I had never heard of this film until I looked up Jake Gyllenhaal's movies prior to <i>Brokeback Mountain</i> to see he'd actually done a picture with Jared Leto. Well I HAD to get that ASAP! A bit odd, I enjoyed the movie but ultimately rather aimless- things are tossed in then don't really go anywhere. However the homoerotic subtext- and Jared & Jake- make it something definitely worth looking out for if you've missed it like me- I don't think it's exactly well known.
Jared plays a poolboy known as the God of Fuck, a Jack-the-lad who bangs the wife of boss Mr Miranda, a Vegas mobster who then sets his goons- Miranda's Pandas- after Jack. He famously breaks the feet of anyone who crosses him so understandably Jack decides to leave town.
Jack's best friend since forever is Pilot (Jake Gyllenhaal) a stoner kid who works as lifeguard at a therapy pool and deals drugs on the side. Pilot (named for a one-night-stand) convinces Jack they should head for Seattle but doesn't explain to his buddy why- he's chasing a dream date, the girl he met at a school dance before she moved away.
The pair visits a crazy drug supplier for a stash to sell for cash to finance the trip. Unfortunately Jack lets slip where they're headed, so Miranda's Pandas know just where to go to find them.
On the way to Seattle Jack and Pilot encounter a series of colourful individuals and unusual situations, picking up a hooker with a heart of gold called Cassie and an ageing drugged out hippy (John McGinley from <i>Scrubs</i>) on his way to the vigil for the death of Kurt Cobain (the setting is April 1994).
Basically it's a classic road movie and buddy flick that reminded me a lot of <i>Y Tu Mama Tambien</i>, with a relationship triangle, sexual inadequacy and unrequited love that make the story bittersweet.
Jared is gorgeous, sexy and quite stunning in a punk hairdo. Jake hadn't yet grown into his looks, a work in progress all hair and eyebrows and babyface but he's perfect as Pilot the boy-man. Their chemistry makes the film, really sizzling so you believe they're childhood friends with a tension inducing sexual undertone to their relationship.
It is all very grungey, with lots of drugs and a fair bit of (het) sex. Pilot is clearly in love with Jack (who wouldn't be?!) and indeed we're told he's sexually confused and Cassie points out (in case we hadn't realised) they're just like an old married couple with the bickering and secret language. Yet it remains very much subtext though there are a few scenes where the homoeroticism almost becomes outright gay. A slasher's dream basically, though frustrating if you really want Jack & Pilot together.
The characters have depth and backstory. Jack's father has never grown up and accepted responsibility and Pilot never knew his so both boys lack the kind of support they needed. Jack has a problem with sexual performance (he can't reach orgasm) and Pilot can't get an erection (he's only tried with girls) so the image is front, masking need for love and intimacy. They're looking for connections and meaning in life.
It's hard to believe in the love affair between Jack & Cassie because she just doen't make a big impression, or not enough to outshine Jared & Jake! I just wish the film had done more to explore their relationship rather than pawning us off with a straight romance that didn't feel right. I certainly had the impression Jack could've gone with Pilot had circumstances been different because there's definitely something sexual there between them- there's a motel room scene that looked like it had been cut because it's so suggestive. The camera fetishises Jared Leto so I will not be convinced the homoeroticism is all in my head!
Worth watching just to enjoy the hotness of Jared & Jake.