I really can’t say that I’m a big fan of the gay-oriented indie films of Cris Pablo. Well, I’ve seen his first film Duda/Doubt (which, I think, started this whole gay indie film market) and a few of his later movies. (I’ve noticed that he has a penchant for naming his lead characters after himself, making the audience wonder if his films are autobiographical in nature.) I can’t declare any of his films as a favorite, and his latest creation Campus Crush is no exception. But unlike his earlier films, which are somewhat forgettable, I have really strong conflicting feelings about Campus Crush. I can’t decide if I hate it or love it.
The movie is about this group of gay “loser” students that are the object of a bet among a clique of hunky male students (who are apparently “People Like Us”, as said early in the film). The winner of the bet is the guy who can make their target loser the happiest (by pretending to court them). The lead character, Cris, is a principled geeky gay guy with a really outrageous mother and a screaming gay friend, Chamyto. The best friend is a rich kid who gets his guys by showering them with expensive gifts, and his camp behavior steals every scene he is in. Through the aforementioned bet, Cris becomes the object of Edge’s affection (who is Cris’ long-time crush). Hilarity ensues as the bet takes its toll among those involved.
In terms of technical merit, the film is utter crap. The plot is incoherent and implausible. The setting is inappropriate since the students wear these expensive-looking and elaborate uniforms (suggesting an exclusive educational institution) but the school itself looks like a dilapidated public school lacking in funds. Almost all the characters are one-dimensional and seem to come straight out of Cris Pablo’s surreal fantasy world. Plus, we have all of these “stolen” dick shots, nude scenes, and fellatio encounters that serve no real purpose in advancing the plot but simply to appeal to the gay audience. For example, in one scene, Edge just suddenly strips off all of his clothing for no apparent reason and then proceeds to cry dramatically. It’s one of the most “WTF?!” scenes I’ve ever seen.
On the other hand, the fact that the film is so campy and outrageous makes it quite entertaining to watch. And I’ll be a hypocrite if I say that I didn’t appreciate the “stolen” dick shots, nude scenes, and fellatio encounters. I wish that the film was much more polished and didn’t have those things, but hey, since those treats are there, I might as well enjoy them, right? (I was also quite surprised to see that the guy who won the recent November BED Bodies competition had a naughty bit role in the movie. Hehe.) In addition, there were some clever bits in the film such that it isn’t a total waste. Plus, Arjay Carreon, the new actor who played Edge, is incredibly cute. If I were in Cris’ shoes, I would be crushing on him too. And oh, you have got to see the banana scene—it is definitely one of the highlights of the film, and Cris’ mother would give Chamyto serious competition in the scene-stealing department.
Some other notable reviews of the film: