Perhaps more remarkable about the documentary "Married and Counting" than its enticing high concept — from December 2010 to April 2011, a gay male couple get legally married in every state that will let them — is how far same-sex marriage has come just since the film was shot (i.e., President Obama — and a majority in most polls — now support gay marriage, which has been legalized in 12 states; the Supreme Court will soon rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act). That doesn't make this involving, well-constructed movie any less effective but, instead, allows it to serve as a pithy time capsule of a brief period when a coveted institution was poised to experience an amazing growth spurt.
Directed, shot and edited by Allan Piper — and narrated by openly gay actor George Takei of "Star Trek" fame — the film follows Manhattanites Pat Dwyer and Stephen Mosher on a marriage tour across America timed to culminate with their 25th anniversary together (they met in college). Because, at the time, same-sex marriage was not recognized in New York (it was legalized there in June 2011), the pair, who had previously "eloped" in Connecticut, planned distinctive weddings — accompanied by friends, various officiators and the occasional obstacle — in Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.
They also travel to California for a spiritual commitment ceremony, as well as to their native Texas, where the guys attempt to square their marriage — and lives in general — with several wavering family members. While emotions run deep throughout the entire film, Pat and Stephen's time in Texas proves especially affecting.
As might be the case watching any couple repeatedly exchange wedding vows and proclaim their eternal love, things can get a bit mawkish. But there's no denying the sincerity of Pat and Stephen's powerful devotion — to each other and to the vital cause of marriage equality.
— Gary Goldstein
'Married and Counting.'
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.
Playing: At Laemmle's Music Hall, Beverly Hills.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun