The Other Side of Brokeback

The Other Side of Brokeback

“Adam & Steve” reclaims film gays as the butt of the joke

You know how sometimes you see a fun, gay movie where the young couple is in love and they have kooky friends, and it ends with hope and promise? The script bubbles with wit and an actor or two you like from a successful TV show makes a delightful surprise appearance in a small, independent film?

“Adam & Steve” is not that movie. If you would like to see that movie, you can. It’s called “Trick” and you can rent it.

“Adam & Steve” is the brainchild of Craig Chester, who wrote and directed this over-the-top sitcom of a film, and stars in it as well, as Adam. Steve is played by Malcolm Gets, who played a Nile Crane-like, should-be-gay character on “Caroline in the City.”

The film has in interesting premise—two lovers, a year into their relationship, realize that 15 years earlier, they had a disastrous one-night stand that changed their lives. On that earlier night, Adam, done up in full goth regalia, takes Steve back to his place. Steve, wearing not much more than shiny go-go pants and a Dee Snyder wig, winds up having diarrhea while standing spread-eagled in a doorway, followed by Adam projectile vomiting.

Fast-forwarding 15 years later, Adam is panic-stricken when he accidentally stabs his hound and runs all the way to a hospital ER in his underwear, where he meets psychologist Steve. They wind up having a lovely courtship; parallel to this, Steve’s permanent houseguest Michael (Chris Kattan) hooks up with Rhonda (Parker Posey), Adam’s best gal pal. Rhonda was once obese but lost all the weight, but as a stand-up comic still tells the fat-girl jokes to a dead audience. Sadly, this is pretty much the only amusing part of the movie.

The problem with “Adam & Steve” is that everything is given over-the-top treatment. When the couple faces homophobia, it’s overdone. An outraged neighbor spies them through a window and yells, Oh my God, they’re cornholers!” Repeatedly. Does that ever happen in the West Village? Even an attempt to recognize 9/11 and the loss of the World Trade Center is miserably handled when a kook with a gun disrupts a nature walk in Central Park conducted by Adam.

When we meet Adam’s parents and sister, of course, everything about them is hyperbolic—they think they are living under a curse. We are treated to Adam’s mother (Julie Haggerty) spilling coffee on people while she totters around the dining room with her head upheld in a traction halo. Oddly, the only people who seem to act true to life here are Steve’s fundamentalist Christian parents.

The film’s biggest failure, though, besides using Marie’s Crisis for a finale that justifies the film’s bad-joke title, is the revelation that the two lovers once met before. While Steve is horrified that he is the person who got Adam hooked on coke—he’s now in a 12-step group—after about five minutes, he seems much more pre-occupied by the thought that he lost control of his bowels in front of Adam more than a decade ago.

There is one silver lining in this poop-laden mess, though, and that’s the presentation of a loving couple who are constantly affectionate, which we don’t see enough of in general on the big screen. It’s nice to see a gay love story in which neither of the lovers die. Unfortunately, “Adam & Steve” offers very little else. The real question here is, with all the wonderful gay movies that never make it out of the film-festival circuit, how did this three-ring-circus of a movie get distributed?