"Banned in Salt Lake City!" scream the ads for Latter Days, trumpeting the film's would-be provocative hook of a closeted Mormon getting deflowered by a well-toned L.A. gym rat. No doubt Madstone Theaters (the Salt Lake exhibitor that yanked the movie from its slate) bowed to community pressure, though it claims that the decision was entirely aesthetic. Perhaps the real reason lies somewhere in between: Why should a theater go to the mat for a film that's just another generic hunk of Indiewood queer cinema? Moreover, why would Mormons want to see a movie that doesn't pay their faith a shred of respect, instead painting them as repressed, hateful, criminally unfashionable polygamists? Writer-director C. Jay Cox and his distributor are crying censorship, but they're really trying to have it both ways: They release a movie that belittles a community, and then express outrage when that community doesn't want to show it. Beyond all this manufactured controversy lies the sort of feeble, pussyfooting gay romance that has clogged indie circles for years; like trick, The Broken Hearts Club, Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss, and countless others, it banks on safe, straight-friendly formula in a bid for crossover success. Cox, who wrote the screenplay for Sweet Home Alabama, reworks many of the same fish-out-of-water tropes to accommodate the puppy love between a beatific missionary and a strapping stud who qualifies as what the Seinfeld gang once called a "mimbo." Just off the boat from Pocatello, Idaho, Steve Sandvoss lands in Los Angeles for two years of missionary work, happily joining his three roommates in spreading the word door-to-door. His gaydar sounding the moment Sandvoss moves into his apartment complex, Wesley A. Ramsey is drawn to the boy's innocence and earnestness, which marks a refreshing change from anonymous, commitment-free hookups. Knowing the out-of-towner will fall for the old I-cut-my-chiseled-ass-on-a-nail routine, Ramsey bets his fellow waitstaff $50 that he can seduce Sandvoss, but instead gets inspired to rethink his shallow life. Things take an outrageously grim turn once word gets back to Pocatello, leading the film into a melodramatic fit that includes slashed wrists, a Christ dream sequence, and an excommunication hearing that looks inspired by The Parallax View. Stranding an able supporting cast in mostly disposable roles–including Jacqueline Bisset, Mary Kay Place, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Amber Benson–Cox writes himself into several corners, then plots honking contrivances to get out of them. Without Jive Records honcho Clive Davis, an open diary, a superfluous minor character, and a music video piped into an asylum, these lovebirds might never have gotten together.

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