Aug 4, 2013

[Movies] Eating Out (2004)

Due to the quirkiness of this blog's timing in the world, I only recently realized that I have posted reviews for all of the Eating Out movies released (to-date) except for the first one. And while I'm sure that I had previously posted my thoughts about this movie some time in the past, it was probably on my old Multiply site or something and thus never appeared on the Geeky Guide itself. And since I'm a bit of a completist, that brings us to today's review.

The first Eating Out, I feel, came out at just the right time. It was a rather fresh take on the LGBT comedy that was trying to go beyond a lot of the initial tropest that we were seeing in other movies. In fact, I think a lot of what made this movie successful is how it felt a lot more like a conventional, mainstream comedy and not just a strictly "gay comedy" in concept.

And that concept may be a little hard to explain right off the bat, so allow me some time to try and articulate what I wanted to say here. Of course my impressions of this movie may be somewhat colored by my own sense of nostalgia about this period in my life. This is especially significant given just how hard it was to find any LGBT movies in the country at all and thus finding a decently good one was quite a treat.

Synopsis: Eating Out is a 2004 LGBT comedy written and directed by Q. Allan Brocka. It won a number of awards among LGBT film festivals although it didn't get a lot of positive impressions among mainstream critics and audiences.

Caleb (Scott Lunsford) is out of sorts given his girlfriend Tiffani von de Sloot (Rebekah Kochan) dumps him. He shares his troubles with his roommate Kyle (Jim Verraros), who shares the similar irony of how he has such trouble getting the guys that he wants but has no trouble with women because of him being gay. Fast-forward to a party that the boys attend where Caleb becomes infatuated with Gwen (Emily Stiles), who has also recently dumped her boyfriend after coming out to her. Caleb draws the attentions of one Marc Everhard (Ryan Carnes), who in turn is the object of infatuation for Kyle.

This leads us to Kyle's big plan - to tell Gwen that Caleb is gay and thus it would be nice for her to set him up with her friend Marc. And while Kyle and Gwen try to orchestrate this little charade of a romance, it becomes an excuse for Caleb to spend more time with Gwen and for Kyle to spend more time with Marc. The perfect complicated plan, right? This is where the fun of the movie lies.

The plot seems a little convoluted, but believe me it will make sense more in practice than in a simple synopsis. And one has to give a lot of credit to this particular bit of writing that crafted this tale since it did provide for a rather interesting stage for all this. The acting could have stepped up a bit to he just as complex as the story, but I supposed we can't get everything. A lot of the delivery felt a little wooden, but it wasn't entirely bad just yet.  It's just hard to determine whether the challenges were because of the core talent of the actors or perhaps their initial difficulty with the subject matter.

Ryan Carnes was sort of the highlight of the movie from a marketing perspective since he had gotten a bit of attention for himself for being on Desperate Housewives. I'm not a particular fan of that show and thus this was my first encounter with him as an actor. He's pretty enough to look at, I'll give him that, but not all that fulfilling as an actor to watch. Again, he's not exactly bad, but he could have been a lot stronger, especially given how tight the story is.

Scott Lundsford, unfortunately, was a rather weak lead. His only credit is somewhat decently portraying a straight guy being all weird as he tries to pretend to be a gay guy. It was a tad stereotypical and a bit of a caricature form time to time, but it wasn't quite on the positive side of the "just okay" line. Ultimately the male actors, I assume, were primarly cast based on their looks and how many people might find them hot. And I say this given I don't find Jim Verraros particularly attractive.

The movie had some great ideas, even beyond the core plot. I'll admit that I totally squealed with the whole odd phone sex scene - that was hilarious, uncomfortable and inexplicably hot all at the same time. And that really added a certain quality to the movie that made it so memorable - and perhaps convinced the folks behind it to create 4 more sequels that tried to play around with the core premise.

But at the end of the day, I appreciate the fact that the story was in itself rather fresh - or at least represented a fresh idea. We didn't have to fall back to someone revealing that they had HIV, nor was there a need for a scene at a gay club nor did we deal with a big group gay friends talking about their problems together. It was a pretty good story centered around a small circle of friends and their resulting misadventures. And it's sort of why it became more than a typical gay comedy - it was a comedy that happened to have gay characters, and that help things feel a bit more "normal" from a movie perspective - and yes I acknowledge the term is horribly abused due to anti-LGBT rhetoric.

Eating Out, and the end of the day, was a rather fun movie. The acting was hot and cold and the movie had it's somewhat slow and draggy moments but on the whole it was funny and enjoyable. Just don't expect to walk away being a better person or something - it's just not that kind of a movie. And so I'm still able to rate this movie as 4 mixed up assumptions as Kyle's plot begins to unravel out of a possible 5.

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