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on July 29, 2005
In some ways, this film reminded me of the sit-com "Friends" when I first watched it. It does have some significant differences, but it still centers on a group of people who are variously in and out of relationships with each other and outsiders, some of whom make it into the group, and others of whom do not.

One of the leading characters is Dennis, who is having a mid-life crisis of a sort, not quite sure he wants to continue the pick-up life, and not sure he can continue it given his advancing age. This is driven home by the situation of his birthday party, in which he finds an attraction to J. Crew Guy, a nickname invented by his friends to keep people from having to remember names. Cole, the "star" of the group of friends, has invited his own catch to the party, and the rest of the friends are seething with jealousy.

There are lots of wonderful little scenes and bit pieces here. Most of the friends go to the same hairdresser or stylist, and pour their hearts out to her while having their hair cut. There is a wonderful montage of clips of the various friends getting their hair cut, all talking to each other, save one man who goes to an actual therapist, and complains near the end that the rest of his friends get their hair cut while doing this.

The friends center on a particular restaurant, owned by Jack, played by John Mahoney (Frasier's father in the sit-com "Frasier"). Jack also sponsors a softball team, on which all of the friends play. Jack is a long-term partner of a man only really known as "purple guy", because he always dressed in purple. Jack suffers a heart-attack, and the friends become much more enlightened about the value of friendship, relationships, and permanent attachments in an often changing and unpredictable world.

I identified most with the character is Patrick, the "less attractive" friend. At one point he describes his frustration living in southern California as the gay community is a bunch of 10s all looking for an 11, and if the light is dim enough and the guy is drunk enough, he (Patrick) might pass for a 7. I know the feeling very well.

One review I read of this film said that it is the first film since "Boys in the Band," put out in 1970, to feature every character in the film as a gay person. I hadn't thought about that the first time I watched the film, but it is true. There are no straight people here as major or even minor characters, only the occasional bit player, like the team members of the Hollywood Firefighter's softball team, who are not only better than the restaurant's team, but also a physical distraction, according to one team member.

Each of the characters represents a different sort of gay person - Dennis is the artistic, brooding sort; Cole is the wannabe actor, a bit too good looking for his own good; Kevin is the just-coming-out and not really ready to admit he's gay person; Benji is the always looking in the wrong place for love person, who gets involved a bit in drug use near the end. Howie is the mixed up, wants a commitment but cannot commit person. Finally, Patrick (my role model) is the not-quite-that-goodlooking, good friend but always single kind of guy. Jack and Purple Guy are the long-term, older couple who both father/mother the group, and model another way of being. Of course, that all assumes that you can find a partner who will last.

You will also get introduced to the phrase OGT - Obviously Gay Trait. For example, liking the music group The Carpenters is an OGT. Liking theater and Broadway musicals is an OGT. And so forth. There's just a bit of Carpenters' music around, too.

