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'Vacationland'

A cluttered assemblage of low-budget gay- cinema hooks—go-go dancing, nude modeling, sexual blackmail, bathroom-stall cruising—Todd Verow's overstuffed Vacationland promises more than it delivers in just about every sense. Centered on the relationship between closeted high school athletes Joe and Andrew in the director's hometown of Bangor, Maine, the movie quickly becomes ensnared in a tangle of subplots, most of them either inadequately developed (Joe's relationship with a dying artist, his sister's efforts to escape Bangor, his mother's troubles with an abusive boyfriend) or eventually dropped (the boys' two girlfriends, Andrew's problems at home). The main story line turns out to be the worst narrative idea, throwing the movie onto an unwelcome abuse-revenge trajectory that stifles any would-be humor. Verow made an appearance in last spring's Underground Film Festival with his delightfully tasteless political satire Bulldog in the White House, but while Vacationland boasts better production values, its attempts at sexual burlesque mostly fall flat. The muddled, violent conclusion seems to hark back to Joe's film-opening narration, suggesting a larger vision at work that could have benefited from more extensive script editing.

 
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