Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
A movie should present its characters with a problem and then watch them solve it, not without difficulty. So says an old and reliable screenplay formula. Countless movies have been made about a boy and a girl who have a problem (they haven't slept with each other) and after difficulties (family, war, economic, health, rival lover, stupid misunderstanding) they solve it by sleeping with each other. Now we have a movie about two homosexuals that follows the same reliable convention.
Although much will be made of the fact that one of the characters in "Latter Days" is a Mormon missionary and the other is a gay poster boy, those are simply titillating details. Consider the sub-genre of pornography in which nuns get involved in sex. We know they're not really nuns, but the costuming is supposed to add a little spice. By the same token, Davis (Steve Sandvoss) is a Mormon only because that makes his journey from hetero- to homosexual more fraught and daring. He could have been a Presbyterian or an atheist vegan and the underlying story would have been the same: A character who considers himself straight is seduced by an attractive gay man and discovers he has been homosexual all along.
Since it is obvious to us from the opening shots that these two characters are destined for each other, the plot functions primarily to add melodrama to the inevitable. And there's change in both men. Christian (Wes Ramsey), who at the beginning is a shameless slut, bets a friend $50 he can seduce his new neighbor, but by the end of the film he truly loves him and has been so transformed by this experience that he volunteers for an AIDS charity and in general is transformed into a nice guy. It's as if the Mormon missionary achieved his goal and converted him, in slightly different terms than he expected.
The $50 bet is a cliche as old as the movies, and of course it always results in the bettor really falling in love, while the quarry finds out about the bet and is crushed. One of the sly pleasures of "Latter Days" is the sight of this gay-themed movie recycling so many conventions from straight romantic cinema, as if it's time to catch up.