Movie Review: “Golden Boy” harks back to a Not-Golden age in Queer Cinema

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Judas Priest, what CENTURY was “Golden Boy” filmed in?

I don’t have to ask when it was conceived, as that is obvious and the answer is “In Ancient Times.”

This injuriously eye-rolling gay coming-of-age melodrama harks back to the early years of Queer Cinema, when every tale — even the sensitive ones — had the feel of soft-core porn and the arch absurdity of “We’ve never written a screenplay before, so here’s some CLICHES.”

I could limit this review to a single “tell” — two words of dialogue that are both so dated and numbingly overused that you’d think nobody with an ear would think to ever put them in any movie ever again, especially one with a gay setting.

“Fresh meat!”

That’s what the smirking men and sexually omnivorous women purr when James Myers (co-writer Mark Elias) first starts showing up at the randier sort of parties in L.A.

Yes, 1977 is calling. Yes, I’ll hold.

James Myers hears his name a LOT in this inane, pokey tale of a Carolina “boy” (of 28) who hits bottom, only to be rescued by all the many of gay and gay friendly folk — pretty much everybody he meets — in and around West Hollywood.

They practically swoon in his presence, picking him up out of the gutter, inviting him home, giving him work and “access” to all the coolest parties and gayest clubs. Homeless? Not any more.

As the star is also the co-writer, one could point to a little self-delusion in the crafting of how he is described by all he meets — “boy” when he’s not that boyish, a looker when he’s basically Rami Malek without the Freddie Mercury teeth, strung-out looking sunken eyes and pallid skin in a city where the sun is shining all the time.

The character’s supposed to be an innocent when we meet him, a liquor store delivery “boy” whose name is blurted out by every single gay customer he meets.

“James Myers!”

One of those is the semi-mysterious man of means “CQ” (Lex Medlin), who always has a party going on.

“Jesus boy, you make misery so proud!”

Another is “Houston” (Logan Donovan), a creature of the streets who flirts, nicknames him Captain Liquor, then just “CL.” And who points out after James is fired from the liquor store, “A guy like you could clean up at the park!”

Yeah, he’s suggesting James Myers, “CL,” become a hooker. It is CQ who rescues James Myers from that life, takes him in, no sexual strings attached, and eventually has him make his own “deliveries.”

Houston stays in the picture, and as James is clothed, coiffed and car’d by Nutrasweet Sugar Daddy CQ, he also meets Josh (Paul Culos), a photographer who takes him in after he’s passed out on the street, vomiting from a night of sex and “X.”

This isn’t just dated, it’s a gay fairytale.

Houston and Josh become the magnets tugging the hard-partying, sex-with-anybody-who-asks James in two different directions. Josh is a stand-up guy, plays gay basketball in a gay basketball league and photographs himself, shirtless, every morning.

Because gay men and narcissism are the movie stereotype that never dies.

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One of the older men who likes having “pretty boys” around is played by Armin Shimerman, long-shorn of the Dumbo ears he wore on “Star Trek”: Deep Space Nine.”

As CQ’s demands shift and James grows more careless with his “work,” dealing with more and more dangerous people with these deliveries, as he submits to the sexual advances of more women and men, “Golden Boy” gets around to an odd and pejorative “message” it wants to send.

Gay men, this movie says, are all hustlers at heart. Sex is more transactional than romantic, and it really is all about “opportunity” in that Gore Vidal sense.

“Never pass up the chance to have sex or appear on television,” the writer declared.

I’m not gay, but I’ve been watching what came to be labeled “Queer Cinema” since “Lianna,” only catching up to the pre-history films in the genre at festivals in later years.

And I think “Golden Boy” is a giant step backwards, clumsy and silly and dumb and dull.

The “fresh meat” here spoiled around the time Reagan left the White House.

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MPAA Rating: unrated, with bloody violence, drug abuse, sex and nudity

Cast: Mark Elias, Lex Medlin, Logan Donovan, Kimberly Westbrooke, Paul Culos and Armin Shimerman.

Credits: Directed by Stoney Westmoreland, script by Mark Elias and Jonathan Browning. A DFM Creative release.

Running time: 1:42

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