Flyover Country (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Russ Havlik (Mike Mecek) is a college student who is finishing up his degree by taking some elective English courses at a Nebraska college. During a discussion about a recent assignment, Russ blurts out an anti-gay slur and angers a fellow gay student. After class the two exchange heated words, and Russ meets the man’s friend Todd Rothery (Myles Dabbs). Todd is also gay and takes a liking to Russ despite his overt homophobia, because he believes that Russ is gay and just doesn’t realize it yet. Over the next few months Russ and Todd become good friends, but one day when the two start wrestling with each other Todd kisses Russ. Russ is horrified and freaks out and tells Todd to leave him alone. But later on, Russ has a change of heart and asks Todd to forgive his actions. The two settle on being friends, but just because Russ has accepted Todd and his lifestyle, that doesn’t mean that others in Russ’s circle will be as accepting.

“Flyover Country” is a new comedy drama from writer/director Jim Fields and tackles a very serious subject – the acceptance of gay and lesbian Americans in a polarized Middle America. Can a man who fiercely proclaims his heterosexuality come to terms with his own gay feelings and have an honest and true relationship with an openly gay man? Fields seems to be saying that the road is rocky, but that it’s possible.

Fields needs to be commended for tackling such a difficult subject, but I felt the film was too heavy handed and preachy. My biggest problem with it was Russ’s sudden acceptance of Todd. In one scene, Russ is screaming homophobic epithets at him and throwing him out of his house, while two scenes later he’s knocking at Todd’s door and telling him that he’s sorry and that they can now be good friends. There are no scenes of Russ contemplating his actions and coming to the realization that his feelings are wrong.

The movie is also disappointingly predictable. From the obligatory “what makes you think I’m gay” to the “mistaken identity causes tragedy” scenes, “Flyover Country” stays comfortably within the standard comedy/drama box.

“Flyover Country” starts out with the best of intentions, but its routine execution and head scratching logic prevents it from becoming a special film.

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