eCupid (J.C. Calciano, 2011)
In one of those it’s my blessing and my curse moments, I keep realising 90% of the way through a film that I should have been taking notes because it is relevant to my Research Project.
Most of the time the film is pants.
And so we have a TLA Releasing film, eCupid, that I presumably ordered from LOVEFiLM when clicking on gay-themed films. Most of these are are low budget efforts and have largely unknown casts, aside from a phoned-in cameo by someone from a US day time soap. Typically they are contemporary-set, urban or suburban with a cabin by the lake, solidly middle class and running a variant on mainstream genres. They are the sort of film that should exist, because they normalises alternatives to heteronormativity, but have limited merit in the grander scheme of things.
But at least the protagonists rarely die at the end.
So we have a comedy of remarriage, the sort of thing that Hepburn and Tracey excelled at, with Marshall Thomas (Houston Rhines), in advertising, and his boyfriend of seven years, Gabe Horton (Noah Schuffman) who is running the coffee shop of his dreams. They are simply too busy and tired for each other, rarely asleep in their bed at the same time, let alone having the old in-out. Marshall, attempting to produce a brilliant campaign and get a promotion, downloads a dating app that starts to mess with his life and splits them up.
Marshall finds himself having a chub, a skater and a frat boy throw themselves at him, often at the point when Gabe is about to make peace. Gabe’s phone diverts calls, deletes voicemails and invents texts. Y is ready to move on, and in the face of his failing coffee shop, preapares to go back to Utah. (Presumably, like Joe Pitt in Angels in America, he is a secret Mormon.)
As Brian Henderson argues, the narrative of the comedy of marriage is “Why have we stopped fucking?”, and this is no exception. In a community which is stereotypically all about the hook-up — that’s the point of so-called dating apps — Marshall and Gabe are remarkably committed to each other even when on a break. There are no rebound guys. In many ways, the film is remarkably conservative. The endgame is bourgeois marriage in everything but law, fulfilment through creative work and a place in the country. This corner of L.A. even makes La La Land look ethnically diverse.
At the heart of the film is Morgan Fairchild as the voice of the app who moonlights as a waitress in a diner. As fairy godmother, she is the one who has split them up to repatch their relationship.
Sometimes the phoned in performance is rather literal.
The performances are adequate and almost every one is rewarded, and even the curiously position chub may get a date. Sadly, the film is almost ruthlessly unfunny, and its best line is stolen from All About Eve, a more subversive film than this one can aspire to be.