Friday, September 12, 2008

The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy (2000)

The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy is a fun romantic comedy that follows a group of gay friends in West Hollywood. Its filled with funny lines1 as well as some drama. It also has a semi-star cast with Zach Braff, Dean Cain, Andrew Keegan, John Mahoney and Timothy Olyphant, to name a few of the more famous stars.

This movie examines the many different levels of relationships and the life course. The characters show many different types of gay men, and their levels of outness as well as their relationship to other gay men. One scene of the film draws attention to the fact that this movie is attempting to represent a different kind of gay character than had previously been seen in movies. Howie, the gay psychology graduate student complains: "There isn't a movie in the cinema canon that depicts a gay character that we would aspire to be. What are our options... noble, suffering AIDS victims, the friends of noble suffering AIDS victims, sex addicts, common street hustlers and the newest addition to the lot, stylish confidantes to lovelorn women. Just once I would like to see someone who is not sick, hasn't been laid in about three months and is behind on his student loans." He has a point, and I think this movie is successful at expanding the available images of gay men in cinema.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie has Jennifer Coolidge as a hairdresser. As she cuts hair, the guys tell her about what's going in their lives in what they call gay therapy. Coolidge, never speaks except to tell them to sit up or ask how they want their hair. In the end, Olyphant says to her "You always know what to say." To which she deadpans, "It's a gift." This scene has a number of humorous elements, but I just like the fact that they all think they have a very close relationship with their hair stylist, but in fact she really doesn't seem to care.2

While I do enjoy this movie, and I think it's great that number of actors appeared in it without the same fanfare that accompanied Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger's roles in Brokeback Mountain--roles that fall into those unpleasant stereotypes listed earlier. For the most part, the actors seem to have fared okay after this movie. When Zach Braff wrote Garden State, his character had played a retarded person in a previous movie and everyone in his home town thought that he was retarded. The semi-autobiographical movie was referring to his role as a homosexual in Broken Hearts Club. I've always found this parallel a little troubling and it bothers me about Zach Braff.3 Aside from that though, I still like this movie.

Dennis/Kevin: A lot of people ask me when I first knew I was gay. Fact is, I don't know. But what I do remember, what I can recall, is when I first realized it was Okay: It was when I met these guys. My friends.

1. Taylor: "I hear Kip Rodgers is a big fag." Dennis: "Kip Rodgers is not gay, he's married." Taylor: "Oh please, that's right up there with 'He's not gay, he's in a fraternity.'"
2. Another great line from this scene: Patrick: "Taylor's boyfriend broke up with him from Hawaii, Howie went home with Marshall... again, Cole slept with Benji's quasi-boyfriend, and my sister ends the evening with a plea for my sperm. It's like one big gay soap opera! I keep waiting for Sue Ellen to wander into my living room and tell me that she's secretly bought controlling interest in my oil company!"
3. See my previous post for Bill & Ted that discussed Scrubs use of guy love.


Robin said...

I must protest.

With this post you have now skipped 6 movies past Blazing Saddles, which breaks your own rule of only being able to skip ahead 5 movies.

I only bring this up because I am looking froward to this review. Also, if you can't obey the rules you setup for yourself, what the point of having the rules in the first place? You are being watched.

Ben A. Johnson said...

I skipped to preserve a theme.

Monday: Action movie comedy (tie in with previous week)
Tuesday: Cheerleader action movie comedy.
Wednesday: Cheerleader comedy
Thursday: Lesbian cheerleader comedy
Friday: Gay romantic comedy

I think that the thematic elements of the selection make this an acceptable move. But rest assured Blazing Saddles is scheduled for Monday.

Robin said...

Skipping to preserve a theme is not in the rules!

Plus there is no common theme throughout, merely a succession of themes, unless the theme is comedy, which Blazing Saddles fit.

Ben A. Johnson said...

Fine, preserving a theme is the wrong term, but it was a willful act on my part. The rules mostly exist to prevent me from skipping a movie entirely until the very end. As I was not planning to skip Blazing Saddles but merely place it in the next week, I found it acceptable.

That said, it's my blog and I'll do what I want!