'Anything's Possible' review: Billy Porter directed teen dramedy goes through the motions
Courtesy of Orion Pictures/MGM/Amazon
Nobody will deny Billy Porter’s directorial debut “Anything’s Possible” has a wonderful, educational message about the discriminations LGBTQIA+ youth are constantly enduring, but the movie's evolution into an artificial teenage drama registers it a disappointment. This despite harboring a fast-moving pace and having the benefit of two likeable leads, Eva Reign and Abubakr Ali, steering the ship. Written by Ximena Garcia Lecuona, the characters in “Anything’s Possible” are likable, the dialogue is spunky and despite the film hitting several cliched and predictable low points, you can usually find something worth savoring (Reign’s performance being a clear standout). Still, it’s need to parade through a variety of ‘check-the-box’ issues, resulting in a menagerie of silly subplots and ignorant secondary characters, takes away from the struggles of the main protagonist, who is trans, trying to navigate high school, getting a boyfriend, and worrying about the future.
At open, the movie introduces us to Kelsa (Reign), her squad of besties and single mother (played by Renee Elise Goldsberry of “Hamilton” fame). Kelsa often unspools a broad range of thoughts to her 200+ YouTube followers via a daily vlog, discussing personal details around gender, relationships, and the fragile state of close-minded high schoolers who can’t understand any of the above. It’s a rocky start, but the self-aware attitude and confidence displayed in Kelsa is a welcome change of pace in the doldrums of teenage romantic dramedies, and when it becomes evident, she’ll be courted by her crush, Khal (Ali), “Anything’s Possible” seems headed down the right path.
Kelsa brings up valid points about people’s generosity for the sake of being “woke,” but judging by Khal’s warmth and genuine displays of affections, her suitor is clearly here for all the right reasons and not trying to earn style points. But “Anything’s Possible” ditches the plausibility of this central romance for a series of issues surrounding trans youth and Khal and Kelsa’s relationship that, while important, are awkwardly thrown into the movie with zero build-up. Take for example, a scene where someone accuses Kelsa of using “male infused energy” to “assault” them in the women's locker room and the school responds by making a bathroom for all genders in the basement. This is a very real problem facing the trans community, but the way it’s tossed into “Anything’s Possible” as if it were some afterthought never sits well.
There are countless examples in the movie with the same hurried expedience and minimal attention to detail as the one listed above that you wonder why Porter felt the need to steal the focus away from Kelsa and Khal. “Anything’s Possible” lives up to the title in that we aren't controlled by what others think of us and adversity can be overcome with the correct mindset. But the message gets muddled because it’s sandwiched between an honest display of teen affection and characters unworthy of our time. Hopefully the film paves the way for more trans inclusionary pieces as representation on screen matters, but “Anything’s Possible” had the potential to lay a stronger foundation and ends up going through the motions.
ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE debuts on Amazon Prime Video Friday, July 22nd.