The biggest problem with adapting Eric Orner’s mostly fab comic strip about the perils of the gay dating scene is that, while it was groundbreaking when it first appeared in gay publications in the late 1980s, similar stories have already found their way to mainstream film audiences — a direct adaptation of the comic seems tame and unoriginal today.
The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life Of Ethan Green, the 2005 feature now out on DVD, tries to solve that problem by jettisoning all but the most basic story elements. But director George Bamber and writer David Vernon never find anything to replace Orner’s witty observations, which made the source material so interesting.
Instead, the film attempts to pick up the tone of the strip by following an episodic structure in which the title character (Daniel Letterle) lurches from relationship to relationship while, apparently, pining for an ex who remains a good friend (David Monahan). Characters change radically from scene to scene, before finally slumping to a finish that doesn’t resolve the story so much as set up the next episode.
Much of the blame for why this film doesn’t work has to lie with Letterle’s inscrutable performance. You can almost hear him saying, “How would a gay person react in this situation?” before each line. His “gay face” — permanently raised eyebrows, aloof eyes and slack mouth — masks any emotions that might justify his actions.
At the opening of the movie, we’re told not to feel sorry for Ethan, as his dating problems are “mostly his fault.” The story certainly bears that out, but each of his other love interests are as shallow and repugnant as he is. There’s simply no one to root for in this film. The only reason to rent this DVD is to freeze-frame on Letterle’s penis in one of the sex scenes.