This is a very interesting film, and one that resonated with me in many ways.
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on March 31, 2001
Despite the many cliches you can see coming almost from the first frames of this small, ensemble comedy, this movie will win your heart. The screenplay, chock full of gay stuff we've heard and seen a million times before, slowly builds its case through its mostly appealing stable of characters, who actually have something significant to say. There are many funny moments, and the performances are uniformly superb, with a surprisingly deft turn by Dean Cain, easily the most glamorous member of the cast. The ruminations on the lack of real substance in the on-again off-again relationships of a tight group of L.A. gay men will strike a resonant chord, and their words often have the sting of truth, especially in the many edgy scenes between lovers who barely know each other. The covers of Carpenters hits work only intermittently, and this film would have been elevated greatly by the inclusion of some real Karen vocals, particularly since her voice is discussed early on, in a scene that sets up the basic emotional journey of the movie.
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on January 12, 2001
Saw the movie and loved it, only a complete cynic wouldn't. Much more substantial than a movie of the week as some would have you believe. It's a romantic comedy and is as funny and moving as one would and should expect it to be. If you're tired of the heavy, depressing and gay themed movies - here's one that you will simply enjoy - a docudrama it doesn't pretend to be. The characters are all wonderful and at their present stage of life, their concerns, desires, hopes, fears etc. are true to who they are. In your lifetime you will have known atleast one if not all of these characters. For a comunity longing to see itself on the big screen, this may be a very small representation, but nonetheless a valid one. Does it provoke deep thoughts, Will you like it? Yes. If nothing else, by the end of the movie you'll be thinking as I did "thank God for my friends..." - it's message and true worth. Enjoy.
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on June 5, 2004
... exactly what Gay culture and lifestyle is like in any major city and is funny, unsettling honest (in the way that Gay people hated AL PACINO's racey yet truthful "Cruising" 1981 - sorry boyz, this was 1981 Gay culture), and totally believable and witty. I have to say, that ignoring the AIDS issue, the 'drag' factor (for the most part), and showing that all Gay men are not effeminate, needy or unhappy and promiscous for lack of anything else makes it the one and only film I would show my Mother ... she see my life then; and that of my friends : honestly, and not buttered up like the posh unreality of WILL & GRACE or QUEER EYE (like any masculine Gay man acts or dresses like that! : plezzze!).
Honest, believable and totally a reflection of Gay culture in the last 10 years, with out all the 'false trimmings' media has perpetrated on the rest of us normal Gay people like the ones 'living' in this film.
Some may not like it, because it is TOO honest. That quite honestly is why I really DID love it.
Think of this as the late 2000 version of "Torch Song Trilogy" : times have change a tad of late, and this reflects it honestly like that othe movie did on 1988.
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on September 4, 2002
I suppose we can forgive all the West Hollywood steryotypes that populate this movie - after all they're only serving a higher purpose: portraying gay men's lives as something out of a soap opera. Nothing too removed from the average reality. Nothing too shocking. Something at times almost impossibly moving,
This is a film that touches you, whatever your sexuality is or might be. Unresolved personal issues carry the day, but they all seem to come together at the not entirely satisfying ending.
Also: spot on soundtrack!
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on April 24, 2001
Broken Hearts Club is certainly one of the better gay themed movies available. For one it's well acted, with people you'll recognise. It's also inheritantly uncontroversial - letting the ensemble cast tell their story. But, dare I say it, B.H.C is the sort of gay movie your mother would appreciate. The concept is very much gay "Friends". Comedy which doesn't bite and sex which is left implicit.
The film suffers from the fact that there's very little arc to the characters. They really don't develop and end the film largely as they started (excepting Kevin the Newbie).
That said, it's a perfectly enjoyable way to spend an hour and a half and worthy of repeat viewings. The director's commentary between producer and director is a lesson how not to do it, spending as they do too much time talking around their subject.
I compared this movie with 'Trick' in the review title. Double the cast headcount of Trick and subtract most of the sexual tension and you get to Broken Hearts Club.
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First-time director/screenwriter Greg Berlanti has done a facile, intermittently entertaining job in looking at a group of twenty-something gay friends in West Hollywood. I am grateful that that he saw no need to make grand statements about AIDS, gay marriage or any number of pertinent social issues to the gay community. Instead, the 2000 movie feels a bit like a role-reversal riff on "Sex in the City" with the men bonding and bickering as only close friends can. The focus is primarily on Dennis, an aspiring photographer who views his 28th birthday with trepidation as he feels entrapped by his clique to the expense of both long-lasting love and a career on hold. He waits tables at a restaurant owned by Jack, the unofficial den mother to the whole gang who hang out there. Dennis finds himself attracted to 23-year old Kevin, an inexperienced newbie who finds himself also entangled with Dennis' housemate, Cole, a narcissistic actor and bed-hopper extraordinaire thanks to his good looks and supreme confidence. Other subplots are interwoven so that the net effect is a lifestyle tableau that alternates soap opera turns with observations that alternate between astute and glib.

