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Friday, July 9, 1999

British take on teen's coming out

Movie: Get Real

Posted on Fri, Jul 9, 1999 at 4:00 AM

***
Our Rating: 3.00

In some respects, "Get Real" offers the same messages dispensed by Disney's animated Tarzan: Our differences may help to define us, but underneath we're all the same. Anyone fortunate enough to have survived the emotional minefield known as high school, whether here or across the pond, where this easygoing British film is set, knows that those are lessons learned later in life, if at all.

If you're 16, like Steven Carter (Ben Silverstone), self-identity is still under construction. And sex is a foreign country known only through friends who brag about their travels. A smart kid with his eyes on a career in journalism, Steven has the usual troubles in the sexual-awakening department. But they come with a twist: He discovered an attraction to other boys at age 11 and has since been waiting for Mr. Right. Meanwhile, he's trolling the park, hooking up with strangers in hopes of finding at least temporary love and happiness.

One day, after passing a note to the unseen occupant of a bathroom stall, he's shocked to discover that his rest room correspondent is lanky, handsome John Dixon (Brad Gorton), a wealthy track star bound for Oxford, equipped with a junior-supermodel girlfriend, Christina (Louise J. Taylor). John has a reputation as "sex on legs," as described by Steven's best (and straight) friend, Linda (Charlotte Britain). Pudgy Linda, who has a thing for her driving instructor, is the only person who knows about Steven's secret.

"Get Real" mostly follows the rules of movie romances, as the wanna-be lovers go through a series of getting together and separating. One funny scene has the two slow-dancing with female partners, while gazing longingly into each others eyes.

Complications, of course, get in the way of the boys' romance. Jessica (Stacy A. Hart), the editor of the school magazine, likes Steven enough to be his girlfriend, but he's utterly afraid to tell the truth. The high-maintenance Christina is similarly clueless about her guy.

Steven's method of coming out is fairly unlikely, and "Get Real" suffers from a certain didacticism about that subject. But its central sermon is a point well taken: Cast hatred toward the outsider and stand to sacrifice a little bit of your soul.

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