I’ve always thought it was odd there weren’t more explicitly gay musicals, but that’s probably because they’re surprisingly tough to put together and shoot. As a result it’s difficult to get one to the screen on with type of budget that most gay-themed entertainment has to play with. But Leave It On The Floor isn’t just a rare gay musical, it also deals with queer people of colour (or QPOC as it’s sometimes termed), and a whole spectrum of gender and self-expression that’s often avoided or side-lined in gay movies.
Brad (Ephraim Sykes) is a young man who gets thrown out by his mother after she discovers he’s gay. He finds a new home in the world of ball culture, an underground scene in which different ‘houses’, largely made up of gay and transgendered black people, compete on a catwalk/dancefloor to see who is the most vibrant, stylish, fierce and fabulous. Brad is befriended by Princess (Phillip Evelyn), who takes him to a house run by Queef Latina (Miss Barbie-Q), who isn’t initially impressed by this interloper into her domain. However as Brad begins to find acceptance and perhaps a love interest in the tricky Carter (Andre Myers), tragedy is around the corner.
To be honest, the plot is a bit all over the place and could sometimes have done with finding its core and sticking closer to it. The problem is that it has a little too much to say. You get the feeling that Leave It On The Floor feels the particular issues of being black and queer have been ignored and so wants to cover as much ground as possible, from the homophobia of some parts of the black community to the cop out aspects of what the film calls ‘black love’. It’s all interesting but it undoubtedly feels likes there’s a little too much going on, and either the various ideas it wants to look at needed to be pulled tighter into the central story or dispensed with.
From our interview with Leave It On The Floor Director Sheldon Larry
Of course, with a musical the whole thing falls to bits if the tunes aren’t good, but thankfully Leave It On The Floor has few issues on that score. The movie features 11 new songs from writer/lyricist Glenn Gaylord and composer Kim Burse (who is Beyonce’s music director). Although there are a couple of songs that don’t fully hit the mark, most of the time the film is definitely lifted by the frequent arrival of the catchy, modern and largely upbeat music. This isn’t just because of the songs, but also the fact another of Beyonce’s cohorts, her dance master Frank Gatiss Jr., provides the vibrant choreography.
It’s a tub-thumping, full-throttled musical with vast amounts of energy, and gives space to the sort of characters who rarely get a fair voice.
And you’ll probably be humming the song ‘Justin’s Gonna Call’ for days afterwards.
Overall Verdict: A barnstorming musical with great tunes and tonnes of attitude. The story does meander a little too much in the middle, but it’s still a very entertaining ride full a fierce, memorable characters.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac