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"You Can’t Have it All" opens this year’s Q-Fest, and makes use of Philadelphia locales and romantic comedy clichés


Philadelphia’s Q- Fest, a 12-day celebration of queer cinema, opened with a bang "You Can't Have it All" opens this year's Philadelphia's Q-Fest.Thursday night in the heart of old city Philadelphia. You Can’t Have it All,  a movie that was filmed, written, and directed entirely by center locals, was chosen to open the festivities.

Before starting the film, director Jay Arnold  took and the stage and joked that Miramax first read the script and rejecting it, stating that it “wanted to be a romantic comedy, but was missing something.” Seeing the final product, there is no question about it. You Can’t Have it All is old fashioned romantic comedy in every way possible.

The movie begins with Paul (Jon Lindstrom), who is just getting out of a relationship and standing at a very tough crossroads in his life. Middle aged, unable to sustain a relationship, and generally unhappy, Paul mostly mopes around the apartment and tries to consume his time taking care of a new puppy that his overbearing sister Elise (Wendie Malick) gave to him.

Things take an interesting turn when Paul runs into Andy (Chris Murrah) at the park one day while walking his dog. The two strike up a conversation, though Paul is noticeably skittish about the interaction. They meet again the next day at the park, dogs in hand, and soon the meetings become a ritual, each time the pair getting a little more comfortable and closer to each other.

The sexual tension naturally rises and the whole thing culminates with Andy gaining the courage to ask him to dinner one night. This sets into motion an interesting series of events revolving around Paul’s confused sexuality, his sister’s wild homophobic tendencies, and of course Andy’s own feelings, which wind up and being pulled in different directions due to the unpredictable nature of Paul’s midlife crisis.

You Can’t Have it All  is pleasant, forgettable romantic comedy fare. Jay Arnold and Thom Cardwell’s  script is a slight cut above the norm if only because it presents a mature love story, and a very interesting coupling, formed between two men who share a significant gap in age. The film makes warm, romantic use of Philly’s own Rittenhouse Park, which is the centerpiece of the film. The story is mostly predictable, with the usual clichés in abundance, but some of the dialogue is fairly witty at times.

The three leads do a fine job overall. Lindstrom does an acceptable, if slightly boring, take on the stuffy, middle aged man in sexual identity crisis. He downplays most of the character, which has its pros, but also leaves him without much edge. Murrah is an adorable screen presence, bright and natural without ever being overly cutesy or cloying. His Andy has more of an arc than Paul, but it’s Malick as Elise who unsurprisingly brings the most spice. Malik, a seasoned TV veteran (Just Shoot Me) gives a dry, hilarious turn as Paul’s neurotic, judgmental sister.

You Can’t Have it All doesn’t do too much with the romantic comedy formula so it’s hard to acknowledge it as anything truly special. It is however, a sweet, efficiently made, feel good love story and a nice way to open this year’s eclectic festival.

Contact Jim Teti at jteti@philly2philly.com