As far as mainstream acceptance of LGBT people are concerned, it looks like TV has done a better job lately than feature film did. Shows like Will & Grace and Glee has done wonders in terms of promoting tolerance while still providing simple and corny entertainment. On the other hand, feature films that bring LGBT issues and characters to the forefront tend to get stuck within the indie realm, heavy dramas or quirky comedies that usually already preach to the converted.
That's why straight (No pun intended) genre entertainment that exploits a very simple mainstream formula that just happens to inject in LGBT situations and characters is important, because the goal is to appeal to the general fans of the genre first and foremost, regardless of their sexual orientation or their status as a "niche" audience.
Date and Switch is a typical high school sex comedy that religiously follows the predictable structure of two best buds who vow to lose their virginity before prom night. If you've seen any R or even sometimes PG-13 rated high school sex comedy from the last thirty years or so, you'll be very familiar with this basic premise.
The first ten minutes or so of the film cleverly plays with the expectations of the audience by providing every single predictable beat of such a plot. Michael (Nicholas Braun) and Matty (Hunter Cope) are two goofballs who have been best friends since childhood. Tired of being stuck on second base with their respective girlfriends, they decide to break up with them and make a pact to get laid before prom night. So far, so typical.
The twist on this trope begins when Matty comes out to Michael during the most brotastic coming out speech ever, one that seriously begins with "I'm like a gay dude bro".
After struggling with this revelation for a while, Michael comes around to accepting Matty's true identity and becomes focused on keeping the truce alive. The only difference this time is that Matty will have to sleep with a man before prom. Michael drags Matt to a bunch of gay bars to get him laid, not understanding the various emotional changes he might be going through.
It turns out that much of Matty's horny comic relief posturing was part of his façade as a straight high school student. I appreciated that screenwriter Alan Yang (Parks and Recreation) and director Chris Nelson (Ass Backwards) stick with an organic arc for the character where he turns out to be quite a romantic who wants to genuinely fall in love with the guy of his dreams before hitting a home run.
That guy turns out to be Greg (Zach Cregger), another "bro" like Matty who enjoys Mexican wrestling and being totally like, a gay dude bro. The way their relationship plays out follows the exact same structure as a straight high school rom-com, complete with a meet-cute that guarantees they'll hate each other at first, only to gradually fall in love. Meanwhile, Michael begins to have certain feelings for Em (Dakota Johnson), Matty's pre-coming out girlfriend, which complicates things in perfectly benign high school comedy fashion.
Date and Switch presents a story with an LGBT twist, executed with natural performances from the young leads, dialogue that rings true where the characters actually talk like lame high school seniors instead of ivy league philosophy majors and direction that showcases enough energy for such an overused premise to hold our attention for 90 minutes. Sometimes that kind of basic competence is all you can ask for.
The 1080p transfer of Date and Switch is very clean and sharp, the kind we can always expect from a new release by Lionsgate. This was a fairly low budget film, but Chris Nelson manages to get the most out of the production's buck and offers some colorful sequences that really pop. The Blu-Ray provides a faithful transfer that's not groundbreaking but serves the film's genre and the budget perfectly well.
The DTS-HD 5.1 surround transfer usually sticks to the front channels since this is a dialogue heavy low-budget comedy, but the occasional contemporary pop or rap song on the soundtrack provides a more vibrant experience. During some of the gay bar sequences, the subwoofer really kicks in.
Making of Date and Switch: A fairly standard ten-minute EPK where the people involved with the production go to great lengths to describe how much they like each other. In the case of this production that might be the truth, but there's really nothing interesting here.
Prom, A Rite of Passage: A brief video of the cast and crew talking about their real prom night experiences. Completely forgettable.
Deleted Scenes: Eight minutes of footage you'll be glad were cut out.
Audio Commentary by Chris Nelson and Alan Yang: This is a pretty energetic commentary where the writer and the director dig deep into the film's production. It's interesting to listen to, but there isn't any information that would concern anyone but die-hard fans of the movie.
Lionsgate also offers some previews of other releases.
Date and Switch is a smart high school comedy that treats its LGBT subject matter not to nab a niche audience but to raise such a predictable genre to a new ground while inviting its general audience to have a good time. It's not a great film by any means, and every story beat can be seen coming a mile away, but its charm is undeniable.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, Beyazperde.com, and Bitch Magazine.