Director: Casper Andreas
Writers: Casper Andreas, Jesse Archer
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Runtime: 87 min
Stars: Jesse Archer, Charlie David and Jeremy Gender
Like a diva in an opera, Luke (Jesse Archer) makes a flamboyant entrance in the romantic comedy "A Four Letter Word." With his bottle-blond hair and a propensity for outfits that glitter, his appearance screams "Look at me." Luke is the Samantha of his clique of Manhattan friends, a stepping-out kind of guy obnoxiously on the make.
By living very much in the moment, he's a throwback to the anything-goes, pre-AIDS generation. Pals keep warning Luke to find other ways to express himself besides through sex. The risk of AIDS isn't mentioned (if there is a whisper, it escaped this critic's ears).
This film certainly has flaws, lack of character development for one. For another, dissolving into sheer silliness rather than aiming for the hard laughter that comes with recognition of shared behavior.
To the extent that Luke is presented as a confused New York single, a man-child stomping his feet and refusing to grow up, "A Four Letter Word" succeeds as a romantic comedy that need not be prefaced with "gay."
The title is a tease. It doesn't stand for what filmmaker Casper Andreas would lead you to believe. There are two versions mentioned of what it stands for: home and love. Both connote domesticity and coming in from the wild.
In early scenes Luke is luxuriating in his untamed life. Entering a gay bar, he shouts out, "Let the manhunt begin." He meets a hunk named Stephen (Charlie David) and is so impressed with him and his position in life - he's a trust baby who paints colorfully large canvases - that Luke considers settling down.
Luke soon learns that his lover has lied to him. How he handles it takes up a chunk of the movie. There also are side stories. The best concerns Marilyn (Virginia Bryan), who hangs out with the boys and enlists their help in planning her wedding. Bryan is amusing playing a hyper neurotic who badgers her fiance about their nuptials while he's under the sheets attempting to please her.
Self-help organizations are mocked in the script, co-written by Andreas and Archer. Luke, who attends to cure his sexual compulsion, has a hard time spitting out his "problem," as do the other afflicted. While Marilyn is being treated for alcoholism, her female AA sponsor comes on to her. That could make anyone crave a drink.
Luke and Stephen have been given some crisp repartee, almost worthy of a '40s romantic comedy. Luke's opening line at the bar: "Honey, if you're not sparkling, what are you?" to which Stephen responds by branding him "a gay cliche."
Luke also banters with Zeke (Cory Grant, a name that has to be made up). They're work together at a sex store, leading to lots of jokes about the merchandise.
"Four Letter Word" is a perfectly harmless little comedy. The few moments of seriousness, when Luke ponders his future, may resonate with some audiences but are unlikely to change anyone's life. The best four-letter word to describe this film is fizz.
-- Advisory: Sexual content, profanity.