Hard Pill Movie Review

What if a gay guy could take a pill that would make him straight? Would he do it? What kinds of consequences would there be? While a setup like this is easy to imagine, it's more of a challenge to follow through with a screenplay that doesn't descend into camp. Hard Pill succeeds through subtlety, not only by exploring the huge psychological price paid by the guy who takes the pill, but also by noting the damage his decision inflicts on the friends he has spent years gathering around him.

Young L.A. average gay guy Tim (Jonathan Slavin) is unlucky in love and gets his only sexual kicks by providing quickies to his allegedly straight friend Don (Mike Begovich). His crush on the new arrival at the office, Matt (Jason Bushman), comes to a halt when he finds out Matt is straight, so he's left to chat with his overweight officemate and friend Sally (Susan Slome) and to be dragged reluctantly to the bars by his out and proud friend Joey (Scotch Ellis Loring), who has the annoying habit of abandoning him as soon as he makes a bathroom hookup for the night.

When Tim hears of a clinical trial for a pill to turn homos hetero, he jumps at the chance, As he sees it, his life could only improve. His friends learn of his plan and are horrified, especially Joey, who sees the whole thing as a sort of "genocide," tantamount to rounding up the gays and pushing them into ovens. But Tim pushes ahead, knowing that the ground rules include avoiding all human contact for one hour after taking the pill and also avoiding any new romantic relationships until the effects are known.

Of course Tim screws up, and after taking his first pill can't help but heading over to Sally's place and ravishing her in her kitchen, much to her delight. In fact, it's sort of a dream come true for her: unrequited love turned flagrantly requited. But Tim keeps moving along and soon starts a romance with Tanya (Jennifer Elise Cox), a nice young woman who has no idea what Tim has been up to. (Note: in the DVD gag reel you see Cox doing a dead-on Jan Brady impersonation, and then you realize that it was she who played Jan in those hilarious Brady Bunch movies.)

Soon everything is a mess. Sally's been used and tossed aside. Joey feels betrayed. Tanya senses something is not quite right, and even Don is lamenting the loss of Tim's friendship (and the loss of his free quickies). Tim ends up in an even worse place than he was before, but what will happen if he reverses course now?

Director John Baumgartner lucked out by finding a strong cast and giving them plenty of room to navigate. Perhaps because of its low budget, the settings, the conversations, the shouting matches all feel authentic. There's a lot to discuss here, and the script makes many great points but always within the context of the story. Watch it with friends, and debate it when it ends.

We want the soft pill.

Cast & Crew

Director : John Baumgartner

Producer : Susan Stoebner

Starring : , Scotch Ellis Loring, Susan Slome, Mike Begovich, ,


Comments

Hard Pill Rating

" Good "

Rating: NR, 2004

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