LGBT Movies: Spin the Bottle (1998)

Spin the Bottle follows four childhood friends to a lakeside retreat. Their Big Chill reunion is interrupted by the arrival of the nerd they tormented in school. He’s hot now and ready to play. Sexy strangers have upended the lives of squares in stories like The Bacchae, Teorema and The Rocky Horror Show. The formula remains juicy despite one note performances and some klunky dialogue.

You can learn more in my spoiler filled recap.  

Act One: Reunion

BRAD: I don’t want to see that nerd again.
JANET: Calm down. It’s been over a decade. It was nice of him to invite us to the lake house.
MOPEY: You guys, my boyfriend left me and I’M SO UPSET! (Sobs)
CYNIC: Men are only good for sex. Men. Men. Men.
JANET: So much for the Bechdel Test.
CYNIC: You’re still cute Brad. Wanna bang?
HUNK (Former Nerd): He can’t. Brad and Janet are engaged.
EVERYONE: Gasp!
BRAD: How did you know?
CYNIC: Marriage is a trap. More importantly, the nerd got hot!

Act Two: Party Games

BRAD: Hunk, I’m sorry I bullied you in eighth grade.
HUNK: I’m over it. We used to be friends. Remember how we played spin the bottle? (They play.)
JANET (Kisses Hunk): Jealous Brad?
BRAD (Kisses Cynic): Whatever. It’s cool.
JANET (Kisses Cynic): Jealous now?
BRAD (Kisses Hunk): Whatever. It’s cool.
***
HUNK: You look sad. Want to bang? (He kisses Mopey.)
MOPEY: No. You’re cute. But you manipulate people. (Leaves.)
***
HUNK: You look sad. Wanna bang?
JANET: Yes. (They do.)
***
CYNIC: You’re still cute. Wanna bang?
BRAD: No. Your cynicism masks your insecurities. (Leaves.)
***
HUNK: You look sad. Wanna bang?
BRAD: Yes. (They do.)
HUNK: By the way, I banged your fiancé.
BRAD: What?

Act Three: The Morning After

JANET: Who was the better lay, you skinny f**?
HUNK: You think I’m skinny?
JANET: Brad, I’ll forgive you if this was a one-time thing.
BRAD: (Bisexual silence.)
JANET: Get AIDS and die you f**s!
HUNK: There’s the girl I knew from school.
(Mopey, Cynic and Janet leave the lake house)
***
BRAD: I’m all yours.
HUNK: I don’t want you. This was payback for eighth grade.
BRAD: That’s petty and childish.
HUNK: I know you are but what am I?

THE END

Hail Dionysus

You think I’d wanna spend another hour alone with you? The kid who got the whole grade to call me f** and queer for two years straight?… You took my friends. You made me hate myself… You’re still the same f***in’ kid with no clue as to who you really are.

Spin the Bottle

Euripides’ play, The Bacchae, premiered around 405 BC. The royal family insults the god Dionysus. So, he bewitches the arrogant King and tricks his mother into killing him. The Hunk in Spin the Bottle doesn’t kill his enemies, though the New York Times critic wished he would. Instead he forces them to face their insecurities. The final scene suggests the trip didn’t give him the satisfaction he wanted. But, just like the others, he’s got a chance to start over.

Spin the Bottle is not a great film but it captures a primal fantasy. The chance to humiliate those who banished you from the tribe. The chance to seduce the bully who stared at you so intensely in the halls. Considering how dark some revenge fantasies get, the folks here got off easy. Pun intended.

The New York Times panned it but Variety gave it a rave.
You can read an interview with screenwriter Amy Sohn here.
For more reviews of LGBT media click here.