I reviewed Slutty Summer for ThisWeekInTexas.Com a few years ago and kept hoping for a sequel to that racy but charming comedy. Casper Andreas, director of Slutty Summer, describes A Four Letter Word as a spin-off, rather than an actual sequel. Still, it provides just as many laughs, and a much more dimensional look at gay characters.
Andreas played one of the lead roles in the first film, but felt he had already told that character’s story. However, Jesse Archer—the flamboyant, promiscuous, and lovable character Luke in both films—felt that his character needed more exploring. They eventually collaborated on a script. Andreas directed A Four Letter Word, releasing it with his production partner Markus Goetze through their company, Embrem Entertainment. They also plan to release the DVD, at a later date.
Besides Luke, returning characters include Marilyn (Virginia Bryan), Derek (J. R. Rolley), and Peter (now played by Steven Goldsmith). The original setting of a summer job at a restaurant gives way to new Manhattan locations.
Luke now works in an adult bookstore, with gay activist Zeke (Cory Grant). Zeke obviously cares about Luke, though he tries to change the conversation when Luke discusses his constant sexual exploits. Cory Grant’s performance brings gravity to a film that mostly features light-hearted roles.
While visiting a gay bar, Luke meets Stephen with a “ph,” played by Dante’s Cove heartthrob Charlie David. They immediately insult each other but soon meet again. Romance blossoms, and Luke actually starts thinking about settling down, but Stephen’s stories begin to conflict with reality. Charlie David is certainly cute and charming enough that viewers can easily accept Luke’s initial willingness to overlook Stephen’s secrets and mood swings.
In working to build a lasting romance, Derek and Peter start the movie as a counterpoint to Luke’s wild nature. Sparks flew when they met during the first movie. Now they’ve moved in together, and plates might fly if they can’t resolve the growing frictions in their relationship. J. R. Rolley and Steven Goldsmith offer the chemistry needed for showing both the reasons a male couple would want to stay together and the reasons those same two men might not always enjoy each other’s company.
Marilyn (Virginia Bryan) is also settling down, receiving a proposal at the beginning of the movie. Her struggle with alcoholism has led her to AA meetings and continues to complicate her life. To make matters even more confusing, her AA sponsor (Allison Lane as Trisha) might want to offer something more than support. Bryan plays hopeless with abandon, but also makes the audience care that she finds hope for a better life.
The lead characters continue to intersect, along with a well-cast assortment of supporting characters. Jeremy Gender, in particular, gives a funny performance as Mace, a character who embodies the shallow slut that Luke only pretends to embody.
The movie’s title comes from Luke’s tendency to hide behind the phrase “…just another four-letter-word for…” It seems to shield him from any word that might carry an emotional impact for him and force him to explore his deeper feelings or longings. Will Luke grow at all, or remain what Stephen calls “a gay cliché”? No matter what happens, the results provide fun and sexy escapism for viewers, while also touching upon some serious issues about gay life, as well as love in general.
After playing in more than fifty film festivals, A Four Letter Word arrives in theatres on March 28, 2008. Awards for this hilarious gay film include The Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Screenwriting at Outfest: Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Best Gay Feature Film at Q Cinema: Fort Worth Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and Best Film at the Fire Island Film Festival.
Fortunately, we can find more from the creators of A Four Letter Word. Between Love & Goodbye, a gay drama directed by Casper Andreas, is currently in post production. Andreas also directed the short films Mormor’s Visit and Saying Goodbye. Besides acting, Jesse Archer writes a column for Out Magazine and plans to work on more screenplays. He also wrote the memoir You Can Run: Gay, Glam, and Gritty Travels in South America.
Distributed by Embrem Entertainment.
Duane Simolke, author, A Science Fiction Adventure Degranon: editor and co-author of the fund-raiser The Acorn Gathering: Writers Uniting Against Cancer.
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