Rounding the corner, stalking down a school hallway with ankle-snapping heels, designer handbags and the ultimate fashion accessory are the GBF, or Gay Best Friend groupies. This may not be everyone’s goal in life, but it sure is for Fawcett, (Sasha Pieterse), ‘Shley, (Andrea Bowden), and Caprice, (Xosha Roquemore).
When Tanner, (Michael J. Willett), is outed by the school’s LGBT support group, he is picked up by the cool girls and he begins to surpass still-closeted best friend Brent, (Paul Iacono) in popularity. The three high school clique queens do battle for supremacy and best friend status with the schools only openly gay attendant.
At first you would be forgiven for writing GBF off as yet another sometimes-funny-but-mostly-bland, high school tween drama, and there are elements of this sub-genre in GBF. The obligatory ‘gay him up’ montage where the poor nerdy, painfully un-hip and, on this occasion, uniquely homosexual guy gets a makeover from the fabulously manicured and blow-dried beauties is tired and clichéd, but still, it’s what you expect from a high school drama. Along with this, the parallel sub plot about the three fashionistas campaigning against each other for prom queen brings back memories from horrible ‘90s flicks with bad hair and worse acting.
That however, is where the similarities end. GBF breaks the mould by reinventing characters, diversifying character motivations, and letting everyone (themselves included) just have a laugh. Paul Iacono is incredible as Brent Van Camp, and while he plays up to the stereotype as the fashion obsessed, overly-queeny gay, he does so in a way that makes you fall in love with him and want to take him as your own GBF. His mum, played by the always fabulous Megan Mullally is the poster child for the excepting and supportive mother who embraces her son’s sexuality wholeheartedly (maybe even a little too much).
Director Darren Stein does seem to be addicted to the traditional-yet-slightly-different high school teen drama and there are more than just a few similarities between GBF and his 1999 film, Jawbreaker, and yet I can’t help getting caught up with the plot. I laughed with Fawcett and Caprice at ‘Shleys muddled attempts to understand various sexual acts; I blushed when Tanner humiliated himself in front of the hot English guy; and I nearly cried when Brent wore green plaid pants with a pink shirt.
Ultimately, GBF is a witty coming of age story about friendship and accepting yourself for who you are. The film takes the entertaining path to self-discovery and glams it up along the way with more than enough drama and exceptional outfits.
Abbreviations, half-words (‘whatev’ instead of whatever and ‘perf’ instead of perfect), and hilarious insults abound. GBF may be difficult to view for all grammar Nazis, but it is well worth a look. Consider watching with your own GBF and cocktails (GBF optional).
Reviewed by Jenna Woods
Venue: Mercury Cinema, 13 Morphett Street, Adelaide
Season: 15 November 2013
Duration: 93 Minutes
Photo Credit: GBF cast at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013