When Scenes From A Gay Marriage came out, some reviewers compared actor/writer/director Matt Riddlehoover to Woody Allen. It’s something Matt seems to like, as his latest, West Hollywood Motel, borrows liberally from the type of plots Allen used to like, from The Purple Rose Of Cairo to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex. It even uses a similar title font to the one that has been a trademark of Woody’s for decades.
While learning from the greats is a good idea it can also be a dangerous one, as if it’s too obvious where the influence has come from there’s always a danger you’ll come off as a pale imitator. Thankfully for Matt, while West Hollywood Motel may not quite be up to the standard of the best of Allen, he knows how to take some of Woody’s traits and then gives things a modern, often gay-themed, twist to keep this fresh.
West Hollywood Motel follows several intercut stories, all of which take place in the rooms of the titular boarding house. There’s a husband and wife whose lives take a very unexpected turn when she suddenly discovers that she’s grown a penis. In another room two men get unexpectedly close after one of them checks in before the other has checked out. Then there’s Riddlehoover himself, who plays Marty, a man having issues with his boyfriend. He gets a surprise when the guy in the movie he’s watching (played by Scenes From A Gay Marriage’s Jared Allman) literally comes to life in his room and needs a bit of training in modern gay life, such as how Grindr works.
The film is a sometimes unexpected mix of the intimate and the odd, the domestic and the fantastical. It’s essentially a set of short stories cut together, looking at various aspects of life and love in the modern world, especially how it relates to all things LGBTQ. It often uses the more fantastical aspects of its plots to highlight the peculiarities of modern life.
As you’d expect from a film like this, some of the stories are more interesting than others. For pure entertainment value it’s Phil Leirness and Amy Kelly as the woman with a penis and her hubby who are most fun. While you’d expect this development to freak the wife out, she seems surprisingly accepting and quickly begins to wonder about the possibilities of being born as a woman but now having a dick. The hubby meanwhile isn’t sure what to think, as he can’t get past the idea that any sex would now involve him dealing with another penis.
With all the tales there’s a slight feeling that the ideas they bring up could have been taken further and that they haven’t been fully mined of their possibilities. However it does enough with its material to make it worthwhile, skipping along at a decent pace and offering plenty of entertainment along with a few laughs. It’s a very low budget movie and there are a few audio issues, but nothing that should spoils the viewers’ enjoyment too much.
Overall Verdict: West Hollywood Motel offers an entertaining set of intercut tales, which are often as unexpected as they entertaining. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is a fun one.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac