The Boys In The Band

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5th October 2020

There’s Nothing Quite As Good As Feeling Sorry For Yourself, Is There?

Jim Parsons’ (“Hollywood”, “The Big Bang Theory (TV)”) Michael says the line as being held by his on/off boyfriend Donald, Matt Bomer (“White Collar (TV)”, “Doom Patrol (TV)”) during a mid-day crisis the afternoon before Michael’s annual party.

Set in the late 60’s, a group of gay men are throwing a birthday party for their friend Harold, Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek”, “Hotel Artemis“) as they do every year. An unwanted surprise in the form of Michael’s straight college friend Alan, Brian Hutchison (“Man And Boy”) disrupts the flow as each man doesn’t know how to react to this guest and his effects on Michael.

Ryan Murphy (“American Horror Story (TV)”, “Eat, Pray, Love”) brings the film adaptation to Netflix as part of his deal with the streamer. I don’t consider myself a big fan of his, but he does bring a voice to the voiceless in the media which I admire and respect.

Director Joe Mantello (“The Normal Heart”, “Hollywood”) creates a play-like atmosphere with its simple setting which allows the characters to own the screen without distractions.

The film brings back the whole cast from the 2019 Revival as well as writer Mart Crowley, the writer of the original 1968 play. Unfortunately, Crowley passed away this past March, but he left behind an amazing legacy on the stage and screen.

Parsons is the definite standout amongst the case as his character is the only one with a full arc that we see from beginning to end. People always go back to his now infamous sitcom role, but Parsons delivers an award-worthy performance as the self-conscious gay man who feels it is easier to pretend rather than face his own demons.

Everyone in the cast gets their moment to shine, but the one that could have been a scene-stealer if given a bigger opportunity was Michael Benjamin Washington (“30 Rock (TV)”, “Ratched (TV)”) as Bernard, the only black character in the film. Bernard is a kind yet shy man who puts his friends first and seems to be keeping something hidden from everyone. When Michael has the men play his party game, Bernard gets his close-up and Washington makes sure we don’t look away.

I only know Washington from his hilarious role as Tracy Jordan’s fake son in 30 Rock, but after looking up his credits I am very surprised he hasn’t been featured more on screen as he has on stage. I really hope to see him headline more on screen soon as it is tough for me to get to New York to see his plays.

I didn’t have any expectations before watching this since I didn’t know anything about the story. I think this film is just as important now as it was 50 years ago. There’s so much hatred in this world and those that choose to ignore what’s happening right now should sit and watch what these men go through.

If you watch this film, you get one point. If you pass this film to someone that may need to watch and understand the other side of things, you get ten points.

At a birthday party in 1968 New York, a surprise guest and a drunken game leave seven gay friends reckoning with unspoken feelings and buried truths

13th September 2020

Joe Mantello

Joe Mantello

Running Time:
2hr 1min

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