The party just got started, and the guests have a lot to offer.
Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, and Andrew Rannells, some of the best gay actors in the entertainment industry, are among the fresh talents to reprise their roles in the Netflix version of Matt Crowley’s Broadway show “The Boys in the Band.” In fact, it’s the second film version after William Friedkin directed one in 1970, and director Joe Mantello (who directed the 2018 version on Broadway) continues to respect the gay community, by allowing the real-life homosexual actors to be human beings, and refusing to succumb to the homophobia in the past. I’m more than riveted this cuts back on the slurs and hatred, and provides a spontaneous theme.
The story takes place in New York City of 1968. Michael (Parsons) is hosting a birthday party for the always tardy Harold (Quinto) in his apartment. His guests also consist of Donald (Bomer), Larry (Rannells), Emory (Robin de Jesus), Bernard (Michael Benjamin Washington), and Hank (Tuckering Watkins), along with a midnight cowboy (Charlie Carver). They’re all here to have a good time without a care in the world, and they use their words for comic relief or to show their flamboyance.
But an unexpected guest to crash the party is Michael’s old college friend Alan (Brian Hutchison), who called him earlier asking if he can come over to talk about a problem he’s having. He then calls in from a phone booth, apologizing for causing him some stress, and decides not to come over, but not until later, when he shows up at the party, punching Emory, throwing up in the John, and being forced to play a game. This game, set up by Michael, requires the guests to call someone they previously loved or had a fling with. That’s when the other homosexuals express their true emotions.
I didn’t understand every conversation, but I still found the dialogue and arguments to be outspoken and poetic in the ways the characters express themselves. The performances from the original Broadway cast- Parson, Quinto, Bomer, Rannells, de Jesus, Hutchison, Washington, Watkins, and Carver- are all uniformly excellent in how they bring their characters to life. There are those who love one another, those who are self-loathing homosexuals, and those who regret not admitting their love for their old lovers. And the third act explodes with great intensity.
The costume designs are flexible and stylish, and there’s a scene when Harold talks about how he has to look his very best, which is why he’s always late, even to his own party. The monologues shake the characters up with how they reveal themselves, and they go in different directions. And the music matches the mood and tone of the movie, with Herb Albert’s “This Guy’s in Love with You” being the best song used.
“The Boys in the Band” is a passionate story about love and regret, and Mantello and producer Ryan Murphy are both able to share their version on Netflix with real emotions, profound acting, sensitive themes, and some drinks to try to numb the characters’ respective pains. This has something for fans of the play and for those who never seen it.
Available on Netflix