Tribeca Film Festival Review: G.B.F.
Truly great high school movies are a rarity this day and age. Aside from ones that were almost classics, but dropped the ball (like Easy A with Emma Stone) there hasn’t been a memorable, often quoted teen comedy since the Citizen Kane of high school clique movies, Mean Girls. Darren Stein is definitely aware of this, with his latest directorial outing (pun intended), G.B.F. The film is about three high school Queen Bees all fighting for the latest hottest accessory, the school’s newly outed gay bestie, Tanner, played by Michael J. Willett. G.B.F. makes numerous nods to Mean Girls (including one character’s undying love for Lindsay Lohan, and a flashback to a school-staged Mean Girls: The Musical!), and with every reason it should.
How Stein’s previous cult classic, Jawbreaker, was constantly compared to Heathers, G.B.F., will be Mean Girls’ inferior little sister, and it should totally be fine with that. The three girls who rule the school, Fawcett, ‘Shely, and Caprice, all try to poach Tanner from his nerdy friends by turning him into something he’s not. “You don’t sound like the ones on Bravo,” says one of the girls, while trying to uncover his inner fierceness, but to no avail. Tanner is finally made over into the gay they all wanted, but loses his best friend, a fellow (closeted) gay played by Paul Iancono (who, as the previous star of MTV’s The Hard Times of RJ Berger, came out publicly last year) and alienates the school’s Gay-Straight Student Alliance (who is desperately trying to recruit their first gay member). By the time the obligatory third-act prom comes along, all is well with the world, and of course it is —this isn’t real life, this is a fictional high school.
The jabs and slang fly fast, and even if you are among the tweeting and Bravo-watching set, you may wish a G.B.F. slang dictionary was sold with every ticket. The young actors do a great job of keeping their ridiculous high school characters from going off the rails, while the adults are mostly comprised of welcome comedy cameos from the likes of Megan Mullally and Natasha Lyonne.
An independent feature that stacks up to some of the biggest teen comedies of the '80s and '90s is no small feat. While it may not be as good as Sixteen Candles or Mean Girls, it has heart, which is more than can be said about a lot of High School Queen Bees. Whether it finds its audience remains to be seen, but it has the makings of the latest cult classic to quote from. Another valiant effort to create the modern-day high school classic, G.B.F. is a funny, cotton candy commentary on sexuality that sends a message of acceptance laced in text speak and insults. Regina George would be proud.
G.B.F. is playing on Friday at 10 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. at the AMC Lowes Village in New York.