Customer Reviews: Geography Club
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on November 22, 2013
This was such an amazing film, it was one of the most endearing lgbt films i've seen in a while. I really enjoyed that its made for a wider audience than other movies of its kind, making a family-friendly feature. Im glad that lgbt films are staring to target a younger teen audience, very progressive. I highly recommend this movie!
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GEOGRAPHY CLUB (screened April, 2013, Writ. Ed Entin, Dir. Gary Entin, Prod. Huffington Pictures, based on the novel by Bret Hartinger, 77 minutes plus 10 minutes of credits, so you'll see anything from 75 minutes to the advertised and technically accurate 85 minutes) ~

Main cast:
Russell Middlebrook - Cameron Deane Stewart (a Texan TV bit player)
Kevin - Justin Deeley (Kentucky boy, famous for "90210")
Gunnar - Andrew Caldwell ("Thor" from "Hannah Montana" and with the talent to be the next Jack Black)
Min - Ally Maki ("Dawn" from "10 Things I Hate About You")
Kevin's dad - Scott Bakula (can there be any question??)

What if you were so hated and persecuted that you couldn't even allow yourself to truly know yourself? What if there were many others like you then, and you got tapped into their super-secret organization?

Figured that one out yet?

Los Angeles suburb-like small town California* boy Russell is not any ordinary 17-year-old boy I ever saw. He has the face and body of a combination between Adonis, Apollo and Mercury, the mind of Albert Einstein, a sweet disposition that will carry you away before you've recovered from his good looks ... and he's as gay as "gay" can possibly be. Cameron Deane Stewart (who really makes my "gaydar" thump like Area 51) is proud of his characterization of Russell as totally not what "the gay kid" would ordinarily be. (In the film there is a very obvious young gay man and Russell seems happily attracted to him yet Russell is completely different.)

*[LA suburb? Well, I say this because it makes the most sense and because this movie was filmed in just about every famous southern California city you can name--Goodkind High itself was filmed on location at, like, three different schools all over the state. But it is clearly meant to be a small, I don't know, Orange County town.]

Russell doesn't have the strength to let this truth fully fill his mind, to say nothing of coming out boldly. His secret, white-hot romance with fellow football star Kevin is Kevin's doing, but within that, Russell finds his inner strength. The Geography Club, a gay support group for the kids at Russell's high school, becomes his refuge when Kevin's arms begin to fail.

This is a fall-down funny comedy, don't get me wrong about that. The writers are top-notch and I wonder how it is I never heard of them. The film has an undeserved PG-13 rating (WAY too much swearing, adult humor and some romance ought to have bumped it to a PG-17) but otherwise is a work of pure genius. The premise of the club alone is something that made my memories ache more than usual: if only I had been able to have that at 17.

Instead of attempting to go any further explaining what happens, let me tell you this is a multi-Oscar-worthy film no matter how cheaply produced. The acting is stellar even if their biggest star is a cameo by Scott Bakula. From the beginning at science camp (do high schoolers still go to those??) to the sociology assignment of caring for a fake baby, this thing has laughs that are interrupted only by tears. The tears that hurt, the ones that anger but mostly the ones that heal ... and then make us chuckle about it.

This could have been ugly, violent, dirty, abusive and many other things. Instead it is a stunning portrait of a beautiful diversity of kids who represent all kids their age. It is a successful combination of films like The Sasquatch Gang and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (or let's say WALLFLOWER was a cowardly version of this film) and has elements of my favorite novel, Vintage: A Ghost Story (see my reviews of all). In fact I thought for a moment that the author of VINTAGE, Steve Berman, had written this!

Everyone NEEDS to see this. On one level it isn't at all what it actually is: your typical dorky teen romance comedy. It isn't because it cannot be--not until the gay community, most especially the teens, are treated equally and properly. That is precisely why this film is a first, it is beautiful, it made me cry and laugh simultaneously, and it will do the same for you.

