action why waste my time, when I could be out doing it instead of just watching.”

  15. Archie says:

    Some of you people need to beat feet right over to where you will fit in with all the other wonderful Cruz voters.

  16. Duckhomie says:

    That’s how art is, plenty to go around, find what you like.

  17. Will Keeler says:

    Filthy sodomites engaging in their favorite activity… Even in 2015, with all our medical knowledge of HIV, sodomites continued to dominate the statistics of those who have acquired the disease.
    When will you people learn? Homosexuality is destructive, filthy, and UNHEALTHY.

  18. so young audience members love boyko on boyko sex? wtf

  19. sailordude says:

    Funny how the writer labeled people who left early as “older”. If you don’t agree with someone else’s opinions you must smear them.

  20. Carley says:

    Yea the sodomy boofooers get to show themselves ramming each other again. They must be so pleased. This country has F’d itself in the boofoo.

  21. We should all be ‘gay’ (word hijacked my homosexuals, apparently uncomfortable with that nomenclature)!?!

    I’ll pass.

  22. grendel007 says:

    What? A movie that depicts saintly gay people struggling to find acceptance in an evil older world?
    About time hollyfools. We don’t see that everyday in movies, TV shows, commercials, the news, the newspaper, the Internet, coffee shops, blah, blah, blah,…

    • gary says:

      I find this statement to be from a very deranged mind “saintly gay people struggling to find acceptance in an evil older world”
      There is nothing saintly about perversion. This is the truth that your mind has be given over to a depraved mind. Go ahead yell and screen out you lungs, at the end of you life you will still have to give account for your sinful perversions. It is quite simple when you study the human body, the parts do not fit together, this is why homosexuals die early from all kinds of Diseases. Love has got nothing to do with it.

      Romans 1:24-28 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

      26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

      28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

  23. Olrik says:

    Mmmm, homo flick, must be good…

  24. Gary Brown says:

    Hey Hollywood – 98% of the comments here deplore putting “gay sex scenes” in film and this is representative of the nation. It’s vile perversion and no longer will we be silenced by your ridicule. Immorality is defined by God, not you and not us. It is what it is.

  25. maroonvee says:

    Sundance: Molly Shannon Cancer Dramedy ‘Other People’ Brings Audience to Vomit.

    There fixed it for you Variety.

  26. Mike0oSS says:

    Holliweird….you can’t make this stuff up….

  27. Very surprising. Don’t expect film-festival-going types to object to homosexuality in any way.

  28. houx says:

    I think if that’s what Hollywood has to offer same sex sex then that’s smart if the black actor’s boycott the Grammy’s they don’t have to look at that trash, and have higher standards then the white Irish woman Molly.

  29. DreamingofCali says:

    I love this idiotic line, “A stream of older audience members left …perhaps because of its frank depiction of sex between two men…” Perhaps? No, I’m sure it had nothing to do at all with the gay sex scene and it was a total coincidence — they all had to go pee at the same time and then they all fell and couldn’t get up, so they were unable to return to the movie.

    • maroonvee says:

      How did they know they were “older” audience? Did they count them ? It’s a silly observation, and probably a lie, in order to imply “old” people aren’t into gay sex, and young and oh so “hip” are cool with it. Biased media.

      • ArtGranda says:

        By “old” they mean “old skool”.

        Modern progressives certainly wouldn’t leave such a divine scene of “natural” sexuality. Rather they’d probably take notes, duplicate and elaborate … while they prepare elementary school lesson plans based on the movie. No joke.

  30. Captain Obvious says:

    Gay sex acts are very hazardous to your health!

    If films were regulated like tobacco.

  31. Matt Proctor says:

    remember when Hollywood actually had class? when a fil, had nuance? now it has scripts written by mentally deranged hermaphrodites with a penchant for buggery

  32. Mark Meyer says:

    Their next film is rumored to include beastiality.

  33. Mark Meyer says:

    The world has had enough of the gay agenda being shoved down our throats.

