The outsider road picture Gypsy 83 means well, but writer-director Todd Stephens can't keep his aesthetic out of the way. One of Stephens' acknowledged influences is John Hughes, and, as with his screenplay for Edge Of Seventeen, Gypsy 83 plays like a Hughes movie with explicit gay sex. It's wedged awkwardly between evoking slick Hollywood teen comedies and subverting them, and Stephens' allegiance to shallow "coming of age" storytelling can't bear the weight of his pervasive cynicism.
Sara Rue stars as a chubby aspiring rock star and Stevie Nicks fan who leaves Sandusky, Ohio, with her gay goth pal Kett Turton to drive up to a New York City gay bar's annual "Night Of 1000 Stevies" look-alike contest (a real event, as it happens). Along the way, they meet a succession of Middle Americans who've learned to live with compromised dreamsbut, as conceived by Stephens, even the sympathetic supporting characters are merely functional, and ultimately as superficial as the stereotypical yuppies and rednecks who hassle Rue and Turton back home.
The only halfway-believable characters in the movie are the two leads, who overreact to every perceived slight the way a couple of self-styled outcasts would. And, though it may be a stretch to imagine Rue trying to become a rock star by imitating Stevie Nicks at a drag show, there's an odd specificity to that choice that's lacking from the rest of the film. Confronting a couple of urban poseur-baiters, Rue snarls, "Why don't you try being a freak out in the real world?"a line that would mean more had Stephens attempted to portray the real world, instead of a movie world of thick-lined heroes and villains. As it is, Stephens is so busy trying to bait and shock the squares that he leaves hipsters way behind. And who's not a hipster these days?