entertainment

The Boys in the Band: What are the critics saying?

Ryan Murphy's all-gay remake of Mart Crowley's '60s stage classic is finally on Netflix.

2020-10-02

Two and a half years after some of the world's biggest gay stars assembled on Broadway for an acclaimed revival of Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, the film remake of the '60s stage classic is finally on Netflix.

Reuniting that Tony Award-winning productions's A-list cast with director Joe Mantello under the watchful eye of executive producer Ryan Murphy, The Boys in the Band premiered on Wednesday (30 September) with plenty of hype (and a world exclusive in-depth feature in the Attitude October issue, out now to download and to order globally).

But what are critics making of the all-gay remake, starring Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Michael Benjamin Washingon, Brian Hutchison and Tuc Watkins?

Reflecting on Murhpy's stylistic influence for The New York Times, Glenn Kenny writes: "Those clothes (including neck scarves and cashmere cardigans)! That turntable! That Erma Franklin record! It’s a heady, evocative rush.

"Murphy’s showy touch, which tends to curdle when overdrawn, doesn’t entirely extend to the rest of the picture, which is zippy and soulful in equal measure."

Awarding the film four stars out of five, Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian writes: "Hammy and stagey and campy it might be, but The Boys in the Band turns out to have a fiercely watchable soap-operatic intensity, a sustained attack of telenovela craziness, culminating in a full-on anxiety attack from its leading character.

"It is all unexpectedly potent, particularly in the absurdity and petulance and pain that Parsons crams into his performance. It’s a strange, compelling dose of unhappiness."

In a review for CNN, Biran Lowry notes that The Boys in the Band is "a Netflix movie that can't entirely shake its slightly claustrophobic stage roots", but adds that "with Broadway theaters shuttered, the sensation of having a stage-like experience proves welcome in a way Netflix and the producers couldn't have imagined when this screen revival was conceived"

In a three-star review for Rolling StoneK. Austen Collins reflects on the film's cultural importance as an example of queer-led casting.

"All of these men are openly gay and the pronounced lack of hetero talent on this cast list — in an era in which the industry still seems to prefer straight people playing queer to queer people playing themselves — feels like a political pronouncement", Collins writes.

"Gay men playing gay men in a bit of studio-brand pop entertainment: shouldn’t feel rare, shouldn’t be worthy of remark, yet here we are."

The Boys in the Band is on Netflix now. Read the world exclusive first interview with the cast in the Attitude October issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe now to secure your special edition The Boys In the Band double gatefold cover and get your first three issues for just £3.