Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Boys in the Band: Movie Review

A period flashback to a film we need now.
Heavily advertised as a Ryan Murphy film, it’s not hard to mistake the producer’s influence on The Boys in the Band (notably in the opening sequence and the casting); however, it’s the film’s theater roots that become more prominent as the film went on. Unsurprisingly, it was originally a stage play, and is essentially a one-location, real-time movie.   2020

Directed by: Joe Mantello

Screenplay by: Ned Martel, Mart Crowley

Starring: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto

It opens with Michael (Jim Parsons) getting ready for a party. More specifically, it opens with the 1966 R&B song Hold On, I’m Comin’ with fast editing in beat with the song’s rhythm introducing all of the stylishly-dressed main characters. The first to arrive is Donald (Matt Bomer) a friend of Michael who has left the city years ago and isn’t in the same group being invited, but they’re all gay, so he’ll fit right in.

The dialogue is fast, witty and stereotypically gay. At least that’s how it starts, once the primary characters have been well introduced, it gets toned down to a more natural interaction. The plot is simple; Michael is hosting a birthday party for Harold (who’s always late) with seven invited guests in total, all forty-ish and gay. Right before they arrive, Michael’s college friend Alan calls. They’re not close friends but he’s upset about something so Michael invites him over.

Alan doesn’t know Michael’s gay (it’s okay, you’re allowed to laugh, the others all did), so Michael instructs his friends to act straight. With the music choices, the dialogue, the stylish setting, the opening is very funny. One of the friends, Emory (Robin de Jesus) can’t act straight to save his life, and it’s not too long before the stranger has deduced he’s gay and his innate homophobia takes over. Hence it really is a drama.

The majority of the film is a drunk Michael harping on his friends’ love lives, and a not-fun drinking game where people call their first true love with Michael yelling at them in the background. What I like is the homosexual nature. We’ve all seen a hundred heterosexual inter-relationship dramas, but this is one of the few with all gay characters, and very refreshingly they’re not teenagers or college-aged. They’re all forty-ish, and most of them have had fairly lonely lives leading up to now. It adds a relatability which I really appreciated.

I wish the film focused more on Michael and Donald’s friendship since that is where the heart really is, but Matt Bomer is unfortunately invisible for most of the film, and Michael’s true state-of-mind is hidden until the end. They’re both infinitely more interesting than some of their other friends. The Boys in the Band has fun with the 60s setting and ultimately is a much needed addition to the relationship drama even if it does get a little flat in the middle.