There is something else about this film that fascinates me: years ago there was a rumor that Elijah Wood was going to play this gay high school student. The synopsis was identical and I'll bet the character's name--Rusell--had already been announced too. This was to be Wood's starring role of a lifetime and that was years ago. Of course, in the face of a sort of gay panic and lots of bad PR, Wood went on to play in some other romantic comedy (which sucked). And then of course he went on from there to play Frodo.

Don't be a lame-***, get it and watch it! Cherish it, it is a historical document on a par with Charles Dickens! ... and one last thing, I'd KILL for the songs from this film because they are gay-themed and beautiful.
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on November 24, 2013
a very touching heartfelt movie. I read the book ages ago and enjoyed it and I can honestly say I enjoyed the movie just as much. Granted like 99% of all movies based on books, the book is better, though the movie was perfectly true to the book. It was really good. All the aspects of the film, acting, dialogue, character interaction, and the technical elements were grade A. Certainly not going to call it a life changing film, but certainly it shows a true portrayal of what it's like to be gay, to be in the closet, to fear coming out, peer pressure to be "normal", though I think it might have missed the mark a bit to show how hard it is; but all in all the movie got it right. It is based on a teen novel from 10 years ago, the first book in the Russell Middlebrook series. If you watch the movie, you should definitely read the lambda award winning series.
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Ah, for a change, a gay-themed film that is funny, well-written, has strong production values, good acting performances, and a believable storyline. Is it really so hard to produce these types of films? Apparently so, because there are so many weak gay-themed films out there. Cameos by Ana Gasteyer and Scott Bakula were delightful. Nikki Blonsky, an under-used and under-appreciated actor, was deliciously cast against type as a (slightly) angry young lesbian. She's fantastic.
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on July 23, 2014
What a pity Edmund Entin’s script chose to take more of a comedy (see cover) direction than a serious look at how high school teens struggle with coming out and making life decisions. Even more sad that Entin’s brother, Gary directed this mess as if it were made in the past despite the fact that it is a 2013 film. Instead of concentrating on what could have been a positive romantic testament of love’s struggles, it settles into a disaster of teachers ignoring blatant public bullying, internalized homophobic characters, lame attempts at comedy (the sex ed teacher, the sex-starved dumb blondes, the dad (Scott Bakula - of whom I have never been a fan and this “performance” shows why!), a singing fish, and an over-eating neighbor (“Gunnar” - Andrew Caldwell) who uses the main character (“Russell” - Cameron Deane Stewart) in an attempt to “get lucky” with a female student who is after Russell.

The first hour was disgusting and was making me regret paying $2.99 to rent it. How could this train wreck be so highly rated?

Although the filming has a much higher production value than a lot of gay indie films, the editing is as lame as the script and the voice of Russell sounds like he has a cold and is on antihistamines.

Miraculously, and suddenly out of nowhere, the last half hour was like a miniature Glee; kids actually being “real” (as real as the teens portrayed in this could be) with some actually being kind to each other, grappling with difficult choices in order to be authentic and some refusing to make a choice preferring the status quo. Some people grow at their own pace and some people never grow at all.

Had the writer and director taken just a little bit more time to fully develop more than just the surface personality of the second lead character, Justin Deeley (“Kevin”) and given the 2 leads more chemistry rather than just a few brief encounters and a minute of two in the athletic shack, this could have elicited a more emotional audience reaction. As it is, the ending is abrupt and although it did not need to be a “Hollywood Ending,” it was just plain unsatisfying. It really looks like they ran out of money.
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on December 5, 2014
Here is a movie for everyone who cares about truth, justice and the American way! Or not. Let me tell you a story about a terrific ensemble cast. How perfect are these young men and women. I felt what they felt and I empathized with everyone, even those I shouldn't have. The characters of Russell and Kevin are truly outstanding. I can't tell you the lifted me and saddened me. The term Geography Club is a code for a Gay/ Straight Alliance meeting. The 3 founding members never expected anyone to join? did they? you will have to see this very charming and frank film. No nudity but there is some kissing between 2 girls and 2 boys. Totally nothing to it. just passing. If you allow that to stop you from totally loving this movie...shame on you.
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on March 28, 2014
Geography Club is a decently shot, mostly nicely acted film, but its weak script, stereotypical characterizations, and indulgence in feel good platitudes suggest that it is a movie about adolescents best viewed by them. It resembles one of those "educational" TV films made in the olden days for afternoons when teenagers might view them to their profit. It is also a bit like a romance novel, not in any of the details of the plot, but in the way it does not much trouble itself with what one might call reality. Its plot is not all happy news. The boy (spoiler alert) does not get the boy in the end. But no character in it is deeply or complexly conceived or observed. Geography Club lacks substance. It is entertaining, so far as it goes, but it goes nowhere near far enough into its people or story.

