When Russell Middlebrook (Cameron Deane Stewart), a shy high school sophomore, and Kevin (Justin Deeley), king of the jocks, share their first kiss, it’s true love. (Isn’t it always?)
What follows isn’t likely to surprise, but this adaptation of Brent Hartinger’s popular young adult novel (the first in a series) handles serious issues with a light touch, and should resonate with adolescents.
Russell freaks when Min (Ally Maki), who witnessed the kiss, invites him to join her in an unofficial, three-member gay students club, but he gradually warms to the idea.
Director Gary Entin and his brother, screenwriter Edmund Entin, in their feature debuts, have made a movie where the black gay kid is fat and sassy, and where even the bullies appear to be fulfilling the stock requirements of their respective stereotypes.
If the characterizations are perfunctory, the performances give them unexpected weight, particularly Teo Olivares as a cello player whose confession of loneliness provides the film’s most affecting moment. There’s good work too from Stewart and Deeley, who manage to goose this teen-friendly film with a palpable sexual tension. They really would make a most excellent king and king of the prom.