Testosterone is the final novel from acclaimed and controversial author James Robert Baker, who killed himself in 1997; it’s a morbid noir spin on gay men and promiscuity, set against a grimy Los Angeles backdrop, with gruesome plot twists.
And unfortunately, Testosterone, the movie, is a painfully limp and lackluster effort. Director David Moreton steals the main characters from the novel, forgoes the darker aspects of the plot (hell, he forgoes most plot altogether) and dresses it all up as black comedy — only somebody forgot to make it funny.
Highly successful comic book, er, graphic novel artist and writer Dean (David Sutcliffe) is wildly, madly, passionately in love-slash-lust with Pablo, a prime Grade A beefcake in boxers, played — appropriately enough — by former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr. (who hasn’t been doing much since Melrose Place ended). But one day, Pablo goes out for cigarettes, and never returns. Dun dun dun! A less-than-friendly encounter with Pablo’s totally stacked mom reveals that the hot young hunk of man meat has hopped a plane back to Argentina, and is “done” with Dean. So, what’s a successful, rich, extremely good-looking guy like Dean to do? Hit the nearest nightclub and use his big wad (of cash) to seduce a brand-new underwear model? No, silly! He’s going to hop a plane to Argentina and desperately stalk, er, romantically chase after Pablo. Is this blackly comedic enough for you yet?
Pablo and Dean’s meeting is told briefly in montage via comics (perhaps the cleverest part of the film) during the intro, plus a few flashbacks, mostly of them half naked in bed — thus, it’s never really clear whether Dean actually loved Pablo, or just loved his underwear model-y goodness. This makes it even harder to understand why Dean — a babe himself — would fly to a country where he doesn’t speak the native tongue, and involve himself in all sort of precarious situations, just to hunt down his lover who left him in such a cold-hearted manner.
Once in Argentina, Dean enlists the reluctant help of a mysterious waitress, as well as another raging hot piece of boy bait. By far the most entertaining points of the film are the sex scenes involving the smokin’ fine male cast — but even those are disappointingly PG-13, and we are cruelly teased and cheated out of a full-frontal shot of Sabato Jr.; for that alone, the director should be bludgeoned with a copy of a gay porn (VHS, not a DVD).
There are a few genuinely great one liners here and there (“I’m just a fag with a gun who needs a chainsaw”) and even a truly funny moment or two — like when Dean, cornered by a cop, steals his gun, backs slowly away, and then ever so thoughtfully returns the gun to the cop car. But sadly, the film never delves much into the personalites of the characters, instead painting whisper-thin portraits of sex-obsessed, shallow and distrustful jerks. Dare I say there’s more character development and plot to be found in a Jeff Stryker film.
Showing at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak). Call 248-263-2111.
Sarah Klein is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.