Your Pop Culture Reference Guide To G.B.F.
By Stacy Lambe
For what feels like the first time, gays are finally getting their own teen comedy with G.B.F. But it's more than a gay movie, it's a teen film zeitgeist. Informed by films of the past thirty years (from John Hughes to Mean Girls), screenwriter George Northy and director Darren Stein have created a kaleidoscope of pop culture references that feel just as fierce as the first time around. If you're planning to watch G.B.F. (in theaters on Friday and currently on Video On Demand), then enjoy this journey through your high school days:
Being a teenager is awkward. Being a gay teenager is even more awkward at times. The film not only plays on this idea but also brings in MTV's Awkward star Molly Tarlov to play sidekick to the struggling gaybys.
Fans of Bridesmaids may recognize Mia Rose Frampton. The young actress, who plays one of the clique's minions, famously got into a verbal cat fight with Kristen Wiig which ended with Frampton being called a c--t.
But I'm A Cheerleader
Going beyond the obvious Natasha Lyonne connection, But I'm A Cheerleader was one of the few team films on the '90s to feature homosexuality. Lyonne's character grapples with accepting that she's a lesbian just like G.B.F.'s two main characters who must navigate becoming their high school's first openly gay students.
Like every good teen flick, the plot comes to a fold at prom. The highlight of this fim's dance is the Carrie-esque moment that plays out perfectly for this gay-themed teen comedy. Not since Never Been Kissed has anyone properly updated pig's blood.
One of the film's more clever jokes is the fleeting reference to Drake's role on the Canadian teen soap. No one ever talks enough about how the rapper was on that show before becoming the superstar he is today.
One of the funniest cut aways in the film involves a burn book and a Dream Girls song. Without giving too much away, G.B.F. lands a joke that will even have Tina Fey laughing.
One of John Hughes most iconic characters is Duckie (Jon Cryer) from Pretty In Pink. Arguably a closeted homosexual, Duckie was the hapless best friend who couldn't get the attention of the girl of his dreams. G.B.F. gives Duckie a modern update thanks to Paul Iacono who plays Brent. The film plays on his misplaced affections and uncanny likeness to Cryer.
If there's one thing that Happy Endings' Penny taught viewers is that abbreviations (abbrevs) are so fetch. It's like essish that one uses only the most approp short vers of words + phrases. WIthout them, everyone would waste too much time talking in complete sentences.
While G.B.F. makes obvious references to Mean Girls thanks to mentions of Lindsay Lohan, the movie goes further to pay homage to the on screen clique queens that came before it: Heathers. Even Clueless, Jawbreaker and She's All That all have replicated the formula.
Not only does Jawbreaker director Darren Stein man the helm of G.B.F., he also employs his classic slow-mo entrance. Similar to Rose McGowan et al's now-classic strut set to Imperial Teen's "Yoo Hoo," resident popular girls and newly dubbed GBF take a fierce stroll down North Gate high school's hallways. An added bonus: Rebecca Gayheart makes a cameo appearance as Tanner's stepmom.
It's hard to make a teen film and not honor any one of Hughes iconic teen films of the '80s. Not only does the story pay homage to Hughes (see Duckie) but Hughes work can be seen scattered throughout the film. Most notably, Brent's room is plastered with Hughes posters - a visual aid to those who aren't up on Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles or Some Kind Of Wonderful.
There's not doubt that Lindsay Lohan was teen royalty. From her Mean Girls days to her stints in-and-out of rehab, somehow Lohan became a gay icon for teens growing up in the late-'90s into the '00s.
If there's one movie trope that never gets old, it's the movie makeover. Like Clueless and a number of films before it, G.B.F. employs the classic rags-to-riches montage. Though, this movie clearly has added a new element to the often-used plot device: drab-to-fierce. Werk!
Natasha Lyonne is practically a teen comedy institution on her own. The actress starred in three teen comedies (American Pie, But I'm A Cheerleader and Detroit Rock City) in 1999 before moving into adult roles during the '00s. In American Pie, she played the sage student who offered advice about sex to a virginal Tara Reid. Now she's back as the sage, slightly aloof guidance counselor in G.B.F. It's literally as if she's passing the mantle of teen flick torch to a new generation of actors.
What is a teen film without prom? Almost every major high school rom com featured a climax at the most important dance of the year. There are aways laughs, tears and a dramatic speech. From Mean Girls to She's All That, winning the crown doesn't always mean all ends well.