The Scat Pack

Is the world ready for a gay Farrelly Brothers movie?

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The new romantic comedy Adam & Steve is so determined to be a sort of gay When Harry Met Sally that even the characters point out the similarities. During one particularly sappy moment, lovebird Steve (Malcolm Gets) admits to lovebird Adam (Craig Chester) that he used to go to the movies and dream that he was Meg Ryan. Of course, Meg Ryan never played a coked-up go-go dancer who, after snorting some cheap blow, projectile-shits all over Billy Crystal's apartment floor.

And that's the problem with Adam & Steve: It wants to be a sugary-sweet rom-com just like the ones that Hollywood churns out for breeders, but various other shit (and piss, and vomit) just keeps getting in the way. The movie is the directorial debut of veteran queer cinema actor Craig Chester, and what he's come up with is an awkward mix of semi-witty relationship dialogue and scatological slapstick.

The Hershey-squirt incident frames the film, and immediately throws it out of whack. We begin in 1987, when morose goth Adam stumbles into a dance club that, to put it lightly, isn't his scene. Nonetheless, he locks eyes with a stage dancer, the glitter-painted lothario Steve, and after indulging in some forced small talk and plenty of cocaine, the twosome head back to his apartment. It's there that they discover their drugs have been laced with laxatives, compelling Steve to relieve himself at the least opportune moment ever.

Flash-forward almost two decades, and the estranged Adam and Steve have become the familiar gay stereotypes usually presented on TV: Steve is a connoisseur of the anonymous, nightly hook-up; Adam is a lonely, sexless dog owner with a reliable fag hag, Rhonda (Parker Posey, in an inspired supporting role). Fate brings them together again, but how long will it be before their past embarrassments come between them?

Quite a while, actually. For most of its overlong running time, Adam & Steve is content to run through the checklist of gay rom-com courtship rituals: the hand-holding montage, the "coming to grips with my boyfriend's countless lays" moment, the uncomfortable meet-the-parents sequence. But Chester, possibly realizing how cutesy his material is, has decided to present his characters in the most grotesque light possible, whether it's the fat suit Posey has to wear at the beginning, or the bag lady Steve's roommate (Chris Kattan) sleeps with out of boredom. It doesn't help that the script is loaded with lame pratfalls and stupid verbal gags ("bathhouse" instead of "boathouse," and "cock screw" instead of "corkscrew").

For all its jarring tangents and distracting gross-out jokes, there are a few moments in the film that actually work. A heart-to-heart talk between Adam and Rhonda on a park bench has some of the tart bitterness you might hear in a decent Sex in the City episode. A real-life longtime friend of Chester's, Posey has a disarming, unforced lunatic quality that the rest of the movie tries desperately to emulate. But Chester should know by now that the world only has room for one Parker Posey.

Michael Hastings writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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