Though summer itself actually still has a month left, the “summer movie season” ends this weekend. What it leaves behind is what should always be remembered as the gayest slate of films Hollywood has ever put out during its biggest blockbuster months. And we never saw it coming.
1. Neighbors: When Seth Rogen’s Mac sees Zac Efron’s Teddy in the film for the first time, he offers Rose Byrne’s Kelly one of the film’s best lines: “He looks like something a gay guy created in a lab.” It’s funny ’cause it’s true, and honestly sometimes feels like the same could be said for ‘Neighbors’ itself. From its homoerotic frat house moments to its fetishization of Efron (and co-star Dave Franco, for that matter) to uniquely subversive takes on the standard gay panic jokes found in the long lineage of homophobic films that ‘Neighbors’ was born out of, the film seems to be outright pandering to gay audiences.
2. 22 Jump Street: Though it does not contain Zac Efron man-candy or Dave Franco’s bare ass, ’22 Jump Street’ may have just knocked ‘Neighbors’ off its shiny gay pedestal with the most unapologetic pair of bromances I’ve ever witnessed on screen. The film, self-aware to a fault, plays constantly on the idea that ‘22 Jump Street’ is a direct repeat of ‘21 Jump Street,’ only this time we follow Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) to college. It is a funny meta-premises for an even funnier sequel to the 2012 original, with a never-better turn from Ice Cube as Captain Dickson and some hilarious supporting turns, particularly fast-talking newcomer Jillian Bell. But, amid the drug ring mystery hijinks and spring break debauchery, only Jenko and Schmidt’s relationship rings true as a narrative thread worth keeping track of. Their’s is a bond of undercover partnership, friendship, and ultimately (and I don’t think I’m overstepping), love (read more about that here).
3. Maleficent: Outgrossing both “22 Jump Street” and “Neighbors” (not to mention every other summer movie save “Guardians of the Galaxy”) comes a different kind of gay-pandering: the campiest that is Disney’s “Maleficient.” Though surely kids helped the film take in its $237 million, gays clearly did their part. Any screening we went to seemed like part of a night out for dozens of gay men. Why? This fantastic Slate article explores many of the reasons, extending beyond the aforementioned camp-factor:
Personally, I was most struck by ‘Maleficent’s exploration of queer family, the notion that the families we choose, often out of necessity, are more important than the ones we are born into. Soon-to-be-sleeping Aurora comes from a straight family, but from the moment she is cursed by Maleficent, her life takes on a queer trajectory.
And then of course there was the fact that Angelina Jolie herself embraced the film’s potential influence on drag performers in this much-watched press conference clip:
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past: We’re not going to the giant gay scandal that rocked the pre-release of the latest X-Men film (more on that here if you must), because we don’t even need to go there to qualify this film as yet another example of Hollywood’s big gay summer. Directed by a gay man and starring at least one more, the “X-Men” series has always been an allegory for the struggles of LGBT folks, with the latest no exception. And “X-Men” star Ian McKellen agrees:
“When Bryan Singer asked me to be in these films he sold it to me on just this point: as a gay man you can identify with mutants – people who have talents [but] are despised by society as they’re different. In many areas of the world being gay is still a mutancy which is clearly not tolerated in some societies. You can be put to death for your sexuality. Not in this country. We have advanced – it’s been one of the great joys of my life – since these films have been made.”
5. Tammy: Melissa McCarthy’s passion project was met with mixed reviews and good-not-great box office numbers, but what we’d like to remember it by is the uniquely portrayed lesbian couple (played by Sandra Oh and Kathy Bates in the film) — who throw a crazy party in one of the film’s more memorable scenes… and offer up one of the only positive relationships in the entire film. Watch McCarthy talk about their characters here:
6. The Expendables 3: We’ve got to admit we didn’t see this coming: Apparently, the summer movie more or less lowest on our to-see list featured a gay couple, and they’re played by Arnold Schwarzenneger and Jet Li!? It’s almost enough to make us go see it, if only for the final scene that we discussed here — which makes a good case for Arnie & Jet’s characters being a couple. Even the film’s director agreed.
7. Chris Pratt in “Guardians of the Galaxy”: This is kind of cheating, but seriously:
Oh and this too.