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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.95%
Worth A Look42.11%
Average: 2.63%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 26.32%

3 reviews, 20 user ratings

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Freshman Orientation
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by EricDSnider

"Chicks dig the gays."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: There are some raucous good laughs peppering the otherwise standard proceedings in "Home of Phobia," about a college guy who pretends to be gay in order to get a girl to like him.

If that plot summary doesn't make sense to you, then this is not your movie. Take the movie's word for it that women love gay men: They're sensitive, fashionable, hygienic, polite, and they're not constantly trying to have sex with them. They're every woman's dream, if every woman's dream doesn't involve sex, which maybe it doesn't. I don't know; I'm a man.

Anyway, Clay Adams (Sam Huntington) is a Wisconsin native newly enrolled as a freshman at a big-city university. He finds the atmosphere less party-oriented than he had hoped, though, with many of the women (or "wimmin," as their fliers call them) being feminists, activists, lesbians, man-haters, or some combination thereof.

Then two college initiation rites synergize to give Clay an idea. The fraternity he's pledging puts him and his roommate Matt (Mike Erwin) in a public and compromising situation as a prank, causing the entire student body to think they're both gay. Meanwhile, the sorority being pledged by Amanda (Kaitlin Doubleday) -- the object of Clay's affection -- plans its "In the Company of Men"-style festival of cruelty, wherein each girl has a month to find a particular type of man, make him fall in love with her, and then dump him. Amanda's assignment is to find a gay guy. She thinks Clay is gay. Clay knows she thinks he's gay. Clay pretends to be gay in order to get close to her. It's a foolproof plan!

Sam Huntington is an effective lead, resembling a young Craig Kilborn with the same smarm-posing-as-charm demeanor. He works the material (written and directed by first-timer Ryan Shiraki) like a pro, never giving into clownery or over-the-top theatrics as many young comedic actors would do in similar situations.

Providing many laughs is Heather Matarazzo as Jessica, Amanda's less-popular friend. Jessica, a Jewish girl, is assigned to find and destroy a Muslim man for the sorority prank, and the sight of her dressed in full Islamic regalia outside a mosque, trying to flirt with men, is priceless.

Rachel Dratch has a similarly undignified but entertaining role as Very Drunk Chick, a perpetual college student (going on 10 years now) who is perpetually drunk and generally hitting on Matt.

And is there anything funnier than a gay John Goodman? I don't think so. He plays a local bartender who helps Clay gay himself up enough to convince Amanda, a sort of Queer Eye for the Allegedly Queer Guy.

There's some fairly shrewd social satire in all this, notably in the segment where Clay is believed to have been the victim of a gay-bashing, leading all the campus minorities to rally together in his defense. The hysteria of political-correctness run amok is amusingly re-created here. I particularly like the declaration of a militant African-American lesbian, when told she needs to stop screaming and quiet down: "I have been quiet -- for THREE THOUSAND YEARS!"

But the film's abundant humor and sharp tongue give way to watery romantic-comedy conventions in the end. This is, after all, the basic Two-Lie Scenario of the rom-com template: Clay is lying about being gay, and Amanda is lying about why she's hanging out with him. The truth is bound to come out, whereupon they will be bound to split up and then miss each other in a montage while a hip love song plays on the soundtrack. It's disappointing that a film must give in to expectations like that, especially when it means the humor nearly evaporates. But up to that point, it's a winner, a goofy, marginally meaningful comedy with a lot of energy to it.

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originally posted: 02/01/04 10:34:40
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User Comments

8/11/07 troy i knew loronzo and he never went to film school couldn't even afford a meal when i knew hi 1 stars
7/21/07 justin i thnk loronzo should llearn to type decent english befor he ventures into movies 1 stars
6/24/07 justin i think this movie has a great meaning i dunno what have a great meaning is but it's good 3 stars
4/27/06 Exlymonda Britten I was in this movie as an extra, how do i buy this movie? 5 stars
3/05/06 Tracey Johnson Laughed really hard, can't wait for others to see! 5 stars
5/30/05 Exlymonda Britten I was an extra in this movie.When will it come out? 5 stars
10/23/04 Rena I LOVED IT! 5 stars
7/20/04 Breeder Basher Heterosexuals: Go Straight to hell! 1 stars
6/20/04 Michelle Miller I really like show espically the Jungle 2 Jungle you look hot in it. 5 stars
4/29/04 Mark Thought it would be stupid teen sex romp and laughed the whole way though. 5 stars
4/01/04 Loronzo Nickleson i think that this movie is very funny and have a great meaning... waiting 4 boxoffice Rels 5 stars
3/26/04 mia mitchell hillarious, had me glued to the screen 5 stars
3/02/04 Stacy I liked it a ton. made me laugh. 4 stars
2/06/04 Lauren Walker I LOVED it. Saw the film at Sundance and found it hilarious. 4 stars
2/03/04 Tom Ingersoll a stupid homophobic mess designed to give homophobe fratboys like Childress a hard-on 1 stars
2/03/04 Jennifer Chang Very, very, very funny. Equally smart. 5 stars
1/31/04 Christina Hart Really a romp. I laughted out loud several times. 4 stars
1/30/04 lisa agree! funny film 5 stars
1/30/04 Lane Ray Incredible. Funny. Oddly touching. 4 stars
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  31-Aug-2007 (R)
  DVD: 19-Aug-2008



Directed by
  Ryan Shiraki

Written by
  Ryan Shiraki

  Sam Huntington
  Marla Sokoloff
  Heather Matarazzo

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