LGBT Movies: All the Rage (1997)

Promiscuous hunk meets monogamous introvert. The hunk sees a chance to leave the scene and settle down. Can these crazy kids work things out? Turns out they can’t. All the Rage morphs from a romcom into something darker and stranger. The introvert is sweet but the hunk, and the audience, grow bored with him. When the inevitable betrayal occurs it’s a relief. All the Rage then builds to an ambitious finale that almost justifies the tedium.

Curious? Then read my spoiler filled recap.

Act One: Single Life

An Odd Couple
An odd couple.

Scene One: Jerk Montage
VOICEMAILS: Call us back!
CHRIS (Vain Lawyer): No.
CLUB PATRON: You’re hot!
CHRIS: You’re not.
CO-WORKER: My date sent me roses.
CHRIS: Lame.
FRIEND: Why are you still single?
CHRIS: (The film briefly turns black and white. Chris faces the audience.) I’m just too perfect.

Holding Hands
Human connection.

Scene Two: Dinner Party
GAY FRIENDS: We bored with each other so we match up our friends.
STEWART (Nerdy Editor): I’m socially awkward. (Grabs Chris’s hand under the table.)
CHRIS: That’s weird. But kinda hot.
(Stewart gets scared and flees.)
CHRIS: What a jerk. I hope he calls me.

(On the way home Chris picks up a trick and treats him badly.)
TRICK: Please call me?
CHRIS: (Again a black and white confessional to the audience.) I like them blonde. I like them hot. I never call them.

Act Two: Romance

Domestic Bliss
Domestic bliss.

Scene Three: Dating Montage
STEWART: That movie made me cry. I like baseball and the ballet.
CHRIS: (To the audience.) I’ve never met a vulnerable guy before. We can’t afford location shooting at baseball or the ballet but it’s the thought that counts.

Scene Four: Gossip Montage
GAY FRIENDS: Tell us about the sex! We live vicariously through you!
CHRIS: He’s so perfect! I mean he doesn’t work out so he’s not as hot as me. He’s like, movie-plain. But he has nice eyes! But the sex is kinda boring. But he sent me roses! But I prefer blondes. The script hasn’t given him much personality beyond “generic nice guy.” But…
FRIENDS: Just behave. Stewart’s ex cheated on him and it destroyed him.
CHRIS: I would never. I’ll love him forever and ev…
GYM RAT: Hi. I’m Stewart’s hot room mate.
CHRIS: (To the audience.) Ruh-roh!

Scene Five: Betrayal
(After approx 25 minutes of dull domestic life.)
CHRIS: This movie’s gotten boring. Just like our relationship.
STEWART: Why do you have a little box of men’s phone numbers? It’s not even a Rolodex. Just a box. Is that a thing in 1997?
CHRIS: DON’T EVER GO THROUGH MY THINGS AGAIN!
STEWART: That’s ominous foreshadowing.
CHRIS: (To the audience.) I like them blonde. I like them hot. You get that right? Have we established that character trait?
(Chris makes out with the Gym Rat roommate.)
STEWART: We’re done.
(Stewart exits the movie.)

Act Three: All The Rage

Rough Trade Kiss
Even Gym Rats need love.

Scene Six: Loneliness Montage

Spoilers

GAY FRIENDS: We all hate you now.
CHRIS: That’s a bit of an overreaction. Stewart, please answer the phone.
ANSWERING MACHINE: No.
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Scene Seven: Bedroom
(Chris picks up the Trick again and treats him badly.)
TRICK: We met earlier in the movie and you don’t even remember!
CHRIS: Get the hell out of here!
TRICK: I’M NOT LEAVING TILL YOU APOLOGIZE! YOU’RE PATHETIC!
CHRIS: Is that right? Well you’re A LOSER!
(Chris punches the Trick and throws him to the floor.)
CHRIS: EVERYBODY WANTS ME! I’M RICH! I’M BEAUTIFUL! I REPRESENT 1997’s HOMOSEXUAL IDEAL! I DON’T NEED STEWART OR YOU OR ANYONE! EVERYTHING’S COMING UP CHRIS! MAMA’s TALKING LOUD. MAMA’s ALL ALONE. MAMA DOESN’T CARE! THEY’RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU! TRY GETTING A RESERVATION AT DORSIA NOW!  NO WIRE HANGERS EVEEER! I SHOULD KILL YOU! I’M A WINNER! I’m a winner. i’m a winner.
(Chris crumples to the floor in tears. Sad music plays.)
TRICK: Well I should really be going.

THE END

TRICK: Wait, really? That’s the end? That’s the end of the movie?

YES REALLY. THE END.

[collapse]

The Title Has A Double Meaning

BW Aside
Something’s wrong.

Director/Writer Roland Tec adapted the screen play from his stage play A Better Boy. The title appears to reference the 1993 book The Best Little Boy in the World. Andrew Tobias’s autobiography described the self-loathing that came from growing up in a homophobic world. That pain was channeled into a rigorous pursuit of perfection and a longing that could never be satisfied. In 2005 Alan Downs would apply this concept to most gay men in a book titled The Velvet Rage. When Chris melts down we see a side of him the movie’s only hinted at. However we lack context. There’s no talk of disapproving parents or homophobic co-workers. Until the break up Chris’s social circle has supported him. We simply know that Chris is a gay man living in 1997 and are meant to draw our conclusions from there.

And what of Stewart? What caused this passive character to reach out and grab Chris’s hand at that dinner party? He jokes that he was drunk but it appeared to be the desperate act of a drowning man. Who knows what will happen to him after this betrayal?

The L.A. Times called All the Rage a “pointed satire of gay life.” Is it a satire? Webster’s dictionary defines satire as a “work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn” so I suppose All The Rage counts. I associate satire with comedy and, beyond some mugging by Chris’s friends, the film is not a comedy.

Have you seen this film? Does the bonkers finale justify the dull middle stretch?
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Up next: Debbie Gibson blackmails a toxic gay couple in 1999’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.