Film #118: G.B.F. (2013)

g-b-f03director: Darren Stein
language: English and a bit of German
length: 92 minutes
watched on: 14 May 2014

I heard about this on the grapevine last year sometime, and finally got the notification online somewhere that it’d been released. There was a bit of hype, or at least, I say hype, but actually it was rather low-key and was people musing on their blogs more than anything. I daresay most people won’t hear about this, because it’s been relegated to the festival circuit. This is perhaps a shame, because I think it has mainstream potential in its delivery and style of humour.

The premise is that a gay guy is accidentally outed at school, and subsequently earns the protection of the school’s cliques’ queen bees, who want their very own gay best friend (the GBF of the title) – only problem is, he’s actually introverted and into comic books, and feels like he’s being treated as an accessory. A rather basic message that I don’t need to be taught, personally, but it was delivered quite effectively. There’s also drama because his closeted friend had been planning to do the same thing intentionally in order to become the gay best friend, ironically since he would have actually fit the bill for femininity and fashion-consciousness much better.

There was a bit of drama online, before it was released, as people were so offended by the very concept of the gay best friend that they felt they had to complain about it even being suggested – but this misses the entire point of the movie. Having seen the cast list, on the other hand, I think I was led to expect that it would subvert the idea harder than it actually did.

In some ways, it resembles Mean Girls very closely, although not quite as far as plotting to ruin the others’ lives. It’s very conscious of the fact, with one of the characters referencing that film a lot and comparing the main character directly to Lindsay Lohan on more than one occasion. I feel like referencing things directly that you obviously like and look up to is dangerous, because it can come across as pretentious or presumptuous, but I think this film manages to pull it off reasonably well. Although I wouldn’t say it was as good as Mean Girls, it’s certainly got a caustic air to its humour and many quotable one-liners.

It’s very much an indie production, in any case – not all the acting is very good, and there are only a few well-known names: Evanna Lynch of Harry Potter fame, playing an virulently homophobic Mormon, and Megan Mullally, of Will and Grace fame, playing the camp gay guy’s mother… and that’s about it. While not well-known, the lead is played by Michael Willett, who was in United States of Tara playing another gay guy, and I’ve just started watching the newer TV show Faking It, pretty much because he’s in it and he’s cute.

A lot of the movie’s plot comes about because people make stupid decisions and don’t talk it out with their friends, and that was annoying to me. The ethical issues surrounding the outing of other people are only really touched upon during the movie – the girls who run the GSA of the school are the ones who out the main character in the first act, and while they don’t come off well out of this, they didn’t seem to suffer any narrative retribution for this. The main character also commits the mortal sin of outing his friend to his mother, but is forgiven (at least, before they fall out again for some other reason) all too quickly.

I think it’s really good, anyway. It’s available to watch on Youtube (last time I checked anyway), and I heard it’s coming to the Tokyo Lesbian & Gay Film Festival this month, July – I can’t go, though. I hope someone else does.

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