Dear G.B.F. (or: Party Like It’s 1999!)
So I totes have a secret to let you all in on. Okay, are you ready? Give me a hot sec while a reflect and gather myself…
Okay…here it goes. I was born in 1984. There! I said it! I, John Doolan, will be turning 29 next month. Not that it’s exactly a huge secret since that trifling fascist floozie known as the IMDB is posting it for the world to see. And by the world, I obviously mean the 1 or 2 people out there who have actually looked me up. But whatevs, it’s there and they won’t let me take it down (trust me, I’ve TRIED). Anyone the least bit vaguely familiar with my personality knows that I have this THING about aging. And that THING is that I don’t want to, so needless to say that it’s difficult for me to admit my increasingly advancing age. But you know, the more I think about it, the more I’m leaning towards being okay with it. You see, I secretly out loud (with an emphasis on the out loud) fancy myself a teen movie aficionado. And since I am a late twentysomething (baby steps in how often I can acknowledge my age), I was privy to both of the greatest times in teen movie history. I was raised in the heyday of the video store, which means every glorious, 80s teen film was at my disposal. I spent my childhood not only with Carrie, Jason, Freddy, Michael, and Chucky, but with John Bender, Heather Chandler, Duckie, Long Duk Dong, Lloyd Dobler, Gary & Wyatt, Ren McCormack, and Guido the Killer Pimp. I was also lucky enough to have just entered high school when the late 90s teen explosion hit. Clueless was released when I was 11 and the seed it planted came to a full bloom during the second half of my Freshman year in 1999 (pardon me while I start digging a hole to bury my elderly ass in). She’s All That, Varsity Blue, Cruel Intentions, 10 Things I Hate About You, American Pie, Jawbreaker…like OMFG, am I the only one sporting half chub just thinking about it all!
Don’t get it twisted, they weren’t all exactly gems. I mean, for every Sixteen Candles there’s a Porky’s Revenge, and for every Drop Dead Gorgeous (seriously, if you haven’t seen that movie, DAFUQ is wrong with you?!?!) there’s a Crossroads.
Like, for realsies what in the WTF is that shit? Even the hottness that is a pre-bald-headed-with-an-umbrella Britney prancing around in her panties can’t save dat shit.
There’s a certain feeling you get when you see a really great teen film for the first time. The feeling that THIS is something special that kids will watch and quote for generations to come because on one level or another, it connects with the audience. The last film that gave me that kind of feeling was Mean Girls. Though that film is problematic at points, it captured a specific moment in youth culture with a perfect cast and witty Tina Fey dialog. All great teen films are products of their times on the surface, but with underlying messages that any generation will be able to relate to. In the 9 years since the release of Mean Girls (yes, NINE YEARS…seriously…a hole…bury me…now) we’ve seen the likes of John Tucker Must Die, She’s the Man, 17 Again, Easy A, and a few others, and while I think some of them are great, none actually gave me that something special feeling. That is until GBF (or “Gay Best Friend” for those of you out of the loop geriatrics over the ancient age of 30). For realsies, kids, this is the ultimate teen movie that we’ve been waiting nearly a decade for!
