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C. Jay Cox
In the palm-shaded oasis of West Hollywood, we meet Dennis, a promising photographer. As he prepares to celebrate his twenty-eighth birthday, he laments, ' I can't decide if my friends are the best or worst thing that ever happened to me.' The gang includes Benji, the punkish innocent with a penchant for gym bodies; Howie, the psychology grad student who thinks too much and lives too little; Cole, the charismatic actor who accidentally keeps stealing everybody's guy; Patrick, the cynical quipster, and Taylor, resident drama queen, who, until recently, prided himself on his long-term relationship. Providing sage advice and steady work is Jack, the beloved patriarch whose restaurant is a haven for them all. When tragedy strikes the group, the friendships are put to the test. Written by
"I can't decide if my friends are the best or worst things that happened to me."
That statement is part of what makes this is a terrific film about love, friendship and betrayal -- betrayal of friends, the people you are supposed to care most about and ultimately yourself. This is also a film about facades, lying and truth telling.
From the opening montage of `Gay or Not Gay' in a supermarket this is a film with many laughs and people that you want to care about.
A true ensemble cast, ostensibly headed by Timothy Olyphant as Dennis, is only part of what makes this a fine piece of cinematic work.
Dean Cain (Cole) as the pretty-boy actor at one point says about his obvious good looks: It's my way in ... and then I have to prove if I have the #@%* to back it up.' Mr. Cain proves that he does have the ability to back it up.
Matt McGrath (Howie) as a man searching for love and doesn't realize he has it within his grasp, has a Mathew Broderick look that is very engaging.
The always-interesting John Mahoney is outstanding as the coach of the `Broken Hearts Club' baseball team that wears the uniform of his restaurant and bar where the perennially losing team goes after their pathetic attempts at playing baseball.
Colour becomes a character as embodied by Robert Arce as `Purple Guy.' He speaks only once in the film -- but it is worth listening to.
There are many outstanding actors -- many currently in television series -- John Mahoney (Fraser), Zach Braff (Scrubs), Chris Payne and Ben Weber who have both done time on `Sex in the City.' But it was particularly nice to see Jennifer Coolidge who will always be Stiffler's Mom in the `American Pie' films. Andrew Keegan as Kevin the `newbie' is exceptional -- learning about himself and life in West Hollywood whether he wants to or not.
This is very much writer/director Greg Berlanti's film -- these must be people he knows and so writes about. At one point one of the characters says 'they should make a movie about us.' Well, Mr. Berlanti did and it is quite an accomplishment because even though the characters are gay the lives they lead, the questions they ask, the problems they face and the joys they experience are universal.
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