By Jeff Walsh
"Tru Loved" is a new gay youth movie that suffers from existing in the world of obvious expectations. It's nothing new, though. When a young, idealistic teacher joins the staff of a rough school with hard-to-reach kids… or a romantic comedy has two leads who begin the movie hating each other… you sort of know what's going to happen. So, when a young high school athlete enlists other people to defend his closet… well, it would be unexpected for the same character to be closeted by the time the end credits roll.
This movie got a lot of unexpected publicity when Roger Ebert gave it a negative review, only to mention at the end of his piece that he stopped watching it after only 8 minutes. This revelation led to a heated discussion on his website. I do have to say that Ebert did make a lot of incorrect assumptions based on what happens in the first eight minutes, but he had no way of knowing that the film would do things in its beginnings that wouldn't continue throughout. There is a dream sequence of the gayest high school ever, followed by a black and white 50s sitcom version of family life, both of which might lead you to believe there was going to be a lot of similar scenes inserted throughout. But Ebert didn't stick around to realize that the rapid succession of these things in the beginning wouldn't be consistent or followed up for the rest of the movie.
The movie is about a girl named Tru (no e on the end, of course) who moves from the gay mecca of San Francisco to the horrible conservative area of… southern California? Anyway… Tru befriends the gay students, starts a GSA, acts as a beard for the closeted quarterback, and lusts after a boy in the GSA (but knows she can't have, since he's at the GSA, right? Right?!)
There are cameo performances, with Bruce Vilanch (of Hollywood Squares fame) as a famous writer, and Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek) giving a fun appearance as the black quarterback's seemingly racist grandmother (Can't you date a nice black girl?").
I don't really want to pan the movie, which has a big heart, a positive message, and OK performances (given the limited narrative there is to explore), but everything seems too obvious and familiar. The homophobic football coach. The closeted quarterback who needs to keep his sexuality and love of singing hidden (It has to be a bad sign when gay indies are exploring similar storylines to the Disney telepic High School Musical, no? Of course, Zac Efron isn't really struggling with his sexual identity there, although my friend Prince would beg to differ).
So, yeah, I don't have much more to say about this except it is perfectly fine to pass the time, if you like movies with plotlines that wrap up with pretty bows at the end, warm happy endings, and obvious conclusions. Either I'm too picky, or this film was too simple, or a mixture of both, but it wasn't a film a truly loved. If only it were called kinda liked, or didn't loathe, I could better play off the title.
Tru Loved is now playing in San Francisco and Berkeley and other select cities. You can see if Tru Loved is going to play near you on its website: http://www.truloved.com/