The teen queer drama gets a proper treatment in ‘Giant Little Ones’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Executive Editor
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I never drank the Love, Simon Kool-Aid and am still a bit puzzled why so many people were willing to give it a pass. It must be seen as a victory of marketing over execution — thirsty audiences who believed they were getting the first major-studio gay teen rom-com.

But just as the Netflix original Alex Strangelove was a far superior streaming version of what Simon was trying to be, the new release Giant Little Ones is basically the Canadian improvement on the theme. And while it’s hardly groundbreaking or even exciting, it hits its marks with enjoyable ease.

Franky (Josh Wiggins) is still a virgin on his 17th birthday, while his best friend Ballas (Darren Mann) seems to get laid more often than carpeting in a condo. Franky endures occasional “Hey, faggot” catcalls from school bullies, but Ballas happily comes to his defense.
After a night of partying, they end up in Franky’s room, and something happens under the covers that causes Ballas to dart out of the room. Ballas tells everyone that Franky came on to him; Franky denies it, despite the encouragement of his dad (Kyle MacLachlan), who divorced his mom (Maria Bello) and came out as gay.

Why is Franky loathe just to own his sexuality? Or is there something more we don’t know about?

Coming out is always a complicated individual process, even in a post-marriage-equality universe, and the success of a movie like this isn’t just how authentically and sensitively it treats that process but how it touches on universal truths while avoiding tired clichés. Giant Little Ones puts an interesting twist on the concept. Maybe Franky isn’t as in denial as we think — what seems to be the journey of one character turns expectations around.

That alone elevates the film from the sickly forced “charm” of movies like Love, Simon — a genuine story of teenaged angst, not a dopey variation of it. But it’s also well-acted, especially by Wiggins and (late in the story) MacLachlan and excellently plotted by writer-director Keith Berhman. Love hurts… whether it’s romance or friendships.

Now playing at the Angelika.