Fruit Fly, Just Another Adopted Immigrant Identity Crisis Musical Comedy


Livelier than the typical low-budget immigrant saga of grappling with one’s hybrid cultural identity, Asian-Amerindie musical Fruit Fly still underwhelms with a mixed bag of melodies (a tune about public transit?), flat vocals, awkward choreography, and a strained script full of stereotypes. First-time director H.P. Mendoza can’t quite capture the homegrown charm of his 2006 writing/composing effort Colma: The Musical, which was also rife with characters breaking into snarky song over bubbly Casio-pop—but was catchy, clever, and deep-down-sincere. In Fruit Fly, Filipina-American performance artist Bethesda (Colma‘s L.A. Renigen) is newly transplanted to the Castro district of San Francisco, where she shares a communal flat with a low-Rent motley crew, including a gay stage designer, a lesbian artist couple, and a young runaway. There, she tries to track down her birth mother as an inspiration for a one-woman show, and also attempts to lose her label as a “fag hag.” (The movie’s most amusing number plays like a New Wave version of “The Banana Song,” with gay-bar patrons flinging a laundry list of pejoratives at Bethesda with sass: “homo honey,” “poofter pousse,” “sissy-slut”). Hedwig and the Angry Inch this ain’t, but Mendoza is too talented to dismiss over one DIY dud.