Paul (Peter Paige) is one of the innocent, self consciously nerdy people, who just don't want to listen. An artist and somewhat of a recluse, Paul is gay and well meaning, but he has a rather unhealthy attachment to the schoolyard and aggressive interest in other people's children. When his godson's family moves to Japan, Paul goes ballistic, bursting in on the distressed new owners of his godson's home and loitering in the local playground.
Paul isn't a pedophile, he just loves kids, but he doesn't really comprehend the ramifications of his actions. His best friend, Russell (Anthony Clark) - who at one stage tells Paul that he loves him - advises caution, because people will talk and he could get into deep trouble. After all, helping a little girl go potty in a toy store and brushing down children's bottoms whilst playing in the sandpit does come across as a bit creepy.
It doesn't take long for us to realize that Paul is playing with fire, the problem is while we are supposed to sympathize with him, in reality, he comes off as remarkably self-centered and juvenile and also frustrating. Following a brief period of denial, Paul soon trades gloominess and despair for fixation, and decides to work as a stock boy in a toy store and then offer his baby-sitting services as a "manny" who knows what children really want.
Leave it up to concerned local mother Maggie (Kathy Najimy) to lead the moral majority and decide - for no good reason - that Paul fits the classic profile of a child predator. Together with some of the other mothers she begins a type neighborhood watch in the form of a witch-hunt to "bring Paul in" before he actually commits any crime.
Because Paul is gay and kindly and sort of innocent, we are supposed to see him as the victim, and to a certain extent he is. Still, if you were a parent wouldn't you be concerned if an unknown single man approached kids in the park and started playing in the sandbox with them? If so, you may not find Paul, and his deranged Peter Pan complex, and his anger at the big, bad world of grown-up people quite as charming as Paige does.
Besides the obvious reticence to actually empathize with Paul, Say Uncle does do a good job of presenting a hot-button issue where mothers of young kids can often rush to judgment, becoming hysterical over this issue for no good reason.
Peter Paige wrote, directed and cast himself in the lead and while the film presents the results of two people's misconceptions about each other quite well, the results are still often wobbly, somewhat misconstrued and wildly out of balance. The moral subtleness of Paul and Maggie's dilemma just doesn't come across as well as it could and rather than trying to deal with gay persecution and social mistrust, Say Uncle mostly comes off as a wishy-washy study of one man's wildly inappropriate behavior. Mike Leonard October 06.