Stewart Wade’s romantic comedy Tru Loved, from here! Films and Regent Releasing, tells the story of Gertrude (Najarra Townsend), or “Tru,” a straight teenager with two sets of gay parents who helps a friend come out of the closet. After moving with her moms to a conservative suburb in southern California, Tru is an outsider…until she is befriended by Lo (Matthew Thompson), the closeted star quarterback of the football team. Lo wants people to think Tru is his girlfriend, but problems arise when she decides to start a gay/straight alliance at school with Walter (Tye Olson), a cute young gay boy who Lo later dates.
The GSA (gay/straight alliance) club is a success. However, Lo and the rest of the team, disguised in their football helmets, physically and verbally harass Walter one night, prompting Walter and Trevor (Jake Abel), the straight son of a gay single dad and Tru’s love interest, to get back at Lo by outing him in a mass email. Obvious conflict ensues, but in the end everyone gathers at Tru’s moms’ wedding ceremony and Lo is confronted by his homophobic coach and finally admits he is indeed gay. In a way-too-perfect happy ending, the coach storms off, Lo’s homophobic best friend Manny decides to change his ways, couples gay and straight pair off to dance, and Lo sings a song for the wedding guests.
The “it’s okay to be different” message comes off as slightly cliché and gives the film an after-school special feel, so there’s not much entertainment value for those who are already comfortable being out. Also, it tries to tackle too many issues at once, touching on hate crimes, outing, interracial relationships, and the challenges faced by gay athletes, members of gay/straight alliances in high schools, and children of LGBT people.
This film will resonate with viewers who are allies, or just peeking out of the closet; it would probably even be fine to watch with a conservative parent! The universal message of tolerance and acceptance is delivered blatantly, but still lends the film a feel-good tone. True Loved stars Baywatch’s Alexandra Paul as Tru’s biological mother and Bruce Vilanch as Trevor’s dad, with fun appearances by Jane Lynch, Alec Mapa, Nichelle Nichols, Marcia Wallace, Jasmine Guy, Elaine Hendrix and Dave Kopay. Tru Loved certainly isn’t an ideal date movie, but if you’re 15 or looking for something with an educational edge, it might be the film for you. Though already released in many major US cities, Tru Loved will be showing in Detroit, MI on Nov. 13th, Huntington and Long Island, NY on Nov. 16th, and Northampton, MA on Dec. 6th. To see the trailer and some cast interviews, visit www.truloved.com.