“Noah’s Arc” Grows Up In “Jumping the Broom”

FILM REVIEW BY JIM HALTERMAN

I always felt like I was betraying someone by not doing back flips over such gay series as “Queer as Folk” and “Noah’s Arc.”  With both series, I was more cold than hot for the writing, acting and, primarily the often contrived and convoluted stories.  While I was always happy that these series (and subsequent ones like them) existed at all, I just wanted them to be a little smarter and a little better.  So, hearing that “Noah’s Arc,” which ran for two seasons on Logo, was coming to the big screen I suddenly felt those same old hot and cold emotions course through my veins.  Would the film be the same TV series on a bigger screen?  Thankfully, “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom,” which opens at theaters this Friday, does exactly what it’s supposed to do – takes all the characters to the next level, brings a welcome sense of reality to everyone involved and, if this is the last time we see these guys, sends everyone off with a strong, heartfelt conclusion. 

The event driving most of the plot in the beginning is the wedding of Noah (Darryl Stephens) and Wade (Jensen Atwood) at the Martha’s Vineyard home that Wade’s family owns.  Along for the ride are self-appointed wedding planner Alex (a hilarious Rodney Chester), married couple Chance (Doug Spearman) and Eddie (Jonathan Julian), and slutty Ricky (Christian Vincent) with his barely-legal trick Brandon (Gary Leroi Gray).  And, finally, webcamming from Los Angeles with their baby is Alex’s partner, Trey (Gregory Kieth).

While the initial moments of the film harken back to the series (Noah’s overly garish wardrobe makes a cameo early on, for example, but, thankfully, things are dialed back to the real world for the majority of the film), they only serve as a bridge for what is to come.  We get a sufficient rundown of what has happened from the time the series went off the air to the present and things start off much as you might expect.  Alex is popping pills to keep up with all there is to do with the wedding, Chance and Eddie are at a crossroads in their relationship while Ricky ignores the lovelorn Brandon for anything that breathes.  Once these stories are in motion, something surprising happens, “Noah’s Arc” finds a sense of depth that I believe was only scratched upon in the series. 

Location has a little something to do with this because by having the film take place entirely away from the pretty bubble of Los Angeles, the cast and the stories come across as more adult and like people I would actually want to know and hang out with.  I’ve always believed if the series had been more grounded in reality, it could’ve run for several more years and this film proves my point. 

So, what actually happens in the movie?  Don’t worry—no spoilers here but here are some previews:

Noah and Wade face their own fears about committing to each other forever as well as Wade’s little secret which isn’t a big surprise but it is handled with the right amount of finesse.

Though the reason for Ricky’s persistent affinity for having as many sexual conquests as possible also doesn’t come out of left field, the manner in which it is handled is, again, mature and real.  And Christian Vincent proves that there’s an actor under that thousand-watt smile and beautiful body. 

Chance and Eddie’s conflicts will resonate to anyone who is (or has been) in a long-term relationship and Alex, though serving as comic relief in the first half of the movie, is given something to work with in his own relationship.

Finally, young Brandon was one of my favorite characters in the film.  In our gay lives, it’s easy to forget what it was like to be young, coming out for the first time and dealing with our families and friends accepting (or not) who we are.  Brandon embodies that young person we all once were but he also provides a bit of a conscience for the guys when he expresses his dismay at the drama going on around him.  He’ll go through everything just like our regulars are but having his youthful perspective is a breath of fresh air in the film.

And what would a big gay movie be without a few priceless cameos?  Tony-winner Tonya Pinkins appears as Wades’ mother and watch the singer in the closing moments of the film—Phoebe Snow!! 

In summation, I was pleasantly surprised with “Noah’s Arc – Jumping the Broom.”  Directed by series creator Patrik-Ian Polk from the script he co-wrote with John R. Gordon, the film is the first theatrical release distributed by Logo Features.  The film not only shows that there is life for the “Noah’s Arc” characters but maybe there’s a film franchise in their future.  I know I’d welcome their return.

Photos courtesy of Logo Features.