Jan 30, 2011

[Movies] Is It Just Me? (2010)

Is It Just Me? (2010)Over the years I've managed to accumulate a ridiculous number of LGBT-themed movies of different varieties. I guess call it impulsive acquisition or something, but it's just something that I do. But it beats how I should figure out which movie to watch first.

With all the other geekier movies out there vying for time, I still end up with the odd afternoon without anything to watch. And so I select a title from the collection, take the chance and hope for the best. And eventually I post a review about it so that the rest of you readers don't have to go through the anguish of dealing with the unknown when starting on a new LGBT movie adventure.

I guess the main challenge for me is that majority of LGBT movies (and books for that matter) tend to be romances, whether they're serious ones or comedies. It's like the whole pink movie making community believes that we're all obsessed with watching stories about other queers in relationships or in a struggle to attain one. And there's the added fun of how many clichés these kinds of movies have and how easy it is to predict the ending.

Is It Just Me? is a 2010 gay romantic comedy written and directed by J.C. Calciano. He, together with lead star Nicholas Downs, also produce the web comedy series Steam Room Stories.

J. C. Calciano, Nicholas Downs, KenImage by Alan Light via FlickrOur protagonist is Blaine (Nicholas Downs), a columnist for a local LGBT-focused newspaper called the USA ToGay. He writes about his own aspirations to find love and decency amidst the crazy world of West Hollywood. On the brink of completely giving up on the hopes of finding someone who is "looking for more than what's behind the zipper," he stumbles across what seems to be a nice guy...online.

Enter Xander (David Loren), a struggling songwriter from the South who's currently rooming with the older Ernie (Bruce Gray), another gay man who's given up on love. As the two get closer and closer, they finally organize to meet up in person for a coffee date. But as things would have it, Blaine had been inadvertently using the login of his go-go dancer roommate Cameron (Adam Huss) by mistake. Thus now he has to figure out how snag the man of his dreams despite the fact he expects to meet someone as physically impressive as Cameron.

I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much from this movie to begin with. The plot felt too similar to the Eating Out formula with the whole online switcheroo. But as the movie progressed as we got past the initial setup, it really started to grow on me for one reason or another. The whole story has this nice endearing charm to it - the likes of which I haven't encountered since older pink classics like Trick or The Broken Hearts Club. And given the kind of regard a lot of us associate with these movies, you should understand the kind of compliment I'm trying to give here.

As much as the character of Blaine is largely crafted around a stereotype - gay writer, low self-esteem, determined to find a decent guy, supposedly not after sex, orders overly complicated coffee - he does carry through in the end. And when I say carry through, this refers to the emotional connection one can eventually establish with the character once we get past the bitter fluff that such roles are expected to profess. Let's face it - the LGBT community seems united in its ability to resort to self-pity in times of stress and loneliness.

Xander naturally felt a little too good to be true and is the kind of seemingly innocent, nearly perfect guy that you don't expect to find out there anymore. But to be fair, we know they're out there still and the movie does sort of make you hope for the best instead of just resorting to the rutting and strutting the rest of they world finds itself in. Not that all that is wrong on its own - it's just the joys of how different kinds of people look for different things when they go dating. So yes, I'd like to think it's still more than possible to find a decent guy like Xander out there provided you live by similar standards and remain honest in your dealings.

The resolution of the movie was a bit of a surprise for me, which in itself was surprising since I tend to call the endings of these movies from far away. Despite the LGBT movie tropes in abundances and the decent but not necessarily exceptional acting, it all came together in the end. And I'll admit I ended up with a stupid grin on my face after watching this and I felt the need to give my partner a really tight hug the moment he arrived home. Decency is never a bad thing and it exists out there - just don't give up and stop killing yourself trying to outdo the rest of the queer world.

Is It Just Me? is a heart-warming comedy with true spirit and heart - a rarity in the movie industry today. It's definitely the kind of movie that we should support and encourage studios to make more of - good job guys! It gets 4 crazy coffee orders out of a possible 5. You can get a copy of the movie on DVD via Amazon or if you're lucky a local screening may be headed your way!



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