More is less in “BearCity 2: The Proposal,” Douglas Langway’s sequel to his 2010 gay indie comedy. That original was split between charms and minuses, suffering primarily from careless scripting. Here, those faults are indulged wholesale, with so little attention paid to overall narrative development or individual scene-shaping that the bloated pic often suggests a crowd-funded venture existing solely to pay back (and showcase) the crowd. Theatrically launched via self-distribution Sept. 28, “Proposal” will access its niche aud in home formats, but auds won’t be clamoring for further chapters without some future quality control.“BearCity” had several appealing performers and a few good plot elements, despite the first-time writer-helmer’s hazy grasp of pacing and story focus. Unfortunately, “Proposal” is even less disciplined, largely wasting the efforts of likable returning cast members and some ill-used new ones. The three central couples are back, each suffering some relationship crisis. Aspiring young actor Tyler (Joe Conti) has now been cohabiting for a while with Roger (Gerald McCulloch), the been-around hunk at least twice his age. Roger is eager to get married, but Tyler balks at first. Once they’ve decided to go ahead with nuptials in Provincetown, each finds himself distracted by other options — Roger by sexy ex Nate (Aaron Tone), size-fixated Tyler by one Big Dan (T. Doyle Leverett). Meantime, longer-term duo Fred (Brian Keane) and Brent (Stephen Guarino) are shooting a documentary — about gay male “bears,” what else — while avoiding their own commitment issues. Elsewhere, proportioned theatrical maven Michael (Gregory Gunter) is a workaholic and his trim lover, Carlos (James Martinez), spends hours on gay-hookup app “Scruff,” causing hiccups in their generally happy domestic union. These strands are poorly advanced, however, with little real character insight apart from a surprising, admirable if abrupt climactic development that would be more potent if the lead figures didn’t constantly contradict their alleged deep feelings with shallow behavior. Instead of developing narrative involvement, Langway gets distracted by anything and everything, including seldom-funny roles for Kathy Najimy as a B&B owner, comedian Jason Stuart as an obnoxious filmmaking collaborator, and Richard Riehle and Susan Mosher as Tyler’s parents. Plus there are gratuitous gay micro-celebrity cameos, scenes that exist only to take advantage of Provincetown parties, etc. Particularly given the six minutes of end credits devoted solely to donors, sponsors, investors and “background talent” (many of whom get their photos displayed), one suspects far more attention was paid to social networking than to finessing the film’s content. For lack of any standard organizing principal, like a solid script, “BearCity 2: The Proposal” begins to feel like a movie usurped by its product placements, except here the placements are of people who wanted to be part of it. Guarino and Martinez in particular bring snap even to weak material; one wonders what they could do with halfway decent writing. Beyond the regulars, thesping is often as wobbly as the packaging, with lots of bad music (one Magnetic Fields track excluded).
A Sharpleft Studios production. Produced by Tracy Utley, Jim A. Lande, Henry White. Executive producers, White, David Stephen Martin, Lande. Directed, written by Douglas Langway.
Camera (color, HD), Michael Hauer; editor, Langway; music, Peter Calandra; music supervisor, Margarita Sullivan; production designer, Stacey West; costume designer, Lydia Popper; sound, Derek Morse; sound designer, Eve Cuyen; assistant director, Ethan Lee; casting, Anne Teutschel. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Oct. 3, 2012. Running time: 111 MIN.
Gerald McCulloch, Joe Conti, Stephan Guarino, Brian Keane, Gregory Gunter, James Martinez, Alex Di Rio, Aaron Tone, Blake Evan Sherman, Susan Mosher, Jason Stuart, Richard Riehle, Kathy Najimy, T. Doyle Leverett.