Volume 94, Issue 55

Wednesday, December 6, 2000


Broken Hearts a smashing success

Why are movies so bad this year?


Shopgirl a great read

Big name acts falter a little with their new CDs

Broken Hearts a smashing success

Photo by Mimi Craven
LOOKS LIKE CLARK KENT EMERGED FROM THE TELEPHONE BOOTH WEARING THE WRONG SHIRT. Television's Superman Dean Cain is in a league of his own in the new romantic comedy, The Broken Hearts Club.

The Broken Hearts Club
Starring: Dean Cain, Timothy Olyphant, Andrew Keegan, John Mahoney
Directed By: Greg Berlanti

By Matt Pearson
Gazette Staff

With the recent federal election firmly embedded in memory, the party leaders are no doubt exhausted and looking forward to the holidays, during which time they can spend constituents' money on Christmas gifts and play catch-up at the cinema. When Stockwell Day goes to the movies, chances are it won't be to see The Broken Hearts Club.

Set in modern day West Hollywood, The Broken Hearts Club tells the story of six twenty-something gay chums and their father-like mentor, Jack (John Mahoney). The bulk of the movie's action revolves around Jack's restaurant and the pathetic softball team it sponsors, aptly named the Broken Hearts.

At its core, the story is one of friendship and family. It also involves an element of loneliness and a search for something far more meaningful than a nice looking man, referred to in this case as "J Crew Guy." The protagonist, Dennis (Timothy Olyphant), is a photographer who finds himself unable to find a satisfying, lasting relationship.

Meanwhile, his circle of friends all appear to be in similar predicaments. There's Cole (Dean Cain), the straight-acting hunk who dumps people by reciting audition monologues. There's Benji, who believes his group of friends resemble a tribe of Somalian monkeys, who act like friends until mating season, at which point they attack each other. There's also Howie, who still sleeps with his ex; Taylor, who was recently dumped by his own ex; and Patrick, who seems to have never had an ex. As a late addition, there's Kevin (Andrew Keegan), who turns in the token "coming out" performance.

Well-written and directed by Dawson's Creek co-producer Greg Berlanti, The Broken Hearts Club is one of the most entertaining gay films released to date. Without marginalizing his characters by applying tired stereotypes or peppering the movie with an AIDS sub-plot so common in this growing genre, Berlanti allows the characters to be themselves, thus creating a diverse palette of on-screen personalities.

Despite its humour, The Broken Hearts Club tackles some fairly serious topics. From Kevin's confusion about his sexuality, to Howie's realization of mistakes he's made in past relationships, the film is able to develop serious plotlines in conjunction with not-so-serious ones. This is perhaps its shining achievement – the blending of various aspects of gay life into one enjoyable film.

Like most movies, the cast is responsible for one's enjoyment of the finished product, and this cast, for the most part, is no exception. Each actor turns in a convincing performance and brings to their character a certain element of humanity. As the aging mentor Jack, Frasier's Mahoney turns in a funny and heartwarming performance, especially during his drag number (another example of a well-applied stereotype). Olyphant plays a strong central character, around which the bulk of the action occurs.

Most disappointing, however, was Dean Cain, who never seemed to fit into his role. Although it was easy to picture Cain as the superficial and empty hunk, it was somewhat more problematic to see him as gay. In truth, he was likely "gayer" on TV's Superman.

The producers of The Broken Hearts Club are convinced it will attract both gay and straight audiences, despite its clearly one-sided subject matter. Regardless, those who do catch it will enjoy it for its humour, honesty and good story.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000