From the opening notes of the song "Public Transit" you know that "Fruit Fly" is not your average film. There is probably no queerer a form of film than the musical. "Fruit Fly" is nothing if not queer. And I mean that in a good way. It is very low budget and odd, but a campy and fun watch.
Bethesda (L.A. Renigan) moves to San Francisco to do her performance show. Her foster parents have both died and she went to the Philippines to find her birth parents. She has no luck except for finding her father's sister. Bethesda's father has died, but no one knows where her mother went.
Once in San Francisco, Bethesda moves into a commune with other artsy-fartsy types. She lives there with Windham (Mike Curtis) – a gay set designer, Karen (E.S. Park) and Sharon (Theresa Navarro) – a lesbian couple who live together, and Jacob (Aaron Zaragoza) – an artist who lives there rent-free in a small room off the kitchen. Jacob is there because he ran away from home.
Bethesda is applying to a theatre space in which to perform her show. All of her performance pieces have to deal with her search for her birth parents. Once Bethesda is turned down by the theatre she is going to have to rely on her new friends to help her figure out a way out of her problem.
H.P. Mendoza's San Francisco is a fun and crazy place to live. All the way through the film it made me contemplate a move. The fact that all the citizens of the city seem to be able to sing their way through their problems certainly makes life seem a whole life easier. There are 19 musical numbers in its just over 90 minute running time. Songs like "We Have So Much in Common", "Fag Hag" and "Speechless" will get your toes tapping. It really watches like an homage to other movie musicals like "Guys and Dolls", "West Side Story" and "Cabaret". Name the musical style and this film covers it from synth-pop to 60s power ballads to good old fashioned rock. The lyrics to the songs are hilariously over-the-top and oftentimes sexual.
The title of the film is a term women known as 'fag hags' prefer to be called. It's a film that takes a serious issue and deals with it in a lighter way. Bethesda and her every colour of the rainbow friends show that labels are oftentimes just restrictive and inaccurate. It also deals with the all too frequent reality of how gay men mistreat their heterosexual female friends. It oftentimes borders on misogyny.
It would be easy to just tear a film like this to shreds that at times seems like a bad high school play, but it is just too fun to do that to. The director has said that this would be his last indie musical and if that is true he is going out on a high note.