Last we saw our ol' pal Frankie Frain, he was a teenage wunderkind with a sprightly comedy made by teens, for teens and soaked with juvenile humour and the most PG of Tromatic excesses. He had also made a flat-out gross-out comedy with A-Bo The Humonkey. Now, a little bit older, possibly a little bit wiser, and definitely a tad more refined, we find Mr. Frain moving into the realm of the relationship comedy.
Sexually Frank is the kind of excellent dialogue-centric, naturalistic indie relationship flick we used to get back in the VHS days, the art-theatre days, the all-or-nothing days before CG and DVD and Direct TV threw us back into the stone age of knock-off drivel. Now every low-budget flick is a computer-generated horror mess and every movie about sexual culture is either a balls-out freakfest, or a pale imitation of the American Pie flicks, reduced to a simple formula of poop-jokes, titties and beer. That's all well and good, but what we have here is a breath of fresh air that harkens back to the more refined days of the mid-to-late 90's, when films like Naked in New York, Metropolitan, Kicking and Screaming, and The Tao of Steve gave us everyday people that just looked like Eric Stoltz and Ione Skye and Tim Roth, dealing with shit that we all went through with our girlfriends and high school pals and strangely desirable strangers. Frankie Frain has found that groove again. Sexually Frank gives us back those walkey-talkey “I don't know what to do with my Life” days that I, for one, though were lost to endless tween vamp sequels and shaky-cam scarefests that bore the shit out of my 6 year-old.
Sexually Frank concerns two friends, Neil and Frank. Neil (played as the consummate shlub by Keith Sadeck) is an awkward, geeky schmoe, unloved by women or himself to the point that his own masturbation fantasies talk him out of sex. Frank (played by our intrepid writer/director Frankie Frain) is an average dude in his twenties, comfortable in his long-term relationship with his teenage sweetheart and vaguely aspiring to be some kind of filmmaker someday by creating short films for the interwebz. They also stay tight with their gay high school pals Dan and Matt, who are also a long-term couple. The film basically follows the ups and downs of these relationships over the course of the production of Frank's latest opus, appropriately titled “Toe In Ass”.
Long story short and spoilerless, these people all go through normal ups and downs, break-ups and life questions. Who am I? Is this the right person for me? Am I wasting my Life? Where's my piece of the pie? The difference between this and every other examination of modern love, is that Sexually Frank plays it not only real, but sincere. The dialogue is natural, flowing and honest. This is how people talk. It's like the Chasing Amy era Kevin Smith humour, in a more Alexander Payne package. Add to that, the amazingly nonchalant attitude towards the sexual orientations of the characters, specifically Dan and Matt, who are the very least cliched gay characters I have ever seen. There are no corny speech patterns or obvious mannerisms to their portrayals, these are just two ordinary guys who happen to be into other guys... just like it is in real-life 90% of the time. The female characters receive the same reality-based treatment. There's no catty bitchiness, no mad frenzy, no shopping-whore, good-little-schoolgirl archetypes, just people with breasts, talking about their relationships and working through their lives.
The dialogue, as always with ol' FF, is snappy, smart and often hilarious. The situations are believably funny, rather than outlandish slapstick, and it pays off with a warm, thoughtful, enjoyable film that is impossible to categorize, beyond saying that it is GOOD. See it with your long-time special lady friend, your childhood schmoe, your best gay pals, whoever. Just see it.
Sexually Frank is now screening on the festival circuit. For more information, screenings, trailers and info on the Blu-ray release, please visit http://www.sexuallyfrank.com/