a joyous take on how to take pride in just being who you are.
With shades of many a John Hughes classic merged with the eighties nostalgic feel of Edge of Seventeen, this joyous work delights in showcasing how to take pride in just being who you are.
For arriving at his new high school, out and proud student Chance Marquis knows that homophobia is bound to raise its ugly head in his direction. And sure enough, it isn’t long before bigoted bully Brad Harden is to be heard telling Chance exactly what he thinks of people like him. Then again, Brad wasn’t the only one giving Chance odd looks upon his arrival, given a top hat complete with cane is far from your standard uniform. But then Chance is no ordinary student. Rather he's a firm believer in the Andre Gide adage: "it is better to be hated for what you are, than to be loved for what you are not."
Not that his outlook on life merits him any rewards on the home front and inparticular from his widowed father; namely a by-the-rules military man struggling to come to terms with the sexual openness of his gay son, let alone the direct approach to life of Chance’s wise-beyond-her-years little sister Sienna. Only when Chance’s star performance at the local amateur drag show becomes the subject of malicious school gossip, can he find in his friendship with boy-next-door and aspiring musician Levi, the outstretched hand of sexual acceptance and perhaps something more?
Set rather confusingly in an American high school "somewhere in Europe," think Belgium, this feel-good tale of being your true self, be it gay, drag or otherwise, is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, even if certain scenes clearly work better than others. To that end, the film plays heavily on Chance’s friendship with college oddball photographer Hank Hudson (Pieter Van Nieuwenhuyze) and girl-with-attitude Twyla Tiller (Aldevina Da Silva), one that seemingly leaves no space for any manly encounters between the boys. Such however is a deliberate ploy to keep the is-he OR isn’t-he-gay guessing game going all the way to the end, given Eating Out 2 star Brett Chukerman’s straight acting portrayal of Levi is the perfect counter-balance to Tad Hilgenbrinck’s eccentric outing of Chance.
Yet into his comical cocktail writer and director Russell P Marleau adds a Prisoner Cell Block H styled Vice Principal, in the form of Magali Uytterhaegen’s deadpan delivery of Ophelia Smelker, with Chris Mulkey as Chance’s father aka Sir and Colleen Cameron as his little sister Sienna adding to an assorted mix of characters. Yet it is Chance’s love for the drag club circuit that forms the corner stone of this piece, as a powerhouse of eighties hits and gender-bending sexual liberation lay the cinematic seeds for what is to come, even if a chorus line of dragtastic drag queens come close to stealing the show.
For in the end, this is a film with a big heart, even if it is somewhat predictable, drawing to a close with the standard boy-does-good scenario. Then again, its Battle of the High School Bands conclusion does allow for some choice lyrics, as the words "I live in a different world, I see things my own way" will not doubt resonate with many. Fun, quirky and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser ... need more be said? Only that Brett Chukerman's striptease scene is sheer priceless!
Gay Visibility - overt without being in-your-face.
Nudity - strictly from the waist up.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.
screened as part of the 22nd London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2008
starring: Tad Hilgenbrinck, Brett Chukerman, Aldevina Da Silva, Pieter Van Nieuwenhuyze, Chris Mulkey, Colleen Cameron, Danny Calander, Magali Uytterhaegen, Maxim Maes, Joyce Berx, Sophie Engel and a chorus line of dragtastic drag queens