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50 Ways of Saying Fabulous (2005)

 -  Drama  -  2 June 2006 (USA)
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Growing up is mystifying, but Billy discovers all he has to be is himself



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Andrew Paterson ...
Billy / Lana (Billy)
Harriet Beattie ...
Lou / Brad (Lou)
Jay Collins ...
Georgia McNeil ...
Babe (as Georgia McNeill)
Rima Te Wiata ...
George Mason ...
Ross McKellar ...
Stephanie McKellar-Smith ...
David Sutherland ...
Ben Short ...
Michelle O'Brien ...
Belinda Pepper
Fiona Edgar ...
Kevin Wymer ...
Mr. Shulter
Ian Fraser ...


Set in New Zealand in the summer of 1975, 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous is the story of 12 year-old Billy, who is about to discover that growing up is a lot more confusing than he could have ever imagined. He is a farmer's only son who is out of step with the other boys at his school. He feels they only want to fight and play rugby and while he tries to be the same, he feels he was never cut out to be a farmer or a rugby player. Instead, he prefers to dream about an imaginary life in outer space. In this world, a turnip paddock becomes a lunar landscape and a cow's tail a head of beautiful blonde hair which transforms him into "Lana" the heroine of his favorite TV show. With the arrival of Roy, the class freak, and Jamie the sexy young farm laborer Billy's world is changed forever. As he learns about his sexuality, everything he knows is called into question, including his lifelong loyalty to his best friend, tomboy Louise, whose world is changing alongside his. Set in New Zealand's ... Written by Rachael Fleury

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

rugby | new zealand | dream | boy | outer space | See more »


It was a world of adventure and a time of innocence, when friendships were forever and growing up would change everything. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 June 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

50 façons de dire fabuleux  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

In Loving Memory of the Fabulous Peter Fantl See more »


Featured in Here's Looking at You, Boy (2007) See more »


Tijuana Rose
Leo Addeo, Dunhill Music Company
EMI - Topp Twins (as The Topp Twins)
See more »

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User Reviews

Engrossing coming-of-age story with a strong sense of place and time
19 October 2012 | by (The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

This coming-out story of 12-year-old Billy is set in rural New Zealand in 1975. Actually, it's more of a Bildungsroman, because it's no secret to anyone that Billy is gay. His family and friends accept him for who he is, but he's having problems at school.

We follow Billy as he shows us his home, family and childhood friends (mainly tomboy Lou) and his school life, where he is bullied and struggling with his dislike of rugby.

We follow him as he experiences his first relationship with fellow "pufter" Roy and his first crush on older and completely unobtainable Jamie (played by a sexy young Michael Dorman).

"50 Ways" has an incredibly strong sense of time and place. I can't remember any movie that so successfully reconstructs the 1970s. The clothes, the haircuts, the town scenes, the homes -- it was all spot on. There was even a fondue dinner. Am I imagining it, but did the cinematography somehow reproduce the quality and texture of photographs from the 1970s? Movie goers are also treated to almost two hours of beautiful New Zealand landscape.

Main seems to have directed this movie using a group of rural New Zealand children. The line between fiction and documentary is a thin one. The child actors in this movie appeared only in this movie and almost nowhere else. How often do you see real children acting out a graphic gay coming-of-age movie? How did Main accomplish this? I think this would have been unthinkable in puritan America, wouldn't it? For this reason alone, the film is remarkable.

The realism is astonishing. This is not a phony after-school special school. These are not American movie children. These are children without guile and sophistication, without internet, without MTV. Main shows us children and school life as they really were, with all its complexities, difficulties and awkwardness. Sure, the acting was occasionally amateurish, or the dialogue a little forced, but for the most part I felt like I was watching a real group of New Zealand children ca. 1975.

Andrew Paterson, Harriet Beattie and Jay Collins -- I'd like you to thank you for playing in this movie. You did a great job. Your characters will remain with me for a long time.

I found the film to be moving, engrossing, relevant. I thought the movie had good character development and a few interesting plot twists. The complex and problematic relationship between soft Billy and tough Lou was the core of the movie. We outgrow our childhood friends as we discover ourselves.

Main doesn't sugar coat what it's like to grow up gay. It's a rich and full look at every aspect. Billy's hopeless and awkward crush on Jamie felt true. I felt really sorry for hapless Roy. Billy's difficulties with Roy and Jamie reflect core relationship issues that reverberate throughout every gay man's life. The struggle with "rugby" (and what that represents) is also familiar. Adults play a very minor role in this movie. Isn't that also accurate for gay teenagers? What I particularly liked was the way that Main explored how we come to terms with those dreaded words ("pufter", "faggot", "queer", or whatever). "What does that really mean?" And "Yes, that is what I am." Dealing with those words is a big part of growing up.

At times the director introduces some whimsy, mostly based on the theme of Billy's imagined fantasies of a television show similar to Lost in Space. Billy identifies with Lana; Lou identifies with Brad. It's difficult to know what to make of such a deliberate and in-your-face use of cheese in a movie like this. I have to confess I was also into these shows when I was a kid. Or perhaps I have a high threshold for cheese. I think it's accurate to make a television show the centre of a boy's imagination in the 1970s.

I see the movie has not got a strong score on IMDb. However, I wouldn't let this dissuade you from seeing it. Gay movies tend to get inexplicably and undeservedly low scores. Worth seeing!

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