Love Or Whatever
So often in love and life, it can seem as though you have all the elements together for success and happiness only to have things fall short of expectations. Alas, as "Love Or Whatever" clearly illustrates, the same can be said for situation comedy films.
All of the critical formulaic elements for a gay romantic comedy are on hand: a pair of young hunky white boys; an insecure vanilla nerd to play a psychologist as the lead role; a verbally supportive lesbian sister in love with her own sense of humor; and an assortment of backup straight psychologically dysfunctional white women.
And the plot faithfully follows tried and true formulas as well. Corey (Tyler Poelle) loses Hunk Boyfriend No. 1 Jon (David Wilson Page) when he gets ready to propose, then haltingly and clumsily moves toward an intimate relationship with Hunkier Boyfriend No. 2 Pete (Joel Rush) through an introduction by his bad coffee maker/bad poetess sister Kelsey (Jennifer Elise Cox). An overly anticipated 30th birthday celebration for Corey results in an impromptu quickie with his ex, during which sister, new stud boyfriend and confused patient all walk in, leaving Corey scrambling to try to put it all back together.
Standard stuff. Yet the result is too contrived, too stilted, to enable any credible buy-in by the viewer. Except for a brief sequence in the middle of the film in which witty lines sync with plausible performances, this comes across as a film class project-in-progress.
Let's start with the jewelry. Apparently Corey's practice isn't financially much more successful than Lucy's 5¢ counseling stand in the Peanuts comic strip, so the engagement rings he carries in his pocket look more like pipe fittings or perhaps cock rings for very, very tiny people. No wonder his boyfriend bolted.
And then there's the sex. Allegedly Corey and Jon have been together for quite some time and just never made things. Yet in each other's presence, they cannot keep their pants on or their hands off.
Then there's the plot twist on which the film pins its fortunes: one of Corey's patients is the woman Jon shacks up with when he undergoes a sexual identity crisis. Yet Corey, rather than immediately ending his professional relationship, instead milks it for his personal purposes. The means by which Corey escapes any punishment is unbelievable -- and not in a good sense but in a literal sense.
For the most part, the actors seems as self-absorbed in their performances as their characters are in their own lives, and this leads to little onscreen chemistry. Three exceptions stand out: Rush provides nuance and sincerity while fleshing out the role of Pete; Jenica Bergere, once past her initial onscreen presence in an awkward bar scene, is utterly believable as she ranges from messed up patient to vengeance-seeking harpy; and comedienne Kate Flannery shines in a couple of hilarious cameos.
Gentle clean fluff, but don't expect it to be the highlight of your date night. If it is, you might want to consult with Lucy. More often than laughing, you'll find yourself thinking, "Whatever."