I really like Big Eden. This doesn't mean that I think it is a good movie. I do not. But, there are so few gay romantic comedies that end happily, that when I watch one the sheer joy of watching a representation onscreen that includes me takes over and I can forgive almost anything.
Big Eden follows a successful New York artist with an unspeakably gorgeous apartment named Henry. He returns back home to Montana to take care of his ailing granddad. From here, hilarity and romance ensue. All of the people in the town conspire to hook Henry up with the Native American man who runs the corner store, Pike.
What Big Eden is smart about is that it contains a straight man in love with a gay man (although, of course, this love is inexplicable, as Henry is really rather boring and closety). My friend David and I talk about how sometimes a straight man falls in love with a gay man, but doesn't know what to do with that. David and I have both had this happen to us. And the both of us can love each other very much, and sometimes this can be very confusing. We are not taught, in our culture, how to be in love with people with whom we don't have sex. Anyway, Big Eden contains one of these relationships. Henry doesn't handle it well at all (it is, in fact, not an easy thing to handle) but then the film doesn't interrogate why he handles it poorly or how he could have handled it differently. Still, I was grateful for this storyline. (Chris Mason Johnson's The New Twenty tries to go toward this territory, but gets too involved in its interest in business machinations that no one cares about.)
The real nonsense of Big Eden, though, is that the film is really interested in telling us how great it is to live in a small town. There is literally no homophobia in Big Eden. Every single person, including the elderly, is completely accepting of gay people. And here is the rub, it is Henry himself who is not being honest about his sexuality. The small town is fine with gays, it is Henry who has (in this most accepting town in the universe) somehow internalized homophobia which forces him to hide his sexuality from his family and the rest of the town. Henry has to learn this lesson before he can truly accept himself, of course. He also has to learn the value of the small town, and how family is all that matters.
And I call bullshit. The reason we all move to the cities (and I know we don't all move to the cities, obviously) is because small town's aren't like Big Eden. Small town values, such as they are, consistently condemn difference of any kind, and gay people consistently tend to find community and family away from our biological families.
So Big Eden has an odd ideological project. I am not sure why Thomas Bezucha wants to convince us of how accepting small town USAmerica is. I mean, what good does that do? At any rate, I have no intention of abandoning urban life. Even if the love of my life is running the corner store in Clayton, New Mexico, I am never going to know because I am never going to live there. Make a note.
But please make more gay romantic comedies. I am starved for them. The more the better. I will see all of them. Even if they are ideologically insane.