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Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss


Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss

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Tommy O'Haver's debut film was a big hit at Sundance this year, and it's easy to see why. Like 1994's Go Fish, Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss is a gay film so resolutely pleasant and unassuming that it almost takes effort to dislike it. Recognizably queer in sensibility but formulaic enough to appeal to a mass audience, Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss seems intent on charming its audience into submission. Goateed Jon Cryer lookalike Sean P. Hayes stars as an aspiring Los Angeles photographer who falls in love with an ostensibly straight waiter (Brad Rowe). Rowe likes Hayes, but Hayes rightly questions the nature of his affection for him. One of the film's strengths is that it never really tips its hand: Rowe's intentions are as much a mystery to the audience as they are to Hayes. The scenes between Hayes and Rowe aren't as consistently funny as the rest of the film, but that's only because O'Haver convincingly captures the awkward give-and-take of potential lovers scoping each other out rather than merely having them recite the slick one-liners found in most Hollywood romantic comedies. As Hayes' not-quite-oblivious object of affection, Rowe gives a deft performance that straddles the line between enigmatic and merely dense. Rowe's resemblance to Brad Pitt has been the subject of much of the press devoted to the film, but Rowe has the boyish good looks and the sincere-yet-smarmy demeanor of a hunkier Greg Kinnear. And as the film's lovelorn protagonist, Hayes makes an appealingly ordinary leading man. Smart, sensitive, and funny, Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss is a modest but worthwhile film.