Ever since Logo unceremoniously dropped “Noah’s Arc” from its lineup – allegedly despite solid ratings – fans of the queer dramedy about a gay, black clique have yearned for the feature film. The two-year wait ends tomorrow when “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom” opens exclusively at the Maple Art Theatre in Bloomfield Hills.
Picking up the plot line a year after the end of the series, at which time Wade (Jensen Atwood) was lying on the side of the road just inches from death, we find that Noah (Darryl Stephens) has nursed his man (Wade has somehow extricated himself from his relationship with Dre, who is not once mentioned in the film) back to health and the two are now getting married in Martha’s Vineyard. And even though there is more than enough material to be mined from that storyline alone, equal screen time is given to the issues and escapades of Noah’s friends.
“Noah’s Arc,” the series, has always suffered from the fact that Logo was only willing to shell out enough dough to produce a scant few episodes each season (12 the first, eight the second – each only 30 minutes). The movie suffers the same fate and at times it feels as if Logo and series creator Patrik-Ian Polk, who co-wrote the screenplay, tried to fit an entire season’s worth of drama into a single film. The movie features plot twists aplenty and, at times, it’s hard to keep up.
But it also features all the elements of the series that fans have come to love, from Noah’s far over-the-top fashion sense to a sizzling soundtrack. (The soundtrack was produced by Polk and even features two songs by the legendary Phoebe Snow, who makes an appearance at the end of the film.)
The boys are all as fun – and in many cases flamboyant – as ever, and a welcome addition to the Arc is the absolutely adorable Gary LeRoi Gray. Playing Brandon, a student of Chance’s (Douglas Spearman) who is also the latest boy-toy of Ricky (Christian Vincent), Gray is more than just a tasty helping of eye candy, he also pulls at our heartstrings as we follow his struggle to come out to his parents.
Polk’s screenwriting (he co-wrote the script with novelist John R. Gordon) lacks finesse as he fleshes out this storyline – and a few others – though, and borders at times on maudlin. As a result, interspersed between the love story and the laughs are mini-episodes that read part public-service announcement and part after-school special aimed at troubled gay teens.
Despite its flaws, “Noah’s Arc” the movie holds the same distinction as “Noah’s Arc” the series, and that distinction cannot be overlooked or understated. In short, both are utterly groundbreaking, and never before has such a story been told, at least not with characters who are both black and gay – and equally proud of both. Polk is to be commended for his vision and persistence (he was marketing the series direct to video before signing the deal with Logo). He has created rich and colorful characters that keep us smiling and wanting more.
And that may be the real problem. The film really does tie up all the loose ends in these characters lives – and it reads as the perfect series finale. B
‘Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom’
Opens Nov. 7
Maple Art Theatre, Bloomfield Hills