G.B.F. (Vertical Entertainment, R)

GBF 75Parents are clueless, over-sexed or try too hard to connect with their kids, teachers are helpful oddballs and lurking among the cool kids is a gay guy just waiting to get out.

 

gbf 500If your typical high school movie is to be believed, being the trendiest trendsetter around is key to queen bee-dom. When competing high school queens Caprice (Xosha Roquemore), Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse) and ‘Shley (Andrea Bowen) discover that the new must-have status symbol is a gay best friend, they each set out to gain B.F.F. standing with the only out gay guy in their small town school.

The target of their competition is Tanner (Michael J. Willett), a guy so under-the-radar that he was accidentally outed by the school’s LGBT alliance when they searched for a gay member in order to keep their club open. Tanner was fine playing second fiddle to his attention seeking, and equally closeted, friend Brent (Paul Iacono), but when all eyes are suddenly on him, he feels the pressure to make a statement.

G.B.F. wants badly to go down in history as another high school classic. While the film has the right look to get attention, it doesn’t really have the bite, laughs or poignancy to go all the way. The overall effect is a film that leaves a feeling of blandness in its wake.

The movie is filled with some pretty standard teen screen stuff. Parents are clueless, over-sexed or try too hard to connect with their kids, teachers are helpful oddballs and lurking among the cool kids is a gay guy just waiting to get out. Except for the focus on a gay student, it seems like I’ve seen all this before. There’s even a makeover montage when the girls swoop in to turn Tanner into the perfect popular girl’s hanger-on.

The filmmakers try to offer up some insight. Superficial mean girl Fawcett is actually good at science and in need of friends who don’t envy her or want to have sex with her. Drama club diva Caprice wants to break the school’s track record of all white, cheerleader and jock prom queens and kings. And, Tanner comes to realize that getting attention just because he’s gay isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Willett is perfectly cast as a guy who would much rather keep his whole life low key. His Tanner always looks and sounds a bit uncomfortable with any attention he gets. The real triumph in performance here, though, belongs to Roquemore as the dramatic, model-like competitor for Tanner’s friendship who throws around phrases like “hacktavist”, “homodorable” and “neutered purse puppy” with enough attitude to make G.B.F. seem like a lot more fun than it is. | Adrienne Jones

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