GBF tells the story of two homodorable (their amazeballs word, not mine, but I’m totes stealing it)high school gays; shy and timid Tanner, who is perfectly content on his social standing in the high school hierarchy, and outgoing Brent, who plans on rocketing himself up the popularity ladder by coming out as the school’s first ever admittedly gay student. After all, the hottest new accessory amongst high school HBICs is the GBF. When Tanner is outed by the over zealous head of the school’s GSA in a desperate attempt to actually have a gay member, the 3 clique queens of the school pounce on him like he’s the last chocolate bar in the vending machine and they’re all on the rag. And before I get carried away spending the entire time describing the plot, just watch the damn trailer…
Ultra phenom, right? And yes, you read that correctly, GBF is from the director of Jawbreaker, and anyone who’s anyone knows about my giant, raging, pulsating, steaming, engorged love for Jawbreaker. While that film was rooted deeply in cynical, dark humored roots, GBF has a much more positive tone, but is balanced and genuine enough where it earns its happy ending. George Northy’s script is so on the ball with pop culture references and witty, slang-filled dialog that I was in teen movie heaven. Northy and director Darren Stein seemed very much on the same page when it came to the overall feel of the film. If you’re familiar with the teen movie genre at all you’ll see how much of a love letter to it that GBF is. There’s no lack of references to the greats such as the Jawbreaker slow-mo walk, Tanner’s sometimes Duckie-esque wardrobe, a where’s waldo search of movie posters in Brent’s bedroom, a prom shaming in the vein of Carrie, and Tanner getting his full on Lohan moment. I for serious can’t wait to watch it again to see any other easter eggs hidden in there that I might have missed the first time around.
This is a BIG cast, each with their own very distinct personalities and purposes, yet there was not a single character that felt wasted or underused. And speaking of the cast, OMFG, teen movie wet dream, am I right? From teen movie veterans of the past, to a who’s who of TV stars, to up and coming new talent, to even a pop music princess, the casting was absolutely flawless. I started out writing about the various performances that I thought would be considered scene stealing, but then I realized I was listing almost the entire cast. So let’s just say that Michael J. Willett has amazing screen presence, Xosha Roquemore is a rock star, Paul Iacono is the best friend of my dreams, Natasha Lyonne picks up right where she left off with Slums of Beverly Hills and But I’m a Cheerleader, Molly Tarlov may not know it yet, but she’s the love of my life, and my goal is to meet Megan Mullally so we can watch Brokeback Mountain together.
Full disclosure: Despite the ratio of which sex is more likely to hit on me, I myself am not gay. I mean, I very often wish I was so I could totally get laid more, but alas, despite my prayers at night, I still wake up every morning with that urge to insert my penis into a vagina. Tragic, I know. The reason I’m saying this is because I think people should know that you don’t have to be gay to enjoy this film. When I told others that a bunch of my friends (who were all straight) and I were going to a Gay and Lesbian film festival to see a movie called Gay Best Friend, they would ask why. To which I would respond A.) fuck you, and B.) why wouldn’t we? Is it technically a gay movie? Yeah, sure, but that’s hardly the only thing one can take from its overall message of being yourself and looking past a person’s exterior to see them as the full fledged, functioning human being that they are. High school is where you start to discover what kind of person you’re going to be. I was a strange little dude, man. Everyone was like, “oh snap, son, let’s go see that Fast and the Furious movie at the mall,” and J.Doo was all like, “Um, but Y Tu Mama Tambien is playing at the theater across town.” It’s tough being the outsider and playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers, and I thought if I dressed like Dawson Leary and said the right things, I could just fit in. But my bizzaro true self kept rearing its
ugly GREAT looking head, and eventually others started to appreciate my #thatboyaintright persona. My high school days were eventually actually kind of fantastic, and in that respect, I was able to relate to GBF despite the fact that I’m unfortunately not same-sex oriented. You don’t have to be gay to enjoy GBF, you just have to have survived high school.
Dear GBF, I love you. I love you like my own GBF loves using that iPhone, sassy girl emoji with her hand out, looking like she’s saying “HEEEEY!” I love you like my 31 year old sister loves arguing over Team Matty and Team Jake from Awkward with her equally aged best friend on Facebook. I love you like I love staring at myself in the gym mirror and taking shirtless selfies after a really epic workout (#NOTsorrynotsorry)….JK…maybe. You’re a well polished, independent gem that deserves a mainstream release and I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so hard in a theater before. All the pieces came together to make you one of THE special teen movies and I beg and plead with everyone I see to watch you so we can totes quote it back and forth with each other. I need you in my life again ASAP.
P.S. Oh shit, homies! I found a pic of the aforementioned emoji! She’s fabulous. You’re welcome.