Whatever the Fuck You Want
WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT
(although this would presumably appear on posters, were this ever made, as:)
WHATEVER THE F**K YOU WANT
Twenty word pitch: A high school movie that turns As You Like It inside-out, from timeless classic to contemporary gay love story.
Tagline: "A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel, and a recluse. He's the perfect man." (no prizes for recognising the merciless cribbing.)
One paragraph summary: When Orlando swaggers in as the new kid at Arden High, Ross falls for him in an instant. Smart but sporty, stunning but sensitive, a bad boy with a good heart, Orlando is Ross’s perfect man. Unfortunately, when they meet at the football team try-outs, Ross is in drag to spite his draconian dad, Coach Fredericks, and it’s “Rosalind” that Orlando falls head-over-heels in love with. And when Orlando turns to Ross to help him woo the girl he loves, not knowing that Ross is the girl he loves, well, what’s a boy supposed to do but help out with a little role-play? As mixed signals and mismatched loves abound, Ross, Orlando and everyone around them must ask the question: just what is it that you want?
Orlando, the new kid in school, gay but hasn’t admitted it to himself yet
Ross, the son of the coach & the drama teacher, openly gay
Celia, Ross’s twin sister, a hard-ass rebel who won’t let anyone mess with her brother
Touchstone, their friend, a joker and compulsive liar who gets away with it on charm
Coach Fredericks, gym teacher, father of Celia & Ross, estranged from their artsy mother
Ms. Duke, English/drama teacher, mother of Celia & Ross, lives in a latter-day commune
Mr Jacks, music teacher and miserable sod, generally drunk and annoying
Oliver, Orlando’s elder brother, who’s looked after him since their parents died
Mrs Martext, the school counselor (combines various characters in the original)
Phoebe, the drama society’s queen bitch
Silvia, a lesbian kid living in the commune
Audrey, a cheerleader Touchstone has the hots for
Chuck, captain of the football team
William, a jock, Audrey’s boyfriend
Corin, a member of the drama society
Adam, the school caretaker
Orlando has been home-schooled by his religious brother since their paents died. After a bitter fight, Orlando is kicked out and decides to enroll in high school. There, while trying out for the football team, he meets Ross and Celia, the children of an acrimoniously divorced couple who teach at the school — the draconian Coach Fredericks and the free-spirited English/drama teacher Ms. Duke who now lives in a commune. But Ross is in drag in a deliberate attempt to antagonise his father, who projects his anger at his unfaithful ex-wife onto “her” son; so Orlando mistakes him for a girl and falls for her as “Rosalind”. Ross sees Orlando stand up to his father when the coach insults his family, and immediately falls for this guy who is both jock and rebel. Maintaining the playful pretense on the belief that nothing can come of his flirting, he gives Orlando a pendant. Ross & Celia’s mischievous friend, Touchstone, an inveterate fabricator of lies for the fun of it, fuels Orlando’s misapprehension by deliberately misinterpreting his reference to the “girl” he has been instantly smitten by as a reference to Celia, who he refers to obliquely as “the coach’s daughter.” So when Orlando meets Ross the next day, after unsuccessfully seeking help from the school counselor with his homelessness, he doesn’t realise (or doesn’t let on that he realises) that Ross is his “Rosalind”.
Over the next few weeks Ross finds himself becoming more and more fixated on Orlando, who remains detached from the other high school kids, his background and present circumstances a mystery. When the school caretaker discovers the penniless and starving Orlando sleeping rough in the school boiler room, Orlando’s panicked flight ends with him crashing in on the school drama club. Ms. Duke recognises that for all his rough edges, he is actually smart and sensitive, takes pity on him, and brings him home to the latter-day commune, though not before Touchstone (a member of the drama club along with Ross & Celia) has furthered his misdirectional mischief by characterising Ross as “the drama teacher’s son”. When Orlando, inspired by Ms. Duke’s injunction to seek out “whatever you want”, begins leafleting the school with bad poetry dedicated to “Rosalind”, Ross realises that he’s made Orlando lovesick and decides to come clean, but his awkward attempt only leads to a misunderstanding: that Ross is offering to use roleplay techniques from the drama society to help Orlando develop his courtship skills, an offer which Orlando takes him up on.
Everything goes horribly wrong at the birthday party of Sylvia, a lesbian girl who lives at the commune and is besotted with the fashionably bisexual school bitch Phoebe. When Ross gives Phoebe a scathing rebuke for her treatment of Sylvia, Phoebe falls for him. And when a roleplay of courtship with Orlando goes too far, Orlando panics and flees the party. Fortunately, this places Orlando in the right place at the right time to save his estranged brother from a car accident. Unfortunately, Orlando nearly dies doing so and afterwards, in a morphine delirium, he urges his contrite brother to take “Rosalind’s” pendant to Ross. Distraught that Orlando’s is injured, but with no explanation for the pendant, Ross does not know whether it signifies that Orlando knows and loves him or knows and feels betrayed. When Ross’s mother tries to comfort him, he lashes out at her, blaming her influence for his own reckless tendencies to do whatever he wants and damn the consequences. Ultimately, it is his draconian father — prompted by his ex-wife — who offers solace by resolving the tension between them, revealing a tolerance Ross was unaware of. His father’s anger has nothing to do with his sexuality and has simply been an unfair projection onto the son who reminds him so much of the woman who broke his heart. He is, in fact, completely supportive of Ross’s right to love whoever he wants, and has secretly supported Celia’s fierce defense of her brother, relished the fact that she’ll punch out anyone who abuses him, which would of course be a sacking offense for him as a teacher.
Heartened by this, but still worried about what Orlando knows and thinks of him, Ross finds his fears not wholly resolved when Orlando returns to school and continues to show no sign of knowing that Ross is “Rosalind”. Instead he expresses his fervent desire to take “Rosalind” to the upcoming school gala evening, a talent show and dance. As they’re talking, Phoebe approaches him to declare her love, blithely disregarding Sylvia, her devoted follower. In an exchange loaded with hints that Orlando and Ross are both trying to make the other come clean first, Sylvia declares her love for Phoebe, Phoebe declares her love for Ross, Orlando declares his love for “Rosalind” and Ross declares his love for “no woman”. When Ross suggests that he might set up Orlando with “Rosalind”, Orlando bets that he can’t, and Ross lays down a wager: if he can’t ensure that “Rosalind” shows up his forfeit will be to take Phoebe as a girlfriend; if he can, then Phoebe’s forfeit will be to take Sylvia as a girlfriend; Orlando’s forfeit is not revealed at this point, whispered by Orlando in Ross’s ear. In the grand finale, Ross appears on stage in the talent show, in drag as “Rosalind”. Orlando happily concedes the bet and invites Ross to claim his prize: whatever the fuck you want. As the lovers kiss, Orlando removes Ross’s wig, saying he prefers Ross as himself. When Ross asks when Orlando knew, Orlando smiles and reveals nothing. In voice-over, he hints at numerous points within the narrative where one might imagine him as having known, suggesting multiple readings, including that in which he knew from the very beginning. The truth in this instance is, he suggests, as the mischievous Touchstone might have it, whatever the fuck you want.
In a between-credits epilogue, Ross breaks the fourth wall to deliver an updated version of the epilogue of As You Like It -- wherein the boy actor who would have been playing Rosalind at the time highlights his real gender, appeals to the female audience on the basis of the love they bear to men and to the male audience on the basis of the love they bear to women, and then finishes by patently flirting with the men, declaring that "If I were a woman I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me, complexions that liked me and breaths that I defied not."