Things have gone mawkish in Sandusky, Ohio, site of “Gypsy 83,” the second installment of Todd Stephens’ so-called “Sandusky Trilogy.” Whereas “Edge of Seventeen,” the trilogy’s first section, proved to be a mildly humanistic slice of life about a goodhearted teen discovering his homosexuality, this follow-up, shifting 16 years to the present, couldn’t be less involving and more sentimentalized. Fundamentally a road movie, saga is especially sapped of its appeal and energy by the toxically charmless titular character whose central obsession — dressing up like Stevie Nicks and singing her material — is curiously wedged between comedy and oddity. The supporting presence of Karen Black and L.A. rock legend John Doe is underwhelming and not enough to excite potential distribs.
At 25 but going on 17, Gypsy (Sara Rue) works in a drive-through photo hut, and her generally dull existence is broken only by the musings of her only pal, teen Clive (Kett Turton). They gallivant around cemeteries, with Clive, in full Goth makeup, filming them, and seem to be, like the two outsider girls who move through “Ghost World,” hopelessly stuck in a place without a connection.
While Web surfing, Clive finds an item inviting one and all to a New York-based “Night of 1000 Stevies,” one of many actual bashes where Nicks fans pretend to be their idol. It’s in four days, so Gypsy gets into gear for a roadie with Clive — with rocker dad Ray’s (Doe) encouragement. Gypsy’s other obsession is with her mom’s decades-old decision to split and go to Gotham, but, as the adventure sluggishly chugs East, this past loss begins to psychologically drown the entire movie in waves of bathos.
It’s as if Stephens wanted to do a social comedy, positioning his kids of the fringes against an unthinking, conformist America but became sidetracked and instead found himself indulging in the buried pain of an unsympathetic character. Unlike his sincerely warm, confused and questing adolescents in “Edge of Seventeen,” the pair in “Gypsy 83” are either entertaining themselves or crying on each other’s shoulder.
Turton’s perf develops some touching vulnerability underneath his Goth mask; Rue, on the other hand, only accentuates Gypsy’s sourness, except for a climactic personal song that sounds like it came out of a different character.
Black appears briefly as a has-been lounge-style singer, to quite unappealing effect, while Anson Scoville manages to create a few comic moments out of a ludicrously conceived young Amish man who wants to hitchhike, go Goth and have sex in public bathrooms.
Tech credits are mediocre.