TRU LOVED (Fri. Oct. 3, 7 p.m., Tampa Theatre) The road to bad filmmaking is paved with good intentions. Tru Loved means well, but except for an engaging performance by Najarra Townsend in the title role of Tru, a city girl stuck in a suburban California high school (Walt Whitman High School, no less), this Gay Tolerance 101 sitcom makes your average after-school special look like Eugene O’Neill.
There’s a closeted black athlete named Lo (as in down-low, get it?) who seems to have a supportive mother (Jasmine Guy, looking a little long in the tooth since her Cosby days) and grandmother (Nichelle Nichols, aka Uhuru).
Still, he feels it necessary to make Tru his Katie Holmes for high-school appearance purposes. Tru has two mommies and two daddies, with one major plot point being their decisions to get hitched (but not married; the film seems to have been made before recent developments in California).
The standard faculty caricatures are all in place, including the tolerant drama teacher (Marcia Wallace of Newhart) and the bigoted coach (an egregiously bad Vernon Wells), both stereotypes realized much better in Were the World Mine.
The best thing in the movie is big ol’ Bruce Vilanch as the gay dad of Tru’s boyfriend, tossing off lines like “Sit your ass down, I’m makin’ hot chocolate!” with his own particular brand of panache. –DW