›› Geography Club
a film by Gary Entin.
2013 | 84 mins | US.
principal players: Cameron Deane Stewart / Russell, Justin Deeley / Kevin Land, Andrew Caldwell / Gunnar, Meaghan Martin / Trish, Allie Gonino / Kimberly, Ally Maki / Min, Nikki Blonsky / Therese, Alex Newell / Ike, Teo Olivares / Brian Bund, Dexter Darden / Jared, Grant Harvey / Nolan and with Marin Hinkle as Barbara Land, Scott Bakula as Carl Land and Ana Gasteyer as Mrs Toles.
Adapted Synopsis: "Cue the trials and tribulations of a group of sexually diverse students attending Goodkind High School, given sixteen-year-old Russell has been enlisted by his best friend Gunnar to help him out on dates with the girls. Only what Gunnar doesn't know is that Russell is already in a closeted relationship with star quarterback Kevin; a man who will do anything to prevent the world and in particular his homophobic teammates from knowing the true calling of his heart. Meanwhile Min, a girl who witnessed their passionate embrace, is tired of telling everyone that Therese and her are - just friends, while Ike can't figure out who he is, or who he wants to be. Finding the truth too hard to hide, they form the Geography Club, as a discreet way to share their gay feelings and experiences. Only is their secret about to be exposed?"
There's a lot to like in this sparkling high school feature from actor and director Gary Entin. Based on the book by Brent Hartinger, as adapted for the screen by the director's twin Edmund Entin, both of the striking horror Seconds Apart fame, this tale of a clandestine support group for LGBT teens is well played from start to finish, in particular by Cameron Deane Stewart who wonderfully 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, if a somewhat coy locker room scene thereafter.
Being gay in a discreet way, in Geography Club.
Then again Stewart's character is perhaps the easier one to play, with buffed to perfection International Jock Justin Deeley of 90210 and Drop Dead Diva credit 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 of life. Unlike Ally Maki who shines as proud lesbian Min, whilst the award for the most heart rending performance goes to Teo Olivares as the picked upon outsider of the group, an emotional turn countered by virgin territory Gunnar / Andrew Caldwell and Ana Gasteyer as a teacher with her own unique style of education, who between them provide the film's comical moments.
Sure, shades of Dawson's Creek are all too apparent. Yet 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, wonderfully juxtaposed with the non-judgmental point of view of Kevin's gay friendly parents; namely Marin Hinkle and Scott (Star Trek: Enterprise) Bakula on splendid cameo form. Beautifully lit throughout and with many a nod and wink to other works, of which the proud to be gay UK classic Get Real and the achingly honest French telemovie Because of a Boy - aka: You'll Get Over It are but two. 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. Yet for all of its pros, the fact this films such as this, alongside Cedric Thomas Smith's ever so poignant The Symphony of Silence, together with the emotive shorts Boys Grammar and Teens Like Phil, to the inspirational Irish promo Stand Up are still being produced, is a sad indictment of the intolerant disposition of those whose acts of hate can be seen in the all too high suicidal rate amongst the LGBT youth of today. All of which makes for a compelling message clearly delivered from the heart and a big heart, at that too.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - from the waist up.
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars.