Don't be fooled by the cowboy hats and gay men: "Adam & Steve" is no "Brokeback Mountain."
Indie gay poster boy Craig Chester ("Swoon") makes his directorial debut on this romantic comedy that's queer in both senses of the word. Chester, who also wrote the project, creates an uneven film that unsuccessfully blends camp performances and situations with a rather sweet, sensitive story.
Back in 1987, goth Robert Smith wannabe Adam (Chester) meets long-haired glam dancer Steve (Malcolm Gets) at a club. The odd couple immediately clicks, but after a night of partying with cocaine cut with baby laxative, their brief one-night fling ends disastrously. Seventeen years later, they meet again, neither recognizing the face from the embarrassing past. The new Adam is an insecure bird-watching guide who regularly attends AA meetings, while Steve is a germophobic psychiatrist who anonymously hooks up with guys at the gym.
Once again, the chemistry is instantaneous, but this time they're able to let it blossom into a full-fledged relationship. While they're ecstatic about the way things are going, that life-changing incident from long ago threatens to ruin everything. Adam's best-pal Rhonda, a former fat chick uncomfortable with her new body, is supportive of the relationship, but Steve's straight roommate Michael (Chris Kattan) isn't too thrilled since this means the end of living vicariously through Steve's promiscuous escapades.
Chester tries very, very hard to make his offbeat, self-deprecating and ironic humor work. Unfortunately, the cutesy and wacky stuff that probably killed among friends just becomes ridiculous and outlandish on the big screen. You get the feeling that he was giggling, writing and thinking "Why not?" Sadly, the result -- as bizarrely fascinating as it might be -- tells exactly why not.
That's not to say there aren't a few chuckles here and there: when Rhonda observes that Steve looks like the guy from the A-Ha video, Adam replies, "He can 'take on me' anytime." Also, the climactic two-stepping gay rodeo dance-off (yes, it's true) is a high-energy highlight that's outrageously silly.
Even though the humor is self-indulgent, it never seems exclusive or mean-spirited. In fact, what shines through in this film is a charming openness -- not only about the characters' sexuality, but also their insecurities, romantic ideals and struggles with identity. Even the sharp-tongued Rhonda explains that she still tells fat jokes in her dismal standup routine because "Being fat was the only funny thing that ever happened to me."
The four main cast members do a decent job with the material considering the frivolous tone and lines they have to utter. It's fun to see Kattan, known for turning hetero heads as the hot pants-wearing Mango character from "Saturday Night Live," play the straight man. Posey trots out her trademark neurotic indie girl thing, while Gets and Chester get to be melodramatically vulnerable.
Overall, "Adam & Steve" is much like Chester's character: uncertain, quirky and looking to connect. As a first-time helmer, Chester shows promise when it comes to the personal touch, but needs more experience to hone his storytelling.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times