Gay, African-American filmmaker Patrick-Ian Polk has a track record with ensemble pieces, beginning with the festival fave “Punks,” his debut feature-length production. His sophomore flick “Noah’s Arc” morphed into the popular Logo series of the same name and spawned another movie titled “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom.”
In “The Skinny,” five queer, African-American, Brown classmates reunite in New York for a Pride weekend of fun, frolic, floats and fireworks. The host, Magnus (Jussie Smollett), is having mixed emotions because his friends’ arrival signals the first weekend he will spend apart from Ryan (Dustin Ross), his boyfriend of five months.
But once the old gang arrives, Magnus gives them his (mostly) undivided attention. Slutty Kyle (Anthony Burrell) from L.A., virginal and naïve world traveler Sebastian (Blake Young-Fountain), uptight Joey (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) from Atlanta and lonely lesbian Langston (Shanika Warren-Markland) begin their visit with a little sightseeing, including a stop at the Langston Hughes House in Harlem.
Then the four-day week- end takes a series of unexpected turns.
While searching an online gay sex site, Kyle is hit on by Ryan, Magnus’ boyfriend. Magnus is faced with coming to terms with the possibility of infidelity and more. Meanwhile, Sebastian confesses to Magnus that he plans to give Kyle his “flower” (Sebastian’s word). Joey and Langston commiserate over their single statuses.
Writer/director Polk is careful not to let “The Skinny” deteriorate into a sexy (and occasionally graphic) queer soap opera. He manages to work educational information into the entertainment. In addition to gay literary and historical references, there are well-placed and informative discussions of HPV, preparations for anal sex and post-exposure prophylaxis treatment for HIV.