dir Darren Stein
scr George Northy
prd Richard Bever, Stephen Israel, George Northy, Darren Stein
with Michael J Willett, Paul Iacono, Sasha Pieterse, Andrea Bowen, Xosha Roquemore, Megan Mullally, Molly Tarlov, Derek Mio, Evanna Lynch, Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque, Taylor Frey, Natasha Lyonne, Jonathan Silverman, Rebecca Gayheart, Anthony Garland, Horatio Sanz
release US 17.Jan.14, UK 21.Mar.14
13/US 1h32
A girl's most-prized accessory: Willett and Pieterse

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R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
G.B.F. Like a special episode of Glee without the songs, this colourful and often very silly comedy takes on some big themes without getting heavy handed about them. Even the "what I learned" speech at the end is undermined in a way that makes it both resonant and meaningful.

There has never been an out gay student at North Gateway High, but the hottest trend now is the gay best friend, and the leaders of the three main cliques (Pieterse, Bowen and Roquemore) are determined to find one of their own. So when Tanner (Willett) is inadvertently outed by his pal Brent (Iacono), he becomes the most in-demand guy on campus. Not only for the three "warlords", but also for a wannabe activist (Levesque). But Tanner worries that he doesn't fit the desired stereotype, and as he tries to fit in he alienates his real friends.

Yes, the plot is essentially a gay version of Mean Girls, which the script continually acknowledges. And director Stein directs much of the film in a corny, broad style. But everything is anchored by Northy's script, which is packed with sharp dialog and telling observations on issues like conformity, repression, religious intolerance and the reason girls like unthreatening gay men.

With these things gurgling around every silly scene, the actors are able to deepen their characters, and each one emerges with a key characteristic that adds to the overall story. The actors are all likeable, even the ostensible villains, and the cast is packed with secret weapons like Mullally as Brent's over-eager mum. So even though the climactic gay versus straight prom battle is deeply ridiculous, we still get the point.

The film's most important observation is that it's impossible to be tolerant and accepting if everyone is afraid to be themselves. Of course, there are also the usual themes about looking beneath the surface, avoiding self-pity and knowing who your friends are. And the most striking lesson came off the screen: in a vivid demonstration of how far society still has to go, the MPAA homophobically rated the film R, and the BBF certified it 15, for "sexual references" despite the fact that its language and sexuality are barely PG.

cert 15 themes, language 14.Jan.14

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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall