Surprise birthday parties can either be majorly exciting or a night you wish you could forget a million times over. When Michael (Jim Parsons) decides to throw a lavish birthday party with a few select guys for their friend Harold (Zachary Quinto) one could’ve never anticipated the macabre vibe or unsolicited appearance of an old friend that would result in a lightning bolt of raw emotions on parade.
The Boys in the Band was originally a play by Mart Crowley which premiered Off-Broadway in 1968. It was revived on Broadway for its 50th anniversary in 2018 sparked a revolution by putting gay men’s lives onstage, unapologetically and without judgment, in a world not yet willing to fully accept them. Now, it has been re-adapted as a feature film for Netflix, with the 50th anniversary Broadway cast, all of whom are out gay actors.
From the moment you hear Sam and Dave’s “Hold On…I’m Coming” and that needle landing on a record tells you everything you need to know. Directed by Joe Mantello and Produced by Ryan Murphy, they sure know how to ramp up cinematic anticipation from a montage of all the ‘boys’ leading to the impending event to the unexpected call from Alan (Brian Hutchinson) you know you are going to be in for one hell of a ride.
Jim Parsons never disappoints. He brings it with the thunder each and every time and his performance as Michael is no exception making him mesmerizing to watch. Robin de Jesus simply hilarious as Emory, but then spins that dramatic edge just enough to give him depth and character.
Crowley’s wit stays in tact with lines like ‘pot calling the kettle beige,’ and the boys calling themselves ‘Geriatric Rockettes’ while getting their groove on to ‘Heat Wave’ on the roof. Speaking of which, the soundtrack is slamming and full of massive 60’s hits yet slowing down with a melancholy jazz vibe at film’s end with a montage of where all the boys end up after a night none of them shall soon forget.
The most interesting, yet tense filled moment of the film involves that telephone versions of truth and dare. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy as it exposes each and every character down to their core.
The Boy in the Band should be applauded for casting members of the LGBTQ community instead of a crew os straight men, proving that Hollywood is at least making an attempt with proper representation onscreen. It’s heartbreakingly honest, gloriously funny, yet laden with an intensely poignant representation at a group of men just having a good time while letting their laundry hang all the way out. Streaming on Netflix now, check it out if only to find out why things off the rails and how it all achieves resolve sooner or later.