My Fake Boyfriend ***
Updated: Jun 26
Starring: Keiynan Lonsdale, Dylan Sprouse, Samer Salem, Marcus Rosner, Karen Robinson, Sarah Hyland
Director: Rose Troche
When Andrew (Lonsdale – Love, Simon; The Flash) breaks up with his soap star boyfriend (Rosner), best friend Jake (Sprouse – The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody) intervenes to help him get over the break up by inventing “Christiano”, a fake boyfriend on social media. But while Andrew doesn’t really invest in this avatar spouse, Jake and his girlfriend (Hyland – Modern Family; Vampire Academy) create an entire life for their creation, which begins to get out of control as Christiano becomes an influencer with advertising deals and virtual media appearances. Meanwhile, Andrew meets the hunky Rafi (Salem) and decides he longer needs the assistance of Christiano, but the world’s newest online sensation is harder to shake off than he was to create.
If the plot sounds absolutely bonkers to you, then you are absolutely right. While this is a fairly standard rom-com on one hand, it is an absolutely zany catfish melodrama on the other. The central love triangle might be the driving narrative of the movie, but it’s the extreme lengths that Jake goes to in order to keep Christiano’s brand alive that makes for 90% of the entertainment. And it is funny. There are gags aplenty, some ludicrous set-ups and big set-pieces that high concept comedy would be proud of. And Dylan Sprouse is superb as Jake, playing this intense and obsessive BFF with a level of maniacal poise that would be difficult for others to carry off.
It’s a glossy rom-com, with characters living lives that their incomes would make it impossible to afford, while every man interested in Andrew is a gym-chiselled insta-hot stud. This is sheer escapism and with a pithy script that gives at least one laugh a minute, this is the kind of writing for a Queer rom-com that we deserve, especially with such a diverse cast. But the problem is – and it’s a BIGGIE – the level of ridiculousness that is just a bit much. There’s stepping across the line between silly and ridiculous, and then there’s pole-vaulting onto a trampoline and bouncing onto a hang-glider.
Once Jake is green-screening a deep-fake live press conference, we’ve descended into the realm of near-insanity. And don’t even get me started on the funeral scene. The ease with which they first establish this influencer is also downright implausible – if it were that easy, we’d all have two million followers – so we just end up with a catalogue of far-fetched fantasies that undermine what is otherwise a well-crafted film.
If you’re willing to overlook logic and reality, then this is a hilarious and well-written comedy. But if you’re not… maybe watch some mumblecore.
UK Release: Out now to watch on VOD, released by Amazon Prime