[Screen It]


(1999) (Ben Silverstone, Brad Gorton) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Minor Heavy Minor *Minor
Mild None Minor None Extreme
Smoking Tense Family
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Heavy Mild Mild Mild Mild

Drama/Comedy: A gay English teenager must decide whether to "come out" when he falls for a popular student whom most classmates presume is straight.
In the upper-middle class suburb of Basingstoke, England, sixteen-year-old Steven Carter (BEN SILVERSTONE) seems to be a typical, reserved but confident student whose parents (DAVID LUMSDEN & JACQUETTA MAY) don't understand him, all of which exacerbates his recent problems at school.

With even his best friend Mark (PATRICK NIELSEN) completely unaware, it seems that the only person who knows that Steven is gay is his next-door neighbor and confidante, Linda (CHARLOTTE BRITTAIN), a heavyset young lady who repeatedly fails her driving tests since she's attracted to her instructor. Other students, however, such as the obnoxious Kevin (TIM HARRIS), suspect as much and ceaselessly torment Steven for it.

Since "coming out" would insure even greater school-wide ridicule, Steven keeps his homosexuality a secret from everyone, and instead meets anonymous strangers at a public restroom for quick trysts. It's there that he's surprised to meet John Dixon (BRAD GORTON), the school's resident athletic hunk and presumed stud who hangs out with Kevin and the other athletes.

Despite dating Christina Lindmann (LOUISE J. TAYLOR), a mail order model, John is apparently unsure of his own sexuality and finds himself attracted to Steven. Since the feeling is mutual, the two eventually become lovers, but find that they must hide their relationship, let alone any sort of friendship, from both their classmates and family.

To complicate matters, Jessica (STACY A. HART), who recently broke up with Kevin, mistakes Steven's kindness to her for romantic attraction, while Wendy (KATE McENERY), the school's magazine editor, has the hots for John. As Steven and John then try to figure out if and when to go public with their relationship, they must deal with their conflicting feelings and everyone else's potential reaction to their revelation.

Unless they're gay or curious about such matters, it's probably not very likely.
For language and sexual content.
  • BEN SILVERSTONE plays a gay teenager who lives out his covert sexuality through trysts with total strangers. He does eventually fall for another male student and begins a sexual relationship with him. Along the way he lies to others about that and uses strong profanity.
  • BRAD GORTON plays a popular student who's confused about his sexuality, but does enter into a homosexual relationship with Steven. He also uses strong profanity and smokes.
  • CHARLOTTE BRITTAIN plays Steven's next-door neighbor and confidante who also uses strong profanity and repeatedly fails her driving test so that she can eventually seduce her instructor (she apparently succeeds).
  • TIM HARRIS plays John's obnoxious friend who likes to torment and/or threaten Steven.
  • STACY A. HART plays a student who's recently broken up with Kevin and finds herself attracted to Steven.


    OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
    As most everyone can probably attest, one's teen years are often the most turbulent, frustrating and toughest time of anyone's life. Of course, in hindsight, and with many intervening years, that time doesn't seem quite as bad. Nonetheless, the fact that one goes from a dependent child to an increasingly independent young adult during this time certainly causes a great deal of stress.

    Not only must teens cope with their changing bodies and emerging sexuality, but also with school, peer pressure, dating and parental expectations regarding those issues and more. Imagine then, if all of that was exacerbated by knowing or questioning that you were gay and realizing that no one could ever find out.

    That's the gist of director Simon Shore's directorial debut, "Get Real." Based on the stage play "What's Wrong With Angry" by Patrick Wilde who subsequently penned the screenplay adaption, this bittersweet drama/comedy may end up being a bit too forward in its presentation of homosexuality for many mainstream moviegoers.

    Although it doesn't go as far as some other gay-based films, this one isn't quite as "user friendly" as say, the recent and decidedly glossier "In & Out" with Kevin Kline as the small town schoolteacher confused with his sexuality.

    More akin to something of a gay spin on those old teen comedies that John Hughes unleashed on the public during the 1980s, this film likewise won't attain the popularity of those pictures due to its lack of appeal to mass audiences. Those with more of an open mind, however, may find this dryly comic look at coming out, British style, a somewhat intriguing and/or entertaining diversion.

    Like those Hughes films it emulates, this picture features a protagonist whose parents don't understand him and who's dissatisfied with his love life and finds himself longing after the school hunk. That student seemingly has it all -- good looks, genes, family money and an attractive girlfriend -- but likewise is confused about his feelings and overall place in life. Throw in the wisecracking, confidant friend and you'll find yourself imagining Molly Ringwald and the rest of the 80's "Brat Pack" sauntering in at any moment.

