A homophobic professor sabotages an LGBT groups’ attempts to open a homeless youth shelter. His smug boss wants the building for their Christian college campus. Once he spends some time with the underwritten minorities he decides to join their cause.
Some critics dismiss films like Boy Erased and Bohemian Rhapsody as “queer movies for straight people.” Same sex desires are ignored or treated as a source of shame. At least those films are told from the queer persons’ point of view. Here it’s all about the straight characters and their heroes’ journeys. A straight cis woman runs the LGBT+ support group on behalf of her dead gay brother. She spearheads inept fundraising events with little help from her silly LGBT colleagues. The professor may sabotage them but they were poorly organized to begin with.
The LGBT group members get one personality trait apiece (sassy, angry or shy). The homeless teens share their tragic backstories, then vanish. A headstrong gay student is expelled for his assertiveness and left sobbing in the professors arms. They suffer so that the straight white leading man can learn empathy.
The tight rope between faith and sexuality is a genuine struggle that this film sells short. The Christian characters are bigots or saints. The professor attributes his homophobia to the Bible but we soon learn he’s bitter because his wife left him for a woman. All he needs are a few flirty conversations with the leading lady to get over it.
Stephen Shane Martin gives the professor a deadpan snarkiness. His constant trolling of everyone around him provides the films’ few intentional laughs. Moments of slapstick comedy and “sassy” innuendo for the supporting cast fall flat. The biggest unintentional laughs involve discussions of the dead gay brother who was “strangled with a rainbow flag.” When a Christian Mean Girl primly tells the leading lady “your brother was an abomination” I guffawed.
At the End of the Day was written, directed and co-produced by a straight man from an Evangelical background. His heart is in the right place. The production values are competent and there’s a genuine desire to raise awareness of homeless LGBT+ youth. However, by giving all agency to the straight white cis characters the film reduces minorities to helpless objects of pity. There’s a difference between a straight “ally” and a straight “savior.” I admit that cynical agnostic homosexuals are not the target demographic. I hope this film finds its audience and does some good.