Lost in the Male

When a Latin lover suddenly splits town, his ex-boyfriend goes postal

Testosterone contains what may be one of the greatest lines of movie dialogue recited this year, if not ever: "I'm a fag with a gun who needs a chain saw." How can you not want to know more after hearing those words?

Some viewers may want to take up arms themselves during the movie's endless opening-credits sequence, which is kind of cleverly done using comic-book-type drawings to fill in the history of one artist's love for a hot Latin guy, but is scored with lounge-jazz crap so annoying that you may actually end up begging for something more stereotypical, like techno or Donna Summer. Relax. The tune never resurfaces, and it's the only one of its kind on the soundtrack.

So what drives a shy-yet-hunky comic book guy to the point of desiring guns and chain saws? Lost love, naturally. No sooner have the opening credits -- and a nude make-out scene directly thereafter -- established that Dean (David Sutcliffe, who looks like a young hybrid of Zach Galligan and Russell Crowe) totally loves and lusts for Pablo (Antonio Sabato Jr.), who in turn promises he'll never leave ... then Pablo does, in fact, leave. Without a word. This makes Dean go a little crazy, but not weapon-desiring crazy, not yet. Instead, he just pitches a fit at an art gallery where he sees Pablo's mother (Sonia Braga, still smokin') and makes like Justin Timberlake on Janet Jackson, inducing a "wardrobe malfunction" and incurring her wrath. She promptly leaves for Buenos Aires and says that Pablo will be joining her.

This just won't do as far as Dean's concerned, so he also hops on a plane to Buenos Aires, where he spends the rest of the film looking for Pablo and trying to figure out why the Latin loverboy ran away. Making things difficult is the fact that Pablo's family is wealthy and powerful, and his mother able to summon either the police or a gang of leather-clad goons within seconds. Dean manages to find reasonably safe haven with local waitress Sofia (Celina Font) and literary translator Marcos (Leonardo Brzezicki), both of whom have their own connections to Pablo.

It's a bit of a mystery as to where Dean gets the gun. It's also a mystery why he wears a bandage over his polio vaccine scar in some scenes and not others -- did the actor just get his shots, or did the character? And if the latter, what's the significance? Dunno. But chances are that much of the movie's intended fan base won't be focusing on the vaccine scar when Dean takes his shirt off.

Sutcliffe, whose most high-profile role to date was in Under the Tuscan Sun, is Testosterone's biggest asset. Given that his character is impulsive, irrational, and gets progressively more and more crazy, it would be easy to portray Dean as a twitching psycho, but Sutcliffe keeps it mostly sympathetic. His Dean is a portrait of outspoken frustration, stranded not only in an unfamiliar culture but also in a very unfamiliar situation. There's no obvious way for Dean to find Pablo, and the people who could help him are either deliberately stymieing him or just hopelessly obtuse (all is eventually made clear).

Thumbs up also to director David Moreton (Edge of Seventeen) for finally casting Jennifer Coolidge (you know her best as Stifler's Mom) in a role that makes use of her comedic gifts without subjecting her to grotesque makeup or saddling her with a cartoonish voice. As Dean's agent, she appears only in the North American sequences at the film's beginning and end, but her quick wit makes for a fine concoction of sass and sweetness, and herein reveals more depth than she's been allowed to display in Legally Blonde or A Cinderella Story or any of those other comedies she's done recently.

The film's major flaw is that we never get much of an inkling for just why Pablo merits all the attention. Aside from firm pecs and a cute accent, there doesn't seem to be much there, and plotwise we have nothing to go on, since he leaves so early on in the story. It's evident that Dean is capable of getting many other good-looking boyfriends if he so desires -- why get so worked up over one who's a jackass? Such mysteries of love do occur in real life, of course, but for the sake of the movie, maybe one shot of Pablo doing something kind might have gone a long way.

That aside, Testosterone keeps its plot moving along at a zippy pace and ought to please viewers who groove to the thought of gays bearing guns. Could've done without the semen-stained tree, though.

 
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