The life of a film critic is not without its challenges. Whether in a public cinema, a media-only screening (where colleagues are often more irritating than unruly movie buffs—some of us like to see/hear all of the credits in silence) or watching screeners in a home theatre, the hope that something truly well done is about to be experienced is kindled with every initial frame. It’s a great pleasure to write about first-rate productions; stinkers are, unfortunately, easy to describe (or warn against as the case may be); those in the middle ground (three stars out of five here at JWR) are the most problematic. Of course, circumstance, mood and even the weather can have some influence on any writer’s point of view. Once in a while, the film is so troublesome that a walk-out or ending the agony with the eject button has to be contemplated: wasting everyone’s time (so long as it’s understood that films ought not to be judged unless seen from beginning to end, but that could never happen…).
A few weeks ago I wasn’t all that upset that Fred Caruso’s Go Go Crazy was truncated twenty minutes in by a personal situation that had to be dealt with. Today, hoping for a bit of queer cheer, fighting the tail end of a cold that won’t quit, I slipped it back into the player for take two, complete. As mockumentaries go, this viewing shucked the distant memory of too on-the-nose setups (the premise is a Go Go Boy contest at Club Voyeur) and lines (Connor—Ryan Windish, a denialist of the highest order—quite literally, it seems, is the biggest dick amongst the five finalists proclaims, “I’m not gay, It’s not my team.”) and an over-abundance of clichés. Instead, it’s a frequently amusing look at buff young men vying for $1,000 if only the three judges will like their scantily covered physiques the best. Straight or gay “and everything in between,” men or women won’t have any trouble enjoying the nearly always discreet eye candy (hilariously, a slight plot point requires Vinny—Nick Kenkel—to doff his suspiciously itching briefs but, simultaneously, manages to step out of frame for the hands-on dénouement).
From the rest of the contestants Michael Cusumano (2011 Mr. Chicago) gives an engagingly over-the-top send-up of a Russian ballet dancer eager to strut his stuff as a Swan Queen accompanied by—what else?—the poignant oboe from Swan Lake (no doubt closeted Tchaikovsky was cheering on from above, hoping the skimpy “costume” would disappear and morph into something more appropriate to The Nutcracker).
With a name like Chase T. Cox, there’s little need to describe this full-of-himself character. Clearly Paul Cereghino savours every moment of the role, turning the sun glasses gag on its head and surreptitiously lubing up the dance pole with the heady combination of relish and experience. Cutest of them all is Broadway wannabe, Ken. Eric Spear plays the alluring Great White Way aspirant with credible naivety. Shot du jour comes when his white-tie-and-tails routine is suddenly interrupted by a reverential organ (the musical kind) while his chest pops onto the screen (kudos to Shea Sullivan’s varied and inventive choreography, helping the time glide by and banishing the laughable plot to its deserved place in the upper balcony).
The trio of judges poke outrageous “spoofiness” at all “reality” TV talent shows. A porn star (Jake Steel is most certainly the genuine article—just Google him for a sample), lush impersonator (Christina Bianco is at one with Judy Garland and Céline “Dioff”—don’t miss her “apple” jingle) and the venue’s owner (affable lecher Rick Crom also contributed some of the music) who has no qualms about letting his up-and-coming stars get a head—all of the jurists render their verdicts in a way to which Simon Cowell can only aspire.
Gluing it all together is Hedda Lettuce (Steven Polito). The foul-mouthed hostess with the mostest tosses off her zingers and groaners with panache (and yes, the panty line offers no telltale extrusions to spoil the Drag Queen of the Night’s illusion).
Director/writer Caruso obviously enjoys his work and lets the fun element take stage—especially in the production numbers. However, the closing “Three months later” section never really recaptures the earlier charm and zest of the contest, giving yet another proof to the adage “less is more.” JWR