Despite the pretty cheesy title, Doug Spearman’s “Hot Guys With Guns” is an enjoyable comedy-mystery set in the more privileged echelons of semi-closeted, industry-focused Los Angeles gay society. Starring Marc Anthony Samuel and Brian McArdle as a sort of West Hollywood Nick and Nora Charles, investigating a crime spree by “sex party bandits,” it’s an above-average piece of niche-audience escapism that balances banter, action and beefcake to pleasing effect. Pic should run the full gamut of LGBT fests, with good ancillary prospects and a chance at limited theatrical farther down the road.
Danny (Samuel) is an actor waiting for his big break while working as (what else) a waiter. Patrick, aka Pip (McArdle), doesn’t appear to work on much of anything, save his abs. Though still close, they’re no longer a couple, in part because Pip lives under the roof of his rich but crazy and blatantly racist mother (an over-the-top Joan Ryan). In preparation for a possible starring TV series role as macho African-American detective, Danny is taking a course in private investigation taught by gruff veteran P.I. Jimmy (Alan Blumenfeld).
The skills learned there come in handy when Pip begs his ex to help him solve a series of recent robberies — all of which took place at private, invite-only gay sex parties whose revelers were somehow rendered unconscious for a few hours while their homes and wallets were ransacked. The police haven’t been notified because there are too many “famous faces and names” (not to mention drugs) at the bashes, and such publicity would be a major problem. Beyond simply wanting to stop this spree, Pip hopes to get back an item of significant sentimental value. And while his short-attention-span and insensitivity (as well as his public makeout sessions with his new squeeze, played by Trey McCurley) regularly exasperate Danny, the residual spark still between them motivates the actor to help, however reluctantly.
Chemistry between the leads — as well between them and Blumenfeld as an even more reluctant, crusty heterosexual helpmate — is breezily bickersome in screwball fashion. Though Pip and Danny get into some increasingly dangerous situations, the pic manages to keep their amateur bumbling funny while downplaying the violence. The mystery itself is no great shakes, but “Hot Guys With Guns” is essentially a comedy in the guise of a thriller, finding room along the way for effective moments of drama, romance and insider Hollywood jokes, plus an opening sequence that gays up the usual James Bond sexy-psychedelic-credits cliches.
Thesp Spearman, in his first writing/directing gig, delivers a polished package on a low budget (purportedly $200,000), one that only palls a bit when occasional scenes peter out without much development or purpose. Still, the whole is likable enough that one hopes the helmer has a sequel up his sleeve.