Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Friday, November 11, 2005

film

-- film -- reeling 2005: adam and steve

Friday night's feature was Adam and Steve, from Funny Boy Films, the same company that brought us last year's opening film Latter Days. In the question and answer following Adam and Steve, the producer said that they wanted to do something altogether lighter than Latter Days-- he said that something that produced fewer death threats was what they were aiming for. (Apparently, some people did not appreciate the religious commentary of Latter Days.) If they wanted lighter, they definitely succeeded. And yet, there's a certain amount of substance here and there as well.

Adam (played by Craig Chester, who also wrote and directed) and Steve (played by Malcolm Gets -- you know, from the sitcom "Caroline in the City" that made you wonder why on earth Caroline was so in love with a guy who was clearly very very gay? that guy) meet cute in the 80s in a dance club. Adam is full-on goth -- white white makeup, very dark hair, black lipstick and nails -- and Steve is a dazzle dancer -- glitter body paint and big big long hair everywhere. Adam is at the club with his best friend Rhonda (Parker Posey, in the best fat suit and makeup I have ever seen), who considerately gets herself out of the way when it becomes apparent that Adam and Steve have something going on. After a brief stop to watch sunrise over the Brooklyn Bridge, Adam takes Steve to his apartment, where they do some coke, make out a little, do some more coke, Steve ("I think I'm the only gay guy who goes to the gym") flexes his undeniably pretty muscles for Adam ... and then things go horribly, hideously, spectacularly wrong. Gentle Reader, I cannot do justice to the dreadful wrongness of what happens, and so I shall not try. (Also, I am a shameless tease.) If nothing else, the date goes so thoroughly and hysterically bad that it signals the viewer not to expect much in the way of a normal romantic comedy; everything that happens is going to be somewhat over the top.

Jump forward 17 years. Adam, now near 40 (everyone in the theater collectively rolled their eyes and said, "NEAR?" when he said his age) lives alone, in that very same apartment it seems, with the very same dog that was a mere pup at the time. Rhonda has lost a hefty amount of weight (so that Parker Posey now looks like herself) and is trying to break into standup, unfortunately with material based on how she used to look which is no longer even slightly appropriate and having to deal with a club manger who is a sexist pig. Through an only moderately preposterous accident, Adam accidentally stabs his dog, and takes him to a human medical clinic not far away. (Nobody in New York seems to notice that he forgot his pants.) Steve, who is now a psychiatrist, treats Adam's not-badly-injured dog, mostly as a way to get the hysterical guy in the underwear out of the waiting room. They both feel like maybe they've seen each other somewhere before, but don't really remember. After all, both of them have shorter hair, neither one of them is wearing tons of makeup this time, they're both older ... it's not at all unbelievable that they don't recognize each other.

Cut to Central Park. Adam, it turns out, works for the park district, taking people on tours to point out various bird species that make the park their home. One of the tourists has brought along a gun to try to kill himself some food. Adam tackles him and subdues him. Steve, who happens to be jogging past, calls the police on his cell phone. And so they get to meet cute for the third time, and this one sticks. They make a date for the next night, a date that Steve's roommate Michael (Chris Kattan, well cast and in a basically pretty good performance) tries to talk him out of. It becomes clear -- although not much is done with it -- that for some reason, Michael is quite invested in the concept of Steve being unattached and very very busy (apparently, he gets around) and feels very threatened by the idea of even just a date.

The date itself is ... odd. Frankly, it's the one part of the romance that doesn't work, and I'm not sure whether or not it's meant to work. Malcolm Gets plays Steve as very very wound up, and he keeps making these weird faces. Adam seems to be reacting to this, and to some of the things that Steve is saying, as though Steve were from Mars (entirely understandable, really). And yet, somehow, they wind up falling into bed together, and they start dating.

There follows one of the most hysterical romantic musical montages on film. It has to do with something that Adam says happens every time he gets publicly affectionnate. Steve pooh-poohs this concern ... but damned if it doesn't happen every time. And it really shouldn't be funny, but it really really is.

Eventually, they're involved long enough that it's time to meet the parents. Adam's been reluctant to take Steve to meet his parents, because his family is, as it turns out, cursed. Strange things happen around them. (There is a small problem in believing that Paul Sand and Julie Haggerty could possibly be old enough to be Adam's parents -- and that they have a daughter 20 years younger than their son -- but you get past it.) That meeting actually goes relatively well, allowing for the operation of the curse every few minutes. Then Adam meets Steve's parents, who are now somewhat relaxed born-again fundamentalists, making a sincere effort to meet their son on his territory. They've never met one of Steve's boyfriends before, so all things considered, the situation is AWK!WARD! And, of course, Steve's control freak tendencies just make things worse.

Eventually, of course, one of them does figure out where and when they first met. The scenes after that are absolutely and utterly priceless, and I shall not spoil them for you by describing them here. But they are so very worth watching.

There are only a couple of places that might need improvement. They do milk the characters' neuroses pretty hard early on. The twink who reads them is kind of unnecessary -- the film is written well enough that we can pretty much see everything he talks about for ourselves; we don't need to be hit over the head with cue cards. That first date 17 years later needs to be turned down a notch. And then there's the very very end, the very very last shot. It's not a big deal, really -- it's not the entire scene, just that one shot -- but it is just ... wrong. Even so, it doesn't spoil the film.

According to the producer, they've been picked up by TLA Releasing, which decided to do a big rollout of the film to 20 cities in April, and then to increase the rollout depending on results, so chances are that it'll be somewhere near you. It'll probably be doing the gay film festival tour until then. I don't think I necessarily want to see it in a theater again -- not because it's not worth the money (it is, it really really is) but because the next time I want to see it without an audience. It was so funny, and people laughed so long, that it tended to roll over the next few lines, so you wind up missing a lot here and there. I'd like to hear the lines that I missed. But inside a theater or out, I really would like to see it again.

Posted by iain at 11:39 PM in category film

 

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