The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green
2005, R, 88 min. Directed by George Bamber. Starring Daniel Letterle, David Monahan, Diego Serrano, Meredith Baxter, Dean Shelton.
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Aug. 4, 2006
Ethan Green is mostly unfabulous. Like so many romantic comedies – gay, straight, either, neither – it gives us a couple as exciting to watch as evaporation and squanders its second bananas. It’s a small point in the film for Office Space’s Richard Riehle to be clad in a caftan and Easter bonnet as a fussy old queen, while supermom icon Baxter is a busybody same-sex wedding planner. Meanwhile, Ethan (Letterle) searches for Mr. Right in all the wrong places: with a dissolute 19-year-old twink (Shelton) and with a baseball player struggling to emerge from the closet (soap star Serrano). Will Ethan find love in the last place he expected? Most likely. Eric Orner’s eponymous comic has been adapted with allegiance, but there’s little sparkle onscreen. A dreadful board-game leitmotif identifies Ethan as the “romantic hero,” but the script barely attempts to fill him in besides posing him with self-help books (Finding the Boyfriend Within) and dreamy looks. He may be understated as a comic hero, but this Ethan seems underwritten. There are wacky flashbacks – grade-school classmates cruise each other during a student play about nutrition – and there’s an animated segment about a depressed real estate agent, but there’s just not enough real heart to go along with the cutesiness. Shot on digital video, the production has a certain scrappy underdog charm but doesn’t flout any aspects of the romantic-comedy formula. I’d stand in line to see a love story entirely about the Hat Sisters (Riehle and Joel Brooks), minor characters who serve as set dressing despite the fact they’re far more interesting than the pretty-vacant leads.