Shelter bides its time with innocuous snapshots of local SoCal color—crashing waves, crystal-blue skies, natives who pronounce the "r" in Louvre—before writer-director Jonah Markowitz allows Zach (Trevor Wright), a full-time burger-flipper and nanny to his nephew, to get his queer on. Following much surfer-dude posturing predicated on cautious pronoun use and double meanings ("We picked a good time to come out," Zach says in reference to the day's waves), the young cutie shares a drunken kiss with his best bud's older brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), after which he makes a beeline for the beach in a restless attempt to surf the gay away. Rowe, no stranger to playing queerbait, patiently stands by until Wright's Zach gets his yes-no mood swings—informed as much by real life as by after-school specials and gay-male fantasy—out of his system. Their chemistry is solid, but the inane pop-rock music that fills the soundtrack is rougher trade than any of their sex scenes—or, for that matter, their characters' oft-mentioned class difference, which is never milked for any great epiphany. As far as coming-out dramas go, Shelter is a puppy dog, well-acted but rife with clichéd received wisdom and at least one ingeniously arbitrary bit of midscene dialogue: "That's why you never tell a woman how to cook a chicken."
Excuse me while I slip into something more comfortable.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., March 21–Thurs., March. 27. Rated R. 88 minutes.