G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend) is a 2013 American teen comedy film directed by Darren Stein and produced by School Pictures, Parting Shots Media, and Logolite Entertainment. The film made its first official screening at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival in April 2013 and got its theatrical release on January 17, 2014 by Vertical Entertainment. G.B.F. focuses on closeted gay high school students Tanner and Brent. When Tanner is outed, he is picked up by the cool girls and he begins to surpass still-closeted Brent in popularity.
The film stars Michael J. Willett, Paul Iacono, Sasha Pieterse, Andrea Bowen, Xosha Roquemore, Molly Tarlov, Evanna Lynch, Joanna "JoJo" Levesque, and Megan Mullally. G.B.F's soundtrack includes new compositions by "Hi Fashion" & "Veva".
Tanner Daniels (Michael J. Willett) and Brent Van Camp (Paul Iacono) are two closeted teenage high school students. Their school, North Gateway High in suburban New Jersey, is dominated by three feuding cliques respectively led by the three most popular girls in school: Fawcett Brooks (Sasha Pieterse), Caprice Winters (Xosha Roquemore), and 'Shley Osgood (Andrea Bowen). Brent hatches a plan to out himself at prom, which will make him the most popular boy at school since the latest trend in teen girl magazines is a G.B.F. – a gay best friend.
Meanwhile, Soledad Braunstein (Joanna "JoJo" Levesque) is told by teacher Ms. Hoegel (Natasha Lyonne) that their Gay-Straight Alliance cannot exist if there is not a gay student in the club. Fawcett helps Soledad track down any potential gay students in the school by downloading a hook-up app for gay men. Brent previously persuaded Tanner to download the app on his phone and Soledad and her friends track Tanner down, forcing him to come out in front of the whole school. This attracts the attention of Fawcett, 'Shley, and Caprice, who all believe having a G.B.F. will secure their bid for prom queen.
Angry, Tanner confronts Brent for not also coming out and harshly outs Brent in front of his overbearing mother Mrs. van Camp (Megan Mullally) as revenge. Tanner quickly regrets it but Brent is no longer speaking to him and he reluctantly agrees to be friends with Fawcett, Caprice, and 'Shley, as the three girls protect him from homophobic bullying led by Fawcett's ex-boyfriend Hamilton (Brock Harris). However, the girls express their disappointment that Tanner is not like the stereotypical gay men they have seen on TV and make him over to their liking. Brent is annoyed at all the attention Tanner is getting, especially since Tanner has become nominated for Prom King. Likewise, 'Shley's conservative best friend McKenzie Pryce (Evanna Lynch) tries to persuade 'Shley that homosexuality is sinful.
At a party, Caprice sets Tanner up with Christian, a gay friend of hers, who is willing to be his prom date, but McKenzie refuses to allow Tanner to buy a couple's prom ticket, insisting they are only for male and female couples. Tanner agrees to join Soledad's GSA since she is the only one willing to help him fight the school policy and chastizes Fawcett, 'Shley, and Caprice for only caring about him when it benefits them. Chagrined, Fawcett also joins the GSA, but Ms. Hoegel quickly sees that Tanner is being used by the girls as a prize. Fawcett offers to hold an alternate prom, which pleases Tanner but enrages Caprice, who is annoyed that Tanner is endorsing Fawcett. Brent, believing that he is Tanner's prom date, is disappointed to learn that Tanner is going with Christian. He teams up with Caprice who plans on being queen of the school endorsed prom and offers to let him be her king. Meanwhile, Tanner and Brent's old friend group, Sophie (Molly Tarlov), and Glenn (Derek Mio), confront them and reveals how they are being used as tools, and Tanner asks Fawcett if this is true. Fawcett admits that she was but she now does consider him her real friend. She also tells Tanner she created the second prom to win since most of the school dislikes her. Tanner agrees to help her win prom queen after hearing this.
Meanwhile, Brent manages the publicity department for the school-sanctioned prom, and uses explicitly anti-gay posters. The principal cancels the school prom due to the ensuing public backlash and supports the alternate prom. Tanner and Fawcett win prom king and queen and Tanner makes a speech at the dance, saying that he is tired of being seen as an object or a symbol and apologizes to his true friends for dumping them. Tanner dances with Brent and they make up, although they decide to stay friends instead of being romantically involved and risk a friendship that is already sturdy in its own right.
George Northy was working at an ad agency and chipping away at a screenplay, G.B.F., about a school with a new trend: All the girls need to have this season's hottest accessory of a gay best friend. Northy searched the Internet for LGBT screenwriting competitions and turned up listings for Outfest's Screenwriting Lab and NewFest's NewDraft Screenplay Contest. By the time both festivals came around last summer, Northy was a finalist for both. Guinevere Turner, with the Outfest Lab, sent the script for G.B.F. to Darren Stein. Stein told Indiewire, "I thought, since it came from Guinevere, that it would be a dark script. I read it and I was laughing out loud. It felt like a classic teen movie. It jumped off the page in a way that most screenplays don't. It was so snarky and smart, about something close to my heart and culturally relevant. It wasn't message-y or preachy. I was very, very excited. It's very rare to laugh out loud reading a script."
After reading the script, Stein decided to direct the film and passed it onto his manager who got investors involved with the project. Raven Symoné was in talks to star in the film following the table read however eventually passed on the project.
Principal photography took place in Los Angeles over 18 days.
The film received an R rating from the MPAA for "sexual references". Director Stein responded to the rating by saying, "I always thought of G.B.F. as a PG-13 movie, but we were given an R 'For Sexual References' while not having a single F-bomb, hint of nudity or violence in the film. Perhaps the ratings box should more accurately read 'For Homosexual References' or 'Too Many Scenes of Gay Teens Kissing.' I look forward to a world where queer teens can express their humor and desire in a sweet, fun teen film that doesn't get tagged with a cautionary R."
G.B.F. made its official Hollywood premiere at Chinese 6 Theater in Los Angeles, California on November 19, 2013. The film made its way through many film festivals prior to a wide theatrical release.
The film received generally positive reviews. It has a score of 82% with a certified "Fresh" rating on review-aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 38 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has a 56 out of 100 rating based on 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The film made its DVD debut on February 11, 2014 in the US.
The soundtrack was released by Lakeshore Records to all digital retailers on January 14, 2014. The thirteen-track album was originally scheduled to include new compositions by JoJo, Michael J. Willett, Hi Fashion, and Veva. However, after the track listing had been announced, both JoJo and Willett were not included on the final cut for unknown reasons.