Politics and homosexuality abut one another in POSTER BOY,
the feature directorial debut of film editor Zac Tucker from a
script by Lecia Rosenthal and Ryan Shiraki. It perhaps should be
noted that at one time, the project was being developed by the
late Herbert Ross (indeed, the film is dedicated to him). The
screenplay was loosely inspired by the life of Mary Cheney, the
lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and was meant
to address the clash between conservative politics and the
growing cultural prominence of gay men and lesbians.

POSTER BOY, Henry Kray (Matt Newton) is the son of
Jack Kray (Michael Lerner), a right-wing U.S. Senator from North Carolina.
The elder Kray expects his son to participate in his re-election campaign
and pressures the college student. Mrs. Kray (Karen Allen) stands by
and acquiesces because that's what is expected of her. What the
politician doesn't know is that his son is homosexual and has
not exactly been careful about hiding the fact at college. A group
is determined to formally "out" him at a speech his father is to deliver
on campus.

There are some intriguing and interesting ideas in the film,
but it suffers from a terrible structure. The movie is constructed as
a series of flashbacks as Henry answers questions about the events
posed by a journalist. The effect can be confusing and frustrating for
the viewer.

The turning point for Henry is a one-night stand with Anthony
(Jack Noseworthy), an older activist who is tired of one-night stands.
He has expectations of his encounter with Henry and when the younger
man makes it clear that he's not all that interested, Anthony petulantly
seeks revenge. It happens he comes across the group planning a
protest against the Senator's speech, so Anthony suggests that they
make Henry's homosexuality an issue, since it flies in the face of
the "family values" the politician proclaims. Of course, things change
when Henry gradually relents and spends more time with Anthony.

In another subplot, Anthony's HIV-positive roommate Izzie
(Valerie Geffner) is taken in by the Senator and his wife after their
car hits her accidentally. While it allows the opportunity for
both Allen and Geffner to deliver strong performances, this is one
of the least believable aspects of the muddled script.

Indeed, the screenplay is at the root of a lot of the film's
problems. Tucker has a good eye for casting and Noseworthy, Lerner
and Allen make the most of their roles. Newton is something of a
blank in the title role. He's an attractive presence but he's asked
to portray an ideal more than a fully rounded character. And he can't
make the wraparound sequences with the journalist work. It's not
clear what the character's intention is in spilling his guts to the

POSTER BOY is a flawed debut that played the festival
circuit in 2004 before hitting theaters and DVD in 2006. It might
be worth a look as a rental but don't expect great art.

 Rating:                 C -
 MPAA Rating:        R for language and some sexual content/nudity
 Running time:       98 mins.

                        Viewed on DVD
Poster Boy
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.