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Outing Riley

"Outing Riley" is an Irish-Catholic gay coming-out comedy that even those who voted against gay marriage can love. Laidback central perf by director-writer Pete Jones is virtually unique among movies with gay protagonists in that there are zero outward indications that his character is, in fact, homosexual.

With:
With: Nathan Fillion, Pete Jones, Dev Kennedy, Michael McDonald, Julie R. Pearl, Stoney Westmoreland, Jeff Garlin, Steve Dahl, Dana Gilhooley.

Outing Riley” is an Irish-Catholic gay coming-out comedy that even those who voted against gay marriage can love. Laidback central perf by director-writer Pete Jones –Project Greenlight-winner for “Stolen Summer” (2002) — is virtually unique among movies with gay protagonists in that there are zero outward indications that his character is, in fact, homosexual. With its non-threatening yet sharp take on a hot-button issue, pic craftily celebrates family values while championing that gay people are just like everybody else — except they’re gay. There’s no good reason why a smart distrib couldn’t parlay this modest but laugh-strewn indie into some cash.

Self-accepting first-person narrator Bobby Riley (Jones), a Chicago architect, tells us right off the bat he’s gay. He has three militantly straight brothers: prank-loving Luke (Nathan Fillion), semi-problematic Connor (Stoney Westmoreland) and no-nonsense eldest brother Jack (Dev Kennedy), who’s a priest. Only sister Maggie (Julie R. Pearl), a resourceful lawyer, knows the truth.

Now that both their parents are dead, sis pressures Bobby to tell his brothers. Bobby and his live-in b.f. Andy (MAD TV’s Michael McDonald) would like nothing more than to drop the charade Bobby maintains with lesbian pal Carly (Dana Gilhooley) — a five-year fake relationship “that’s like most peoples’ real relationships, based on lies and no sex.”

Bobby’s dilemma functions on both comic and dramatic planes because when he does spill the beans, his brothers assume due to his regular-guy demeanor that he’s kidding. Besides, they’re meat and potatoes Irish-Catholic, so Bobby simply can’t be gay. But, everybody, it turns out, has a secret.

Painlessly intelligent, nicely paced script sports lots of crowd-pleasing zingers, most of which also convey a laudable point. Pic has its serious moments but is never too heavy or sappy en route to a satisfying denouement.

Chicago locations look dandy in cleanly lensed Hi-Def 24p video.

Outing Riley

Production: A Mothballs production. (International sales: Mothballs, Los Angeles.) Produced by Judd Nissen, Patrick Peach. Executive producers, Packy Jones, Matt Jones. Co-producer, Bruce Terris. Directed, written by Pete Jones.

Crew: Camera (color, DigiBeta), Pete Biagi; editor, Gregg Featherman; music, Static; production designer, Wes Tabayoyong; art director, Dorothy Mason; costume designer, Emily Erickson; sound (Dolby), Jacob Collins; assistant director, Bruce Terris. Reviewed at Chicago Film Festival (noncompeting), Oct. 10, 2004. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Nathan Fillion, Pete Jones, Dev Kennedy, Michael McDonald, Julie R. Pearl, Stoney Westmoreland, Jeff Garlin, Steve Dahl, Dana Gilhooley.

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