Main cast: Booboo Stewart (Nick Young), Harry Shum Jr (Chaz Young), Gregg Sulkin (Randy Goldman), Manish Dayal (Ajit), Tyler Posey (Doug), Justin Martin (Cameron), Kathryn Layng (Edie), Joan Chen (Irene Young), and BD Wong (Oliver Young)
Director: Quentin Lee
Nick Young has Asperger’s Syndrome, which makes him hard to fit in with his freshman class. His brother, Chaz, is a popular jock who does a lot to protect him from bullies, which only makes Nick view Chaz as the only friend he has in this world. Their parents are too busy being the typical Vietnamese-American expatriate family in America – they are very busy, they put all their hopes in Chaz who is shaping up to be their perfect son, and ignore Nick.
And then, one day, Chaz is killed in an accident. The grief-stricken Nick is taken in by Chaz’s “study partner” buddies – their study sessions turn out to be poker sessions, heh – and, in the process, Nick discovers that Chaz had secrets of his own. More specifically, Chaz was gay and he was about to come out when he was killed. In Nick’s world, rules are rules and, according to what he knows, being gay is wrong, so he is sent reeling by his discovery.
White Frog isn’t strictly a gay drama, as it focuses mostly on Nick’s coping with his grief after the death of his brother. Unfortunately, the movie does not trust me to come to my own conclusions in this movie – the script practically bludgeons me in the head that Chaz being gay is not “wrong” by doing all the wrong things.
Now, I’m not against people wanting to love members of their own sex even a bit, so this movie is preaching to the choir where I am concerned. But even I have to wince when the movie turns all the gay characters into unrealistic saintly figures. Chaz and his gay friends all want to be happy dancers and artists and everything else stereotypical and fey, and they operate in this wonderfully perfect Gay Utopia Bubble where everyone is deliriously happy, living up to his or her full potential, and running free away from the prejudices of horrid straight people.
To be fair, the parents aren’t that awful, and there are moments in this movie when they resemble actual parents that may live next door to one. But what few moments of realism there are pale in comparison to the constant “Gay people are happy! Gay people only want to be your friends! Won’t you adopt a gay pet today?” Care Bear-ing of gay people in this movie. That’s a shame, really, because by painting the gay characters in such a manner, it’s harder for me to relate to Chaz’s dilemma. He’s just a plot device to get Nick to go eek-eek-eek.
The acting is actually pretty good, but the cast is made to utter some of the cheesiest lines I’ve ever come across in a movie. Poor Harry Shum Jr, especially, has to give long-drawn unrealistic speeches that make him feel more like a figurehead for a GLAAD-sponsored reboot of Glee than a believable high school jock.
White Frog could have been a good movie, but the reliance of the script on maudlin and cheesy sentimental melodrama sinks it fast.