Hayley DuMond, Jenny Shimizu, Shay Astar, Charlie Babcock, Hunter Bodine, Suzi Bodine, Candy Clark, Geoff Chilcote WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Alan Howard MPAA RATING
NR RUNNING TIME
97 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
QC Cinema/Breaking Glass Pictures DVD EXTRAS
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Bob (Hunter Bodine) is a landscape gardener and handyman. His father (John Bennett Perry) is a now unemployed ex-aerospace worker with a secret past and heart failure. Sister Stephanie (Shay Astar) does the books for her girlfriend's (Jenny Shimizu) salon while harboring a secret that really needs to come out. Polly (Suzi Bodine), or mom, sells dolls on Ebay to help support the family.
The Goodlows are a typical American family, or at least it seems that way until Bob proposes to his girlfriend (Hayley DuMond) and his cousin concocts a "get rich" scheme. Suddenly, "typical" isn't quite in the picture.
Written and directed by Alan Howard, Bob's New Suit proved to be quite popular on the LGBT film fest circuit and has now been picked up for a 3/26/13 release on home video by QC Cinema, the LGBT arm of distrib Breaking Glass Pictures.
There's certainly room in the world for an LGBT-tinged quirky family dramedy, but Bob's New Suit seems to try too hard to sell the quirk and not quite hard enough to create a story compelling enough to actually care about these characters. These characters, nearly all of them, are going through something worth caring about but for the most part it felt like quirk for the sake of quirk. In fact, the only truly compelling character here is that of Stephanie whom, we soon learn, is on the way to becoming Steve. While Howard's script tries to mine the conflicts with Stephanie/Steve's mother, these feel so artificially developed that it's difficult to become invested in them. Shay Astar certainly gives a strong enough performance, perhaps the film's best performance, but it largely goes for naught as she's given so little to play against here.
I wanted to surrender to Bob's New Suit. I kept trying to Bob's New Suit. I simply couldn't surrender to it. Between performances that were generally lacking and dialogue that seemed to grow out of a Screenplay Writing 101 class, Bob's New Suit is an uncomfortably stilted and unconvincing endeavor. While the film did get its share of success on the fest circuit, including playing at Frameline, it's a considerable disappointment considering the growth in recent years of the LGBT cinema scene.
Bob's New Suit is the debut feature from Alan Howard, and while it may feel like I'm trashing the film (Okay, actually I am trashing the film) there are signs that Howard may have a promising future in filmmaking. The film fairly well balances its multiple storylines, though that's also because only the one involving Stephanie/Steve is even remotely developed. There are some promising ideas bubbling underneath the surface of Bob's New Suit and one gets the feeling that with a bit more experience Howard will get a stronger sense of how to frame shots for a stronger impact and how to pace the film in such a way that one can feel the tension that should develop between characters.
For more information on the film or to pre-order it for yourself, visit the Breaking Glass website linked to in the credits.