Jun 4, 2013

White Frog: Gay Asian Teen and His Brother

During the 1970s and 1980s, dozens of After School Specials and Schoolbreak Specials provided teenagers with dramas like The Skating Rink (1974), about a boy with a stuttering problem who wants to become a skater; and Me and Dad's New Wife (1976), about a blended family.  Lance Kerwin, Shane Sinutko, Ronnie Scribner, and even Rob Lowe got their start in teen dramas.  But then came the era of the teencoms, light comedies set in a world far removed from everyday life, where the main problem is your classmates discovering that you're a rock star.

White Frog (2012) is a teen angst melodrama in the After School Special tradition.

High schooler Nick Young (BooBoo Stewart, left) has Asperger's Syndrome, which causes difficulty in social interaction.

His parents aren't equipped to handle his disability, so it falls on his older brother Chaz (Harry Shum Jr.) to take care of him.  When Chaz dies in an auto accident, his friends, including boyfriend Randy (Gregg Sulkin, below), rally around Nick to help him work through his loss.  They become a new family.

Nick and his parents weren't aware that Chaz was gay, or that he was secretly training to become a dancer.  To honor his brother's memory, Nick decides to take up dance.  He studies with Randy (Gregg Sulkin of Wizards of Waverly Place).

The cast includes a huge number of teen favorites: BooBoo Stewart from The Twilight Saga, Harry Shum Jr. from Glee, Gregg Sulkin from Wizards of Waverly Place, and Tyler Posey from Teen Wolf (left).    There's a tremendous amount of beefcake, and a same-sex kiss.

I like the inclusivity of having some nonwhite gay characters, for a change.  Especially nonwhite gay characters with muscles.

But I have three problems:

1. Teen angst.  But that's always a turn-off for me.
2. Why was it such a big secret that Chaz was gay?  What's the big deal?
3. "The perfect family discovers that it wasn't so perfect after all."  So being gay bars you from perfection?  By definition, it's not as good as straight?

White Frog has screened mostly at film festivals, where teenagers are unlikely to be in the audience, but it's available on Video Direct, and a DVD will be released in July.