One of the ‘barriers’ to having gay people in films is that a lot of the time filmmakers and producers feel there has to be a reason for a character to be gay (and to be honest, a lot of audience members aren’t much better). Unless they’re a very minor character or we’re supposed to be laughing at their campery, an LGBT character’s sexuality has to be intrinsic to the plot or they don’t exist – something that’s not demanded of straight characters.
It’s always good then when a film comes along where with a few nips and tucks the two main characters could have been straight, but they’re not, and the movie doesn’t try to de-gay them by essentially treating them as friends who say they’re in a relationship but show no signs of it.
Richard (Michael Urie) and Alex (Randy Harrison) are a young couple whose decision to gate-crash an event at the home they dream of owning ends up with them house-sitting there while the owners are away supposedly helping orphans in Bhutan. While they’re at the house they come across a room full of money, and understandably are thrown into a quandary.
They know the house’s owners said the cash was supposed to be for the orphans, but after the owners are killed suspicions are raised that they were really criminals using the money for themselves. Richard and Alex decide to take the money but can’t decide whether to use it for good or if they should use it to buy the house they love (with the hope of helping the orphans later). An extra fly in the ointment comes from Alex’s half-sister Paige (Carrie Wiita), who knows the cash is in the house and that some of it was the payment she and her husband (James Urbaniak) used to buy a house that’s since been condemned. She wants the money for herself and will stop at nothing to get it.
Such Good People is a caper film that manages to be a lot of fun and will keep a smile on your face even when the coincidences and implausibilities of the plot get close to causing your suspension of disbelief to waver. Urie and Harrison seem to be having great fun in the lead roles as a believably gay couple who may occasionally drift towards stereotypes, but only insofar as an awful lot of gay people so.
It’s the sort of movie that was obviously made on a shoestring, but it does an excellent job of not letting that stand in its way. Indeed it has a rather smart way of using its locations so that despite the inevitable limitations that lack of money cause, it feels far more expansive than it might otherwise have been.
The film also features a good selection of cameos, many of whom will be particularly appreciated by a gay audience. Scott Wolf pops up at the beginning as one of the faux hippie-ish owners of the house, while Anna Ortiz reunites with her Ugly Better co-star Michael Urie as a policewoman who gets involved with the missing cash. There’s also the likes of Lance Bass (who probably shouldn’t clear a space on his mantel for an Oscar anytime soon), Alex Mapa, Drew Droege, Tom Lenk and Rick Overton.
There are undoubtedly flaws in Such Good People, not least an ancient artefact that rather conveniently becomes very important towards the end so the plot can neatly wrap itself up, but for the most part it succeeds admirably. There are some good jokes and it’ll keep a smile on your face as Richard and Alex negotiate everything from trying to take back a donation to a Porpoise charity to a case of dog-napping that ends up becoming an Amber Alert for missing kids.
Overall Verdict: Entertaining, silly and keen to keep a smile on your face, Such Good People is such good fun (with a few minor reservations) and proof that even if characters don’t ‘have’ to be gay in a mainstream-style film, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac