DVD Review - The 10 Year Plan

Jack Turner (left) and Michael Adam Hamilton (right)
JC Calciano has only directed two other features. This is his third and it is so far his best. He still works from a limited budget, a short schedule and not a lot of resources, but it's obvious that his skills behind the camera are certainly improving. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the writing. This is the best screenplay Calciano has turned in. It's less gimmicky than his previous films, which have all been romantic comedies.

This one is also a romantic comedy and on the DVD's special features, Calciano comments that this movie is closest to the Hollywood rom-coms that he enjoys the most. He perhaps refers to the look and production quality. He perhaps doesn't refer to creative choices, but it's clear that many of the narrative beats here mimic Hollywood rom-coms without much divergence.

Yet, the trend of many Hollywood rom-coms over the past decade or two, or even longer, is to rely and predicate the whole narrative on a gimmick. Usually the gimmick is one character lying or trying to maintain some kind of deception, whether intended or not. Calciano's first film, Is It Just Me?, is exactly that.

Other gimmicks aren't deceptions. They're merely absurd situations that characters establish, which set up silly deadlines or contrived stakes that often force those involved to make decisions about their romantic futures. The Five-Year Engagement (2012) is one similarly titled rom-com that comes to mind.

This movie is a gay or more gay version of My Best Friend's Wedding, except the comedic set-pieces aren't so over-the-top. A lot of the humor here is rather tame and subtle. There are some one-liners that are somewhat emboldened, but mainly it's about a sweet, cool and nice person trying to figure things out, making a lot of fumbles but always just being himself, and never too crazy.

Calciano also proves that you don't need raunch or vulgarity to be funny or interesting. Some might criticize that there aren't a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, and there perhaps needed to be more stupid antics. However, the characters, particularly the actors playing them, are charming, sincere and humorous enough that it was all still satisfying, even if I wasn't falling out of my chair every scene.

It might seem like I'm damning this movie with faint praise, but it is simply a nice treat. It works well as a light drama, a fluffy drama at that, one that's not bogged down with social issues. It's not about homophobia or gay rights. It's homo-normative and it makes no bones about it, nor tries to undermine or subvert conventions to be hip or edgy, but that's what actually makes it great.

Jack Turner stars as Myles, a Los Angeles lawyer who is a hopeless romantic or always a hopeful one. He continuously dates guys who dump him because of his romanticism going too far, too fast. One night after a first date goes wrong, he seeks solace, as he normally does, from his best friend.

Michael Adam Hamilton co-stars as Brody, a police officer with the LAPD who is not a hopeless romantic. Brody is more or less a horndog. He just goes from Grindr hookup to the next. For those who don't know, Grindr is an app that people can download to their mobile phones or smart-phones, which connect them specifically to gay men who mainly just want to have sex.

Yes, it's another gimmick in rom-coms that opposites attract. Two people who are different in politics or personalities make for the perfect pair. Except, the trap can be that one can be unconvinced that the two would interact for more than two seconds, let alone actually live happily ever after.

Here, I was never in doubt that Myles and Brody would be friends. Regardless of their issues, both are good guys. The two have great chemistry, a great rapport, and if nothing else, watching them be friends is simply delightful. It helps that both men are positively gorgeous.

The supporting cast here is also very strong in terms of their charm and warmth. Teri Reeves plays Diane, the best friend of Myles and fellow lawyer. She probably gets the most laughs in the back half of the film and is ever more a lovely presence. Moronai Kanekoa plays Richard, the best friend of Brody and fellow police officer. He could be seen as not much more than a sounding board for Brody, but Calciano allows him some breathing room to be his own man.

Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but for ages 14 and Up.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 32 mins.


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