Geography Club review: mapping the teen terror of being weird

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Geography Club green light

A gentle, positive high-school drama about how little courage it actually takes to break through adolescent panicky silence and embrace everyone’s differences.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

High school is hard enough even if you don’t have any secrets. So when brainy Russell (Cameron Deane Stewart: Pitch Perfect) and star football player Kevin (Justin Deeley: Couples Retreat) — both of them just as adorable as is possible — are accidentally discovered in their first kiss by their classmate Min (Ally Maki: Step Up 3D), they’re mortified. And when she leaves notes in their lockers telling them to come to a classroom after school, they’re terrified: Is she going to blackmail them? Turns out she is starting a private support group for the school’s gay and lesbian students… including her and her “best friend,” Terese (Nikki Blonsky: Hairspray), who is actually her girlfriend. Min calls it the Geography Club, cuz she figures no one they don’t want would show up for such a dorky gathering. This first feature from the brother team of Gary Entin (director) and Edmund Entin (screenwriter) just barely avoids the trap of being overly earnest with its engaging and mostly realistic teens — some of them look too old to be high-school students, but they all get the emotional precariousness just right — and some turns of events that are surprising because they defy the stereotypes of teens’ approach to sex and romance that the movies usually engage in. Indeed, the homophobia that some kids (and plenty of adults) use to guide their perceptions of others get a whacking, in part via a truly disturbing scene of bullying that oddball student Brian (Teo Olivares) is subjected to, fueled by the macho peer pressure that football players — including the still-closeted Kevin — endure and help perpetuate in their fear of being seen as less than “manly.” Mostly, though, this is a gentle, positive drama, one that is ultimately optimistic about how open and accepting today’s teens mostly are, and particularly how little courage it actually takes to break through everyone’s panicky silence and embrace everyone’s differences. Kids: Power and confidence blossoms when you realize that you’re not, in fact, alone. And you’re never alone.

based Geography Club by Brent Hartinger [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.]

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