Imperfect 'Poster Boy'

Friday, August 25, 2006

"Poster Boy," the feature debut of writer-director Zak Tucker, posits an elaborate election-year scenario, in which a conservative U.S. senator from the South bullies his closeted gay son into helping promote his homophobic agenda, then through a series of twists, turns and mistaken identities gets his comeuppance on the day he launches his campaign.

Sounds like the stuff of delicious barbed comedy, but "Poster Boy," which stars Matt Newton, Jack Noseworthy and Valerie Geffner, is more earnest than cutting. As Henry, the long-suffering son of a hypocritical blowhard, Newton is a fresh-faced, winsome young college student; Noseworthy's Anthony, an older man who may or may not be playing Henry for political gain, is similarly edge-free. Any sparks that exist are provided by Geffner, as Anthony's roommate Izzy, who seems to be constructed entirely of chin, elbows and attitude. (Veterans Michael Lerner and Karen Allen are good sports as Henry's parents.)

Tucker's background as an editor shows in several over-cut sequences. Although audiences will admire the film's do-it-yourself energy and commitment, "Poster Boy" finally collapses of its own contrived weight, deflating just when it should soar into madcap -- or at least thoughtful -- satire.

-- Ann Hornaday

Poster Boy R, 98 minutes Contains profanity and some sexual content and nudity. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

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