Boy Meets Girl (2014)

Before I begin, I want to share something that I’m actually deeply embarrassed of. So I keep track of every movie and show I’ve reviewed on the blog in a spreadsheet as a reminder, a sort of calendar, and a way to keep track of how many reviews I’ve posted. Well, my 300th post came and went when I wasn’t paying attention. It was the Vampire Boys 2: The New Brood post where I did nothing special. But what really is embarrassing in ways I can’t fully express is that if I had been paying attention, I would’ve wanted my 300th post to be something special, like the 200th post and how much I thought Collateral Beauty was insane. But in hindsight, Vampire Boys 2 is a gay horror-ish bad movie, and I honestly can’t think of anything more on brand for me. Anyway, thank you all so much for sticking with me for a year and a half. I see your likes and views, and they help keep me going. Assuming I don’t fuck up again, the 400th post should happen before the year ends so I’ll try to do something intentionally special for that. Now onto our regularly scheduled review!

When covering queer movies during Pride Month, I don’t really have any sort of “diversity checklist.” I pick a queer movie–half of which I’ve seen before–and then I talk about it. But being a gay male, my preference skews towards movies about gay males. Well not this week! I’m kicking off this mini-theme with a film about a trans girl, and get this: she’s actually played by a trans actress! Fucking groundbreaking, I know.

Boy Meets Girl is about Ricky (Ms. Michelle Hendley), a trans girl living in a small Kentucky town with dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Most of the people who interact with her aren’t assholes, but we’ll get to the rich Republicans soon enough. Her best friend is Robby (Michael Welch, AKA Mike from Twilight) who definitely doesn’t have a crush on Ricky that he’s held onto for over a decade. The romantic drama starts when a rich girl named Francesca shows up at Ricky’s job, and the chemistry between the two is electric. Too bad Francesca is engaged to David, a deployed soldier who is extremely transphobic and hostile towards Ricky. Against their better judgment the two girls hook up, which becomes a bit of a problem when David comes home early. Francesca’s rich parents put a stop to this budding romance, but Robby is shocked that Ricky isn’t more broken up. They have a very forced conflict–I’ll get to that in a minute–but it’s solved when Robby realizes he loves Ricky. Oh good, I was starting to worry that the title was a bit problematic when 90% of the movie is about a trans girl hooking up with a cis girl. Although Ricky didn’t get into the Fashion Institute, some viral marketing from Grace Helbig (a name that rings a bell for some reason) gets the girl enough money for her and Robby to move to NYC. Francesca and David–who is no longer extremely hostile towards Ricky–hash out their differences and start over. A happy ending for the young adults!

The strengths of the movie, to me, are the conversations the characters have where they just chat. Sometimes it’s important, other times it’s filler, but most of these the connections feel genuine. Robby is absolutely mortified to have to explain to Ricky what having sex with a person with a vagina is like (in part because he’s jealous of Francesca, but didn’t fully know it at the time). Francesca and Ricky’s pillow talk is really sweet! And even Francesca and David talking about his anger towards Ricky was a nice moment… mostly.

The problems are the conflicts that movies are required to have. Why does David hate Ricky? Let’s spin the Wheel of Contrivances! Oh, wait, we didn’t need to do that because the entire wheel just says “Because they fucked.” I’m just as surprised as you are. In order to get a happy ending with the open minded Francesca, his sin of being transphobic has to be solved, which means his viewpoint has to shift. It just feels unoriginal, although I was tickled that the engaged couple talked about how they both had sex with Ricky. In other conflicts, Robby almost says Ricky isn’t a real girl after she and Francesca are no more, which is an escalation that came out of nowhere. His entire character is that he’s accepted Ricky the entire time, so why be shitty and almost transphobic? Oh, because we need that third act conflict. He realizes the error of his ways when Ricky’s little brother shows him a video Ricky made years ago apparently during her emo phase: turns out Ricky’s mom didn’t die of cancer, but left the family when Ricky started transitioning. This is news to Robby, but also to the brother! Mom abandoned him when he was one year old and he was always told she was dead, so what is his reaction to this earth shattering revelation? I dunno, we never see it. Sure, the brother and dad are side characters, but in a movie with such strong character interactions, it seems like a BIG oversight.

I still like the movie, though. Having a trans character played by a trans actress should be standard, but it’s only recently becoming more widespread. The next step would be to cast trans actresses in roles where their transness never comes up–Promising Young Woman does this with Laverne Cox–or is a small enough thing that the character can have attributes beyond “trans.” We’re definitely getting more movies like that with time, so there’s a small sign of society progressing!

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