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IN SHORT: Not for breeders, pt. II [100 minutes, not rated]
Sooner or later, some filmmaker is going to put together a story with gay themes that will have some appeal for us breeders. Edge of Seventeen ain't it.
Back in his film school days, some teacher laid down the first rule of script writing: Write what you know. This is what writer/ producer Todd Stephens has done, as Edge of Seventeen is an expansion of his own coming out process. For flicks like these, Cranky usually lays back and lets a gay friend do the review, but the guy begged off after I inflicted Get Real on him a couple of weeks back. Y'all will have to settle for analysis by the film student mindset I keep chained up in a dark place at the back of my mind . . .
Question: How's the story? Answer: It's perfectly fine. That it is going to be a tale of coming out is clear early on, so if you walked in expecting something along the lines of the Stevie Nicks Story you'll know that you've made a mistake. The film thankfully draws the line at referring to, but not showing, men's equipment during the sex scenes which come pretty close to what I can get off cable. It's not my cuppa, and it hasn't been the same for any woman I've known (in the way some guys like watching women get it on). The simple fact is that there are crap movies made with minority casts that do bang up box office because minorities are starved to see themselves on the big screen. Cranky thinks a similar thing is working here, in which case gay audiences will have a lovely time, 'cuz the workmanship of this film is not crap. That doesn't make it anything I'd rush out to see, but I'm not the demographic target.
Set in 1984 America and a helluva lot more graphic than the aforementioned Brit coming out drama Get Real, Edge of Seventeen tells the tale of Sandusky Ohio native Eric (Chris Stafford) and his growing realization that he prefers the company of boys to girls. This bothers his mom (Stephanie McVay), who is accepting. This bothers his girl hyphen friend, Maggie (Tina Holmes), who isn't very sexually aggressive and, I assume, spends more time dreaming of happy loving couple-dom with Eric than doing anything about it. We never see his dad's reaction which, based on the real life stories told to me by gay guys I've known, would probably strip this flick of the feel good about yourself ending it strives for.
Question: How's the acting? It's adequate. McVay, as mom, delivers a fine performance, in the Edie McClurg mode (minus the grating voice). Both kids tend to deliver lines liberally punctuated by pregnant pauses, which are so gratingly precious Cranky found himself shifting impatiently in his seat. The filmmakers establish a normal, Midwest American family, eating bologna and wearing polyester and then track Eric's attraction and exploration of gay life, after he's pursued by Rod (Anderson Gabrych), a college man who is working at the same summer gig in an amusement park. Eric discovers, horror of horrors, that all the men he meets at the local gay bar run by Angie ( Lea DeLaria), a lesbian also known to him from the amusement park, just want sex.
Which may have been how it was for teens back in 1984. In 1984, Cranky had another decade under his belt and all his gay friends were wondering about the purple patches showing up on their legs. They, and I'd guess half the characters in this film (if truly based on real life people) were dead by 1990. Historically factual or not, at least Eric has the wits to insist on protection when he loses his cherry. Gay or Straight, if you're not using condoms you're out of your mind. Use 'em. End of preaching.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Edge of Seventeen, he would have paid . . .
Edge of Seventeen is "Better" than Get Real though still of little interest to virtually anyone who reads these boards. The soundtrack includes a ton of stuff by bands from Flock of Seagulls to Thompson Twins (Tom Bailey is the underscore composer) to Re-flex and Bronski Beat that rocked the danceclubs, straight and gay. It keeps everything moving and provides a nostalgic escape if you close your eyes.
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