TV Review: ‘Hard Pill’ is a good science fiction premise ruined by a muddled script and unfocused directing
Premise: A gay man unhappy with his life takes part in drug trials after a pharmaceutical giant develops a pill that may “cure” homosexuality.
So, what would happen if scientists found the cause of homosexuality and said they developed a pill that could “cure” the condition.
This is the premise of Hard Pill, a so-so film being shown this month on the Logo Network.
The film follows the life of a gay man named Tim, plated by Jonathan Slavin (Inconceivable, Summerland), who doesn’t feel like he fit in with the rest of the gay world. After he enrolls in a drug company trial, the film follows his life as he tries to change his sexual orientation from gay to straight.
The film also focuses on how his decision and the outcome of the drug trial affects the men and women Tim’s life.
The Premise as Science Fiction
One of the great strengths of science fiction is that it can use its “what if” factor to show a morality play of a possible future to question the morals of today. In fact science fiction television has a long and proud history of doing just this, from the original Star Trek and Twilight Zone in the 1960s to today’s Battlestar Galactica.
Ironically, for an issue film, this is where Hard Pill is its least effective. The film is muddled and unfocused. As the main character experiences his transformation, the people around him struggle with his changes. But as the final credits roll at the end of the film, it is anyone’s guess about what the thematic purpose of this film is.
The film’s weakness ultimately is that it fails to take a stand of any kind. Not let nature be; not whether homosexuality good or bad; not anything. It leaves the viewer wanting – in the bad sense.
Written and directed by John Baumgartner, Hard Pill has the infuriating knack for starting compelling stories but never fleshes them out to be anything but distractions. That is annoying.
Especially in the case of the romance between Tim’s commitment-phobic friend Joey, played by Scotch Ellis Loring (Wonderfalls), who stumbles accidentally into a relationship with gay activist Brad, played by Timothy Omundson (Judging Amy, Deadwood, John Doe, Xena: Warrior Princess). The relationship between these two builds, but the story is dropped without any form of resolution.
The sole bright spot of this film is the acting talent, which is top-notch. Each performers rises above the material and uses what little is there to shine in their own way.
Some adult themes.
Overall: 5 out of 10
V-Chip Rating: TV-14 DS
Genre: Science Fiction.
Sex: Adult situations, heterosexual and homosexual kissing.
Eye Candy: Low.
Jonathan Slavin … Tim
Scotch Ellis Loring … Joey
Susan Slome … Sally
Mike Begovich … Don
Jennifer Elise Cox … Tanya
Timothy Omundson … Brad
David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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