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Review: 'Gayby' finds warmth in love's expectations and roles

He's gay and heartbroken, she's straight and loveless. They want to have a baby. Writer-director Jonathan Lisecki finds timeless emotion.

October 25, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • A scene from "Gayby."
A scene from "Gayby." (gaybyfilm.com )

Don't let the zeitgeisty label fool you: The comedy "Gayby" has a grasp of friendships, relationships and blurred boundaries that feels endearingly eternal in its humor about sexual roles and romantic expectations.

Writer-director Jonathan Lisecki's tale of thirtysomething best buds Matt (Matthew Wilkas) and Jenn (Jenn Harris) agreeing to try to have a baby together — he's gay and recently heartbroken, she's straight and loveless — is as quippy and frank as you might imagine a movie built around dry, neurotic, yoga-going, comic-book-reading New Yorkers to be.

But what lifts "Gayby" above its sitcom trappings is its emotional generosity and easy warmth, the sense that characters are defined by — and made funny through — their aspirations, not their way with a one-liner. (Though the jokes, and their delivery, are often enjoyable.)

"Gayby" is urban-insular but always affectionate. Wilkas and Harris are highly appealing guides through Matt's and Jenn's awkwardness as they move from sexual coupling to fertility treatment, while simultaneously navigating new romantic possibilities outside their arrangement.

Lisecki, meanwhile, has a brisk editing style reminiscent of Lena Dunham's formalized way with rat-a-tat conversations, and gave himself the peachy role of an eyebrow-raised, zinger-heavy sidekick that he somehow avoids making gay-stereotypical.

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"Gayby." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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