Boys in the Band (2020)


Mandatory delicacy to pair with this film: SPIKED POPSICLES!

Summer is ending, but Midnight Cowboy has convinced me that there is no better treat than a pop, and this movie is best met with a drink. So follow the instructions in the link and make yourself a tasty, liquored up dessert.

LGTBQ Film Series #11:

“The Boys in the Band” (2020) is an on-screen rendition of the play written by Mart Crowley, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1968. It was adapted into a feature film in 1970, but the newest re-adaptation has a stacked cast including Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Brian Hutchison, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Tuc Watkins, and was directed by Joe Mantello. This is a reunion of the full cast from the 2018 Broadway revival, so that their performances could be forever be immortalized. Crowley worked Ned Martel to construct this final screenplay, before passing away on March 7th, 2020 and the film was dedicated to him.

This rendition is simply fantastic. Presented like watching a play, with the exception of the occasional flashback interlude, all set within the four walls of a decadent apartment with one key item: a landline telephone. As a group of seven gay men gather to celebrate a birthday, a warped and exhilarating game takes place. They are all challenged with the dare to call one person whom they love, and they get points for how far they take the exchange. One point for calling, two points if the person answers, more if you actually confess your feelings, and so on. The piece is hyper focused and its driven through conversations, which spin from silly to emotional and everything in between.

Jim Parsons plays Michael, a classic Southern man, who hosts the party, but has ceased drinking. As the master of ceremonies saunters casually around his apartment, chatting with his first guest, Donald (Matt Bomer), he receives an unexpected call from his distraught college roommate (Brian Hutchison), a “super straight” man named Alan. Alan does not know Michael is gay, so the lighthearted nature of the party is threatened when Alan decides to venture to the Upper East Side and join.

With expert acting and poignant drama, the film is magnetic. The provocative tale takes place in the 1970’s and thoughtfully tackles the challenges facing the gay community in that era, namely discrimination and a severe pressure to stick to the status quo. Emory (Tony nominee Robin de Jesús) is the most flamboyant of the crew, and quickly rubs Alan the wrong way. Alan sidles up to Hank (Tuc Watkins), especially when he learns that he is married, conveniently failing to include that he is at the party with his lover, Larry (Andrew Rannells). The man of the hour, so-to-speak, is Harold, the birthday boy played by Zachary Quinto. He is greeted with a kiss from the midnight cowboy (Charlie Carver), a birthday “gift” from Emery. Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington) is a debonair man with a long lost love interest. He makes the first call.

Alan is an elephant in the room, more specifically the reason for his earlier call. His boiling homophobia comes to a front, Michael begins to drink, Bernard is left sobbing, our cowboy is confused and the night has just begun. It is just as fun as it is tense as it is powerful. The writing reflects heavily on each gay mans self-acceptance or lack there of, and the societal hate that can be transferred to oneself. With the catty drama and the love-lorn admissions, “The Boys in the Band” is a delightfully entertaining film.

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