#QFest, #GBFfilm, #gayfilm
QFest Update 1: Opening Night Film and Party
July 11, 2013
Opening Movie: GBF (Gay Best Friend)
GBF is a rom-com that doesn’t quite live up to the tropes of its genre, but nevertheless gains momentum with zinger after zinger, delivered by the likes of Meghan Mullally, whose cameo as the mother of a closeted high schooler is A+ work in an otherwise B- film.
The plot is a young queer boy’s dream (nightmare?) come true: What happens when closeted twinkie Tanner is outed by his classmates and finds himself the target of three mean-girl queen bees, all of whom want him to becomes their new “gay best friend”? Will he end up a faddish accoutrement akin to a puppy dog in a purse? Hilarity ensues, naturally.
As one of the three mean girls ruling the local high school, actress Xosha Roquemore plays bitchy drama queen Caprice. She is a standout, ably delivering snappy one-liners with uzi-like indiscretion and statuesque ferocity. If ever there is a Grace Jones bio-pic, she needs to be on the director’s short list. Actor Taylor Frey steals scenes as a closeted young Mormon horn-dog who gets more action than anyone else in this comedy, which generally talks more about sex than actually depicts it. (Incidentally, both of these actors were at the Philadelphia opening night screening, and they seemed both personable and appreciative of their moment in the spotlight. See their sexy Twitter pic at http://instagram.com/p/bpjG0tPeF0/.
I can’t say the acting chops of leads Paul Iacono and Michael J. Willet were as good. Willet’s “Tanner”, the main male lead, seems especially sketched in–a comic book nerd who is never once shown reveling in his inner-geekdom. Iacono shares some funny moments with Meghan Mullaly, who plays his sometimes-helicoptering parent. Iacono and Willet both play closeted gay teens too afraid to come out on their own terms. Best-friends-turned-frenemies, the pair suffers from lack of backbone throughout the film, and their brief romantic interlude toward the end lacks any simulacrum of real spark. Don’t expect much fortitude in either character, though both certainly manage to keep the plot moving forward. The consensus among the friends I saw the movie with was that these two were outshone by their fellow cast members, which included Evanna Lynch (better known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter franchise) and Andrea Bowen (who played Susan’s daughter on Desperate Housewives). And let’s not forget the school’s reigning diva, played by Sasha Pieterse. As “Fawcette”, a Farrah-like blonde, she displays the prowess of an actress of promise, coming closest among all her cast-mates to layering her character with the kind of depth that typified John Hughes’ teen movies in the 1980s–perhaps the Golden Age of teen films.
Indeed, GBF’s score borrows a LOT from that era, most notably in the music of the ’80s and early ’90s, with songs by Spandau Ballet, Erasure and Blur on the soundtrack. But unlike Hughes, who so masterfully wove the music of his era into the textual fabric of his films, thereby adding gravitas to his story lines–here the music seems mere afterthought. That’s too bad. A few quiet moments and some genuine tears would have made all the zany bitchiness far more poignant. That’s brave water to tread in a high-school comedy. But even though Director Darren Stein didn’t get it 100% right the first time around, these characters deserve revisiting in their college years–hopefully under direction that will make even more of the snappy, witty, and always clever storytelling of writer George Northy. Some genuine pathos would make the comedy stand out in sharper relief. I especially want to see what happens to Taylor Frey’s closeted Mormon, who morphs into a gung-ho gay boy by movie’s end.
The film is a fun romp worth seeing with friends. You’ll find some laughs and you may want to hit rewind a time or two to take notes on all the saucy repartee. As the kids say these days, “Whatev, bitches!”
Director: Darren Stein. Soon to be released theatrically in LA and NYC. Distributor TBA.
Check out this video trailer on YouTube:
PS–The after party…
…was a lot of fun. I met drag queen Timmy Tenderloin, and hung out with friends Rex, Javier, Mario, Thom Cardwell, @Michael Busza, @Brian Gannon. @Joe’l Ludovich, @Jhett Bond, and others at LIT ULTRA BAR in Northern Liberties. A great start to QFest! The theme was a prom night extravaganza, and it was a helluva show with drag queens, drag kings and a photo booth with a cute Mini Cooper (now only if Minnie Driver had been driving the Mini Cooper. Oh well.) Here is a gratuitous picture of Timmy Tenderloin, the drag king, at Philly’s Gay Pride Parade. I stole this off the Internet. At the party, in real life, I took Timmy’s picture weirdly distorted through an ice sculpture–wish I had it, but I took it on Timmy’s camera, not mine.
Tags: Xosha Roquemore, Taylor Frey, GBF, G.B.F., QFest, Philadelphia, Film, Gay, Queer, 80s music, 90s music, George Northy, Darrewn Stein, Timmy Tenderloin, Philadelphia Gay Calendar,
PPS–File under Extra Adorable. Taylor Frey of GBF helps kids fight obesity by teaching them dance moves from Hairspray. How freaking cute is THAT?!
Okay, enough pics, enough gossip. Go get your QFest tickets. Pronto! If you missed GBF, it shows again this weekend. http://www.qfest.com/film-details.cfm?id=14588