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Review: Harry and Max

Eric Henderson



Harry and Max

It’s always disconcerting to see a controversy-courting movie being given the soft sell, and yet at the same time the soft sell is usually far more characteristic of the filmmaker’s level of commitment to playing socio-sexual devil’s advocate. I mean, how brave can a film truly be if its press release is littered with aphoristic twaddle about “contradictory relationships” and “setting boundaries [so two] boys can grow into adulthood together”? So, in the spirit of the film’s nod toward truth-telling, let’s get it all out in the open. Harry and Max is writer-director Christopher Munch’s seemingly candid exorcism of any number of self-consciously naughty fantasies. Mostly, it’s about two pop star hottie brothers (in separate boy bands) who secretly suck each other’s dicks almost as often as they petulantly give each other blue balls…oh, and just to make it all the more kinky, the younger brother, Max (Cole Williams, getting another test run on that pinched-off, “just gave a blowjob” voice), is underage, which completes the homosexual-incestuous-statutory rape hat trick. The hijinks begin fairly early, when Harry (Bryce Johnson) joins Max for a trip up in the foothills. (It’s always foreplay with these two, even when it comes to hiking.) In the tent that evening, Max tries to keep his brother warm by sucking him off. Harry pays lip-service (and then some) to rejecting the advance, all the while reminding Max that “you gotta sheath your teeth.” The teasing talk never turns into action on screen (hands caress crotches, kisses without tongue are exchanged), and whenever one of the two appears ready to repeat whatever vague sexual acts were shared between the two in “The Bahamas” (almost always spoken by the brothers in italics, as though by merely mentioning the location they could summon a porn groove out of thin air), the other one retreats into a conglomerate posture of convenient morality and hard-to-get fission. The pattern repeats itself until the coda, when Munch forges a maladroit thematic parallel between the downfall of the boy band craze and the brothers’ reluctant rejection of the superficially adolescent perversions. Told with all the panache of a dirty Ole & Lena joke, Harry and Max is the type of film that pretends to be transgressive, all the while backpedaling itself straight to the doorstep of latent reactionary self-guilt.

Cast: Bryce Johnson, Cole Williams, Rain Phoenix, Tom Gilroy, Justin Zachary, Michelle Phillips Director: Christopher Munch Screenwriter: Christopher Munch Distributor: TLA Releasing Running Time: 74 min Rating: NR Year: 2004 Buy: Video

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