Jan 6, 2013

[Movies] Gayby (2012)

I admit that I give a bit more leeway when it comes to gay movies. And what I mean by this is that I try not to be overly picking in terms of deciding whether or not to watch them when I encounter them, if only to try and show more support for this segment of the industry.

And there have certainly been a number of gems that I've encountered, and I think it's a fair statement that Gayby is one of those movies. And we'll get to explaining the quirky topic once I get to the synopsis section of this review.

You see, there are just so many LGBT movies out there but since they largely play in the film festival or direct-to-video market, they don't get a lot of press. And so it's important that we all do our best to help the industry grow by promoting the gay movies we love and at the very least discussing the movies that aren't so great - which is why I try to post reviews froe very LGBT movie that I get to see. But like I said, we're fortunate in how this is one of the better movies.

Synopsis: Gayby is a 2012 gay comedy movie written and directed by Jonathan Lisecki. This is his first feature-length film after a number of shorts and it debuted at the South by Southnwest film festival last year.

Jenn (Jenn Harris) is a yoga instructor who remains single in her 30's and is starting to feel the pinch of age. And thus she decides that she really wants to have a baby before it's too late, which leads her to her college best friend Matt (Matthew Wilkas). Matt works in a comic book store and is getting over the end of his long-term relationship with Tom (Zach Shaffer). And apparently they had once made a promise to have a baby together if ever they reached this point and were still single.

The clincher is that Jenn decides that she wants to conceive naturally - which is a bit of a challenge given Jenn is quite straight and Matt is pretty gay. And over the course of their efforts to get Jenn pregnant (yes, it doesn't magically work the first time), the two continue to date and try to achieve their longer term life goals and generally make things better for themselves. The end plan is to have this "gayby" together as two singles and roll with the punches as they come further down the line. And the two continue to receive advise from their respective gay friends - Jenn's co-worked Jamie (Jack Ferver) and Matt's friend Nelson (Jonathan Lisecki).

At first glance the movie has "indie" written all over it given the quality of the film, the somewhat less-than-ideal lighting and the lack of significant musical scoring. And I point this out not because indie movies are bad, but more to remind you not to judge a book by its cover. It's far too easy to dismiss a movie as bad based on some of these cues alone when there's a lot more good to be found once you've really dug into things.

The core premise of the movie may not seem all that new, but I certainly appreciated how Lisecki gave things a new spin to keep things interesting. And asking a gay man to father a child naturally is an inherently funny idea when you try to imagine it. All the more so when you have Matthew Wilkas trying to perform that role. Add in how they don't get Jenn pregnant right away and this leads to repeated efforts to get her pregnant night after night and it's certainly a good framework to develop a story around.

And the characters do have interesting stories on their own outside the fertility angle. Jenn of course is trying to figure out what she wants in life and being everyone's whipping girl at the yoga studio certainly isn't a life goal. Matt has his own desires to break into the comic book scene and yet remains deathly afraid of bumping into his ex, who also works in the industry. These are nice little complexities that help round out the characters and do make for a nicely meaty story. Plus Wilkas is rather meaty himself and he manages a performance that oddly reminds me of Michael C. Hall from Six Feet Under.

Admittedly the movie is more of the smart kind of funny and definitely not the slapstick kind of funny. So you won't exactly be rolling on the floor laughing due to silly antics but you will find yourself amused at the various one-liners and zingers thrown about and of course the peculiarity of some of the situations the characters find themselves in. And this is pretty consistent throughout the movie, thus setting a nice even tone that is on the lighter side of somber.

I think the best moment in this movie is outside of the little nightly sessions between Jenn and Matt but instead involves Jenn's sister, Kelly (Anna Margret Hollyman). There's a scene later in the movie when Kelly confronts Jenn about whether or not she's truly serious about having a baby as a single woman. And I really don't want to spoil it - let me just assure you that it's a brilliant piece of writing that felt nicely genuine and had me and my partner Tobie both agreeing that Kelly as a character certainly deserves some Best Sister awards or something.

Gayby is a refreshing comedy given its smart writing, fleshed-out characters and certainly interesting conflicts and plot twists. It's not the best movie out there, but it's one of the more innovative ones and it certainly deserves a viewing regardless of your stance single parenthood involving gay fathers - or your sexual orientation either. Thus the movie gets a happy 4 rather specific Spider-Man continuity references cited in the movie out of a possible 5.

I agreed with those completely since One More Day was just ridiculous.

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