Gay or straight, German or American, teen angst tends to look the same. And when handled clumsily, it tends to look ridiculous. There isn't a huge difference between Jason Schwartzman trying to skulk and smoke his heartache away in Rushmore and the moment in Summer Storm when Robert Stadlober, after getting drenched in, yes, a summer storm, decides to accentuate his misery by sitting under a youth hostel's running shower and hanging his head in sad exhaustion. But only one seems likely to produce unintentional laughter.


Maybe the moment would have worked better if, by the time Stadlober turned the shower knob, both he and the film hadn't squandered so much good will. Summer Storm starts sweetly, but it eventually grows exasperating as it follows best friends Stadlober and Kostja Ullmann from their small Bavarian town to a rowing camp that turns into an unexpected hotbed of sexual tension. Though both Stadlober and Ullmann have steady girlfriends, Stadlober only has eyes for his pal. But every time he comes close to confessing his attraction, he senses Ullmann pulling away. Their situation isn't helped by the arrival of the out-and-proud gay teen rowing team Queerstroke, especially when one member takes a particular liking to Stadlober and draws him into a lakeside makeout session.

There could be a happy ending right there, if Stadlober weren't such a self-involved twerp. But, no, he has to have Ullmann, never mind the cute new friend. And when he comes out to his girlfriend, he practically demands she accept the situation without questions. What's worse—apart from some awkward broad comedy involving a homophobic teammate too dumb to see that he's being seduced by an aggressive Queerstroker—is that the film never puts any distance between itself and its hero. It just grows darker and broodier as Stadlober grapples with coming out. That's not an easy thing, but someone should tell the poor guy that being gay doesn't have to mean being this lame.