    As such, the film follows a similar path as films like "Sixteen Candles -- albeit with one big twist -- with romantic longings, flirtatious behavior and the standard, obnoxious jocks who want to disrupt and/or ruin everything. Yet this picture never feels quite as manufactured as its predecessors and thus comes off as a bit more believable.

    While I can't identify with what it must be like to face "coming out," Ben Silverstone (the "Lolita" remake) certainly delivers what seems to be a credible performance as the lead character facing that dilemma. Perfectly playing the loner whose apparent confidence masks the still obvious teen insecurities, Silver easily wins the audience's sympathy -- even if his character's habit of picking up strangers -- and in particular men -- may be troubling or distasteful to some or many.

    The rest of the cast -- most of them making their feature film debuts -- all deliver strong and believable performances. Brad Gorton is quite effective as the confused teen who's torn between his romantic feelings and his need to protect his popularity, while Charlotte Brittain as Steven's confidante, is the film's most fun creation. Inhabiting the comedic sidekick role, Brittain nicely plays the character and gets most of the film's best lines.

    Compelling in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way -- which, of course, is symbolically used as a literary and symbolic backdrop during several classroom scenes -- the film does have its share of lighter moments, although most would probably classify its humor as dry and/or ironic. Nonetheless, they somewhat make the film more accessible to the average moviegoer -- using humor, the same tactic as "In & Out" did -- and thus prevent it from coming across as a downer.

    Although the film will clearly play best to its niche audience, those who don't mind the subject matter may find an interesting and occasionally funny and thought-provoking picture. Although the question of whether Steven will officially "come out" is what propels the story forward, the ending certainly isn't entirely predictable and some nicely constructed complications arise at the proper moments to keep things interesting.

    With solid performances from its decent, but mostly unknown cast and dialogue that doesn't seem prefabricated to meet Hollywood standards, the film may not appease the mass moviegoing public, but its obvious homage to John Hughes and lifting of his general story structure will give the movie a bit of a chance to succeed.

    While it's not a tremendously entertaining film by any means, "Get Real" is a decent debut for director Shore and may just open some eyes to what many in our society must endure in one of the most difficult periods of anyone's life. We give the film a 6 out of 10.

    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama/comedy. Profanity is extreme due to the use of at least 20 "f" words, with other words and phrases also occurring. Some sexually related discussions are present as are implied heterosexual and homosexual encounters. The latter includes scenes where two guys kiss and in one we see one of their bare butts the morning after they've slept together.

    Several characters have bad attitudes, including students who pick on Steven for being different (that results in some brief, threatening violence), and some smoking and drinking also occur. Although it's questionable just how many kids will want to see this film, due to its non-flinching view of teen homosexuality, some viewers may wish to take a closer look at the listed content should they still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for them or anyone else in their home.

