Even hopeless romantics may be hard pressed to find any redeeming value in Dave Padilla’s first foray into the extremely difficult genre of romantic comedy.
Much of the blame must be shared with writer Jeremy Huntington’s wandering script. If the clichés don’t send you running (“Love: no words ... a look, a touch, freedom”) for your copy of Shakespeare in Love or When Harry Met Sally then the contrived setups and awkward scenes will have you wishing to have consumed as many raspberry kamikaze shots and sucked back copious amounts of “green” required to achieve the puke-producing high then low of the hero, Mayson (Dan Selon) who valiantly spends the movie recounting the incredible journey down the queer road of love towards his “first kiss from a boy.”
The object of Mayson’s pent-up affections is Reiley (Jared Welch) whose recent breakup with a woman makes him the surprising target for an initial lip-lock with whiskers. Rumour has it that the suddenly single hunk cowardly ran away from his gal instead of facing up to his coital responsibilities: to no one’s credit, the unsubstantiated trashy gossip is taken as gospel from its first utterance to greedy ears.
That most remarkable pair is attached to the excellently coiffed head of Eric Taylor, the film’s only shooting star who is both the life and the host of a Valentine’s Day party that brings all of the principals and their admirers under the same roof. Let’s hope this comedy queen is given stronger material (and a much more graceful exit) for his next outing.
The early promise of eye candy—Reiley conveniently goes for a solo swim, allowing the guests (especially you know who!) to admire his pleasantly sculpted torso—heats up a couple of degrees during the booze-fuelled strip poker variation, but those with the taste for full disclosure will have to settle for just a few cheeky hors d’oeuvres.
No worries: there’s a surfeit of dessert. Who knew that so many chocolate chip scones would be required to keep the flashback-without-a-payoff narrative going?
Apart from a tad of “untogetherness” in the brass, the music, engagingly provided by The Un-Fun Slide, gives the production some much-needed lift. (Yet the on-camera band strangely doesn’t seem to be able to follow their own announced cue of leaving the cupid fest. “We’ll fix it post ....”)
The women (Kendra Thomas the dutiful fag-in-training hag; Becky Johnston as the diva without whips; Jessica Ream as the too-tiresome-to-be-campy obituary writer) never really find their groove be that in the” liberry” (Oh Eric ... pleease), the Jacuzzi or rudely abandoned in the washroom.
Still, like the early discourse about initial kisses, perhaps this first feature just has to be puckered up and done so that the lessons learned the hard way will make the next film a more memorable experience. JWR