Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss

Brad Pitt better watch out. There’s a new kid in town, and his name is also Brad. Brad Rowe. Remember it. He’s one of the stars of writer-director Tommy O’Haver’s hilarious romantic comedy, “Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss.” He’s what you call dangerously handsome. Oh yeah, and he can act.


With his blonde mane, blues eyes, killer smile and dimples only found in perfection, Rowe heats up the screen in “Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss.” But then, that’s his job. He plays the romantic interest of Billy (Sean P. Hayes, now stealing scenes on television’s “Will & Grace”), an artist- photographer who uses his Polaroid camera to convey the world as he sees it.

billyskissRowe play Gabriel, a waiter at a small caf‚ in Los Angeles. He’s just moved from San Francisco and his “girlfriend” to find success in Hollywood. He plays the bass, but as Gabriel laments, every guitar player in Hollywood plays bass. Billy confesses to his best friend Georgiana (Meredith Scott-Lynn) that he’s way too gorgeous to be pouring coffee.

That leads to an invitation for Gabriel to model for Billy’s latest series, “Hollywood Screen Kiss.” Billy and Gabriel instantly connect, and that’s trouble for Billy. He has a bad habit for falling for the wrong guys, straight or gay. He’s currently kicking himself for sleeping with a hunky Latino named Fernando (Armando Valdes-Kennedy), who is also seeing someone else. It’s the story of Billy life.

Billy tries to convince his friend and benefactor Perry (Richard Ganoung) that his intentions are sincere, but Perry and all of Billy’s friends know better. They’ve seen him dive head first into the shallow waters of love, and don’t want to see him get hurt. Still, Billy pursues Gabriel, and they start hanging out together.

When they attend a gallery show, Billy’s little green jealous monster raises its head when a noted gay photographer (Paul Bartel) invites Gabriel to Catalina to pose for an underwear advertisement.

Billy tries to ignore the situation, and later that evening, both he and Gabriel end up drunk at his place. One things leads to another, and before you know it, the two are sharing the bed. What happens after that will require that you see this witty and very human comedy.

Sean P. Hayes is absolutely darling as Billy, a decent twenty-something man who wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s very talented, but needs to share his life in order to be validated. His pursuit of Gabriel is both funny and heartbreaking.

You want a fairytale ending, but that’s not in writer- director Tommy O’Haver’s grand scheme. O’Haver uses numerous theatrical flourishes to tell his story, including a lip-synching trio of drag queens as a Greek chorus (very similar to “Stonewall”) and dance around during the opening credits (like “My Best Friends Wedding”).

His style of storytelling is exceptional. Instead of resorting to a standard flashback, he splits the screen, with Billy on one side, and a series of Polaroids on the other. It’s these little touches that make “Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss” so unique. O’Haver does resort to dream sequences, but they are vital clues to Billy’s state of mind.

“Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss” reminded me of an old-fashioned Hollywood film. It’s sharply lit, with gorgeous close-ups and musical numbers that move the story along. It has two good looking leading men, and great comic foils.

It’s refreshing to see so much care given to an independent film that I’m sure none of the major studios would even consider, much less make. “Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss” never misses a beat, nor does it try to make a statement. Instead, it just plays it as it lays. Honesty is always the best policy.

“Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss” won’t be for everyone, but for those looking for a very funny and touching alternative romantic comedy, you couldn’t do much better.

BILLY GETS THE BIG “KISS” OFF

BILLY’S HOLLYWOOD SCREEN KISS

Sean P. Hayes, Brad Rowe, Richard Ganoung, Meredith Scott Lynn, Armando Valdes-Kennedy, Les Borsay, Carmine D. Giovinazzo, Paul Bartel and Holly Woodlawn in a film directed by Tommy O’Haver. Rated R. 92 Min.

LARSEN RATING: $7



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