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THE BROKEN HEARTS CLUB

Review by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  Timothy Olyphant, Zach Braff, Dean Cain, Andrew Keegan, John Mahoney
Director:  Greg Berlanti
Audio:  Dolby Digital Mono 5.1, Dolby Surround (English and French)
Video: 
2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Studio:  Columbia Tri-Star
Features:  See Review
Length:  95 Minutes
Release Date:  March 6, 2001

“I can’t decide whether my friends are the best or worst thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Film ***

The gay film genre hasn’t really seemed to find its audience among the mainstream world.  In fact, the only films that really slip through the iron curtain of the mainstream medium are generally comedies like In & Out or The Birdcage, which both focus solely on being gay and have little or nothing really to do with anything else.  With that in mind, I had not heard much about Broken Hearts Club, a gay romantic comedy, since it never played in any of the theaters near Philadelphia.  But the movie, while certainly having the backdrop of a homosexual community and providing its share of homosexual in-jokes and references, is more about the bigger issues that both hetero and homosexuals face. 

The main issue of The Broken Hearts Club (which refers to the name of the softball team all the often-idiosyncratic characters are involved in), concerns how tough finding love and acceptance really is and how your friends often become your support system and family. 

Most likely due to the financial constraints involved (because the investors accurately figured that the film’s subject material would keep many away), the movie only took twenty days to film and is really a credit to director/writer Greg Berlanti.  Berlanti, in his directorial debut, has offered something that is not only in parts autobiographical, but also completely genuine and from the heart.

The acting in this movie is good overall.  Since most of the movie is dialogue, if the delivery had even faltered a little, the movie might have lost its delicate balance between lighthearted humor and bitterness.  Instead, I believe the movie was a nice blend of both, as I believe romantic comedies should sometimes have.  While it certainly was strange for me to see Dean Cain in any other role besides Clark Kent/Superman, he grew on me as the character of Cole, a struggling “pretty boy” actor who, while looking good, had a lot to work on in terms of other attributes of his character.  Other surprises were Fraiser’s John Mahoney, who played the tough but tender patriarch of the motley group, always providing a source of strength and wisdom.

While it isn’t really something I’d pop in to watch with a girlfriend, the movie has a good script and a good cast and is certainly worth at least a rental.

Video ****

While the movie was no Titan A.E. or Gladiator, Columbia Tri-Star has provided a terrific Anamorphic transfer here.  The picture was not marred by any shimmering problems or grain that I could see, and was a surprisingly good transfer for a lower budget film.

Audio ****

Similar to the fate suffered by comedies, romantic comedies, especially incredibly low-budget ones, don’t often fare much better in the sound department.  For the material, mostly dialogue out of the center channel, it was both crisp and clear.   

Supplements ***

Included first in the film was and audio commentary by Director Greg Berlanti and Producer Mickey Liddle.  In the commentary, Berlanti and Liddle offer knowledgeable and appealing explanations concerning the development and origins of certain characters, as well as discussing the time constraints and the filming locations.  Also included were deleted scenes, with optional director and producer commentary.

Summary:

In conclusion, it was nice to see a “gay movie” that had more to its plot than just being gay.  Overall, a nice transfer by Columbia that’s worth a rental spin.