Whats Priyanka Chopra's A Kid Like Jake all about?

Entertainment | April 17, 2018, 11:40 a.m.




PeeCee has been creating a buzz ever since she's crossed miles to make a name for herself in tinsletown! 

After her hit television series Quantico, and playing an antagonist Victoria Leeds in her first Hollywood outing Baywatch, Priyanka Chopra is all set to feature in Silas Howard’s A Kid Like Jake. 

What is 'A Kid Like Jake'  like? Here's my take on it: 

In Silas Howard’s narrative, adapted by Daniel Pearle from his own 2013 play, 4-year-old Jake (Leo James Davis) is creative, stubborn, and smart — qualities that aren’t special enough to guarantee a scholarship to a competitive New York private school.

Jake’s also transgender, maybe, or as his preschool advisor Judy (Octavia Spencer) describes him, “gender expansive.” Judy suggests Jake’s parents Alex and Greg (Claire Danes and Jim Parsons) include his princess play in their applications, the first pebble in what slowly becomes an emotional avalanche that discourages the sanctity of their marriage.

Howard’s film is adamantly realistic, which means everyone behaves as politely as possible until hell breaks loose in the final act. The movie doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere until it permeates, and the dazzling fireworks don’t quite offset its long, seemingly lost fuse.

It’s an endearing portrait of two good people fumbling with a dilemma: Should Jake be given a label he’s yet to request? The script’s central irony is that while angry kids are ordered to use their words, adults talk endlessly without ever saying what they mean. The same goes for the film, which starts a conversation it doesn’t fully dare to explore.

Alex and Greg start the film as one of those sun-dappled city couples who smooch in bed without fear of morning breath. He’s a therapist; she’s a lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom — or as her wholly awful mom Catherine (Ann Dowd) would say, a disappointment. (“Thank God for the women’s movement,” Cathy groans, just lightly enough she can pretend it’s a joke.) Still, the Wheelers seems so happily middle class with their two-story home and kombucha dates that the audience blinks when the couple reveals they can’t afford to pay for private school.

Two stereotypes come off in this "quest for diversity": 

Firstly, in their happiness, their want for more finances makes absolute sense. When you're "playing house" in a marriage, you always want more. You want the perfect house, with the perfect oak stair-case, perfect little pool in the yard, white picket fences and perfect little kids running around! 

But even if they were rich, Jake would still have to beat out hundreds of many kids with perfect test scores or perfect pitch. Furthermore, the ludicrousness, notes Howard, Jake and his academic rivals are so young and vague that any misstep is an instant future-killer. Sighs another mom in one of the film’s funniest moments, at her son’s kindergarten audition, Jake crayoned a picture of a gun.

The couple toys with the thought of actually defining their son's preferences so early. There’s a hint that she, too, has been defined as a quitter since childhood when she dropped ballet — an idea Howard floats so lightly, it might not even be there, along with most ideas in the script which seem to waft by as we cling to vapors of thoughts created after many unresolved rifts.

Secondly, the stressed out stereotype mother that she is.  She’s far more interesting once Howard cracks her composure and she says things she knows she’s not supposed to say. We’re jolted by what comes out of her mouth in part because there’s not much hint of what’s roiling inside. One scene climaxes in a diss regarding information about Judy we barely registered — the line is a whiff. Later, Alex furiously reveals her own stereotypical gender biases to her husband. It’s a big moment, and by the next scene, the subject is changed.

Thus, to correct a misinterpreted or to crack through a bias, you have to show the abnormalities that exist within the framework of "perceived normality". Perceptions can only be changed if you highlight what's incorrect and then show them another perspective to (perhaps) correct their perceptions. This is why, these stereotypes exist. 

The film also stars Priyanka Chopra (Quantico, Baywatch); Amy Landecker (Transparent, Dan In Real Life); Ann Dowd (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Leftovers); and Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape Of Water).

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