Fat Girls

2007, Movie, NR, 83 mins

Review

FAT GIRLS
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Twenty-year-old actor Ash Christian's writing and directing debut is a shaggy, amiable gay coming-of-age tale that is more than a little reminiscent of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE (2004).

Chubby high school senior Rodney Miller (Christian) and his very large best friend Sabrina (Ashley Fink) are the outcasts of Martin Luther King High, united by their mutual alienation from and contempt for small-town Texas mores. Rodney is picked on mercilessly by the school jocks — except for hunky, supposedly straight Ted (Evan Miller), who explains his hot-and-heavy trysts with Rodney by claiming his girlfriend doesn't put out — and pines for supercool transfer student Joey (Joe Flaten), a blond Brit in a leather jacket. Meanwhile, the mean girls target Sabrina, who has two mommies and lives in a trailer. But both their lives begin to look up when Rodney scares up the nerve to ask Joey to be his prom date and Joey, to Rodney's utter astonishment, agrees. Sabrina at the same time finds a boyfriend in eccentric chubby-chaser Rudy (Robin de Jesus), a Cuban refuge adopted by an African-American family. In the weeks before the prom, Joey takes Rodney to a gay bar, where he spots closeted teacher Mr. Cox (TARNATION's Jonathan Caouette) performing in Liza Minnelli drag. Sabrina and Rudy get stuck in her car while having sex. Rodney primps for a date to Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy." Rodney's father (Mitchell Self) dies in flagrante with a dwarf dominatrix, scandalizing his holy-rolling wife (Deborah Theaker), whose faith extends to meals like "holy burgers" and "Jesus jambalaya." Sabrina meets Rudy's parents, and so on. The result is less a narrative than a string of scenes, some of which will be painfully familiar to anyone who spent his or her high school years sitting at the cootie table and counting the days until graduation.

To call Christian's film unpolished is an understatement, since Rodney isn't a particularly engaging protagonist and Christian badly overuses his sulky voiceover. But there's an appealing generosity of spirit under the self-mocking veneer and the bottom-of-the-barrel technical credits actually work in its favor: The homes, classrooms and small-town hangouts are as shabby, unaesthetic and suffocating as a miserable memory. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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