[Screen It]


(1998) (Sean P. Hayes, Brad Rowe) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Moderate *Minor Mild None None
Mild None None None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Moderate Mild None Mild *Minor

Romantic Comedy: A young gay man searches for love and believes he may have found it in a sexually ambiguous, male model that he's hired.
Billy Collier (SEAN P. HAYES) is a twenty-six-year-old budding photographer who's out of money and whose boyfriend, Fernando (ARMANDO VALDES-KENNEDY), has been unfaithful, but still wants to see him. A hopeless "old-fashioned" romantic, Billy is searching for and having a hard time finding such romance.

Sharing his romantic woes with his good friend and substitute big sister, "George" (MEREDITH SCOTT LYNN), Billy spots Gabriel (BRAD ROWE), a young waiter and knows he's the man for him. Not knowing if he's gay or straight, however, Billy approaches Gabriel with the offer to pose in some shots for his photo shoot that's being financed by his older gay fried, Perry (RICHARD GANOUNG).

While Gabriel states that he has an out of town girlfriend, Billy gets the feeling that he may have some hidden gay tendencies. Even so, he doesn't push the issue too hard and hopes that things will unfold on their own. After an older and accomplished photographer, Rex Webster (PAUL BARTEL), spots Gabriel and wants him for his own personal and business ventures, however, Billy must take action to discover whether Gabriel is gay and interested in him.

Unless they're into gay films, it's not very likely.
For language, some sexuality and drug content.
  • SEAN P. HAYES plays a gay, "old-fashioned" romantic who's hoping for the perfect love of his life to come along. Even so, he does sleep with another man, and smokes pot (via a bong) in one scene.
  • BRAD ROWE plays the object of Billy's attention and affection, and is a confused young man looking for guidance in many aspects of his life. He also smokes pot as well as regular cigarettes and turns out to be gay (or at least bisexual).
  • MEREDITH SCOTT LYNN plays Billy's best friend who smokes a little and has a brief (but unseen) liaison with a drug user.


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    Despite lacking the star power and studio financed big budget that brought the gay theme movies, "In & Out" and "The Birdcage" to mainstream audiences, "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss" -- a little film with big aspirations -- is just as charming and often as funny as its better known cinematic cousins.

    With the underpinnings of a traditional romantic comedy, the film adds a touch of early Woody Allen, a heavy dose of those old, campy 1960's beach movies, and has substituted a predominantly gay grouping of characters to create a picture that will delight gay audiences and may just do the same for those who are straight.

    The intentions of writer/director Tommy O'Haver, who makes his feature film debut with this picture, are not only to entertain all moviegoers, but also to clear up some grey areas regarding the whole gay/straight issue. Although the film starts off with a funny, gay related monologue and is mainly populated with gay characters, O'Haver cleverly manages to make the audience forget most of that as the story progresses.

    Of course, that issue is never completely forgotten since it's brought up so many times, but O'Haver's point is that the exciting and awkward stages of early romance transcend the sexes. By placing his characters into situations familiar to most moviegoers no matter their orientation, nearly everyone can commiserate and enjoy the romantic comedy elements.

    A moment where the camera lingers above Billy and Gabriel -- who've ended up platonically in bed together -- as Billy's uncertain about what he should or shouldn't do to "test the waters" is very funny and elicited the biggest laughs from our preview audience, most of whom have been in the same situation (again, regardless of their sexual orientation).

    The film is also charming due to its campy 1960's beach movie approach that it often presents. From the hilarious trio of decidedly unfeminine doo-wop drag queens who "perform" during the opening credit sequence (and several subsequent, but still quite funny appearances) to the many film-based fantasy sequences (usually shot in front of a rear screen projector -- just like those old beach flicks), the film is often hilariously campy in its own right.

    Some clever moments where sequential Polaroid snapshots accompany Billy's stories are also quite funny -- such as during the opening monologue -- and are reminiscent of Woody Allen's early films where he played around with unconventional film techniques.

    Beyond such visual moments and romantic comedy elements, O'Haver has infused his script with many unrelated, but humorous moments (especially those involving Billy's straight and female friend, George). His screenplay not only moves along at a brisk clip, but his characters are nicely drawn and their dialogue is often razor sharp.

    Of course, to pull all of this off, a likeable group of charismatic performers is needed, and here O'Haver has pulled a major casting coup. While the performers are relative unknowns, they deliver great performances and should go on to bigger (and equally better) things.

    As the title character, Sean P. Hayes is perfect in the role. Easily inheriting the type of character normally associated with the likes of Billy Crystal (discounting the sexual orientation), Hayes is funny, charming and easily elicits the audience's collective sympathy. Don't be surprised to see his star rising on the Hollywood skyline.

    Playing the object of nearly everyone's affection, Brad Rowe -- who looks so much like a young Brad Pitt that you'll begin to wonder about all of those recent cloning experiments -- is good playing the befuddled and sexually ambiguous beefcake. Meredith Scott Lynn, as Billy's best friend and sounding board (who's also one of the film's producers), is also highly reminiscent of another Hollywood star -- Minnie Driver -- and delivers a funny and delightful take on her character.

