Philadelphia Film Festival 2012: ‘Gayby’ – witty and modern

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Directed by Jonathan Lisecki

United States, 2012

Philadelphia Film Festival

Jenn (Jenn Harris) and Matt (Matthew Wilkas) are 30-something friends from college. He’s gay, she’s straight. He’s just out of a long relationship, she’s had zero luck in her love life. Both feel the call of commitment, so they decide to have a baby through traditionally heterosexual means.

Every description for Gayby includes the phrase “the old fashioned way” in some iteration. While the awkward sex – especially the first time – between Jenn and Matt is truly hilarious, the film also has flashes of poignancy with its mostly tongue-in-cheek look at modern relationships.

Still, Gayby can be frustrating. There’s one gratifying sigh of relief when a sitcom-ish double date mistaken identity setup is easily avoided and yields an ultimately stronger, post-date makeout scene.

But then fewer than 20 minutes later Jenn irrationally decides to drop incredibly bad news to Matt on his birthday. Sure, we’ve been set up for the idea that Jenn is a perpetual birthday-ruiner, but the scene smells so much like false drama that it’s more aggravating than anything else.

Lisecki can write some solid dialogue, and his punchlines are often very funny, but he really struggles with exposition-heavy moments (Jenn Harris’ line about “comic book bigwigs” in particular feels like a first take – as though Lisecki wanted to get the boring stuff out of the way and move on quickly).

In the end, the script holds up well, and some of the interactions and situational bits – including a very funny amped-up yoga scene and a too-cool painter’s introduction – are laugh-out-loud worthy.

Lisecki’s no camera director. He favors flat lateral dolly moves that would be better placed in the soap opera or sitcom world, and pretty standard, uninteresting coverage otherwise. It’s not so much of a knock as stating his strong points: though Gayby is witty and modern, Lisecki is clearly better suited for the small screen.

Neal Dhand

The Philadelphia Film Festival celebrates 210years and runs from October 18 to October 28, 2012. For a complete schedule of films, screening times, and ticket information, please see the Philadelphia Film Society’s official site.

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