Cast: Betsy Brandt, James Sweeney, Katie Findlay, Randall Park
James Sweeney knocks it out of the park with his feature debut, a true discovery piled high with razor-sharp one-liners delivered at light-speed. Sweeney stars as Todd, a hyper-articulate, obsessive-compulsive gay man in Los Angeles whose multiple insecurities around dating and sex lead him to a baffling conclusion: He might not be gay at all. Despite all evidence to the contrary and against the advice of his closest friends, Todd is determined to give dating women a try. Enter Rory (Katie Findlay), an aspiring actress hitting a personal and professional wall. Unable to land either a role or a decent human connection, she wonders whether she’s operating on a higher intellectual plane than her peers or if she’s just too stubborn to play everyone else’s game. A latter-day Tracy and Hepburn, the two hit it off and start dating — but how long can a relationship last that’s all stimulating talk and no actual touch?
Set among a young and witty Los Angeles crowd that’s equally hip to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sabrina the Teenage Witch references, Sweeney’s film allows its extroverted social circle to have refreshingly frank discussions about 21st century sex and dating rituals, making them the perfect outlet to explore just how elastic our definitions of love and sexuality can get. Armed with a playful and endlessly quotable script, a cast that includes guest appearances from Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat), Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), and Tracie Thoms (Rent, Death Proof) turns this unlikely romance into an unforgettable comedic tour de force.
James Sweeney grew up near the Yellow Rock in Eagle River, Alaska. His previous short films include Normal Doors and Long Time Distance, a segment of the anthology Bushwick Beats. Straight Up is his feature debut. Sweeney is based in Los Angeles, though he rarely leaves the valley.