Note – this is not part of the ReelQ Film Festival, but I promised I would review it so here you go.
This was one of the worst LGBTQ flicks I’ve seen in recent years. Maybe I’m just too middle-aged, but this ho hum coming of age tale plays out like a fanfic backstory to Will Truman and Grace Adler. I didn’t even like it enough to put much effort into finding comparisons.
Naomi and Ely are 18 year old best friends who have grown up together in a NYC apartment building. They have a secret language and each other’s backs. They also have painful connection – Naomi’s father had an affair with one of Ely’s moms, causing long lasting disruptions in both families. And then there’s the titular list – a slam book of sorts with all the boys they both agree not to kiss.
The no-kiss list doesn’t really work as a plot device because it is clear both characters are going to kiss whomever they damn well please. That’s what 18 years olds do. Their parents didn’t need a list to know that having an affair would cause some damage. It makes no sense and convolutes the heart of the matter – is it that they want to kiss the same boy or that Naomi wants to kiss Ely? Or both?
The thing that works the least is the casting. Victoria Justice is not well suited for this ingenue role and that’s in part because the role is so utterly forgettable. Misunderstood artsy NYC teen with daddy issues and an unrequited crush has been done. Oh yeah and her name was Grace Adler. Grace grew up, too. Justice is more Parker Posey than Molly Ringwald. Pierson Fode pulls off the slightly more mature role of Ely, but his character is one dimensional as a party boy with a heart of gold. Everyone is so pretty and stylish in this film and not in an ironic way, either.
It annoys me that the LGBTQ community must continually contend with the storyline of a straight girl in love with her gay best friend. It was funny (most of the time) during the 8 seasons of Will & Grace, especially that hilarious episode with Mira Sorvino. It shouldn’t be a coming of age ritual for every movie. We all see right through the plot at the beginning of the movie and yet it still feels like we are supposed to root for Ely to return her feelings? Come on … that’s a hell of a friendship, built on a book of lies.
It also annoys me that the plot is 75% Naomi but still billed as an LGBTQ film. She’s barely LGBTQ adjacent. She’s unlikeable and her maturation process is dull. Ely takes care of her. Again, that’s a tired meme. No girls like her. Of course not because she’s a jerk.
Do yourself a favor. Go watch some John Hughes movies and then rewatch Will & Grace to see how it works out. You’ll be better off.