Review: The Boys in the Band

Title: The Boys in the Band
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Joe Mantello
Starring: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer
Runtime: 2 hr 1 min

What It Is: Based on the 1968 play of the same name by Mart Crowley, the film centers around a friend group of gay men as they spend one night together in 1968 to celebrate one of their birthdays. It’s unclear exactly what the night has in store for them as an unexpected guest interrupts their festivities and true feelings towards one another rise to the surface.

What We Think: As soon as this film started, I was intrigued. The pacing started quickly and I found myself intently focused on the story unfolding in front of me in order not to miss the quick dialogue and introductions of characters. I was on board and ready to go full steam ahead when forty minutes in or so, the film tapered off and left me wondering if I was watching the same story. Yes, this is a film that examines self-hate and the struggle of self-acceptance (not to mention acceptance by society) but there’s an extreme amount of anger, hate, and bullying dispersed among the characters that, by the end of it, my blood was boiling and I wanted to scream. Of course, part of that is obviously intentional. The plot is minimal, the writing can be hard to follow for someone who doesn’t know too much about the pop culture of 1968 and the acting is nothing more than what you would expect from those in the cast. I would’ve loved even more background on the characters and more setup to the birthday party, which would’ve also helped make the two-hour runtime not feel so long. There was a lot of untapped potential in regards to characters’ developments and the complexity of the characters was hidden behind veils of simplicity. But, just as the movie is supposed to be frustrating at times, there’s an argument to be made that the characters are stuck under that veil. As I watched, I questioned what was going to happen but most importantly I wondered just how much this movie was really adding to the conversation.

Our Grade: C, I have to admit I’ve never seen the original play or movie so I have no idea if this version of the story is better or worse. This film is definitely an eye-opening period piece and an interesting discussion on internal conflict. While I can’t say I’d ever be tempted to watch this film again, I understand its value. I can’t stress this enough, the topics discussed and issues represented are still very important today and the film does a good job of making the viewer feel something. If you, unlike me, don’t have a personal pet peeve of Zachary Quinto’s acting, you’ll probably enjoy this film at least a little more.

Author: Cal Gessner