Michael J. Willet plays Tanner, a young, gay student reluctant to come out of the closet, in spite of his best friend Brent’s (Paul Iacono) best efforts to persuade him otherwise. In a rare lapse of concentration, Tanner is accidentally outed, and though expecting a backlash of sorts, instead he becomes one of the most popular guys in school, as the coolest girls, consisting of the likes of Caprice (Xosha Roquemore), ‘Shley (Andrea Bowen) and Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse) fight for his companionship, desperate to get their hands on the latest, most essential fashion accessory; the gay best friend.
G.B.F. is certainly an unforgettable visual experience, with a vivacious aesthetic that has been delicately handled by Stein. Though somewhat overwhelming in its vibrancy, it’s distinctive and fastidiously concocted. Such as when three girls are sitting at a desk, and each pile of books behind them is colour coded to their outfits. Or when Tanner gets out of a car and his top matches the paintwork of the vehicle, while his trousers coordinate with the leafy setting. It’s an attention to detail sadly not matched in the emotional side to this title, as a film that feels somewhat shallow. It’s intriguing to see such raw, human themes explored and dealt with in such grandiose surroundings, however Stein struggles to fully get to grips with the intimacy of the piece, and the film suffers as a result.
That’s not to say there’s no depth to this story, as beneath the glittery facade is a tender tale of a young boy coming out, as we explore the range of reactions to the news. Some are offended, some proud – and then some have certain expectations of what they want him to be, moulding him into their ornament, like a gay mascot of sorts. The overriding message to this, of not stereotyping or compartmentalising individuals based on their sexual orientation is a strong one – but it’s unsubtly enforced. Almost like at the end of a South Park episode, when Stan and Kyle say, “You know, I learned something today…”. Any real shades of poignancy come in the well-judged friendship between Tanner and Brent, and though veering into somewhat predictable territory, they share a palpable chemistry, and the dynamic works well, as to counteract Tanner’s often timorous or introverted personality, Brent is more outgoing and sanguine, as he’s evidently a character crafted with a nod to the likes of Jack from Will and Grace, or Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory, blessed with the majority of the film’s best one-liners.
It’s not just the character of Brent which seems reminiscent of those in television shows, as a film that does feel like it’s home should be on the smaller screen, as a potential series or sitcom, of the same ilk of the likes of Ugly Betty or Glee, for instance, sharing a similar tone and style. That being said, when you reach the end of this title you feel rather exhausted, so maybe an entire season would be pushing it just that little bit too far.