Movie Review - G.B.F.

Michael Willett and Sasha Pieterse
in a scene from 'G.B.F.'
This teen comedy references Mean Girls (2004), which it's very much patterned after. The movie also includes elements of other irreverent teen comedies like Saved! (2004), Tru Loved (2008) and Easy A (2010), movies that have moved away from the John Hughes paradigm and have gotten more to the level where they mock that paradigm. They don't share the same kind of disdain as something like Not Another Teen Movie (2001). They're more satires of the culture than spoofs of specific films. G.B.F. is in that same league, but the culture at large that this film satirizes is one that goes beyond homophobia and into a weirder place of over-acceptance or the co-opting of gay culture, embracing the superficial stereotypes.

Screenwriter George Northy projects what might be the teenage version of Michael from the U.S.' Queer As Folk, a boy who would come across as gay if it weren't for the fact that he's more apparently a comic book geek. The timid Tanner Daniels, played by Michael J. Willett, does have his group of friends, but one in that group wants more than his small circle of presumed freaks and outsiders.

Paul Iacono co-stars as Brent Van Camp, Tanner's best friend who wants to be the first student in their school of North Gateway High to say he's gay. This is not out of personal pride or the need to live an open and honest life. Brent wants to come out because he believes it will make him a celebrity, one that will be attractive to the popular girls in school and will allow him to increase his social status.

Tanner along with his heterosexual friends, Sophie, played by Molly Tarlov (Awkward), and Glenn, played by Derek Mio (Greek), of course tell Brent that what he's doing is basically petty and superficial. Brent sees though there are three popular girls who are the most powerful and to whom he has to appeal. He recognizes that all three are interested in a Hollywood trend of wealthy or fashionable women who have gay best friends or g.b.f.'s.

The trend perhaps started with Will & Grace (1998), the iconic TV series about a woman named Grace and her gay best friend named Will. That show put the two on equal footing. The recent trend tips the scales making the gay best friend more subservient to the woman or in general just a follower of the woman, there simply to buttress her. Northy's screenplay refer to the g.b.f.'s as assessories or tools.

In a sense, this trend is good because it does help to normalize gay men, making them comparable to everyday objects. It also creates allies to defend gay men from possible bullies, which Northy's script does illustrate. The problem is that at the same time it objectifies gay men and marginalizes them in a different way.

It's fascinating how Northy's script doesn't make the story about the three popular girls necessarily but more about how the young gay guys, Tanner and Brent, see themselves as reflected or rather refracted through the popular girls. In that regard, the three popular girls are more or less representations of the gay stereotype. Whether it's offensive or not, the gay male stereotype is that they're more likely to be into drama or theatre, as well as fashion and hairstyling and more knowledgable about pop culture stuff a la E! Entertainment and less so about sports and politics.

As a result, Northy divides those stereotypes amongst the three popular girls. The first is Fawcett Brooks, played by Sasha Pieterse. Fawcett certainly has the drop dead gorgeous looks of actress Farah Fawcett and is all about her hair and makeup. The second is Caprice Winters, played by Xosha Roquemore. Caprice is the diva drama queen, most likely to star in a Broadway musical. The third is Ashley Osgoode, played by Andrea Bowen. Ashley or 'Shley is the ditzy Mormon.

Director Darren Stein maintains a brisk and buoyant pace to the film and perhaps provides breathing room for the amazing supporting cast to keep the humor level as high as it's kept. The adult cast, which includes Megan Mullally, Horatio Sanz, Rebecca Gayheart, Jonathan Silverman and Natasha Lyonne, is fantastic. Even the younger supporting cast, fresh faces like Taylor Frey who plays Ashley's boyfriend 'Topher, deliver laugh-out-loud moments.

At the center is Willett and Iacono who bounce off the three actresses, Pieterse, Roquemore and Bowen, playing the popular girls. All three girls obviously are given great one-liners from Northy but each perform them in fiercely funny, sassily sharp or bubbily spot-on ways.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual references.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.
In Select Cities. Go to:
Available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.


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