Let me begin by saying I hate almost all gay movies. Not because I hate things gay (clearly) or movies, but because most movies that are deemed gay are terribly written, have bad acting, and rarely attempt to do anything unique or interesting. Most gay films focus on coming out, as if this is the only event in a gay person's life. Some seem to think it's enough to just be a gay film and don't worry about having a story-line of much substance. Others are really just an excuse for men to be naked. I love naked men (clearly) but I have porn for that, plus straight films seem to find people who can act who are also willing to get naked (let's try that). Since I'm a writer I'm most critical of how the film is written. It annoys me that too many gay people praise/buy/love this crap (but that's really a whole different post).
The reason for bringing this up is I just saw Were the World Mine, a newer gay film, and I've completely fallen in love with it.
Is it the best film ever? No. Is is perfectly written? No, but is it acceptable (meaning I'm not laughing at the dialogue). Is the acting award-worthy? No, but these boys are not only cute, they can act and are just as good as most teen actors in mainstream films (yes make your jokes). I'm not going to argue this film is amazing on those accounts (but it is above average for gay
films in all those categories), but what makes the film rise above is the story-line.
The film uses Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (my favorite Shakespearean comedy) but in a very unique and cute way. The film focuses on an all boys school who is doing a production of the play. The lead character, Timothy (played by Tanner Cohen) is gay, but this is no coming out story. Everyone knows he is gay (even his mother knows, who is neither overjoyed or angry, which is refreshing) and of course he is made fun of for it. He gets casts as Puck in the play and in the course of practicing decides to create his own love potion that turns anyone he sprays with it gay (yes there is humor and sexual innuendo in the fact that he's spraying them with his flower, which makes it even better). His main goal is to
turn the school's jock (his crush) gay, but in the course of doing so turns nearly the whole town homosexual. Timothy is guided in his actions by a rather stereotypical English/Drama teacher, but even that cliche works in the context of this film.
The film unfolds in clever and cute ways and becomes a Shakespearean mistaken-sexuality comedy. But the film doesn't stop there. It is also a musical of sorts. There are these great dreamlike sequences where Timothy imagines the boys of his school as fairies or ballet-like dancers with their rugby balls and uniforms. These dance and song numbers work well in the context of the film and surprisingly these boys can also sing.
Yes, the film sounds insane, yet they pull it off and show that you can make a gay film with a more clever and interesting plot than just some boy who is sexually confused. This film is a cute, romantic story that ends happily. It's enjoyable, which is hard to find. I'm normally cringing through most gay films and waiting for the disappointment to set in, but Were the World Mine doesn't disappoint.
I hope more filmmakers will realize they can give us a little more. Break out of the mold. This film works because it is a great mixture of literature, music, and fantasy. Newsflash: lots of gay people are smart and want smart entertainment.
The best part is imagining young gay boys seeing this and falling in love with it and imagining how they'd love to make their own love potion. Young gay boys need a cute romantic movie to watch and believe in. I didn't have that growing up and I wish I did.