G.B.F. really has no right being as good as it is. This new comedy from director Darren Stein and writer George Northy – starring Michael J. Willett, Paul Iacono and queen of camp herself Megan Mullally – is so cliché ridden that it should be offensive to anyone with any sense of equality or social acceptance. Instead it works, simply because it’s approached with such an irreverent and tongue-in-cheek attitude (no pun intended), that only a true curmudgeon could take offence.
Tanner (Willett) and Brent (Iacono) are best friends who have looked out for each-other throughout the ups and downs of their high-school years. They share a secret they have sworn to keep from everyone else – until one day Brent accidentally lands Tanner in hot water with hilarious results.
One reason this frippery is so appealing is that it’s Tanner and Brent who appear normal. The rest of the cast is peopled with a varying array of ‘straight’ misfits; from the high-school kids each with their own agendas for remaining ‘in’ with Tanner when he’s inadvertently ‘outed’, to the adults who seem even weirder than the youngsters.
Then there is the other reason that the film works so well – namely that the stereotypes present are not purely restricted to the gay characters. No-one here escapes the pre-conceived notions which colour them in the general cultural consciousness. From the super religious Shley (Andrea Bowen) whose sheltered upbringing means she is completely unaware of modern sexual slang and terms for louche living, to Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse) who everyone wants to be friends with and looks like a reject from the cast of Beverly Hills 90210. Of course it wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory open minded adults – particularly Brent’s mother played by Will and Grace star Mullally (no typecasting there then) – who are, as is often the case, more accepting of people’s sexuality than the younger generation. Mix this with some marvellously snappy dialogue – such as when Brent admonishes Tanner with, “It’s not fair, you get to be belle of the ball and I’m stuck home with mommie dearest” after he fails to get invited to a classmate’s house-party – and the scene is set for some genuinely clever and touching humour.
The real beauty of G.B.F. however is its ability to show young gay men to be the same as everyone else (which of course they are) – facing the same insecurities as any other adolescent. As such it should be made compulsory viewing for anyone who thinks differently.