“Straight Up” explores the difficulty of fitting a sexuality label when the heart wants what it wants.
|Screenplay By||James Sweeney|
|Date Released (Digital)||4/17/2020|
|Genre(s)||Comedy, Romance, Young Adult, LGBT|
|Duration||1 Hour, 36 Minutes|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
For most of this life, Todd just assumed he was gay. People thought he was gay due to the way he dresses and talks, and girls didn’t approach him or see him as a potential boyfriend so, he lived as he was pushed to. But, with his multitude of neurosis being explored with his psychoanalysis, as well as his semi-toxic friends, Meg and Ryder, he comes to question his sexuality.
Leading Todd on a short journey into the dating pool and eventually meeting Rory. Someone who also likes “Gilmore Girls,” debating, and who seems perfect for Todd. However, while happy, there comes a point where Rory has to ask if Todd is perfect for her and reconcile with the fact he has thus far lived his life as a gay man. A task which never becomes easy.
Collected Quote(s) & .Gifs
“Labels are for vegans.”
Rory and Todd’s Chemistry
While sometimes their back and forth was so fast I desperately desired subtitles, there is no denying the chemistry between the actors and characters was top notch. In fact, I would say how they played off one another gave you a prime example of how chemistry isn’t purely about sex. Sometimes it is just two people clicking in all the right ways and able to play off one another with ease. All without being the same person, but there being some form of initiative to get that person.
This is also something they mutually explore as Rory may adapt to Todd’s neurosis, but Todd also pursues ways to make Rory happy that puts him out of his comfort zone. And it is in seeing that balance that brings you a romance which feels rarely seen not just due to Todd’s orientation, but because the friendship isn’t rushed so that we can get to an overtly passionate sex scene.
Rory Was Given A Life Before Todd & Outside of Todd
The movie is essentially about Todd trying to figure out what he likes and why he has struggled with intimacy in the past. Be it due to having OCD or, with going along with what people assumed he was, maybe he went down the wrong path. But, in all that, Rory doesn’t just become something he uses and admires because she puts up with him. No. Rory has a life.
From what we see, she has a distant relationship with her mother, a lack of one with her brother, who raised her and struggles to be an actor since she isn’t able to grasp what casting directors want out of her. And as all that happens, she is struggling to find a job, pay rent, and also figure out what she wants from Todd. I mean, she likes him, loves him enough to go to his parents’ for Thanksgiving, but what about the long term? What if she wants more than, at this point, he seems to want to give?
What “Straight Up” explores isn’t just what Todd wants but Rory since it seems, for both of them, the issue has been finding someone willing to put in an effort and who truly got them. Then, once that is found, asking if their checklist is enough or was that their basic needs? Of which, can they live with just those needs and without their wants?
Establishing How Romance & Sexuality Aren’t Mutually Exclusive
Navigating sexuality, gender, and how romance plays into both can be a lot. However, “Straight Up,” without getting on a podium and preaching progressiveness, handles it with some ease. Granted, Todd is struggling, as is Rory to get a firm grasp on what’s going on.
However, in showing how labels complicate things, even if some feel their identity is so strongly tied to them, you get why this new generation wishes things to be more fluid and to drop labels. For in the pursuit of what we are all looking for, romance, consistency, and someone who gets us, labels, and expectations limit who we can imagine would want us and who we think makes up that pool. As seen by Todd rushing through who he thought could want him.
But one could say it is the same for Rory. Dating someone who was male-exclusive one time, but gets along so well with you, it reminds you how much sexual hang-ups for men go beyond the coming out process. It also deals with the perception that bisexuality doesn’t exist and, if said dude is interested in something romantic with a woman, her dealing with you not limiting your desires to one gender.
Showing that, in a multitude of ways, there is still so far to go despite how media depictions have changed and, assumingly, so has American culture.
On The Fence
The Constant Need To Wonder Why Meg and Ryder Became Todd’s Friend
Meg and Ryder seem like they’d be friends with each other, but as for how Todd fits in all that? Well, that’s hard to say. Which becomes an issue after a while since the only thing Ryder and Todd have in common is past relations with men and when it comes to Meg? While it is clear she likes an audience, there isn’t a moment from either where they let their guard down, their extroverted personality, and show how a person like them would appeal to Todd. Leaving you wondering if Todd is just the one who got away for Ryder, if not a necessary techy to help with their software and computer problems?
Would Watch Again? – One and Done
Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)
While only worth one viewing, what makes “Straight Up” worth seeing is that it finds a way to explore a subject matter that hasn’t been exploited to death without seeming preachy. Rather than question and prod why people would have an issue or shame them, it takes note navigating sexuality is difficult, and when you throw in a person’s feelings, it only gets more complicated. And when you take note of Findlay and Sweeney’s performances, you get nuances and realness which makes this less about entertainment and more so posing a question for the audience to answer: What are you letting limit your opportunities for love?
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After trying to wrap her head around what life with Todd could be, paired with her non-existent acting career, Rory eventually decides to move to Seattle and get a regular office job. This sends Todd into a tailspin, and rather than move on and maybe try to find a guy like Rory, he goes for the real thing and even proposes to her. Which, due to the way he does it, and it being handled weirdly, she rejects said proposal, but does take note of one he gave before.
Leading to them having an open relationship, with a male third, who assumingly handles the sexual part Todd has difficulty handling. Though, in his proposal, Todd did say he would eat Rory out, so that is something he’ll have to approach sooner or later.
I feel like going further would ruin this, to be honest. Not to say it wouldn’t be interesting to see how this open relationship arrangement works, and whether it has staying power. However, “Straight Up” feels like a film that should leave you wanting more than wishing you were delivered less.
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