Me Him Her,” written and directed by Max Landis, aims to do something different, if not radical, with sexual politics. In this broad comedy, Brendan (Luke Bracey) is a successful Hollywood TV actor anxious to come out. His handlers, however, are less than pleased with his decision and ask him to stay in the closet. When Brendan flies his best friend Cory (Dustin Milligan) to LA to help him with “emotional damage control,” all hell breaks loose.
Brendan pines for Griffin (Jake McDorman), a crewmember who kissed him on set and unleashed the actor’s pent-up homoerotic desires. On his first night in LA, Cory encourages Brendan to go to a gay bar to meet Griffin. Although Brendan wants to be discreet, he ends up being ambushed by paparazzi and rumors circulate that he is gay. Meanwhile, at the bar, Cory meets Gabbi (Emily Meade), a lesbian who has just broken up with her cheating girlfriend, Heather (Angela Sarafyan). Cory and Gabbi spend the night together, which includes having sex in her car. As Brendan tries to find the best way to come out on his own terms, Gabbi grapples with her confusion about her desire for Cory.
Unfortunately, “Me Him Her” is mostly convoluted — and often ridiculous. The humor stems mainly from its characters acting outrageously, and scenes that should be comic end up being manic. When Brendan and Cory find themselves at a pride parade, Cory pretends he is gay, taking his shirt off and screaming “I love dick!” to divert attention from his celebrity friend, whose publicists continue to insist that he deny all rumors. The moment is neither funny nor convincing.
It might be that the straight and obnoxious Cory is the film’s problem. Is the joke meant to be that he has no chemistry with either his best friend, Brendan, or his lesbian love interest, Gabbi? If Landis had better played off the straight guy/ gay girl friendship — a twist on the gay guy/ straight girl cliché — Cory might have made more sense, or at least generated more laughs, as a character.
“Me Him Her” is only a little bit better in depicting its queer characters. Both Brendan and Gabbi have dreams where they are haunted by a giant penis, a sight gag that represents their sexual anxiety. The over-the-top moments, though, only obscure their genuine feelings. In one of the film’s nicer, quieter moments, two patiently supportive lesbian friends of Gabbi’s, Laura (Alia Shawkat) and Kris (Rebecca Drysdale), try to understand what she’s up to with Cory.
In contrast, a running joke that as Brendan asking, “Why didn’t you tell me I was gay?” no less than three times — once while perched on a rock in the desert wearing only his boxer briefs — falls flat.
Like Landis, the cast seems desperate to amuse. Bracey is endearing when Brendan talks about his crush on Griffin, but elsewhere the director makes him endure repeated indignities, as when Brendan is flying on a bird-like creature with a rainbow painted on his face. Meade tries to make Gabbi sympathetic, but her character is a lesbian with such low self-esteem that after sleeping with a man she’s ready to return to her abusive girlfriend. Gabbi is never really credible.
Landis manages, as well, to make Haley Joel Osment, playing himself, and Geena Davis and Scott Bakula, as Brendan’s parents, look back.
It’s surprising that Landis — who is the son of director John Landis — was unable to do more in satirizing Hollywood life. The film achieves a few smiles in this regard, such as a mildly clever advert for Brendan’s TV show, but as with the film as a whole, there are far too many missed opportunities.
ME HIM HER | Directed by Max Landis | Film Buff | Opens Mar. 11 | Cinema Village, 22 E. 12th St. | cinemavillage.com