Coming-of-age dramas are typically about insecurity, worry and indecision, which makes the start of Get Real refreshingly different. From the outset, the hero is unashamedly gay, and quite happy with it. His summer days in Basingstoke consist of going to school, reading classic novels outside the gents' toilet in the park, anonymous sexual couplings in the woods and a quick cycle home for tea.
Steven confides all in Linda (Charlotte Brittain), his cheerfully overweight neighbour. Both of them are mad about dreamboat head boy/sports captain John, and it's a huge surprise for them when John and Steven find they've been pushing notes to each other between toilet cubicles. So here's the coming-of-age angst then: Steven and John are in love, but John's unwilling to do anything that might spoil his golden-boy image or cause strife with his queer-bashing jock team-mates. This, compounded with their parents closing in on them, means it's all going to end badly.
Unfortunately, so does the film. After a promising first half marred only by heavy-handed attempts to push Linda as the comedy foil, the story stalls under the weight of disparate plot lines. So instead of streamlining towards a point where the two boys must decide between breaking up or going public, it spreads out to cover problems with John's trophy girlfriend, a school newspaper scandal and a whole host of other distractions.
Get Real feels like the kind of public information flick they used to show at school, although even on this level it's far too much like a gay fairytale (no pun intended). What would happen if a boy at your local secondary publicly admitted to being homosexual? While it's nice to think he'd be applauded for his bravery and honesty, it's more likely that he'd be taunted and/or battered for the rest of the term. Kids can be cruel like that.
Get Real starts promisingly but becomes bogged down and muddled trying to cover all the angles all the time. And for once, it's the young actors and actresses who show up the failings of their adult counterparts, not vice versa.