Editor’s Notes: G.B.F is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD.
I have two personal problems: I am a masochist when it comes to watching terrible gay movies, and I have a tendency to compare every gay film to Andrew Haigh’s brilliant Weekend (2011). Unfortunately the latter informs the former since I am under the firm belief that no gay film will ever be as perfect as Weekend…but that doesn’t mean that I still won’t endure the tackiness of these films. When I heard that Darren Stein’s G.B.F (2013) was coming to a local theater, I decided to watch it alone (out of embarrassment for watching a film that I openly criticized). After this first viewing (along with multiple subsequent viewings), I found myself enjoying it, much to my own chagrin.
Darren Stein tries his hardest to create a subversive high school comedy, however I feel that his time should have been better spent teaching his actors how to effectively play drunk and how to properly land jokes.
G.B.F. has all the trappings of a normal adolescent comedy: Tanner (Michael J. Willet), a self-proclaimed comic book nerd, is suddenly thrust into the queer spotlight when his friend, Brent van Camp (Paul Iacono), inadvertently forces him to come out to the whole school. Tanner’s revelation transforms him into the titular prize, the G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend), that is coveted by the three queen bees: the naïve Mormon, ‘Shley (Andrea Bowen), the theater queen, Caprice (Xosha Roquemore), and the embodiment of total popularity/great hair, Fawcett (Sasha Pietrese). This sudden high school fame strains Tanner’s friendships and he is forced to choose between being sexless object or a multi-dimensional human being. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the narrative trajectory and ultimate climax.
Darren Stein tries his hardest to create a subversive high school comedy, however I feel that his time should have been better spent teaching his actors how to effectively play drunk and how to properly land jokes. The two standouts of the film are Megan Mullally, whose Mrs. van Camp is a scene stealer, and Xosha Roquemore, whose Caprice is a ball of campy greatness. Unfortunately, the lead actor, Michael J. Willet, is one of the weaker actors of the bunch. He has the charisma and good looks to play a lead, but his acting isn’t polished enough (his biggest offense has got to be his inability to play a drunk teenager). The other actors fall somewhere between being decent and being completely mediocre.
In spite of the multitude of flaws, there is still something so charming about G.B.F.. Perhaps it is my inner flaming queen that takes the film’s artificial nature for camp value. Or perhaps the film is (gasp) effectively depicting the message it set out to represent…
In spite of the multitude of flaws, there is still something so charming about G.B.F.. Perhaps it is my inner flaming queen that takes the film’s artificial nature for camp value. Or perhaps the film is (gasp) effectively depicting the message it set out to represent…NAH! I’d be able to make a case for the former, but the latter is too entrenched in the politics of queer representation that a 500-700 word review would not suffice an adequate analysis. Still, there is something there that I cannot put my finger on. I guess it’s just the heart of this project that makes it so accessible.
I doubt that longevity will favor G.B.F. as a queer classic since so many low-budget gay and lesbian films are relegated to the confines of Netflix searches and discounted VOD runs. G.B.F. may be a kitschy send-up of mainstream high school comedies, but it still far from reaching the greatness of other teen comedies – like Mean Girls (2004) and Clueless (1995) – or queer greats – like (cough, cough) Weekend.
Is G.B.F. great? No. Is it fun? Yes. I doubt expects this to reach the heights of cinematic greatness, but it is still chock full of entertainment value.
[notification type=”star”]70/100 ~ GOOD. It is always an uphill struggle to create the best queer representations. G.B.F. makes some campy strides, but the acting and execution that hinder it from being something better.[/notification]