Recent Comments

    Me Him Her Addresses Sexual Identify Politics, But Misses Opportunities

    GaryKramerbyRyanBrandenbergNow available on VOD, Me Him Her, written and directed by Max Landis, aims to do something different, if not radical, with sexual identity politics. In this broad comedy, Brendan (Luke Bracey) is a successful Hollywood TV actor who is anxious to come out. His handlers, however, are less than pleased with his decision and ask him to stay in the closet. When Brendan flies his best friend Cory (Dustin Milligan) to Los Angeles to help him with “emotional damage control,” all hell breaks loose.

    Brendan pines for Griffin (Jake McDorman), a crewmember who kissed him on set and unleashed the actor’s pent-up same-sex desires. On his first night in Los Angeles, Cory encourages Brendan to go to a gay bar to meet Griffin. Although Brendan wants to be discrete, he ends up being ambushed by paparazzi, and rumors circulate that he is gay. Meanwhile, at the bar, Cory meets Gabbi (Emily Meade), a lesbian who has just broken up with her cheating girlfriend, Heather (Angela Sarafyan). Cory and Gabbi spend the night together, which includes having sex in her car.

    As Brendan tries to find the best way to officially come out on his terms–and come to terms with his sexuality–Gabbi grapples with her confusion about, and desire for, Cory.

    gary

    Me Him Her is as convoluted and as ridiculous as its plot. The humor stems mainly from its characters acting outrageously. But scenes that should be comic actually end up being manic. When Brendan drives into a gay pride parade, Cory pretends he is gay, taking his shirt off and screaming “I love d-ck!” in public to divert attention away from his celebrity friend who is told by his publicists to deny the gay rumors (even if they are true). It is not particularly funny or convincing. In another misdirected scene, Cory wants to give the reluctant Gabbi his phone number, prompting a shrill public shouting match.

    It might be that the straight, obnoxious Cory is the film’s problem. Is the joke meant to be that he doesn’t seem to have any chemistry with his best friend, Brendan, or that he does not generate any romantic sparks with Gabbi? Perhaps if Landis had emphasized the straight guy/gay girl friendship–a twist on the gay guy/straight girl cliché–Cory’s character might have had a better purpose, or at least been funnier. As it is, he acts like an annoying, hyperactive child who needs a large dose of Ritalin.

    gary2

    Me Him Her does only slightly better in depicting its queer characters. Both Brendan and Gabbi have dreams in which they are haunted by a giant penis, a sight gag that represents their anxiety about their sexuality. But such over-the-top moments only exaggerate their supposedly very real and very valid feelings. In one of the film’s nicer, quieter moments, Gabbi’s patient and supportive lesbian friends, Laura (Alia Shawkat) and Kris (Rebecca Drysdale), try to understand her heterosexual behavior. Although this chat contains some raunchiness, it passes as one of the more sensitive moments.

    In contrast, a running joke has Brendan asking, “Why didn’t you tell me I was gay?” no less than three times–and once while he is shouting from a rock in the desert wearing only his boxer briefs. The gag here is that Brendan thinks the other characters should have explained Brendan’s sexual identity to him. But it is not particularly funny, and it is certainly not funny the second or third time.

    The cast seems desperate to amuse, but they, like Landis, seem to be trying too hard. Luke Bracey is as cute as a schoolgirl with a crush when he talks about Griffin, but Landis makes him suffer multiple indignities in the film, including a bizarre scene of him flying on a bird-like creature with a rainbow painted on his face, or trying to act romantic after pouring milk into his eyes after being maced. Bracey deserves credit for being game, but he also deserves better.

    Emily Meade tries to make Gabbi sympathetic, but her character is a lesbian with such low self-esteem that she sleeps with a man and then wants to go back to her abusive girlfriend. The actress never makes Gabbi’s behavior credible. Even if Me Him Her is a wacky comedy, it needs to have some heart with its humor.

    Another aspect of Me Him Her that might have had greater focus is the Hollywood satire. Given the lineage of its maker–Landis is John’s son–the film could have used more and sharper jokes, about the industry and celebrity culture. There are a few smiles in this regard, such as a mildly clever advert for Brendan’s TV show, but as with the film as a whole, there are too many missed opportunities.

    © 2016 Gary M. Kramer

    Gary M. Kramer is the author of “Independent Queer Cinema: Reviews and Interviews,” and the co-editor of “Directory of World Cinema: Argentina.” Follow him on Twitter @garymkramer