WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
⋆ out of four stars
It’s great that Jean-Claude Van Damme can make light of his tough-guy image, and he’s certainly the selling point for this comedy about an Outward Bound-style corporate retreat on a deserted island that devolves into “Lord of the Office Flies.” What’s not so great is that the movie is only sporadically funny.
Adam Brody (“The O.C.,” “House of Lies”) is Chris, a shy young artist at a packaging firm who suffers in silence as his best ideas are stolen by his loudmouth boss, Phil (Rob Huebel). The woman he has a crush on (Megan Boone) barely knows he’s alive. But the tables are turned after the company president (Dennis Haysbert) decides they need some team-building training and brings in Storm (Van Damme) to head up the exercise in an out-of-the-way location.
When Storm is taken down after finding himself on the wrong end of a tiger’s claw and everyone thinks they’re stranded, former Eagle Scout Chris discovers he’s better at navigating the great outdoors than office politics. That puts him on a collision course with obnoxious Phil as both vie to be “tribal leader.”
There are occasional humorous moments — the nebbishy Asian (Aaron Takahashi) who becomes Phil’s “pet” in their new society not being one of them — but “Jungle” is mostly plodding and predictable. And, in the end, it’s the audience that needs rescuing.
Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Theater: St. Anthony Main.
At first, it appears that “G.B.F.” is going to be a gay send-up of “Mean Girls.” But this cleverly scripted, crowd-pleasing teen comedy proves to be more than that.
It has a big heart, and shares more in common with such ’80s classics as “Sixteen Candles,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Valley Girl” (to which director Darren Stein pays homage in a climactic prom scene).
The sweet-natured story centers on Tanner, a high school doormat who soars to the A list when the three most popular girls compete to make him their best gay friend so they can win the title of homecoming queen.
In the past, gay teen films have been mostly dark and tragic; “G.B.F.” is a welcome piece of fluff, complete with outlandish costumes, even if at times the filmmakers try too hard to be funny.
The appealing cast is led by Michael J. Willett (Tanner) and Paul Iacono (Tanner’s best friend, Brent). Megan Mullally and Jonathan Silverman provide some laugh-out-loud moments, and Sasha Pieterse brings welcome depth to Fawcett, one of the high school’s formidable queen bees.
“G.B.F.” has been unfairly slapped with an R rating, but the film is about as scandalous as a “Glee” episode. It’s suitable for young teenage girls, who apparently are far more at ease with the times than the homophobic folks at the MPAA. Don’t let their rating fool you: The movie may be thoroughly modern, yet it’s old-fashioned, too.
DAVID LEWIS, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE