It's tempting to just skip this flick.
“If you haven't
anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.” But that wouldn't be true; there is much merit, unfortunately, it's smothered by a huge flaw.
As a first-time outing (get it?) for C. Jay Cox
(writer/director), one can only look forward to his second feature. The film
looks fabulous thanks to Carl Bartels' vibrant and shot-savvy camera, coupled
with John Keitel's clean edits, and sounds great (Eric Allaman has co-ordinated a
soundtrack that works well, even if the lyrics tend to reinforce the
substance-lite script). The problem is the writing.
The conversion follies of a quartet of Mormon boys plunked
into L.A. beside a hedonistic homo who prefers volume over attachment
from his ongoing parade of buff, if bland, one-night stands has promise. But it
fails miserably in the delivery as, like commercials on TV, we soon reach for
the remote to mute the dialogue whenever the competent cast looks like they are
about to speak.
Let's start with the leads and their names: confused-Mormon Aaron
(alluringly played by Steve Sandvoss); shallow stud-hunk, awaiting redemption
Christian (Wes Ramsey seems happier with a tongue you-know-where than
morphing into a caring human being); restaurant-owner, “free spirit” Lila (Jacqueline Bisset who, in a scene that falls flatter than the mid-West, accepts
Aaron's hanky for non-existent tears, even after she has just pulled the plug on
a dying friend)—will Robert Pirsig demand royalties (or launch a defamation
A bit of dialogue? Having been outed with their first kiss
(never leave the door open, kids—your roommates might just walk in ...), Aaron
is sent back home to Utah to face the consequences. At his trial (naturally,
his father is the head Mormon) he declaims “I wish my shame was enough for both of
us,” while the cut-away shot has Christian's co-worker and wannabe pop star,
Julie (perky Rebekah Jordan), singing “Another beautiful day in the land of the
free.” Both scenes use U.S. flags as prominent parts of the set. Yikes!
Of the supporting cast, it's the HIV+ characters that steal
the show: Khary Payton plays the smart-cracking waiter, Andrew, brilliantly and
Erik Palladino makes the most of his lines (“I used to be you!”) as the
reclusive full-blown-AIDS-shut-in, Keith, who eventually shows Christian that
there's more to life than the gym and blow jobs.
The BIG sex scene starts poorly as the pair—alone at last
due to a so-convenient snow storm—efficiently undress themselves as if
preparing for a rugby match, but once bare and aroused appear to have been
lovers for decades—perhaps Aaron's fellow Elders only pretended to be
homophobes and have been secretly banging each other for years—“Praise the
Lord, pass the lube!”
With so much talent both in front and behind the camera,
the cast and crew should consider this venture a mere rehearsal for their next effort
where the dots will be connected after overcoming some gritty situations that
are based in real life and not the Sunday colour comics that, well, even a child
could draw. JWR