Jun 6, 2010

[Movies] The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000)

The Broke Hearts Club (2000)LGBT-themed movies tend to follow certain patterns and have developed their fair share of tropes and cliches. For example, a gay movie is bound to bring up AIDS sooner or later whether a character in the story reveals he has it or there's some AIDS-related charity event or strip-off. Or there's the duplicity around staying in the closet and using the coming out experience as a focal point for the story. They're not necessarily bad things to cover in a movie - it's just that statistically speaking, LGBT movies tend to obsess about topics like these a bit too much.

So when a pink movie comes along that tries an alternate track, it's certainly refreshing, to say the least. Plus it becomes an interesting opportunity to focus on the story more than the gimmicks, which can be a good and a bad thing depending on the strength of the plot. Sadly, this is also a common area of concern for LGBT movies since queer-friendly writers tend to typecast our movie interests to be related to romances, serious or otherwise. Just because we're gay doesn't mean we should be considered to be stereotypical women, right?

So this movie certainly became very special to a lot of queers out there and to some extent has become "required viewing" in some circles. I for one think it should be the kind of movie any gay man should see at least once in their lives to get a better appreciation for what we can be as homosexuals.

The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy is a LGBT movie released in 2000 as penned and directed by Greg Berlanti. The movie was focused on a group of gay friends who were theoretically patterned after Greg's own circle of friends at one point.

LAS VEGAS - JULY 02:  Actor Dean Cain particip...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The movie starts with Dennis (Timothy Olyphant), a budding photographer, as our narrator. He goes on to describe the unique circle of friends he hangs out with that have also helped him with his various struggles as a gay man in West Hollywood. Other members of the group include Cole (Dean Cain) who is a charming yet promiscuous actor, Howie (Matt McGrath) who is an overly cerebral psychology student, Patrick (Ben Weber) who is the expected group cynic, Taylor (Billy Porter) who has defined his life around his relationship and the young Howie (Zach Braff) who has a penchant for gym-toned bodies.

The group regularly hangs out at Jack's (John Mahoney) Broken Hearts restaurant given he acts as a sort of father figure to them all. Plus he's the coach of their largely unsuccessful softball team. Things really start to get interesting when young Kevin (Andrew Keegan) joins the group and manages to catch Dennis' interest despite his age and still being in the closet.

The movie is highly memorable for me for two big reasons. The first is the fact that the characters were the kind that "just happen to be gay", if you get my drift. They didn't have to overly push stereotypical gay culture in this movie and thus the lack of excessive sex scenes or unnecessary side-trips to a gay club. It's not that these are bad, but they're not core to the image at times. They were just a group of guys who acted fairly butch and were clearly into dating other guys, period. They weren't overly flamboyant or fabulous if you want to call it that and thus in their supposed mediocrity, they were a heck of a lot more approachable for the average queer.

Then of course there were the interesting dictionary-style transition "slides" of sorts that helped introduce the viewer to some of the gay lingo used in the film. Whether or not these terms were truly popular at the time, the movie certainly helped bring such terminology to the forefront of queer culture (at least for my generation or something along those lines) and thus we now have fun uses for the terms OGT - Obviously Gay Trait or "Meanwhile", in reference to a hot guy passing by that you want to call everyone's attention to without alerting him. Okay, so maybe I should have stuck to the exact definitions in the movie, but you get my drift, right?

The acting was similarly low-key and was nothing exceptional, at least to me. It did have a sort of TV movie vibe, but then a lot of queer movies at the time were a bit more limited to indie-style audiences, thus this is understandable. It's just funny to look back at this movie and realize how many of the actors have become a lot more popular in their straight careers. Who could have imagined this group to have starred in a gay movie together, right? The movie even had a cameo by Dawson's Creek alumni Kerr Smith, for those of you kids of the nineties out there.

The Broken Hearts Club may not be the most amazing film you've ever seen in your life, but it's certainly one that almost any gay man can get into given how relatable the characters are. It gets 4 fun gay factoids via definitions out of a possible 5.

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