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Review by Will Doig
Rating: (5 out of 5)
Thursday, 10/21/2004, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
A SUN-KISSED John Edwards complimenting jowly Dick Cheney on having a lesbian daughter during the vice-presidential debate was shocking. More shocking still was Cheney’s gracious (albeit grimaced) reply. Who are these alleged gay offspring of reactionary public officials? Poster Boy succeeds spectacularly at examining this question, rather than botch it as a boilerplate evil-dad-versus-queer-son coming out story.
Conservative Senator Jack Kray (Michael Lerner) wants his closeted son Henry (Matt Newton) to stump for his presidential campaign, unaware that Henry is sparking a romance with AIDS activist Anthony (Jack Noseworthy). Anthony’s campaign against the Senator escalates as Henry waffles over whether or not to stay on message for his dad, while Anthony’s HIV-positive friend Izzie forms a twisted, beautiful friendship with the scotch-swilling southern debutante Mrs. Kray (Karen Allen).
The best scenes in this movie are the ones that seem ad-libbed, where everyone is talking over each other and snippets of conversation — rather than sharply-formed witticisms — become the script. The exception to this is the tremendous Allen, whose Carolina idioms slide between her lips as easily as the cigarettes that fund her family fortune. “You get the bones with the fish,” she drawls to Izzie, politics-weary, melancholy and drunk. The last time I saw this woman, she was bound and gagged by Nazis in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Today, she’s an actress with the chops to steal the show from the indestructible Michael Lerner.
Noseworthy is miscast. Playing the weenie suck-up in irony-fests like Undercover Brother is more his game, but he still manages a graceful love interest for the competent and likeable Matt Newton. Valerie Geffner turns what could have been a parade of clichéd cynicisms into genuine sentiment, and a smattering of fluorescent peripheral characters keeps the film jostling uncompromisingly forward.
Poster Boy is mandatory viewing, just in time for November 2.