Like any good aspiring filmmaker Nathan Adloff uses his own life story as the inspiration for his movies. His debut feature, the utterly delightful gay ‘Harold & Maude’ type story called Nate & Margaret, was based on his friendship with an older straight woman. This time around he focuses on his childhood when money in his family was in short supply, which meant that he and his mother had to make some odd life choices.
As does Miles (Tim Boardman) the teenage protagonist in Adloff’s new feature after his father drops down dead from a heart attack and his family are shocked to discover that they were now totally broke. They knew that he had a string of mistresses, but what they hadn’t realized was that he has secretly squandered away their entire savings on them, had including the money set aside for Miles College fund. Miles had always been desperate to escape his small midwest hometown to go and study in Chicago, but with no funds or any feasible means of support, that was now out of the question.
The time is the late 1990′ s and people were just getting used to both computers and the internet, and in fact Miles spent most of his leisure time in the new phenomena of gay chatrooms. Now he put his computer to other uses to research all the schools in Chicago that offered scholarships. Sadly however he soon found out that he simply didn’t have enough good grades to qualify for the vast majority, but then he did come across one that offered a glimmer of hope. The school offered scholarships to really good volley ball players and even though Miles did not play, nor did his school have a boys team, it didn’t put him off one iota.
Instead he tried out to play for the girls team and to his delight, the somewhat reluctant Coach (Missi Pyle) took him on. Actually she had very little choice really as there were only 8 kids trying out for the 8 open spots. Miles was not particularly a good player, but his height and build gave him a physical advantage, and so the team very soon started winning all their games much to the annoyance of all their competitors coaches who cried foul.
Miles’s own coach had initially been somewhat lukewarm about him being part of the time, but once there was a whole wave of opposition to him remaining on the team which started an official campaign to have him ousted, then she became his most voluble supporter.
Things also started to get a little sticky at home too as Miles’s school teacher mother (Molly Shannon) had just started dating a man she had met at her weekly grief counseling meeting. Just to complicate matters her new beau was the Superintendent of the school district (Paul Reiser) which meant that not only was he her boss, but he was the one who would have to make the official decision as to whether Miles could keep playing on the girls team. The timing was also crucial as Miles had just learned that the Chicago school scout was actually going to come watch him play.
It is a very cute dramedy about one gay boy’s unusual fight for his equality which served up all lame excuses that people give to cover what is still essentially homophobia. It strengthened this quiet mild boy’s resolve into not accepting anything less than what he was entitled too, no matter all the pressure the authorities and other adults tried to pile on him.
Adloff’s young star newbie actor Tim Boardman gave a fresh and impassioned performance as Miles, and he certainly comfortably held his own in this impressive and experienced cast. Miles doesn’t quite have the same wonderful innocent charm of Nate & Margaret that made us all sit up and pay attention to Adloff, but it is still a very delightful and refreshing look at one mid-west gay boy finding out what games you need to play in life to succeed.