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The Broken Hearts Club (R)
Sony Pictures Classics
Official Site

Director: Greg Berlanti

Producers: Mickey Liddell, Joseph Middleton

Written by: Greg Berlanti

Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Zach Braff, Dean Cain, Andrew Keegan, Nia Long, John Mahoney, Mary McCormack, Matt McGrath, Billy Porter, Justin Theroux, Ben Weber

Rating: out of 5

THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB has arrived in theaters with a quite a splash this fall, being billed as a sort of non-gay gay movie. By this is meant that the plot doesn't focus on the movie-of-the-week themes of HIV/AIDS, homophobia, or coming-out trauma. Minorities everywhere can surely empathize with this "first," having known the day when movies about minorities were almost certain to be about race relations and "the struggle." You may have seen this postcard, which mocks the sexathon stereotype of gays and lesbians: "SEE the decadent gay lifestyle! They go to the movies! They shop for groceries! They get their oil changed!" So, for being a movie about people who happen to be gay, rather than a movie about gay people, THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB gets an extra half-star.

But as "firsts" go, this one is pretty lackluster. A romantic comedy should sparkle and shine. It should put you in the mood for spring, even at 10 in the morning, but THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB falls short, relying far too heavily on a SWINGERS-like style sense and some pretty, pretty people to get your juices flowing.

Nominally the story of a group of friends who all hang out at/work at Jack's (Mahoney) restaurant and bar, it's mainly the story of Dennis (Olyphant), who realizes that, at 28, no-strings-attached sex isn't enough anymore. Olyphant, the scary-sexy drug dealer Todd Gaines in GO, is an actor who can be incandescent when given stuff to do. During his schlepping-around scenes, he's merely pretty. But during scenes that call for pouring himself into the role—the love scenes spring to mind—he's hotter'n a rocket.

Meanwhile (and after this movie, you may not use that word the same way again) this non-gay movie hits the lows of swishy stereotype, winkingly posturing that these broadly drawn goings-on let the audience in on how gays really relate to each other when the straights are away. Yes, yes, I know all about being more downhome when it's just the homefolks around you, but please. The Taylor (Porter) character was just way too over the top, presumably because he had the freedom to relax and be so in this created family of gay men.

It's important to note that writer-director Berlanti makes some thoughtful comments about our culture's valuation of physical attractiveness. Beyond this, BROKEN HEARTS CLUB adopts the FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL boilerplate of our hero's romance lost, found, lost, found… against a backdrop of friends' romantic entanglements, and yes, even the death of someone effervescent and charming.

—Roxanne Bogucka

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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