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Review: The Boys In The Band Captures You With Astounding Performances; Still Not Enough Matt Bomer Though

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BY October 10, 2020
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It is beginning to feel like a Ryan Murphy world, with all the content he currently has on air right now. After Ratched, Hollywoodland, and The Politician, another Murphy produced film makes its way to Netflix. While the movie was only produced by Murphy, the film features all of Murphy’s trademarks; fascinating characters, immersive dialogue, and engaging situations. You’ll be hard-pressed to look away from the screen. The Boys In The Band review is about a movie that is all talk, but still so captivating while being all subtext and symbolism. 

A Movie Based On A Play That Plays Like a TV Bottle Episode

The Boys In The Band review dance Image via Netflix.

It’s hard to make movies that capture an audience’s imagination and keep them interested for an entire 120 minutes. That’s usually why most movies follow a formula of an interesting hook, followed by establishing the interesting characters right away. And then they also have to make sure that there’s enough action and explosions (physical or emotional) to keep audiences from looking away. So to achieve all that through only dialogue alone is difficult and rare. But The Boys In The Band manages to accomplish it in a way that feels dizzying and entirely engaging. 

The story revolves around a group of gay men attending a birthday party for a friend. As the night moves along, things take unexpected turns, revealing their deepest regrets, fears, and shame. As well as the arrival of an unexpected guest that catalyzes the events even more. The Boys In The Band is all about these gay men navigating the complexity of their lives during 1960’s New York. It feels like a film inspired by the dialogue-heavy independent films of the mid-to-late 1990s, where the storytellers rely on the performances and conversation to maintain the tension and drama.

The Boys In The Band Is All About The Cast And Performances

The Boys In The Band review dinner. Image via Netflix.

Many amazing actors have transitioned from the sitcom television into heavyweight dramas on the big screen. And one such actor is Jim Parsons, who made his mark in the industry as Sheldon in the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory. And recently, I’ve seen a string of his performances, such as Hollywoodland, making it hard for me to not acknowledge his powerhouse talent. In The Boys In The Band, Parsons plays Michael, a middle-aged gay man throwing a party for his friend, as a complication comes knocking on his door. Literally.

Michael, along with his emotionally distressed friend Donald (Matt Bomer) starts the movie with conversations about their lives and stresses leading up to the fun night to come. Both men are gay. Michael gets an anxious phone call from a straight college roommate, wanting to meet. He reluctantly invites him over to his social gathering, worrying about how he may react to his very flamboyant gay friends. A stellar cast brings the friends to life, featuring talents like Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Robin de Jesus, Tuc Watkins, and Michael Benjamin Washington. It’s these friends and their insanely good performances that really makes up the entire movie. And it’s incredible. 

The Movie Is The Same As The Revival Of The Original Broadway Play

The Boys In The Band review boys. Image via Netflix.

The Boys In The Band was an off-Broadway play from 1968, which came back for a revival in 2018. The Netflix original movie is from producer Ryan Murphy and brings back the entire openly gay Broadway cast as well. This is important because, as Quinto mentions in an interview with Vogue, representing gay characters with a gay cast was crucial to this story. And it’s clear to see why. The movie is about a look into the very real lives of gay men living in late 60’s New York. The trials and tribulations of their lives, the joys of their self-awareness, as well as the completely everyday drama that they deal with amongst each other and from outside influences.

The dynamics between the characters is extremely fun and interesting. Parsons is a mean-spirited gay man who can’t help but be bitter about his own loneliness, lashing out at others. Quinto plays the impartial, detached birthday boy with his own insecurities who spends the night trading barbs with Michael. They have an obvious history, which is hinted at, but never revealed. Andrew Rannells is hilarious and moving as a promiscuous man who doesn’t believe in monogamy. His lover, played by Tuc Watkins, is a former closeted, now out gay man trying to uphold his own monogamous ideals. Watkins’ Hank is one of the most interesting characters of the movie. 

Not Enough Bomer!

The Boys In The Band review Bomer. Image via Netflix.

The only issue I have with The Boys In The Band is how the movie underserves one of my favorite actors. Matt Bomer as Donald felt only there to serve as a referee and keep Michael reigned in. The White Collar actor is a stand out from movies like The Normal Heart, another movie co-starring Parsons that dealt with the HIV epidemic in the 80s. Bomer is a strong performer, and seeing him only for a few lines in the entire movie, was disappointing. But that’s more of a personal complaint than anything wrong with the movie itself. 

The Boys In the Band Is A Gay Drama That Makes Strides

Many times, stories about gay characters feel very much sanitized for a largely heterosexual audience. The stories have to mimic already established heterosexual formulas like the rom-com to be appealing to non-gay audiences. The Boys In The Band doesn’t adhere to those conventions and doesn’t try to make itself accessible to everyone. That further lends to its authenticity by being a genuine representation of the characters and their stories. 

The Boys In The Band is now streaming on Netflix. 

So what did you think about the new Ryan Murphy Netflix original? Let me know in the comments below. 

Featured Image via Netflix. 

MoviesGayJim ParsonsMatt BomerNetflix OriginalNetflix Original MovieRyan MurphyThe Boys In The Band

Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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