  • At a dance, Kevin asks Linda if she wants a swig from his flask, but she declines.
  • John shows up at Steven's house and hands him a bottle of liquor.
  • People have wine and/or champagne at a wedding, including Steven who carries a glass.
  • Hoping to meet John, Steven sneaks a bottle of liquor from his parents' house. Later, we see Steven drinking straight from this bottle (that appears to be wine).
  • Steven has a tiny, bloody bump/cut on his head.
  • Kevin and other students pick on Steven for being different (and in one scene throw his book bag up onto the roof).
  • Some may see Steven's trysts with other men (that he picks up at a public restroom) as having some of both.
  • We later see that a man who had a brief tryst with Steven is actually married with a young child (ie. He had a homosexual affair).
  • Steven's dad goes through his son's trash, finds a thrown away essay and then submits it to a writing contest without Steven's consent.
  • We hear that after he had sex with Jessica, Kevin told everyone the graphic details.
  • Having Linda pointed out to him as someone he could date, Kevin states that a person would have to be desperate to go after her.
  • Steven occasionally lies to his parents about his whereabouts, activity and sexual orientation, as does John.
  • A married driving instructor flirts with Linda and then apparently has sex with her.
  • John and Steven hear someone in the woods at night (after they've just had sex) and they split up. Steven then sees two people with flashlights approaching and then pursuing him (they turn out to be police).
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be a little tense to some viewers.
  • Starter pistol: Used to start a race.
  • Phrases: "F*ck me," "D*ckhead," "Sh*t for brains," "Blokes," "Wanker," "Bollocks," "Balls" (testicles), "Dodgy," "Fairy" and "Queer" (for gay), "Bloody hell," "Bastard," "Pissed" (drunk), "Take it up the bum" and "Shut your face."
  • Kevin and other students pick on Steven for being different (and in one scene throw his book bag up onto the roof).
  • Kevin gives "the finger" to Wendy.
  • None.
  • A few scenes have some suspenseful music in them.
  • None that was heard.
  • Due to occasionally hard to understand accents, the following should be considered a minimum. At least 20 "f" words, 15 "s" words, 4 slang terms for male genitals ("pr*ck," "d*ck" and "willy") 1 slang term for sex ("shagging"), 7 uses of "Bollocks," 4 uses of "Bugger," 4 "Wankers," 3 hells, 1 ass, 1 crap, and 10 uses of "God," 4 of "Oh God," 2 of "Christ" and 1 use each of "Jesus," "For God's sakes" and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • In flashback, Steven mentions first learning about sex from his friend (and his father's apparently pornographic videotapes) and says that he believed making babies came from two women tying a man to a bed and "covering his willy with ice cream."
  • We hear a film narrator talking about a female getting ready for a male, arching her back, etc... until we finally see that it's a schoolroom-seen nature film about porcupine mating rituals.
  • We hear Steven narrating again saying that sex was seemingly simple because all one had to do was "find someone to do it with, find somewhere to do it, and do it."
  • After we see Steven meeting a man on a park bench outside a public restroom, he tells Linda that they "did it" in the woods.
  • Steven tells Linda that he was eleven when he discovered masturbation and that it was another three years before he discovered he could do it on his own.
  • Linda describes John using a sexual metaphor.
  • When discussing her ongoing driving lessons, Linda mentions that not all men are obsessed with sex.
  • When John tells Steven that he doesn't know what overcame him, it sounds like Steven jokingly says that it's "more a question of who came over you."
  • A person recounts not knowing what all the fuss was about girls and someone saying, "I'd rather see a boy's willy any time" to which the first person agreed.
  • Still unsure of each other, John and Steven nonetheless wrestle over the latter's bedside teddy bear and then nearly kiss as John begins to undo Steven's belt. He then stops before anything else happens.
  • Wendy comments that John could do something to her with (what sounded like) "his baton."
  • Dave briefly talks to Steven about the medical condition of having a permanent erection. Later, he asks him (about John's model girlfriend), "Have you ever thought about doing it with her?"
  • Jessica confides to Steven that she and Kevin finally had sex and it was the first time for her.
  • Rebuking his advances, Linda says that she could just imagine sex with Kevin, commenting on the pathetic fumbling with the bra strap...and then the main event that would be over in seconds or not at all. When she then tells Kevin to "take it up the bum," he says that's Steven's department.
  • While embraced in a slow dance and with Steven staring at John who's dancing with his girlfriend, Linda suddenly backs away and says, "Don't you start" (referring to his apparent erection). He then says that he was thinking of someone else.
  • Later, Linda jokingly tells Steven that they could have a threesome while watching a videotape, "You, me and Mel Gibson."
  • John recounts a story where he got drunk, stripped and jumped into a freezing body of water, got out and was dried off by another male student. He then found that he was getting aroused and the other guy started touching him, but that John then stopped them.
  • John and Steven kiss on the latter's bed and the camera then fades to black. The next morning, however, we see John nude in Steven's bed and see various brief and partial shots of his bare butt as he rolls over and finally gets up (all implying that they had sex).
  • Linda keeps failing her driving lesson because she's attracted to her instructor. In one scene, we see him caress her hand and then later hear that they apparently had sex (what Steven calls "shagging" and to which she calls "making love").
  • John and Steven run off into the woods to have sex and we see them afterwards (dressed and with Steven's arms around John).
  • A driving student sees the following sign painted on an instructor's car, "Free sex with every lesson."
  • We see Steven and John making out while standing in a swimming pool.
  • John smokes around three times, while Steven briefly smokes once. Kevin also smokes once, as does Steven's father and various other miscellaneous characters.
  • Steven and his father are occasionally at odds, with his dad wondering why he can't see anything through to its completion.
  • Steven's parents must deal with his homosexuality (and he with their reaction). The same holds true (very briefly) with John and his parents.
  • Gay people and their difficulties in "coming out."
  • How people deal with others whom they find "different."
  • Kevin violently grabs Steven by his shirt collar in a menacing fashion.
  • At a dance, Kevin won't let Jessica go and grabs her arm. In return, she slaps him.
  • After Steven purposefully tears John's shirt, Kevin grabs Steven and slams him against some lockers in a threatening fashion. John then comes in, and we then hear what sounds like punching noises, but it turns out that John and Steven are faking it. When they're nearly found in an embrace by Kevin, however, John (needing to play the part of a straight guy), throws Steven into the lockers and then kicks him in the gut on the floor.

  • Reviewed June 7, 1999 / Posted June 18, 1999

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