Although, Bree wanting to be a man, is an important element of the film it’s not the only one and despite the subject matter and unhappy moment’s the film is far from being a downer or depressing. It is in fact funny at times, especially seeing Bree struggle to control a teenage boy and “rough it” while going road tripping with her rebellious son. Most of all,
Transamerica does not force viewers to approve of the idea of transgender or push for any great resolution, but instead slowly peels away the layers of Bree's character, showing her basic struggle for respect and a chance at happiness. Whatever your standpoint it is hard not to sympathize with Bree and his/her plight and effort to maintain harmony in a non-traditional family.
Whenever actors or actresses play the opposite sex in films, it can be very over the top and campy like Mrs. Doubtfire, The Birdcage, White Chicks, etc. However, Huffman tackles the difficult peformance of playing a man pretending to be a woman with simple, direct and thoroughly compelling acting. From the minute she is shown on screen you are at first shocked to see what looks like a masculine and homely looking woman, when we know Huffman is anything but. From there on it is like watching a man struggling to be accepted as a woman and not just a real woman to begin with, which is not an easy feat. Does this triumph deserve an Oscar? You and the Academy can be the judge, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Bree’s son played by Kevin Zegers is not a big name, but also delivers a powerful and quiet performance playing a caring yet troubled street kid in a compelling and real way. Other supporting appearances include Burt Young, who is most memorable for playing Rocky’s brother-in-law in the Rocky series, and Native Canadian actor Graham Greene playing an Indian cowboy who helps Toby and his “mother” move on to their next destination point.