Chuck & Buck

One of the most memorable scenes from the disturbing but uneven Australian film Bad Boy Bubby involved a woman with severe cerebral palsy (played by a genuinely afflicted actress) who lusted after the main character. It was a brave, even dangerous move, as it reminded uneasy audiences that the mentally handicapped can and do have libidos. With Chuck & Buck, director Arteta and writer Mike White up the ante, taking the cliched "innocent manchild" character (ala Forrest Gump and Rain Man) and not only giving him a sex drive, but making him gay.

White plays the titular Buck, a mildly retarded 27-year-old whose emotional development seems to have stopped at the age of 11. That not only includes a fondness for Blow Pops and children's plays, but also a still-active crush on his boyhood friend Chuck (Chris Weitz), who now calls himself Charlie, lives in Los Angeles with his fiancee, and has become a dull, insincere "player" in the music industry. After Buck's mother dies, the two old friends reunite – rekindling Buck's obsession with Charlie. Things get sticky when Buck relocates to Los Angeles and, in his own well-meaning way, starts stalking Charlie and his fiancee.

What follows is a very funny, slightly creepy, and occasionally touching look at past regrets and fears of being "different". I'm not sure what Chuck & Buck is trying to say – "face your childhood demons and grow up" seems too simplistic for such a sharp-eyed film – but it nevertheless challenges the audience with bold questions about friendship and sexuality, and is very well-acted by its leads.

White is, thankfully, non-precious as the confused Buck, and Weitz is dead-on as the bland, soulless Charlie. The two are Hollywood insiders (White wrote for the late TV series Freaks and Geeks; Weitz – along with his brother Paul, who costars in this film – wrote American Pie) and, with Arteta, they share an innate knowledge of Hollywood people. Although it's not the film's main thrust, Chuck & Buck happens to be the truest representation of contemporary middle-class (white) LA that I've seen. If you still have dreams of moving out to Hollywood, I highly recommend this film, as it paints an accurate picture of what you can expect.