They’re not exactly Hope and Crosby, but in My Best Friend’s Wedding, Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett do carry on the time-honored tradition of the Buddy Movie. (Think about it: Voice of reason Everett sticks by pratfalling schemer Roberts.) The twist, of course, is that she’s a girl and he’s gay — and judging by a number of high-profile projects on the way, Hollywood thinks the twist is worth cloning.
Coming in December from TriStar is the comedy Old Friends, featuring ex-Later host Greg Kinnear as a gay man who teams up with Helen Hunt (and Jack Nicholson) to go on a road trip. Due next year is Twentieth Century Fox’s The Object of My Affection, starring Friends’ Jennifer Aniston as a single, pregnant woman who relies on gay roommate Paul Rudd (Clueless) to fill in as surrogate father. And coming soon: Roberts and Everett, together again…and again. In addition to discussing a sequel to Wedding, the dynamic duo have just signed to Touchstone’s Martha and Arthur, reportedly about a Hollywood marriage of convenience in which the husband is…well, you know.
Why has the gay-man-as-Everyfriend character become so popular? ”The trend suggests that homosexuality is finally being embraced as a mainstream orientation,” says Dr. Drew Pinsky, cohost of MTV’s advice show, Loveline. ”People are not hung up on being afraid of gay people.” Writer-director Tony Vitale — whose comedy Kiss Me, Guido, about a macho Italian-American man who pals around with a gay roommate, just opened — thinks it may have more to do with Hollywood’s quest for new formulas. ”The [straight/gay] waters have been tested in the independent arena,” says Vitale, whose film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this year, ”and they’ve worked well.”
Of course, in an industry where box office reigns, the best explanation for the trend may be Wedding’s grosses: $83.5 million after four weeks. No wonder Hollywood is so buddy-buddy with the concept.