Another Gay Movie, the Director’s Cut, arrives on digital platforms April 27th and DVD on May 4th via Breaking Glass Pictures
The older I get, the more I find myself wondering where time has gone. This feeling was brought into focus recently when the 15th Anniversary Director’s Cut of Another Gay Movie landed in my inbox (that’s not a double entendre). Initially, I did a double-take, my brain unable to compute that this gleefully rambunctious creation was fifteen years old. But, it is indeed now an awkward teenager. Its brash, bold, filthy, colourful and proudly queer take on American Pie receiving additional footage, edits and a few minor tweaks. The result an even more delightfully gross and engaging slice of John Waters inspired fun.
For those unaware of or new to Todd Stephen’s 2006 movie, let me start by providing you with a quick refresh. Another Gay Movie takes no time in introducing us to the perpetually horny Andy (Michael Carbonaro) and his three besties, jock Jarod (Jonathan Chase), geek Griff (Mitch Morris), and the effeminate Nico (Jonah Blechman). Andy has a major crush on his science teacher Mr Puckov (Graham Norton), while also sexually experimenting with assorted vegetables; his derrière a veritable allotment patch. Meanwhile, the exuberant Nico fears coming out to his PFlag mum Bonnie (Stephanie McVay). And Jarod and Griff dance around their unspoken attraction for each other.
Each of our young men is held in the void between teenage life and adulthood as they agree to lose their virginity before the summer ends and college begins. Now at this point, you may be experiencing déjà vu, a niggling feeling you have seen the movie before, minus the phallic vegetables. The reason is you have! Another Gay Movie is American Pie, with added glitter, anal experimentation, and endless boners. Even the famous apple pie finds itself replaced by a hot wet quiche and inquisitive gerbil. The resulting film a bold, colourful and cheerful subversion of the heteronormative teen sex comedies of the late 90s and early millennium.
On release in 2006, many criticised Todd Stephen’s gleeful film for the LGBTQ+ stereotypes it housed. While equally finding the low budget gross-out comedy problematic. However, in retrospect, many of these criticisms highlighted a division of standards in film criticism. After all, Another Gay Movie is no more offensive, rude or stereotypical than many heterosexual teen comedies. The movie itself a subversion of the widely accepted and celebrated stories of teen male conquests over women. Many of which continue to be celebrated as classics of the comedy genre. In turn, raising an important question, were the criticisms of Another Gay Movie due to the bravery of its queer representation? And would a heterosexual movie have been scrutinised to the same level?
To answer these questions, we need to take a trip back to the six years from 2000, each marked by increasing confidence in LGBTQ+ equality. Here in the UK, these six years saw the repeal of section 28, age of consent equalisation, equal rights in adoption, employment equality legislation and more. The media landscape was also radically shifting, from Will Young coming out after winning Pop Idol to Brian Dowling becoming the first openly gay kids TV presenter. Meanwhile, Stonewall launched its Education for All campaign, and queer culture found itself slowly embraced like never before.
In cinemas, the journey towards representation sat within the drama genre, from Brokeback Mountain to A Home at the End of the World. Many dramas choosing to explore themes of guilt, hidden love, and repression. While on TV, Will and Grace, Sugar Rush, and Queer as Folk USA continued to crack away at the rainbow glass ceiling. However, despite the progress made, teen comedy remained a predominantly heterosexual environment—the sub-genre struggling to find a unique queer voice in an ocean of heterosexual angst. Here, US teen comedies continued to build on the straight male template forged in the 1980s with Porky’s, Animal House and Risky Business. And when gay characters did briefly appear, their portrayal was often profoundly problematic, as in EuroTrip (2004).
Of course, there are a few notable exceptions to this rule in The Broken Hearts Club, Saved and The Rules of Attraction. But none of these would easily find a mainstream teen audience—each gaining its voice through festivals, older viewers and independent distribution. Therefore, the arrival of Another Gay Movie in 2006 was groundbreaking. Here, Todd Stephen’s takes the 80s and 90s teen sex comedy into a fully gay world. In Stephen’s colourful suburbia, being LGBTQ+ is the norm, with no disapproving parents. Meanwhile, celebrities, teachers and students are all out and proud, reflecting an idealised world built on the growing confidence of the early millennium.
But, let’s return to the criticism levelled at the film and its stereotypes. Another Gay Movie’s stereotypes are built on heterosexual perceptions of gay people still rife in the early millennium. But, as the narrative progresses, Stephen’s gloriously dissects each one through his tongue-in-cheek characters. The resulting picture, placing many of those perceptions in a grinder. For example, the pre-defined audience perceptions of tops and bottoms in gay sex are challenged through a haze of hormones. Therefore Another Gay Movie undoubtedly faced more criticism than any similar heterosexual movie. And much of this critique dismissed the tongue-in-cheek dissection of the perceptions held mainly of gay men.
But, where Another Gay Movie truly excels is in its ability to set gay sex free from the social closet. Normalising sex, desire and experimentation in same-sex relationships through comedy. In turn, allowing teens to explore their own development through laughter. Something heterosexual teens have long been able to achieve through mainstream teen comedy. Here, the movies lube-drenched story delights in pushing the boundaries of gay sex on screen. Achieving more through comedy than many LGBTQ+ dramas have achieved through romance. And while this may have led to an 18 certificate here in the UK, I have no doubt many gay teens watched from the safety of their bedrooms on its original DVD release.
Brash, bold, loud and proud. Another Gay Movie may not be world-class, but its place in gay cinematic history is important. Here, Todd Stephen’s movie reflected emerging LGBTQ+ confidence while tearing up the teen comedy rulebook. And love it or loathe it; without Another Gay Movie, LGBTQ+ cinema would be a far less sexy place. Does the Director’s Cut add much to the original? Yes, in particular, Mink Stole’s homage to Coco Peru’s classic performance in Trick. Does Another Gay Movie deserve reappraisal? Undoubtedly. It may not be perfect; it may be cheap, but just maybe it had far more impact than we give it credit for. Whatever your thoughts, one thing is for sure. Another Gay Movie still holds a unique space in LGBTQ+ cinema fifteen years after its release.