★ / ★★★★
Three queen bees rule North Gateway High: Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse), empress of the rich and the popular, ‘Shley (Andrea Bowen), a Mormon goody two-shoes who is always perky, and Caprice (Xosha Roquemore), head of the drama club. The goal is to be elected prom queen but there is one important must-have fashion trend that each of them lacks: a gay best friend. This is where best buddies Brent (Paul Iacono) and Tanner (Michael J. Willett) come in: one of them is about to be accidentally dragged out of the closet which means a fast pass to the top of the high school social hierarchy.
Obviously inspired by Mark Waters’ “Mean Girls,” it is most disappointing that “G.B.F.,” written by George Northy and directed by Darren Stein, lacks an iota of its muse’s sharpness. While the premise is silly and ridiculous, it never really takes off. Amusing one-liners does not save a movie that is devoid of genuine emotional gravity.
There is a lack of genuine consequence in every character’s action—at least not the kind that aperson, who eventually must realize that he or she has been wrong all along, will remember ten or twenty years due to a lack of judgment or sensitivity. While understandable that it is a comedy by heart, great movies about teenagers—and for teenagers—achieve a balance of humor and moving moments. This picture, for the most part, tries to be funny by delivering sassy lines but, like many fashion trends, they are outdated eventually. Human element is one that does not age.
The screenplay is too easy on the characters and that is boring. The three popular girls do not learn a thing about objectifying another human being. The second half is particularly strange because suddenly we are supposed to like one or two of them when there has been no form of redemption. Teen pictures most often rely on an arc for emotional resonance because that is how a viewer gauges the changes—big or small—in the character. Here, a person’s personality can change in a snap. It comes off disingenuous.
We do not get enough of Brent and Tanner’s relationship. The supposed friction in their friendship does not come to a boiling point because we are not provided enough information on how good they are to and for one another. It is as if the screenplay was afraid to deal with real feelings—complicated ones—like two gay guys who do want physical intimacy (perhaps emotional as well) but at the same time believing that the only way to preserve a friendship is to not pursue a romantic direction. Halfway through, I wondered: Does the writer really understand the subtleties of gay friendships? Human psychology in general? What makes a duo—friends or otherwise—worth rooting for?
I understand what this movie is going for but I wanted a little more. In this day and age, we deserve a little more. Specifically, there ought to have been intelligence behind the enthusiastic performances. The adults need not be caricatures who enter and exit the frame once the punchline is delivered. After all, they have real thoughts and emotions, too. My personal observation is that many LGBTQ pictures tend to want to achieve less for the sake of being “now.” Sadly, this is one of them.