The film follows the lives of a group of gay friends in West Hollywood. Among the group is Dennis (Timothy Olyphant), a photographer who often holds the group together; Cole (Dean Cain) a handsome, charismatic actor who — often unwittingly — ends up with other people's boyfriends; Benji (Zach Braff), the youngest member of the group, with a penchant for gym-bodied men, who finds himself going through some bad times; Howie (Matt McGrath), a psychology student who is known for overthinking every situation; Patrick (Ben Weber), the cynic of the group; and Taylor (Billy Porter), who has just broken up with his long-term boyfriend.
Guiding them is restaurant owner Jack (John Mahoney) who provides them with advice and jobs for some of them who work part-time as servers at his restaurant. But when tragedy strikes, and the group's newest member, 23-year-old Kevin (Andrew Keegan), attempts to fit in, their friendships are put to the test.
The film also stars Nia Long, Mary McCormack and Justin Theroux, and features a cameo by Kerr Smith, who knew the director through their work on Dawson's Creek and enjoyed the script so much he asked to be a part of it, and Jennifer Coolidge as the hairdresser Betty, that all the guys, with the exception of Howie, go to for hair therapy.John Mahoney as Jack
Timothy Olyphant as Dennis
Dean Cain as Cole
Zach Braff as Benji
Matt McGrath as Howie
Ben Weber as Patrick
Billy Porter as Taylor
Kerr Smith; cameo
The Broken Hearts Club was written by Greg Berlanti about his own circle of friends at the time; the Howie/Marshall storyline is semi-autobiographical to a relationship Berlanti once had. The film had a working title of The Broken Hearts League as well as 8x10's, a term Berlanti's sister used to describe the men he dated.
Filming took place over the course of 20 days on an estimated budget of USD$1,000,000. The movie was filmed in Los Angeles and West Hollywood, while restaurant exteriors and interiors were shot in Long Beach. The hardware store scene was filmed in Laurel Hardware Company in West Hollywood, which closed in 2009. The hospital used in the film was an abandoned hospital which the crew had to clean before they could film. The film was distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment and its subsidiary Sony Pictures Classics and produced by Banner Entertainment and Meanwhile Films.
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, 2000. It received a limited release on September 29, 2000. In its opening weekend, showing at seven theaters, the film made $109,694. Two weeks later, the film made $153,468 as it reached twenty-eight screens and the week later, it grossed $175,553 as it reached fifty-six. In its eighth week of release, The Broken Hearts Club played at sixty-two theaters. The film's domestic gross totaled $1,746,585 after twelve weeks of release. The movie was released in a number of countries in 2001 and played at various gay and lesbian film festivals worldwide. The Broken Hearts Club grossed $272,536 outside of the United States, bringing its worldwide gross to $2,019,121.
The Broken Hearts Club was released on Region 1 DVD by Sony Pictures on March 6, 2001. It was released on Region 2 DVD on November 5.
The movie review website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 62% of critics gave the film positive write-ups, based upon a sample of 26, with an average score of 5.9/10. According to Metacritic, the film has scored 51% based on 17 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, praising the film's positivity and "the ordinariness of its characters and what they talk about." Ebert noted that "instead of angst, Freudian analysis, despair and self-hate, the new generation sounds like the cast of a sitcom, trading laugh lines and fuzzy truisms." CNN.com's Paul Clinton also lauded The Broken Hearts Club for focusing on "the universal themes of romance, acceptance and family", as opposed to AIDS, coming out, and sex. Clinton viewed the film as "reminiscent of those classic films that explored the complex dynamics of friendship", calling it "a heartwarming, glorious movie for anyone who has ever had a friend -- or a family."
Lisa Schwarzbaum from Entertainment Weekly wrote “A majority oriented movie that assumes sophisticated familiarity with a sexual minority.” Jami Bernard from Daily News (New York) commented “It’s the first mainstream gay movie that feels totally comfortable in its shoes. ” Desmond Ryan from Philadelphia Inquirer wrote “An undemanding and reassuring amiability that made it a crowd-pleaser at Sundance.”
On the other hand, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle felt the characters were boring and uninteresting. Bob Longino of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution summarized the movie as "sometimes funny, sometimes a yawn." John Nesbit of Old School Reviews felt the movie's strength lay in "the characterizations and the acting", but said the movie was largely void of a plot; however, Nesbit concluded that "The Broken Hearts Club may actually show its strength by being average."
The film was often compared to 1970's The Boys in the Band, directed by William Friedkin, although Ebert and LaSalle both felt that The Broken Hearts Club was generally more upbeat and optimistic. Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly exclaimed that the film shows "how far homosexual characters have come since The Boys in the Band, sad AIDS dramas, and cute identity peekaboo sitcoms". Longino, however, commented that "Broken Hearts doesn't break much new ground. Actually, The Boys in the Band did the groundbreaking 30 years ago." Nathaniel Rogers of Film Experience saw the movie as "no less than the 30th anniversary rerelease of the infamous 70s gay-angst drama, Boys in the Band." Dennis Lim of The Village Voice titled his review "Boys in the Bland."
The original music for The Broken Hearts Club was scored by Canadian composer Christophe Beck. The film also made use of songs by The Carpenters, covered by Mary Beth Maziarz. On September 19, 2000, WILL Records (now Lakeshore Records) released the film's soundtrack.
- "Love Machine, Part 1" - The Miracles
- "From Here to Eternity" (radio edit) - Giorgio Moroder vs. Danny Tenaglia
- "Let the Music Play" (Junior Vasquez Mix) - Shannon
- "Beg for It" (Mad Tizzy Mix) - Barry Harris
- "Time for Love" - Kim English
- "Share My Joy" - GTS featuring Loleatta Holloway
- "Learn2Love" - Kim English
- "Young Hearts Run Free" - Kym Mazelle
- "(They Long to Be) Close to You" - Mary Beth Maziarz
- "We've Only Just Begun" - Mary Beth Maziarz