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The Broken Hearts Club

Dawson's Creek co-executive producer and writer/director Greg Berlanti has a beef to pick with the way Hollywood depicts gays on screen. He has his characters in The Broken Hearts Club vent his frustration. All portrayals of gay men stereotype them as flamboyant and promiscuous or the sympathetic friend of some woman. He says that there is no accurate portrayal of a normal gay man. For the most part, he is right. Even gay-themed movies stoop to using tired stereotypes that do nothing to shatter incorrect perceptions. Thus, The Broken Hearts Club. Berlanti manages to avoid most of the typical gay male stereotypes, but he does sneak a few in. Here is a movie that finally portrays gay men like real people. In other words, they can be just as self-absorbed, whiny, shallow, and dull as other straight men.

The Broken Hearts Club is a softball team led by Jack (John Mahoney, Iron Giant, NBC's Frasier), who also runs a restaurant where most of the friends in the movie congregate. Dennis (Timothy Olyphant, Go, Gone in 60 Seconds) is a photographer who is swearing off relationships. He realized that most of his relationships centered superficially on things like lust and looks. Dennis wants something more. Cole (Dean Cain, Flight of Fancy, For the Cause) is the resident heartbreaker, who tears through relationships with reckless abandon. Cain purportedly chose this role to prove he can act that shatter his wholesome Superman image (from his Lois &Clark days), and the sight of him kissing men should be enough to horrify some of his younger female fans. Dennis dates and promptly dumps Kevin (Andrew Keegan, O, 10 Things I Hate About You), a man who is finally realizing he is gay. Dennis goes to comfort Kevin, and the two begin a slow friendship/relationship.

Aside from Dennis and Kevin, there really is not much going on except for people complaining. Howie (Matt McGrath, Boys Don't Cry, The Imposters) does not know whether or not to keep his relationship going and Patrick (Ben Weber, Twister, Casanova Falling) worries that he is not beautiful enough compared to his friends. There are other subplots involving Patrick's sister and lesbian partner wanting him to donate sperm, another one of the Broken Hearts getting dumped, and yet another one falling in love and experimenting with drugs. Berlanti deals with these situations conventionally and familiarly. There is very little surprising or original in this movie. In fact, take away the fact that all the principles are gay and the movie would be very boring.

But the fact remains that the characters in The Broken Hearts Club are gay, so there is something new about watching something so familiar. The subtitle for this movie is A Romantic Comedy, and some of the humor is funny. The rest just falls flat, because either it isn't funny or it just panders to its core audience (the guys like to go to a hair salon when they are sad). The acting is decent all around, with a nice performance by Keegan. Although Kevin knows he is gay, it is still a secret and he still feels extremely uncomfortable about mentioning it. Berlanti also makes all the characters multidimensional, each with good things as well as flaws. However, his experiences on Dawson's Creek peek through. The plot seems a little too much like "a very special episode," with things wrapping up a little too nicely at the end. Everybody's story finishes, and each person learns a little about himself that helps him to grow. While it is good to see gay characters appear on screen in such a way that their homosexuality is simply a part of them and not their defining quality, it would be nice to let them have some qualities to make them unique as people.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated R for language, drug use, and some sexual content.

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