07 February 2013

Movie Review: An Angel Named Billy

Now, I really try to like a movie. Really, I do. But this is one of those movies where I feel like two sophomores in college somehow got $200,000 to make a movie and did it. The script was lacking all around. And while the individual actors may be good actors, something was missing and that would be stage chemistry.

The quick of it is this: Senior citizen and stroke survivor Mark and his best friend, golden gay drag queen Thomas, have a plan to find Mark's gay son James a life partner. Meanwhile, Billy lives on the farm with his somewhat fanatical, alcoholic father. Just before his best friend leaves the countryside, he makes out with Billy pictured above while his alcoholic father just happens to be watching in a random spot nearby. That triggers a painful, failed alcoholic, fanatical, divorced father trying to torment his gay son scene and Billy flees to Los Angeles. Looking for work, Billy responds to an ad to be a caregiver for Mark.

In the narrative, that would set the stage for the movie except it occurs about halfway into the movie and the narrative continues to ramble to a sudden and abrupt conclusion. We never know what happens to the alcoholic, fanatical father but we pick up a mother. The production values were pretty bad as well even easily avoided continuity errors seemed to go unnoticed in the editing room.

Okay. Now I'm going to spoil the ending. I understand the narrative was to show that through helping an old man, the young man can renew something. But it was executed thoughtfully. First, I would reorient the father character in the film. The writer either did not experience abusive parents in childhood or is in such denial that he just wrote it bad. In any event, I would either focus on the religious fanaticism, violence or alcoholism and do a good job with one of those characteristics.

It's not clear why he didn't simply run after his best friend and instead hitchhiked from Arizona to Los Angeles. I'd clean that up or rewrite the best friend into a passing through stranger or something.

Kadyr Gutierrez plays woefully 
under-utilized character Guy in the movie

When he gets to Los Angeles, he shouldn't meet Guy. Instead, he should meet Guy's boss Nancy and have Nancy help him come into contact with Mark, preferably through a connection between Nancy and Thomas -- that doesn't exist in the movie.

By observing the care that Billy gives to Mark, James is able to get his shit together and drop his meth addict boyfriend (ex boyfriend or whatever). Billy meets Guy at the park he takes Mark to and when James has been able to drain the swamp of his personal life, Mark dies. James is happy to be a father figure to Billy and Guy and in the process meets a nice professional his age who is grounded and stable and they form a romantic relationship.

That would have been the story had I participated in the writing of the script. I didn't though, so that's not the narrative of the movie.

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