I Think I Do
Dir: Brian Sloan
Cert: 15 • US: 90 min • Peccadillo Pictures • DVD
I Think I Do opens with a series of vignettes which are staged, one assumes, during a single year. Each of these ‘periodic’ moments fall neatly on key public American holidays, a time when friends gather to seal life long bonds, make merry and to (more often than not), consume too much alcohol in a sado-masochistic attempt to destroy the relationships they have spent the last year building with one another. The vignettes are not only a device to introduce the characters to the audience but they also provide the events which form the backbone of the film’s story.
From Halloween, through Christmas to Valentine’s Day, we witness Bob doing what nearly all of us have done at some point in our lives, and that is fall for his straight best friend. Of course, this well known pitfall is a recipe for disaster which for Bob comes to fruition rather obviously (that’s right) at the Valentine’s Day party where he is rather publicly rejected and humiliated by Brendan, the object of his affection. These episodic flashbacks are mercifully short as none of the actors are particularly convincing as college students, and their antics threaten to alienate the audience before the movie even gets going.
However, it is at this point we jump forward five years to the ‘present’ at which time the friends are about to be reunited at another significant event – the wedding of Carol to Matt, two members of the collegiate group. During the intervening years Bob has become a successful soap opera writer, and is dating one of its current stars the ‘hunk’, Sterling Scott. He has grown, become more confident and moved on, but seemingly he is the only member of the group that has. As his friends descend on Washington DC for the big day, it becomes apparent that many of them still have the same hang-ups and neuroses they were riddled with at college and the impending wedding only serves to bring on an early onset of a mass-mid-life crisis. Add to this the unexpected arrival of the extremely sexy Brendan, and it would seem that there is another recipe for disaster being cooked up.
Writer and director Brian Sloan likens his light hearted story to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and where there is definitely a Philadelphia Story influence at play here, it owes much to the comedies and films of the decade in which it was made. As screwball as it attempts to be, Sloan is almost too sophisticated to allow his tale to truly run amok. The influence of the sitcom Friends, and the films Four Weddings and a Funeral & Beautiful Thing, which predate his film by one and two years respectively, are certainly felt. Like the British comedies penned by Curtis, Sloan attempts to deliver his story in a series of set pieces. Though not nearly as well crafted, they are certainly in no way as trite or formulaic.
The result is that the comedy doesn’t always hit its mark, but when it does, it’s most satisfying and its gentle tone allows for some quite touching moments between the central characters of Bob (Alexis Arquette) and Brendan (Christian Maelen). This sentiment is well served by a soundtrack that, in the same way Beautiful Thing utilized the back catalogue of the Mamas and the Papas, draws on the songs of the Partridge Family, adding an air of innocence with a large helping of goofy retro.
It’s worth noting that the film, released in a pre-Will & Grace era, was rare for its time in that it presents a group of characters, some of whom are gay, in a fairly understated way. With the exception of making the common mistake of ‘recreating’ and shooting a gay night club scene, the film presents a world in which its heterosexual characters are more likely to be caricatured (and promiscuous) than their gay counterparts, one of whom talks about having a civil partnership… with a ‘themed’ reception.
Despite the fact that the main story arc can be seen approaching from more than 50 minutes away, Sloan’s skill is to keep its resolution from the audience right up to the last second. It’s also a credit to its director that it’s quite difficult to imagine that the film was released twelve years ago, during that time, it has hardly aged at all, and with the very smart (read clever, and/or botoxed) repackaging from Peccadillo Pictures who have brought a touch of class to the cover art, it seems it will continue to endure for some time still.
Gay weddings are so cool! You could have a totally kitschy reception.
(Bob storms away in disgust)
or… a… small intimate dinner party?