Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review: Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy 2 1/2 Stars

When I was in high school, I often wondered what a gay Animal House would be like. Not being gay myself, I pictured a fat gay guy hoisting a ladder to the second story window of the gay fraternity and peering in the window to see a half dozen mustachioed and buffed out naked men pillow fighting.

I still think that’s an image funny as hell.

I’ve often applied that idea to many different genres, wishing someone would have the cajones to make gay action flicks, gay thrillers, gay sci-fi. Not because it would necessarily always be funny, but it would take the piss out of the macho posturing of those genres.

Well, writer/director Greg Berlanti, the openly gay head writer of Dawson’s Creek, hasn’t gone so far as shooting the race car epic Gays of Thunder or anything, but he has offered a surprisingly fresh and funny spin on the ensemble comedy with Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy.

In spite of all the hype, BHC isn’t the gay Diner. It’s more like the gay Beautiful Girls. (Beautiful Guys?)

The story centers on Dennis (Timothy Olyphant), a West Hollywood photographer who approaching his 28th birthday, finds himself at a critical juncture in his life: the awkwardness of coming-out and coming-of-age is far behind him. He realizes that he needs to become somewhat independent of his tight circle of friends, a group close enough to feel like family.

This family includes Benji (Zach Braff) an innocent youngster preoccupied with hardbodied homos, Howie (Matt McGrath), an earnest grad student who spends too much time in his head and too little time enjoying life, Patrick (Ben Weber) the group’s Oscar Wilde, self-centered actor Cole (Dean Cain) and Taylor (Billy Porter), a queen prone to histrionics. Mentoring the crew is Jack (John Mahoney), the wizened restaurateur of their favorite chill out.

Broken Hearts Club isn’t going to change the world, but hopefully it will let filmmakers know that it’s okay to make a gay-themed film that isn’t tragic or angry. Refreshingly, Broken Hearts Club is just a story about a group of friends who happen to be gay.

I just wish there had been a pillow fight.

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