Judge Brett Cullum wants some smart skin to go with his romantic comedy.
Our review of Is it Just Me? (Blu-ray), published January 18th, 2012, is also available.
A rhetorical question becomes an audience's mantra. No, it's not just you.
Is It Just Me? had me asking if it was simply "just me" that recently noticed gay cinema has stopped being topical and started doling out the trivial. After a couple of decades consisting largely of hard hitting AIDs dramas and heartbreaking coming out stories, the current GLBT films are all sexy romantic comedies that feature a lot of skin and not very much logic. I can appreciate a silly naked romantic romp as much as the next guy, but I also hate it when a film doesn't live up to what it promises. This one has good actors, a few scenes of truly great dialogue, but it marries those to a story that makes no sense. It could have been something more, but alas Is It Just Me? is its own worst enemy with a trite script that never gets smart enough to be worthy of the lead actors and the main characters.
The story is about a young newspaper columnist named Blaine (Nicholas Downs, The Girl Next Door) who is looking for love in Los Angeles. He's not finding anybody who wants more than a one night stand. He meets a young lonely cowboy (David Loren, Prom Queen) on a popular gay dating site, and they hit it off in a chat room and on the phone. But Blaine soon realizes that he is accidentally signed on under his roommate's (Adam Huss, Demon Slayer) profile. So he is convinced the cowboy is in love with who he thinks he is rather than who he is. And so Blaine does the illogical thing, and introduces the cowboy to his roommate as if he were him. Then he starts getting jealous as they start to date. But wait! They're not really dating, but Blaine just can't see that Mr. Cowboy is actually in love with him. And so it takes an hour and a half for people to start talking and uncover the all too obvious.
Don't blame the actors. The cast does a fine job with what they have to work with, and there are quite a few scenes where their intelligence shines through even when the script dumbs them down. Nicholas Downs is cute and believable as a young gay man who wonders if anybody else is here for love. Partnered with David Loren they make a fun pair that you don't mind watching, and even root to see them get together. Meanwhile Adam Huss plays the sex-obsessed roommate well, and impresses in his underwear which is about all he wears for the whole affair. He has the body to pull it off, and also a strong sense of humor. There are two supporting characters including Blaine's best friend (Michelle Laurent), and the cowboy's older landlord (Bruce Gray, Starship Troopers) who also stick out as strong comedic talents.
Don't blame the DVD. TLA Releasing does a fine job with this one including a lot of fun extras with a solid transfer. The low budget film has no traces of digital noise or artifacts other than some intentional softness and some not-so-deep black levels. It's definitely good enough for an independent feature. The supplemental features kick off with a charming commentary from director JC Calciano and lead actor Nicholas Downs. They really talk about even the shortcomings of the project with a candor that is refreshing, and they come off smarter than the film they made. Next up are dating tips which are given in character by the cast. They are cute, though not very useful. Next up are cast interviews which feature Nicholas Downs, Bob Rumnock, Bruce Gray, Michelle Laurent, Adam Huss, and David Loren. These are quite in-depth sit downs with each actor, and they are interesting looks at the people behind the characters. Deleted scenes consist of twenty five minutes of extended versions and alternate takes for a pretty good chunk of the film. The screen tests are also on the disc, and they include some of the actors reading for parts they did not play in the film. There is also the official trailer.
Blame the logic behind the story. It is baffling to comprehend why Blaine would not simply admit to the cowboy that he was accidentally logged in under his roommate's name. Of course this comes up in the commentary, and the director claims it would have made the film a short rather than a feature if they did that. Unfortunately he is right, and he should have made a nice short rather than drag out an all-too-simple ruse for an hour and a half. You want to scream at the television because the characters make the dumbest moves and don't share any of the obvious information. It's frustrating, and you wonder why gay romantic comedies have to be this brainless.
In the end, I yearned for something more satisfying than Is It Just Me?, and that's a shame since it has a certain amount of potential. The cast is up to the challenge, and there are even a few scenes that are charming and intelligent. But the story falls apart with faulty logic even for a silly romantic comedy. In the end it settles for a banal plot that stretches things out far too long, and it overstays its welcome. The film is worth a look for the cast and the excellent DVD treatment TLA Releasing provides, but it's not smart enough to recommend more strongly than that. I'm still waiting for a gay comedy that knows how to show some skin and some intelligence at the same time.
Guilty of settling for less than it should, Is It Just Me? is a
romantic comedy that falls apart under scrutiny.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: TLA Releasing
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