Thursday, November 14, 2013

With GEOGRAPHY CLUB, from the Entin twins, the GLBT movie goes grandly Hollywood glossy

It may take until the close of this film, when the charming end-credits are rolling, that you'll realize you've just experienced the coming-of-age of the gay rom-com-cum-melodram. Yup. GEOGRAPHY CLUB -- a glossy, smart, sweet little high school movie -- gets just about everything right and entertains like crazy while doing it. A product of the Entin twins (Gary, who directed, and Edmund, who wrote the screenplay, based on the popular Brent Hartinger novel), the movie was produced by Michael Huffington (yes!) and Anthony Bretti, and they've stinted on nothing -- from the excellent cast to the cinematography, editing and all else technical. The movie looks surprisingly like a lovely, glossy Hollywood product that -- hey -- just happens to be GLBT-themed.

Of course, the question then arises: Is this what we need? While the answer is most likely: We need a lot of things, this is certainly one form of "equality" that should help make a difference for mainstream audiences. These young and talented twins (shown above, with writer Edmund on the left and director Gary at right), have somehow managed to juggle themes, characters and actors expertly and corral some terrific technical talent, too. The result is a beautifully inclusive movie that tackles the subject of the high school "outsider" and makes it seem fresh and appealing all over again.

The outsiders here includes guys, gals, gays and lesbians that come in cultures/colors of Asian, Hispanic, Black and White. Best of all, the movie offers in addition a violinist (or is he a violist? It's been a few months since I've seen this movie) who must be gay because he's, well, arty and odd. He's actually straight, but he wants and needs to be included in this group -- which makes it all the more wonderfully diverse. The kids are differentiated and performed with a light touch, and the movie moves along at a fast enough trot that there's little time to get picky.

Yes, there's a dose of the After-School Special in all this, but, damn, it's still done well enough to pass muster. The main story connects two closeted high-schools boys (Cameron Deane Stewart, above, left, and Justin Deeley, at right, the latter playing a popular football player) with a group of kids who've formed a kind of GLBT support group they call the Geography Club. "Nobody'll join, so nobody'll know our secret" is the kind of logic going on here (do school even teach geography any longer?). The Entins get the tone just right: a blend of sweetness and toughness that's reality-based enough to draw us in and hold us through thick and thin.

The movie's feel-good, all right, but it is also a little sad in the manner in which it addresses the reality of "the other." Identity, acceptance and especially self-acceptance are all given a good workout here. Thankfully, the filmmakers don't tie the whole shebang up into one neat package. We can't have everything we want, it seems. But we can work toward and then settle for a better situation. Geography Club is going to make a lot of moviegoers -- kids in particular -- very, very happy.

From Breaking Glass Pictures and running a sleek 83 minutes, the movie opens tomorrow, Friday, November 15, in New York (at the Cinema Villlage), Toronto (at the Carlton Cinema), Tempe (at the Harkins' Valley Art), and Stroudsberg (at the Sherman Living Room theater) and elsewhere soon. Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters. SImultaneously, by the way, any outliers from the above locations, should be able to see the film via VOD.  (The film will not be available on DVD until March 2014.)

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