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A gay film version of Friends
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.