Sunday, June 30, 2013


Tanner (Michael J. Willett) in the
bedroom of some girl whose name
is right on the tip of my tongue....
G.B.F., dir. Darren Stein, 2013, USA, 94 min. 
Sunday, June 30, 7:00 pm @ Castro (closing night film)

What is the fashion accessory that every teenage girl needs to be totally au courant? Why, of course, she needs a G.B.F., a Gay Best Friend! I was in my twenties when John Hughes chronicled every aspect of high school life, but from Sixteen Candles to The Breakfast Club to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, we never once had the popular girls catfighting for the companionship of a G.B.F. Degrassi has had a number of gay characters, but never commoditized as social accoutrements. Not even Glee itself has answered the challenge, despite Tina’s efforts with Blaine. It’s about time to set the record straight — er, um, or something like that.

At the beginning of the film, Tanner (the fabulous Michael J. Willett, formerly the bleach-blond Lionel on The United States of Tara) has his small circle of outcast friends, including fellow closet case Brent (Paul Iacono, Fame, The Hard Times of R.J. Berger), and the two of them dream of coming out in grand style, cooking up the idea that Brent should become the school’s token homo and land himself a gig as the G.B.F. of one of the super-popular girls, Fawcett, ’Shley, or Caprice. But the project runs off the rails almost immediately as Brent accidentally outs Tanner instead of himself. Tanner, who had been doing his best not to be noticed, is suddenly center-stage. Natasha Lyonne, a festival favorite for nearly everything she’s ever done, plays the faculty advisor for the school’s nascent Gay-Straight Alliance, insisting that it’s not really a GSA if you don’t have any gay student members and skeptically wondering whether the point is to help queer students or to collect them as specimens. Brent’s mother is played in over-the-top PFLAG splendor by Megan Mullally, who drops bricklike subtle hints that Brent should just come out already. Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter films) shows up as the voice of Traditional Moral Outrage at the high school.

High school is a rich vein for movies, in part because nearly everyone in the audience has been there and done that, or at least has seen enough of it in popular culture to understand the context, but also because it’s just inescapably a time of dramatic (and therefore often drama-filled) changes, of beginning the transition from child to grown-up. The trick is to portray the characters as more than cardboard cut-out props, to balance the pain and the humor, and to appeal to teens and old fogies alike. G.B.F. succeeds on all fronts, giving us a window into the main characters’ inner lives even as we laugh out loud at their escapades. I would pay to watch Michael J. Willett stare at a blank wall for 94 minutes, but G.B.F. is a wonderful feel-good comedy that doesn’t even count as a guilty pleasure. Enthusiastically Highly Recommended, definitely a Must See.

IMDb page with trailerFacebook page

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