The two blonde girls are troublingly stereotyped as addle-brained and aggressively sexual. The football player has a curious Southern accent neither of his parents nor anyone else in the movies speaks with. Odd little bits of plot, for example, the fact that the quarterback has a gay uncle who has a boyfriend he wants his family to meet, are left mostly undeveloped. Why on why does his mother talk at such length about baking a cake? I don't know a high school in this world that would put up with its sex educator, if that is what she is, especially since the plot demands that the high school where she works be in many ways intolerant. (The gay kids are all fearful of coming out. The arc of the film is from that fear to their openly doing so.) Her walking around in class barefoot would be the least of her problems with the principal. She is intended, it appears, to be seen as a role model of sorts, but she talks and dresses like a new age self-help guru. How the heck did the movie's main character get on the football team merely on the recommendation of its quarterback because he saw him run like a flash in a pick up game? It wouldn't happen. When and how did he learn the plays, the signals, the training for the games? I could list more such problems, but I do so only to note that the filmmakers and the scriptwriters were not thinking very hard or carefully when they made this movie. Good craft, let alone art, requires much more attention to detail. It also requires a good deal more skepticism about its own tendentiousness, if that is what it is, than this movie allows for.

It is not a bad film. No doubt, in many respects, it is a professional one. It certainly is an earnest one. But that is part of its problem. It is too earnest. It means to improve you, to sensitize you, should you need sensitization, about the difficulties of gay teens who are coming out. But unfortunately its characters, and its story, do not seem real. The movie perilously approaches fantasy. It does pull back occasionally. But nonetheless it remains caught in many of the conventions of the gay teen coming out drama. And everyone central to the drama is much too pretty. Only the lesser characters, and one who is a bit of a buffoon until he shows his truer colors (it is that kind of move), are not.

That it is better made than many such movies is welcome. But it is not a film that in any way can be taken seriously. It is enjoyable for what it is. I felt impatient watching it sometimes, particularly at its many improbabilities. It is perhaps a good movie for some teens to watch, in the way that well meaning films can be useful. But I suspect one needs, even young people would need to suspend too much of their intelligence to enjoy it fully. As a sort of mostly feel good fantasy film, I could recommend it. But if you try to look into it more deeply, you might discover there's nothing much in it beyond its commonplace narrative conventions and superficial types.
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on April 27, 2014
Coming out can be hard to do when you're struggling with your own sexuality. These are kids who are interesting and attractive, each in their own way trying to come to terms with who they are and what their sexual preferences are. Some know, some fudge their own assessment and others are truly questioning. It's a very interesting look at teenage sexuality. It's not so different when I was coming out during the early days of the gay movement for acceptance.
Very beautifully filmed with a great soundtrack. This is worth seeing!!
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on January 23, 2016
Even though this movie comes off as a typical comedy type high school drama, what makes this movie unique in good ways is the subtleties they added in to make the movie more realistic rather than cookie cutter. Even though I never have read the book, (which I hear is really good), I did watch both commentaries and you start to see some of the things that the movie changed from the book. One thing that is interesting is that apparently, Gunner's character is more true to the real life situations in the movie than the book! The movie still plays like a real story without being over the top, and simultaneously sends out messages with real substance to the audience.
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on June 26, 2014
I really like the stress of the jock verses the hero. The acting was more realistic. The script did describe the difficulties any different kid feels in school today. The only problem I had was that the bullies more or less got away with their abuse. That is not cool.
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