Reel Affirmations 2008
Review by Tim Plant
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Friday, 10/24/2008, 5:00 PM
Feature presentation, $0 at Lincoln Theatre
LEZ BE FRIENDS is like Laverne & Shirley meets Friends meets Three’s Company meets Queer as Folk. It’s a lot to throw into one pot, so understandably what comes out is a little lumpy, but there’s the base of something good here.
Lez Be Friends is two sitcom episodes pushed together, harkening back to New York City just following the Stonewall Riots. In a How I Met Your Mother flashback style, three roommates recount the ups and downs of living together in a tiny apartment in Greenwich Village. Ricca Pike (Christine Barger), the lesbian in Lez, and her gay pal Jamie (Ari Welkom) are Ohio transplants who happen to meet Stonewall bartender Blake (David Thomas Jenkins) just after he’s been dumped by the other two in his throuple. Desperate for roommates, he invites them to move in, if they can convince the lesbian-phobic landlord Truman DuBois (Robert Michael Morris) that Ricca is straight.
There’s great potential for wonderful humor in this set-up, but most of the jokes are too dumb to capitalize on it. It’s gay humor 101, jokes that lost their shine years and years ago. But the smart humor — and it’s interspersed like little gems — is really quite funny and subtle. Like calling Kent State a quiet peaceful school, the quadruple entendre that Truman accomplishes, or the commercials used to break up scenes.
Content-wise, it’s no holds barred for the Greenwich apartment. Episode one deals with trying to convert Ricca to a femme, aided by a Judy Garland-mourning drag queen (Nic Arnzen), while episode two is about a crab infestation and trying to identify which roommate is patient zero. Lather, rinse, repeat!
Barger is solid as Ricca – in every sense of the word. She’s meant to play a stereotypical lesbian and she nails it. While it’s insulting, it doesn’t really cover any new ground. Jenkins and Welkom are fine as the gay roomies; the fact that they both spend most of episode two shirtless likely explains their casting.
Lez Be Friends is basic gay humor. Had writer Glenn Gaylord trusted his audience to buy into the intellectual stuff he was writing, it could have been much more fun. In trying to appeal to the masses, he makes a lot of misses. But for those few homeruns, it’s worth sitting through.