›› Geography Club ‹‹

a film by Gary Entin.

2013 | 84 mins | US.

the compelling tale of a clandestine support group for LGBTQ teens.

Dave says:

Based on the book by Brent Hartinger as adapted for the screen by the director's twin Edmund Entin; albeit with many a narrative liberty, this compelling tale of a clandestine support group for LGBTQ teens is but a refreshing breath of fresh air in the often stale coming out environment.

For this is the story of a group of sexually diverse students attending Goodkind High School and here cue sixteen-year-old Russell (Cameron Deane Stewart); a youth who's enlisted by best friend from hell Gunnar (Andrew Lewis Caldwell) to help him in the girl dating department. Only what Gunnar doesn't know is that Russell is already in a closeted relationship with star quarterback Kevin (Justin Deeley); a man who will do anything to prevent the world and in particular his homophobic teammates from knowing that away from the sports ground, he plays for a different side. Meanwhile Min (Ally Maki), a girl who witnessed their passionate embrace, is tired of telling everyone that Therese (Nikki Blonsky) and her are - just friends, while Ike (Alex Newell) simply can't figure out who he is, or who he wants to be? Clearly struggling with their sexual paths in life, they form the Geography Club as a discreet way to meet and share their same-sex feelings and experiences, knowing that nobody in their right mind would want to join such a boring after school class. However, as the club becomes more popular, just how long can they keep the true nature of the group and therein their sexualities, a secret?

Cutting straight to the chase, frankly there's a lot to like in this uplifting high school feature from actor and director Gary Entin, aided by a series of vibrant performances from his cast of players. And in particular from Stewart who achingly captures the coming-of-age mindset of Russell; that of a student who when not grappling with his sexuality, displays a natural gift for American football and here cue the requisite match footage, cheerleaders and that all winning score. To that end, Deeley is perfectly cast as the All America Boy of the piece; a football fixated hetero on the outside, only to be too afraid to look at his reflection in the sexual mirror. Unlike Maki who shines as proud lesbian Min, even if the award for the most heart-rending performance goes to Teo Olivares as Brian Bund; aka the picked upon outsider of the group. That Ana Gasteyer as a teacher with her own unique style of education provides the film with many a comical moment, goes without saying and yet it's Caldwell's persona as Gunnar that I dare say some will have a problem with, given the obnoxious nature of this character.

Sure, shades of Dawson's Creek are all too apparent and yes, this work is not without a few negatives in the mix. But that said, there's equally a series of neat touches to be had, with the lifestyle that Russell's off-screen father is expecting of him, as depicted in a telling 'straight life' sequence, strikingly juxtaposed with the non-judgemental view of Kevin's gay friendly parents; namely Marin Hinkle and Scott (Star Trek: Enterprise) Bakula on sparkling cameo form.

Well-played throughout and with many a nod and wink to other works, including the 'proud to be gay' narrative of the UK classic Get Real, the result is a film that speaks, if not shouts of acceptance; be it of your own sexual self, or that of the sexuality of those around you. All of which makes for a compassionate message delivered from the heart, even if many would no doubt have preferred to have seen less of the toxic friendship between Russell and Gunnar and more of the romance between Russell and Kevin and an ending that ... well, that would be saying. Suffice to say; everyone should have the right to step out of the closet when they feel ready to do so. Say no more.

Except to add that it's a sad indictment of our society that films of this nature have to be made in the first place, in order to shine the cinematic spotlight on the seemingly ingrained homophobia in schools and as a result, the all too high suicidal rate amongst the LGBTQ youth of today. And here you do indeed wonder, just how long will it be before a person's sexuality and indeed race, are no longer issues to those of prejudiced minds?

›› available as part of the TLA RELEASING catalogue: 9th March, 2015 / UK.
›› revised: Wednesday, 1st February, 2023.

Gay Visibility - overt | Nudity - from the waist up | Overall - file under ... 3+ stars

›› copyright © 2023 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com ‹‹
›› archive reference #2014033 - revised ‹‹
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