  34. Lee from Tampa says:

    I’m so old fashioned. I love old movies. Nobody sucks face. They kiss, even if they kill each other there are no histrionics. I saw someone strangle someone yesterday in a movie from the 40’s, it took all of 2 seconds and I don’t think they even showed his face. It was great. The story is the thing, it just progresses and makes sense and people glow and act and say snappy dialogue and the good guys win. God, I love ’em. Stuff like this I’d walk out too.

    • ned says:

      so tired of coarseness in our society and the glorification of the abnormal…so tired of it….give it a rest and just go on with life. There will always be those who take advantage of more peculiar people due to their own insecurities but now society is expected to bow down to the abnormal as if they are normal or we are called abnormal…what a world!

  35. nd4ever says:

    Three dimensional gay characters. Audience walks. Its probably the three dimensional angle don’t ya think?

  36. pathanoo says:

    How much more these people wish to coarsen our society, For God’s sake? Why does a family film exhibition have to show graphic gay sex scenes except for shoving homosexuality down our throats who are not gay and do not believe in that life style. GAYS ARE THE ABNORMAL PEOPLE, NOT US NORMAL FOLKS. THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO WHAT THEY WANT IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR BED ROOM BUT, PLEASE DO NOT FORCE YOUR SLEAZE ON US.

  37. Phil Thekoons says:

    nasty nasty

  38. Sharon Cox says:

    Nut biters dont belong on the screen

  39. Dave Wilshire says:

    A stream of older audience members left mid-way through the film, perhaps because of its frank depiction of sex between two men but, isn’t colon gratification what Sundance is all about?

  40. Why would they ruin an otherwise great movie by showing homosexual scenes in it? It is too bad, what this country is coming to. God does not approve and neither do I.

  41. jetty says:

    Well, at least public school teachers can force first graders to watch it, so don’t despair, liberals.

  42. Susan says:

    I am bored of seeing sex scenes period!

  43. Bill Svard says:

    I’m okay seeing lesbian sex scenes, but gay men…sorry, it grosses me out. I don’t have a problem with gay men but that’s just my natural reaction. And, to be honest, most explicit sex scenes — whether heterosexual or homosexual — are gratuitous attempts to get attention rather than make a movie better. There are exception but in general they usually harm the overall movie. Generally those sorts of scenes should be left for soft porn movies on Skinemax.

  44. Bob Ama says:

    Please put gay warnings on films. I don’t want to vomit on the person sitting in front of me.

    • Twoiron says:

      Bob Ama,

      I agree. Also, require a warning label on the tickets and on concessions sold for these movies (similar to the one on cigarette packages) that says “Performing the gay sex acts portrayed in this movie can be extremely hazardous to your health and have been known to cause death.”

  45. jackdeth72 says:

    May fill seats and make money on the east and west coast, Won’t last a weekend in those states in between.

    Nice last minute title change, Variety!

  46. SILENCER says:

    It isn’t homophobia. It just disgusts normal people. No phobia required to be repulsed by faggotry.

  47. Cam says:

    “Another scene-stealing performance is…….”

    Gay sex scenes will not be enamored nor supported by the vast (90%) majority of movie-goers. Though we haven’t watched movies or TV in 20-years, nothing written about this film will entice any but the 4% of some audiences. Surely not a family-friendly affair (no pun intended) in my humble opinion.

  48. David Drake says:

    What makes film people think that they can ram their gay agenda down people’s throats? By the way I am Bisexual. I do not suffer from homophobia.

    • Some Dude says:

      Yeah I have noticed bisexuals often dont really cotton to the gay agenda. I am bi too and I cant give a fook if someone doesnt want to bake a cake for me. Histrionic flamers and borderline lesbians annoy the heck out of me.

    • Rev. Fred Norris says:

      Same old same old.. liberal leftist idiocy

  49. David says:

    There were only liberals in attendance and they probably left to go have their own gay sex because all liberals are gay.

  50. I feel bad for Molly Shannon. Sounds like she had a great performance which will be eclipsed by some self indulgent scene squeezed in (sry for that) by Kelly. Loved Jesse Plemons in Friday Night Lights…

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