Monster Pies (2013)
★★ / ★★★★
Written and directed by Lee Galea, “Monster Pies” is a bit of a mess as whole but if one were to look carefully at more than a handful of individual scenes, one would likely discover genuine moments that deal with real emotions, questions, and issues. Despite the fact that the picture looks like a low budget film, it feels more than that at times.
Mike (Tristan Barr) is gay and is discreet about it—for good reasons. He is a high school student with not very many friends in the first place and it does not help that there is another boy who calls him insulting names at every opportunity. His parents are divorced and he fears that they might not accept who he is if he were to come out. Fortuitous then is the arrival of William (Lucas Linehan) in English class, a new boy at school with an overbearing father, to say the least, and a complicated home life. William, too, is a homosexual and the two form an immediate connection.
Most of the subplots and all of the supporting characters are undercooked. For instance, Mike’s only friend is painted as a typical hormonal girl who gets jealous and angry after she notices that Mike is spending less time with her and more time with the new boy in school. Mike must have a reason to have been friends with her in the first place but the material fails to allow us to appreciate who she is or what she is about even though she is in the wrong to be upset without trying to communicate first.
William’s father, too, is one-dimensional, a typical growly tough guy who expects his son to be a “man.” We can put together one or two pieces of information as to why he might be the way he is, but the screenplay establishes no believable arc to make us want to discover what is underneath the monster suit. It would have been most appropriate because Mike and William were assigned to create a project involving a rendition of Williams Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” The duo comes up with an idea of making a monster film through the lens of the play.
Barr and Linehan do share some chemistry which is very necessary because, after all, the picture aims to tell a sort of love story. “Sort of” because I think it is more about yearnings and awakenings than a conventional meet-cute romance. There is a twist late in the picture which, initially, I thought was a terrible misstep. I changed my mind, however, when the material continues to tell its story and evolve rather than fading to black at an expected or familiar time point.
“Monster Pies” does not do anything to move the genre forward. It is imperfect, frustrating at times, and it needs further rewrites to allow the story to function on a higher level. However, patient viewers who crave LGBTQ movies can and, I think, will appreciate the small moments when the material punches through exactly where it should.