Monday, January 05, 2009

The "Another" franchise of "gay movies": there's more than one now!


The “Another” franchise, now two “gay” films from TLA Releasing and director Todd Stephens, may be the first franchise whose title starts by implying that their were prequels. Even “Star Wars” didn’t do that. I mean, the title of the first film, “Another Gay Movie” implies that some day will see a “First Gay Movie.” (I wonder what the trademark law implications are. If I make a movie, I won’t take a chance and call it “Another …”)

Or, maybe the adjective “another” is supposed to characterize the sub-genre: taking the antics of “American Pie” movies (without Jason Biggs) and using them with gay characters and stories --- nothing but slapstick and total escapism, nothing that could possibly matter. Drag shows are supposed to be like that – they don’t even bother to satirize the politicians. (That is, "Saturday Night Live" is not escapism, even when Jon Heder hosts.) There are many gay-themed films today that are very serious (“Brokeback Mountain”, “Save Me”, etc). But not this series. It is comedy for its own sake, with no hint of satire.

The films even have different casts. But one theme that unites them is that the men come from “accepting” families. Discrimination is something that happened only in a parallel universe, not here.

The first film, in 2006, played a sneak preview to a full house at Landmark’s E Street in Washington on a Thursday night in the fall, some time shortly after Reel Affirmations. As I recall, it started with Michael Carbanaro’s character and his dad encouraging him to get into his own life. But the film then does add just a little seasoning of seriousness with the hunk (Jarod) played by manly Jonathan Chase, who, in one scene, is knocking big league home runs in batting practice. He belongs in Fenway Park.

The second film, in 2008, “Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!” is, well, bigger. The story is by a different writer, Eric Eisenbrey (the first film story was by Tim Kaltenecker). It has some of the same "characters" played by different actors. It’s filmed in 2.35:1 aspect and has all the gaudy Technicolor of 50s Cinemascope comedies and musicals from MGM and Fox. There is a little satire here, of hairless porn itself, and of some of the raunchier practices. The setting is Fort Lauderdale (home of Alamo rent-a-car – that’s what I remembered, until I saw this movie). The plot is, well, gays on Spring Break, meeting the frat boys. That’s enough to say about the “story.”
My favorite characters were played by Euriamis Losada and Jake Mosser, with some real tenderness in a couple of scenes (including a drive-in movie).

This film has achieved a certain notoriety because of a few specific sequences: the “rain showers”, the crustaceans-on-bods (probably inspired by Carter Smith’s “Bugcrush”) leading to a bizarre sequence with national razors; the “barf” sequence, and the epoxy glue. The DVD extras go into how some of this was actually filmed (hint: oatmeal, which may make hot cereal a nauseating prospect from now on). But the most interesting featurette on the DVD may be how they turned an actor (I think it was Aaron Michael Davies) into “mer-man” (that is, a dolphin ready for the next Olympics), and the transformation is brutal. They cover his hairy legs with goo and wrap them tight in seran wrap, and then apply the paste.

There’s “Another Gay Franchise”: the “Eating Out” movies (in 2004 and 2006, from Ariztical, but with two directors: Alan Brocka and Philip J. Bartel), the second having the subtitle “Sloppy Seconds”. They, too, have different casts. I liked the first film a lot more. Ryan Carnes plays a very appealing classical musician (maybe inspired by the character Ephram from the WB series “Everwood”) and it has an intriguing “unbuttoning” encounter right in the middle of the film (with a telephone prompt).

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