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September 8, 2006

American Quiche

What we need now is a silly, gay
teen sex romp

Edge of Seventeen made quite a splash when it was released. After all, who could imagine a gay coming-of-age film set in Ohio, filmed in Ohio, getting national attention?

Todd Stephens’ screenplay made the film what it was, and it did pretty decent business.

That didn’t necessarily help him with his directorial debut, Gypsy 83. He again wrote the screenplay, and the film at least starts off in Sandusky. There are references to Ohio State University and the Amish community.

That film, unfortunately, didn’t get as wide a release as Edge of Seventeen, despite being an engaging, intense film.

After making two serious, thoughtful, emotional, cusp-of-adulthood films, what could Stephens do for an encore?

That’s right, kids: a teen sex romp.

Another Gay Movie could have, probably should have, been called American Quiche, since it owes much of its plot and narrative to American Pie.

The basic idea behind both films is four friends, just graduating from high school, decide that they can’t go to college as virgins.

However, in Another Gay Movie, all four are queer boys (although, given the twink factor, “boiz” might be a more appropriate spelling). And it’s not necessarily their virginity they’re trying to shed, but their anal virginity. They’ve all gotten some nookie, but as their oversexed lesbian friend Muffler points out, none of them have traveled the Hershey Highway.

The ostensible main character is relatively normal, baseline teenager Andy Wilson (Michael Carbonaro), whose father (Kids in the Hall’s Scott Thompson) tries to be supportive and helpful, much like Eugene Levy’s character was in American Pie. Andy’s mother (internationally renowned female impersonator Lypsinka) has a little more trouble dealing with her son’s sexual peccadilloes, although that is mainly because they are messy, and she is channeling Joan Crawford as Mommy Dearest. At least she avoids the threatened “No wire hangers ever!” line . . .

Andy’s in love with his foreign-exchange teacher Mr. Puckov (Irish comedian Graham Norton), who turns out to be quite the kinky little bunny.

The teen’s clique include jock-boi Jarod (Jonathan Chase of UPN’s One on One), nerdy Griff (Mitch Morris) and psycho-uber-alterna-twink Nico (Jonah Blechman).

Jarod and Griff spend much of the movie repressing their longing for each other, while Nico has decided he needs a daddy, chasing Richard Hatch (of Survivor, not Battlestar Galactica) and Muffler’s grandfather (George Marcy, a Broadway legend who was in the original production of West Side Story and looks frighteningly good for a 76-year-old).

Along the way to, um, “anal fulfillment,” the boys encounter many an odd character played by many an interesting cameo, including Andersen Gabrych (who played Rod in Edge of Seventeen and Banning in Gypsy 83, giving him a Stephens trifecta), porn star Matthew Rush, comedian Ant, Stephanie McVay (another three-time Stephens alum) and Noah’s Arc star Darryl Stephens (no relation), who has, perhaps, the . . . biggest part showing in the film. At least, the biggest body part showing in a G-string, flopping around, distracting completely from any acting going on in the film. Whew.

Along the way, of course, the boys learn a lot about life, including that Muffler (Ashlie Atkinson) is wise beyond her years and can turn the entire cheerleading squad gay in about the time it takes to lick a postage stamp.

It was actually the difficulty in getting distribution for Gypsy 83 that sparked the creation of Another Gay Movie.

“After the relative success of Edge of Seventeen, I had loads of trouble getting my next film out into the world,” Stephens says in the director’s statement. “Despite the fact that festival audiences seemed warm to our little movie, distributors said they didn’t know what the movie poster was (who knew a gay, Goth, fag hag, Stevie Nicks road movie would be such a tough sell?). They also said the film wasn’t ‘gay enough.’ ”

“They want something gay?” he continued. “Let’s make the gayest film ever made!”

He and boyfriend Tim Kaltenecker wrote the script, throwing political correctness and worries about censorship out the window.

“Thankfully, George W. Bush proved to be a huge inspiration,” Stephens noted. “Completely disgusted with the right wing agenda and FCC crackdowns, I decided I wanted to really shake things up. I popped my hero John Waters’ Female Trouble in for inspiration and vowed to flip censorship the bird.”

Here is the result, a movie almost guaranteed to be despised by most critics, because critics tend to want high-brow fare.

Were this film any more low-brow, it would probably need a bikini wax. It’s a silly, goofy, often vapid, occasionally completely brain-dead film, and someone should take Todd Stephens over their knee for writing and directing it.

Now go see it. Another Gay Movie is the perfect remedy for tender-coming-of-age overdose, a panacea for giving-in-to-love-when-it’s-too-late-itis.

Brokeback Mountain had a miserable ending, Transamerica was a serious film, despite the humor, and Capote, well, was about Truman Capote. This year, it’s time for some fluff, and Todd Stephens is giving audiences enough fluff to sink a cotton candy tanker.

Another Gay Movie is now open at the Cedar Lee in Cleveland Heights and opens September 8 at the Drexel Gateway in Columbus. There is no word on whether it will hit the Esquire or Mariemont in Cincinnati or the New Neon in Dayton or the Cinematheque in Maumee.


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