Fruit Fly is a 2009 musical that PJ and I recently watched on Netflix. It stars L.A. Renigan as Bethesda, a Filipina performance artist who has just moved to San Francisco. Her performance art is about her search for her birth parents, whom she has sought out after her adoptive parents’ death. Her biological father is now also dead, but no one knows what has become of her mother. She has found a room for six months in an apartment building, and the film follows her attempts to stage her performance piece while getting to know her new roommates. Here’s the trailer:

Fruit Fly is a fun, entertaining movie. PJ and I both really enjoyed it.

Part of what I liked it about is its experimental nature. It’s not a traditional musical in which the characters break into song to sing about their emotions or falling love or stuff like that. These characters do break into song, but their songs are about public transportation, workshopping your performance piece, being a fag hag, or meeting another versatile bottom. In other words, this is a musical about urban, racial, gender, and queer identities.

And it’s a lot of fun! Here’s a good example, the song “We Are the Hag”:

The songs are funny, but they’re also smart, foregrounding identity politics for a generation of queer people (gay and straight) who take the traditional gay issues — coming out, getting laid, etc. — as givens. This musical takes a comical look at contemporary urban queer culture and offers an incisive critique of it. Compare “We Are the Hag” with this song, “Fag Hag,” for example:

I love that this movie revels in all of the politically incorrect camp of contemporary queer culture while simultaneously noting how offensive and problematic these elements can be. It’s true that “fag hag” is a pejorative term that should be replaced by something better (fruit fly?), but I dare anyone to watch this movie and not want to learn all of the words to “Fag Hag”! Like I said, it’s smart, incisive, and a lot of fun!

My favorite song is “We Have A Lot So Much in Common,” a song in which two versatile bottoms realize that they have a lot in common. It’s a great (satiric) homage to gay men trying to find a quick hook-up.

H.P Mendoza is the film’s writer-director. He has a great comic sensibility, but he also has a wonderful visual style.  I really liked the film’s quirky combination of visuals and music. Cityscapes, for example, become equalizer lights that zoom up and down with the music. He’s created a film that is as visually stunning as it is musically catchy. Mendoza also wrote and directed Colma: The Musical, a film that PJ and I have also seen. Unfortunately, I don’t really remember it, so I think I’ll have to watch it again soon.

Overall, the experimental nature of this movie was really entertaining to me. The end goes (perhaps) a little too far into experimentation for my tastes–it sort of has the feeling of descending into madness to me–but I really enjoyed the ride nevertheless. It’s fun, witty, and a delight to watch.