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Film Review: ‘GBF’

A genially cartoonish but rather sweet comedy that remixes 'Clueless,' 'Mean Girls' and 'Pretty in Pink' from a gay male teenage p.o.v.

With:
Michael J. Willet, Paul Iacono, Sasha Pieterse, Andrea Bowen, Xosha Roquemore, Molly Tarlov, Evanna Lynch, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque, Derek Mio, Mia Rose Frampton, Taylor Frey, Anthony Garland, Horatio Sanz, Jonathan Silverman, Rebecca Gayheart, Natasha Lyonne, Megan Mullally.

“Clueless,” “Mean Girls” and “Pretty in Pink” get remixed — albeit from a gay male teenage p.o.v. — in “GBF,” a comedy from “Jawbreaker” director Darren Stein and first-time scenarist George Northy. The titular acronym stands for “gay best friend,” apparently the trendiest personal accessory sought by the furiously competitive prom-queen candidates at an upscale suburban high school. Genially cartoonish but also rather sweet, this fun genre spin has decent niche prospects in all formats.

The three “queen be-atches” who rule North Gateway High are drama-class diva Caprice (Xosha Roquemore), Mormon priss princess ‘Shley (Andrea Bowen) and supreme blonde-ambition exemplar Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse). Locked in a dead heat for prom queen, they are looking for any personal edge. And according to the latest pop-culture blather, that edge would be a suitably worshipful, fabulous gay BFF. Alas, no one in the entire school has as yet come out.

Brent Van Camp (Paul Iacono), practically aflame with stereotypical swishiness, considers this his opportunity to launch himself as the instantly infamous pet of the school’s most fabulous femmes. Unfortunately, he first persuades more reticent best friend Tanner (Michael J. Willett) to download a “guydar” app that leads North High’s most gay-sidekick-covetous girls straight to Tanner’s mortified mug.

As a result, the divas vie for his gay arm candy (giving him a considerable fashion makeover in the process), while he has a major falling out with the jealous Brent. Further complications include anti-gay campaigning by an evangelical student; Tanner fending off overtures from ‘Shley’s closeted “boyfriend”; and the less effectively closeted Brent’s fending off his mother (a hilarious Megan Mullally), aggressively attempting to be the most supportive parent of a gay kid ever. Things culminate in a “Carrie”-parodying prom sequence and charming wrap-up.

Like “Clueless,” “GBF” makes up some amusing teenage slang. The performances are entirely adept, with the endearingly farcical Willett and Roquemore’s drop-dead line deliveries particularly sharp. Tech/design elements are likewise expert, and for once the blooper scenes under the closing credits are actually pretty funny.

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Film Review: 'GBF'

Reviewed at Frameline, San Francisco, June 30, 2013. (Also in Tribeca Film Festival; Outfest.) Running time: 94 MIN.

Production: A School Pictures, Parting Shots Media and Logolite Entertainmnent presentation in association with Steak Haus Prods. Produced by Stephen Israel, Richard Bever, Darren Stein, George Northy. Executive producer, Jennifer Levine. Co-producers, Kate Romero, Chris Sepulveda, Michael Anderson, Theodore S. Gildred III, Patrick Loftus-Hill, Charlie Finnegan, Michelle Pollino, Matt Spain, Dominic Ottersbach.

Crew: Directed by Darren Stein. Screenplay, George Northy. Camera (color, HD), Jonathan Hall; editor, Philip J. Bartell; music, Brian H. Kim; music supervisors, Dan Arriaga, Evan Stein; production designer, Michael Fitzgerald; art director, Jacob Gillman; set decorator, Siobhan O'Brien; costume designer, Kit Scarbo; sound, Rudy Zasloff; sound designer/re-recording mixer, Joe Milner; assistant director, Christopher DeBenedetto; casting, Katie Piel, Elizabeth Shoai.

With: Michael J. Willet, Paul Iacono, Sasha Pieterse, Andrea Bowen, Xosha Roquemore, Molly Tarlov, Evanna Lynch, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque, Derek Mio, Mia Rose Frampton, Taylor Frey, Anthony Garland, Horatio Sanz, Jonathan Silverman, Rebecca Gayheart, Natasha Lyonne, Megan Mullally.

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