Many of the performances help the proceedings starting with a surprisingly fey Timothy Olyphant as Dennis and a swaggering Dean Cain as Cole. Both show greater depth than I anticipated from their roles, as does Andrew Keegan as Kevin. A punked-out Zach Braff effectively plays Benji, a party boy with a penchant for muscles and drugs, and avoids the pitfall of condescending to stereotype. A bespectacled Matt McGrath portrays nerdy Howie, who is ambivalent about his feelings for Marshall played by Justin Theroux. The most predictable subplot seems to take its cue from a "Friends" episode with the cynical Patrick being courted for his sperm by his sister Anne and her angry partner Leslie. Ben Weber is irritating as the self-pitying Patrick, and Mary McCormack and Nia Long are given precious little to do as Anne and Leslie. In a turn that reminded me of his colorful starring role in John Guare's "The House of Blue Leaves" on Broadway, John Mahoney makes the most of a cliché-ridden role as Jack. The sadly underused Jennifer Coolidge shows up as the gang's indifferent hairdresser. It's a loquacious film but at times, a touching, insightful and funny one, too.
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on December 9, 2001
I wasn't going to write a review of this movie, because I felt I probably wouldn't be able to add much. But after reading some other reviews, I have to write.
Sure it's not realistic - GET OVER IT!! I enjoy movies because they amuse and entertain me, make me feel an empathy with the characters, or in some way make me feel at the end - "I really enjoyed the way I spent the last hour and a half" (or two hours, or whatever). And this movie certainly did that for me.
Few of the actors are really gay, as several reviewers criticized, but I think it speaks a lot for a more accepting culture that a straight actor would be eager to take on a role that used to be fatal for his career. I think every actor did a good job on his character. Timothy Olyphant was fantastic as the good-looking main character (director's commentary reveals he bought the SUV and his own house with money from an inheritance - movie should have brought that out). Andrew Keegan as the "newbie" just coming out of the closet was very believable, and I hope this movie adds impetus to his acting career - he certainly deserves it. Those two characters were my favorite, and I really wish their relationship had evolved more - maybe in a sequel?
I really enjoyed this movie, went out and bought it, and have watched it numerous times since.
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VINE VOICEon February 24, 2001
I had mixed feelings about this movie. One on hand, it perpetuates many of the same old, tired stereotypes that gay filmmakers have been regurgitating back into gay cinema for years. On the other hand, stereotypes usually exist because the characteristics or traits they represent exist in large numbers out in the "real world."
That said, Broken Hearts Club is not a cinematic masterpiece, but it is a great movie to gather around and watch with your closest girlfriends. The plot is a bit predictable, but so are a lot of things about gay life. I think the people who found the most distaste for this movie are probably ones who related a bit too much with the characters.
It's no Steel Magnolias, but the characters are relatively true-to-life, and the issues and little mini-dramas they deal with are plausible enough. The best thing about the movie is that it perpetuates one undercelebrated fact - that in the gay world, one's friends can truly save lives, and for that part of the story, the movie is well worth the investment.
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on March 29, 2005
Is it a bad thing to see a movie and deem it good by standards different from which you would judge other movies? Let me explain.

Broken Hearts Club is a good movie. A little corny and certainly more than a little predictable. It doesn't really do anything new. BUT, for a semi-mainstream gay film,

it breaks all the rules.

Breeder hunks play femme gay men. There is no one with AIDS in the whole story. There are butch gay men in this movie. And no, none of the gay men has a best friend who is a single, white, straight female. Can you handle it?

The movie is entertaining. The plot is sweet. The best part of the film is the style in which it is broken up. Ala' the television show Frasier, the movie is split into sections by definitions flashed on screen to help explain the next scene. The best definition has to do with 'meanwhile'. 'Meanwhile'

being the gay term to tell your friend when an attractive male walks by.

And the movie itself is filled with 'meanwhiles.' Dean Cain

looks especially nice in this film and pulls off the character of a pretty boy with ease. Go figure. John Frasier leaves his comfortable role of an ex-cop on Frasier to be the father-figure of this group of friends and the coach of their softball team. Andrew Keegan is the newbie of the group- recently outed gay man. Finally, Kerr Smith, who has been playing a gay character on Dawson's Creek for some time, play the token gay character on a softball team of macho, testosterone-oozing fireman.
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