NOTE: This review was written for and published on my former Blogger.com site, using my old rating scale. I have kept this review as was published.
This is 2013 entry falls into the typical coming-out high school sub-genre of gay themed movies. Directed by Gary Entin, though based off the book of same name written by Brent Hartinger, and is a very good entry in this category. I have not read the book yet, (though it is certainly on my to-do list) so understand this review won’t take the book into account. However, “Geography Club” is a film with great messages we can all learn from, while paying homage to experiences many of us have probably gone through ourselves. It is a subtle comedy that might now have you laughing, but instead crack a smile of joy and happiness. At present, the IMDB rating is 6.6/10. Personally, I’d give this an 8.
We are introduced to Russel, a typical teenage high schooler trying to come to terms with his sexuality and how he fits in. Opposite Russel is Kevin, the star of the football team with a secret of his own to hide. While the opening scene shows us that these two already are talking, it’s not till later during a science weekend field trip that their initial teenage romance takes that next step. What follows is a group story of tolerance and fitting in amongst their high school peers. Russel and Kevin take the lead in the story, but there are other side stories interconnecting with other classmates and our leads. Thus we learn more about Min, Terese, Ike, Brian, and more as the stories entwine – and we learn about the Geography Club, a private group of students seeking acceptance while they question themselves and their sexuality, so aptly named because no one would want to join. Unfortunately, these kids finally reach a moment where the private group needs to become public. This puts an awkward twist on the future for Russel and Kevin with an ultimatum we can all relate too. The end is still heartwarming to watch, even though it’s not exactly the ending you want after watching their story. The cute baby class project at the end also helps lift you mood!
Overall, I felt the acting to be real and genuine. There are character stereotypes portrayed, but this is a typical high school coming of age story. The cinematography was brilliantly handled and helps move the busy story along. There are some really heartwarming moments I could relate too – such as the opening scene where Russel is talking to a random guy in a chatroom regarding their first meeting, what clothes they’ll be wearing, etc and it gives you a flashback to your first time doing just that. They even include that feeling of letdown when you realize the guy you were supposed to be meeting didn’t actually show up. Ok, I might have aged myself there since I don’t think young kids understand the true significance of AIM chats! Since I know many of you are curious, there are a couple romantic kisses but no sex is shown – which is actually nice because it continues to show that gay themed movies do not have to resort to nudity and sex to tell a story.
There are some cliche moments as well: the first kiss occurring in a rainstorm; the loner kid beaten up and publicly humiliated by the jocks; the football star falling for the nerd; and a few others. There is also a lot of emphasis on dramatic irony in the film, notable from the start as the sunglasses the guy Russel is supposed to be meeting are shown hanging from Kevin’s back pocket as he walks away. The script handles the story very well, which is rather remarkable considering so many characters are involved and intertwined. Though with that, it also feels like all of the other characters besides Russel and Kevin had more to their individual stories that we do not see.
In all, I’m glad that this was not a cliche high school story, but rather one that has heart and draws the viewer in. Many messages can be derived from this film, and they apply to everyone not just high schoolers. Definitely a great movie to watch if you’d like a feel-good story.