    An impressive, quirky and decidedly accessible debut for O'Haver, this film smartly avoids the issues of AIDS and gay rights and instead offers lightweight, fluffy enjoyment and should play well to open-minded audiences. Featuring good performances, a clever script, and some fun visual techniques and old fashioned, campy elements, "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss" might not reach mainstream moviegoers like its bigger budgeted, high profile Hollywood gay films, but it should. We give the movie a 7 out of 10.

    Obviously some people will have a problem with this film and its focus on homosexual behavior, and if that's the case, you should definitely pass on it. If you stick around, here's a quick look at its content. Some sexual activity is implied and discussed (of both orientations), but the only nudity that occurs is non-sexual in nature and consists of two brief shots of men's bare butts and a brief Polaroid image of a woman's bare breasts.

    Profanity is extreme with more than 20 "f" words and an assortment of others and some phrases. Two of the main characters briefly do bong (marijuana) hits, and a moderate amount of drinking also occurs. Beyond that, most of the remaining categories have little or no major objectionable material. Even so, and considering the (often) touchy subject matter, you may want to take a closer look at the film's content should you be concerned with its appropriateness.

    OF SPECIAL NOTE: A few bright and repetitive flashes occur at the beginning of Billy's fantasy segments.

  • During the campy opening credit sequence, Billy walks out and gives some sort of pill to one of the dancing drag queens. Suddenly the camera view distorts and the drag queen eventually falls unconscious to the floor.
  • Billy and Gabriel drink beer in several scenes and in one, Gabriel has had too much to drive home and thus stays over at Billy's.
  • People drink in a club.
  • Billy tells a story about him and a good friend in high school "being bombed" from drinking so much.
  • Billy, Gabriel and others drink at a photo gallery reception.
  • Billy and Gabriel each do a bong (marijuana) hit.
  • People drink cheap wine out on the beach after Billy's photo shoot, and later Billy and Gabriel continue to drink wine.
  • Billy and George meet a man who states that he'll be "tripping tonight" and that he takes acid. Later he comments that he got invited to Rex's party because he "scored some pot" for him" (we don't see any).
  • People drink at a post photo-shoot party.
  • We see a man's urine stream as he relieves himself (seen from behind).
  • Billy's boyfriend, Fernando, sleeps around behind (and in front) of his back.
  • Some may see Billy subtly encouraging Gabriel to explore his "gayness" as having some of both.
  • None.
  • None.
  • Phrases: "Laid," "Lay," and "Screw around" (sexual), "Freak," "Bitch," "Dork," "Shut up," "Ball" (testicle), "Sucks," "Take a piss" and "Dyke" (lesbian).
  • George playfully gives Billy "the finger" in a Polaroid shot.
  • None.
  • None.
  • None.
  • At least 21 "f" words (5 used with "mother"), 10 "s" words, 2 slang terms for breasts (the "t" word), 1 slang term for male genitals ("package"), 7 asses (2 used with "hole"), 1 damn, 1 hell, and 3 uses of "My God," 2 uses each of "God," "Oh my God" and "Jesus Christ," and 1 use each of "For Christ's sakes," "Jesus Christ," and "G-damn" as exclamations.
  • In an opening monologue, Billy talks about what it was like growing up as a homosexual, but doesn't say anything explicit other than the fact that gays aren't always "getting laid."
  • We also see a Polaroid of a woman's bare breasts as he mentions that one thing is for certain in the movie and that is that we "won't be seeing any t*ts."
  • We see Billy in bed with Fernando who's licking and kissing Billy's ear, but we don't see any nudity or other behavior (other than them being in their underwear).
  • Billy tells George, "I'd rather be tortured and laid, than comfortable and not" (about being in tumultuous relationships).
  • Billy makes a comment (about George's -- the woman -- boyfriend), "How do you know that his penis is large enough to sustain this relationship?"
  • Billy tells a story about his childhood where he told a good male friend that he liked pictures of naked men, although neither really knew what that meant at that age.
  • As Perry tells Billy that if Gabriel really is gay and will be "coming out," he says that he won't be ready for any long term relationship. Billy then comments, "So I should just think about sleeping with him once..."
  • Rex talks about being "pansexual" and describes that by saying, "I f*ck her, and she f*cks him, and he f*cks....etc..."
  • A woman in a bikini top shows some cleavage.
  • When Billy asks another man if he and Rex are an item, the man responds, "Yeah, but that doesn't mean he doesn't want to lay your boy (Gabriel)."
  • We briefly see part of Gabriel's bare butt as Billy opens his dressing room door while he's still getting dressed. Gabriel then comments that the swimsuit he's going to model in is too small and comments that people can see his "package" (and we do see him in a skimpy suit).
  • Through a series of nonsexual events, Billy and Gabriel end up in bed together just to sleep. After some brief flirtations, however, we see Billy kissing and caressing Gabriel and they nearly kiss, but Gabriel stops them.
  • It's implied that Billy and Fernando sleep together as we see them in bed the next morning.
  • We see a man's bare butt (as well as a urine stream) as he relieves himself into the water.
  • It's implied that George (the woman) and a "stoner" yacht owner sleep together.
  • Gabriel smokes several times, while George smokes twice.
  • People smoke in a club, and a few other minor characters also smoke.
  • None.
  • Being gay vs. straight, and that romance crosses sexual boundaries.
  • During some sort of avant-garde, live performance, a woman smacks a man and later throws coffee on him.

  • Reviewed July 23, 1998

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