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film review

The plaintiffs in The Case Against 8 wave to the crowd as they enter the US Supreme Court.

A feel-good legal story about the U.S. Supreme Court's squeaker decision on California's anti-gay marriage law, Proposition 8, The Case Against 8 is a slickly told tale that begs for movie-of-the-week treatment.

The only issue would be finding actors who are as enjoyable to watch as high-rolling lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson, who had argued on opposite sides of the case that tested the 2000 Gore-Bush presidential election. In mental speed and on-their-feet rhetoric, these alpha-lawyers are fun to watch even in a film where the ending is known and the perspective entirely one-sided.

Taking a fairly low-key role here is political strategist and former White House aide Chad Griffin, founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the gay civil-rights group formed to challenge the law.

Seen in a few background scenes is actor-director Rob Reiner, and his wife, Michelle, who helped fund the organization. The organization left no room for error, carefully vetting the two couples, of each sex, that were model citizens in the case: Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, mothers of four teenaged boys whose 2004 marriage had been voided. The male couple Jeffrey Zarrillo and Paul Katami argued they wanted to be married before they started a family. Given how persuasively the case was argued, the shock is that the Supreme Court ruling only won by one vote.

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