What can be said about whiz-kid James Sweeney’s adorkable Straight Up other than Yay! Sweeney wrote, directed and starred in the film. It is infused with as much Hollywood cliche as sensitive analysis of Millennial angst. The caricatures of wannabe actors, models and party people can be grating, but that’s because they are well portrayed as the annoying nuisances that they are in the real world. On the flipside, the two lead characters, Todd and Rory, are refreshingly cute, depressed, and anxious dorks. They are a byproduct of the digital age, among starving artists and Instagram Influencers. They have a whole lot of reactionary woes influenced by their Gen-X parents. To a Gen-Xer, Millennials are “special snowflakes” who may shatter at the slightest implication of effort or interaction in every day life. Everything hurts. Everything is difficult. Everything needs a therapist.
But Sweeney tackles it with flair, centering his tale around paranoid, gay Todd, who suddenly decides he may not be gay after all. A young adult who has never had sex due to his OCD-afflicted overly-active imagination meets an equally weird young lady, and the two embark on an unlikely romantic journey. The partners in crime try to navigate a relationship with a different kind of intimacy than society is accustomed to. The question posed by Straight Up is, can a serious couple exist without physical intimacy?
Ask any sexually active Millennial their experience with this and the responses might cite situationships, friends with benefits, non monogamy, and ethical polyamory. Times are changing, people have more and more boundary issues, and these elements all affect what might one day soon be seen as archaic. The traditional Couple.
Rory and Todd may not fit society’s vision of coupledom, but boy are they ever cute together. They are smart, they pick on each other without creating negative tensions, they share household chores, and appear to complete each other without infringing on their individuality.
Straight Up is supposed to be comedic. But, in its way, it isn’t actually funny. Millennials are screwed. Their problems aren’t as trivial as older generations might interpret them to be. In many ways, it isn’t a poor-me act. There’s a lot of burden on them that doesn’t need to be there. So, are they at fault for trying to carry too much, or is it society putting more on them than on past generations?
Gay, straight. It makes no difference. The entire Millennial generation is afflicted with similar issues. As hard as life is, however, sometimes there is a silver lining. In Todd and Rory’s case, being in love means acting like an idiot and being okay with it. Both touching and silly, but all the while, a charming nod to #storyovereverything (Pendance’s catchphrase).