The Curiosity of Chance full movie review - A fine and funny gay themed movie without the stereotyping!
For the most part I liked this movie. Surely, every movie with a positive attitude towards being gay is an asset! And when it's an entertaining, well-acted and witty movie like this one, it's even better.
Thank god gay-themed movies seem to come out off their art-house closets more and more to boldly step into the limelight of mainstream movies. See for instance the "Eating-Out" and the "This is not a gay movie" sequences. Maybe you can question their artistic merits and maybe even their contribution to gay integration (aren't they a bit too much stereotyping?!), but you cannot deny that they succeed in bringing gay characters and gay lifestyle to an equal level as the forever dominating straight counterparts.
TCOC is basically a fine and fun movie. Tad Hilgenbrink does a great job and is totally convincing as Chance, the young, intelligent gay high school kid that has decided to be true to his gay and somewhat extravagant self in whatever circumstances he finds himself, which provokes all kinds of strong reactions from people around him, like his teachers, his father and some bullying high school jocks. TH is not a stunner (that part fell to Brett Chukerman as Chance's neighbor and friend), but he's good-looking enough in a sort of unobtrusive way. And the character he plays, Chance, is very cute in his attempts to act snubby, cynical, ad-libbing and world-wise as any self-respecting queen would be, while bravely taking the punches that this behaviour evokes. TH has a great screen presence, and he sure knows how to use his facial expressions - see for instance the scene where he watches (or fancies?) his gorgeous neighbor doing a striptease, it's really priceless! I saw TH in the umptieth rip-off of American Pie: "Band Camp", where he's equally convincing as a sex-craving straight teenage kid, I found him in Band Camp balancing on the brink of obnoxious, which is a compliment since that's exactly what he had to play (he even treated us to some impressive bare buttocks shots in that movie!), but in the end of that movie he was allowed to show his more serious and endearing side which forecasted his acting in TCOC. I must grant TH his courage to take on this totally contrary part, which not only meant playing a very out and open gay guy, but also includes a drag-queen act and in the end a long and luxurious gay kiss. And I also grant him his fine balanced approach of playing a gay character: not stereotyped at all, but putting it all in the the subtle gestures and the attitude and the way of talking, it made his being gay all the more believable and acceptable.
There is much to laugh about in this movie, but here I did have some reservations too. Apart from the main character and the struggles with his personal problems, the rest of the script and the supporting characters are unfortunately a bit shallow. Curiously enough there are all these interesting and promising premises, with which nothing much is done. For instance, this high school seems to be somewhere in Europe, but apart from some people having a weird accent it didn't serve any purpose. Chance's father is a widowed military-man, who evidently seriously tries to cope with his strange son, but until the last few minutes he only stays a caricature. The dorky schoolfriend Hank is so unrealistically stupid that it makes your teeth ache, and the colossal female head of the school is equally over the top; both have a lot of scenes that are clearly meant to be hilarious but in my opinion fell rather flat. The drag-queens bring in some fine performances, but their talk with Chance in the dressing room could have been so much more interesting as a stimulus AND a warning of where this path in life can lead to; here they just bicker among themselves and Chance just awes their ad-libbing skills.
The only well evolved secondary story-line was that of the (straight?) neighbor guy Levi who becomes friends with Chance but also belongs to the "enemy" jock's camp, and eventually has to choose. I liked the mature way in which Chance dealt with this: not with anger or with changing his behaviour to fit in better, but just by staying true to himself. It's this attitude that eventually wins his buddy over and I think it sums up the message of this movie: in order to fit in it's not always necessary to do concessions, just start with opening-up to each other and respecting each others personality and peculiarities. It sounds so cliché, but every new day it proves to be the most difficult thing ever!