DVD Review - Gayby
|Jenn Harris and Matthew Wilkas in "Gayby"|
Will & Grace put in the mainstream what is now the standard or cliché, that of a hetereosexual woman and her gay male best friend. There was a really good iteration of this standard, set in Chicago, called Nate & Margaret (2012), that was perhaps more akin to Harold and Maude (1971). Here, however, we have a straight girl and a gay guy who are the same age and who seemingly have known each other for a while. They live in the typical New York City.
Jenn Harris stars as Jenn, a thirty-something Yoga instructor who asks her gay best friend Matt, played by Matthew Wilkas, to be the father of her baby. Jenn doesn't think she's going to find a straight guy to do it in the traditional way and her biological clock is clearly ticking. In Ira Sachs' Keep the Lights On, the same question is asked and even though that film isn't about that issue, the casual way in which it's asked and the almost immediate acceptance is also quite casual. There really isn't any debate at all.
The casualness and easy acceptance of two people creating a baby out of wedlock is something that Gayby cements is now in our culture. Of course for gay couples, this is an unfortunate necessity. It's only slightly different from artificial insemination or surrogacy for people with fertility problems. It's only different because it removes the officialness and the objectivity out of it. Yet, even in surrogacy situations, officialness and objectivity can be removed or blurred, such as the NBC series The New Normal illustrates.
The narrative focuses on the weeks or months of Jenn and Matt attempting to get pregnant and have a baby together. In the meantime, the two still decide to date other men. For as smart as both Jenn and Matt are, neither consider the possibility that they may meet and fall in love with someone in that meantime, and, in that case how does that person figure in their separate baby-making scheme? It's supposed to seem as if they won't ever find love again, or at least that's what they intimate but as the movie plays out, neither has much difficulty in the dating world. Neither are that hindered.
It could be oversight that Lisecki intentionally makes, given where he takes the movie. As a result, we get a cavalcade of gorgeous and talented men, both gay and straight, including Mike Doyle (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit), Charlie Barnett (Chicago Fire), Dulé Hill (Psych), Alex Karpovsky (Girls) and Louis Cancelmi. All are eye-candy and great players in the awkward dating humor that are now and always have been a staple in sitcoms from Sex and the City to Girls.
Other than the dates, there's also the circle of friends and family to offer their two cents on Jenn and Matt's dating. At the top is Matt's best gay male friend, Nelson, played by Jonathan Lisecki himself who is sheer sassy. He is an absolute scene-stealer. Being the director of the film means that he's allowed, but he had me cracking up.
Jenn's other gay friend from work, Jaime, played by Jack Ferver (Hunting Season), is also top of that list. He's essentially a mirror to Nelson but skinnier. He gets some great one-liners. They're not as great as Nelson's one-liners, but they're still hilarious. Jenn's sister Kelly, played by Anna Margaret Hollyman, is amazing as well, and being a foil to Harris makes Harris' deadpan performance even better.
Wilkas is sexy but yet does the funniest masturbation scenes ever, of which he does a lot. His character of Matt is probably the hottest comic book nerd you'll ever encounter. Yet, given Hal Sparks' character in Queer as Folk was also very much into comic books, superhero geekdom might just be a normal and boring thing about gay men.
One song on the soundtrack, which came out years ago, that Lisecki uses is "Crazy in Love" by Antony and the Johnsons. It's a remake of a song by Beyoncé, which was a dance track. Antony and the Johnsons' version slows it down and makes it much more heart-wrenching, which represents the emotional core of this film.
Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.