H.P. Mendoza—the composer, lyricist, and actor from Colma: The Musical—makes his directorial debut with the musical Fruit Fly, which he also wrote. A talented young Filipina woman named Betheseda (L.A. Renigen) moves to the Castro to continue her career as a performance artist. She also wants to find her birth mother.
Not surprisingly, she meets many gay men in the Castro, and soon finds herself labeled as a fag hag by them. Though keeping a playful tone, the film tackles racism and misogyny among gay men. It also shows various sides of gay life, and of the women who love gays.
The initial number, “Public Transit,” adds nothing to the film, and delays the more interesting scenes of when Beth meets her roommates in a communal living situation. The funniest scenes and best musical numbers take place outside that setting, especially at a gay bar. Most of the songs reflect a 1980s influence and Mendoza’s playful sense of humor.
“Fag Hag” contains the wittiest and catchiest lyrics, but many of the other songs add to the overall charm of the movie. Ultimately, though, Renigan makes it all work. Besides challenging racial and gender stereotypes, she makes viewers care about Betheseda’s art, her life, and her search for family. It never gets too deep, intentionally; Mendoza provides breezy escapism with the messages tucked sweetly between the lines.Duane Simolke wrote Degranon: A Science Fiction
Adventure and The Acorn Stories.
Buy The Movie Fruit Fly
Fruit Fly. Distributed by TLA Releasing.
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