MRR Review: "G.B.F."

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The bitter fight for supremacy between the three most popular girls at North Gateway High takes an unexpected turn when their classmate, Tanner, is outed and becomes the school’s first openly gay student.
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Rating: R
Length: 92
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Directed by: Darren Stein
Genre: Comedy

When gay teen Tanner is outed, he immediately becomes popular with a trio of teen queens who want to turn him into the ultimate accessory: the gay best friend. The girls Caprice, 'Shley and Fawcett take turns giving Tanner makeovers and showing him off to their friends. While Tanner enjoys the attention, he must choose between being popular and remaining loyal to his best friend Brent.

Tanner is a closeted, unpopular high school student who gets unwittingly outed thanks to a "gaydar" app that catapults him to the forefront of the school's social scene. The queens of the North Gateway High School, Caprice, 'Shley and Fawcett, are leaders in their respective cliques. Caprice is an over-the-top drama queen, and 'Shley is a popular yet pious Mormon. Fawcett is a smart, ambitious blond who rules the school with her beauty and brains. These popular girls soon find themselves going to war, and Tanner is the prize.

Though Tanner does not necessarily enjoy being an arm piece, he appreciates that his affiliation with the girls protects him from being bullied by cruel jocks. After showing a bit too much appreciation for his newfound alliances, Tanner draws the ire of his best friend Brent who envies his friend's social status. For this reason, Brent soon starts plotting to bring Tanner down.

Along the way, Tanner's growth becomes evident in the film as he must deal with his recent popularity while becoming self-possessed and ultimately deciding how he wants to be viewed by his peers. His character is both eye-opening and relatable for viewers. However, even throughout Tanner's struggles, the movie does not get bogged down with self-importance or unnecessary angst. Instead, it remains witty, sharp, lighthearted and satirical. It would not be surprising if "G.B.F" takes its place among the classics in the coming years because the film works as a sort of cinematic time capsule for a nation in flux as a new generation transitions to an acceptance of gays that is unprecedented in history.

"G.B.F." has drawn comparisons to classic teen movies such as "Sixteen Candles," "Mean Girls," "Jawbreaker," "Clueless" and "Pretty in Pink" due to its witty and heartfelt nature. Some of the film's highlights include a hilarious Meagan Mullally as Brent's mom trying a little too hard to be the most gay-positive parent ever. Craziness ensues when Tanner has to fight off advances from 'Shley's secretly gay boyfriend, and challenges arise when an evangelical group campaigns against Tanner and other gay students. The film concludes with a satisfying callback to the classic prom scene from "Carrie," and like many of its predecessors, "G.B.F." also showcases a plenty of original teenage slang that is sure to birth its share of catchphrases for years to come.

An excellent cast led by Michael J. Willett is a monumental part of this movie's appeal because Willett is delightfully endearing, pulling viewers into the movie and making them invest heavily in the character. Paul Iacono, who plays the role of Brent, gives a memorable and delightfully over-the-top performance as the envious best friend. Megan Mullally, Rebecca Gayheart and Jonathan Silverman shine as the supportive parents, providing plenty of laugh-out-loud moments along the way. Skillful writing and direction from George Northy and Darren Stein, respectively, result in a cartoonish quality that works surprisingly well for this type of satirical film.

The MPAA's R rating for this film is largely unwarranted as "G.B.F." contains no nudity, sex, violence or excessive swearing. In fact, the only F-word used is "faggot" when it is appropriate within the context of a scene. The R rating drew controversy following the film's highly successful showing at the Reeling LGBT International Film Festival in 2013. Critics and audiences feel that the strong rating is unwarranted for such a scandal-free film, and the controversy has helped draw attention to this independent production. It is a shame that people below a certain age are not admitted to the film as it offers valuable insights on how to (and how not to) treat other young people who happen to be homosexual.

"G.B.F." shows how straight people sometimes objectify gays and other members of the LGBT community, marginalizing their struggles and relegating them to novelty status. In a world where gay individuals are getting more media attention, straight people sometimes expect them to match certain stereotypes, but this revolutionary movie shows how important it is that this harmful attitude be disposed of permanently.

"G.B.F." deftly exemplifies the modern trend toward greater acceptance of homosexuals. With a witty script and top-notch acting, "G.B.F." is a definite crowd pleaser, handling the subject of living as a gay teen with both appropriate sensitivity and a refreshing sense of levity. Laugh-out-loud moments are expertly interspersed with tender moments to make this a very worthwhile film.

Rating: 3 out of 5