A Four Letter Word

2008, Movie, NR, 87 mins

Review

FOUR LETTER WORD, A
starstarstarstar
Lots of four-letter words get tossed around in Caspar Andreas' naughty sequel to his cheekily titled SLUTTY SUMMER, but the scariest one of all is the L word: love.

Flashy, flamboyant Luke (Jesse Archer) much prefers a certain three-letter word -- "sex" -- especially when it's used in the same sentence as "casual," "strangers" and "drugs." Luke is out, about and loudly proud in his novelty baby-doll tees and glitter makeup, and he's horrified when potential pick-up Stephen (Charlie David) dismisses him as a gay cliche. Sociology student Zeke (Cory Grant), with whom Luke works at the New York City sex shop "Gayborhood," concurs, and then some: Zeke tells Luke he's an embarrassment to the gay community, a sexual compulsive who's more interested in partying than serious stuff like civil rights and gay marriage, and who uses sex to avoid real contact. When Luke winds up accidentally tricking with Stephen in a darkened backroom and likes it, they start dating. Stephen says his trust fund pays his well-appointed apartment, and that he's studying for an MFA in painting at the New School -- impressive, but something about Stephen's story isn't quite right. So if he's not a trust-fund baby, where's all that money coming from? And where does Stephen go every time his cell phone rings? Hmmm.... Orbiting around Luke at varying degrees of separation are several secondary characters, some with their own subplots. Luke's friend Peter (Steven Goldsmith), a bartender, is a bossy control freak who's having second thoughts about asking his just-about-perfect boyfriend of 10 months (J.R. Rolley), to move in with him and is doing everything he can to sabotage what could be an ideal relationship. Peter's boss, Marilyn (Virginia Bryan), who's about to marry the restaurant's owner (John Kaisner), is a recovering alcoholic with her own control issues; she can't seem to get past the third, all-important "let go, let God" step and is rapidly morphing into Bridezilla. On top of everything else, when her irresponsible sponsor (Allison Lane) comes on to her after a meeting, Marilyn begins to wonder whether she's a lesbian.

There's a lot going on -- and we haven't even mentioned Mace (Jeremy Gender), a self-styled "penile anthropologist" doing field work at the local bars -- and if the surplus of story arcs makes the film feel like a pilot for a new Logo Channel series, it's still fun (once again, SLUTTY's Archer, who co-wrote the script with Andreas, is hilarious) and has an endearingly clunky, low-budget charm (though no one will mistake that ambitious traveling shot down the length of a crowded bar for Scorsese). And like SLUTTY SUMMER, it even manages to say something smart about gay stereotypes, both in and outside the insular gay community. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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