Speedway Junky (1999)

I feel like a pervert for admitting this, but I think Jesse Bradford is hot. The guy is seven years my junior — I don’t usually go for younger guys.

But I’ve said it — Jesse Bradford is hot.

So when it came time to divvy up who was screening what when Austin360 covered aGLIFF back in 1999, I volunteered to do Speedway Junky.

Bradford doesn’t play the gay character in this movie. (There is talk, however, that he and James Marsden are supposed to have an on-screen kiss in the new Merchant-Ivory film, The Heights.)

He does, however, play the very naive Johnny, a military brat runaway making his way to North Carolina to become a racecar driver. He gets stuck in Las Vegas when his money and belongings are stolen. That’s when he meets Eric (Jordan Brouwer), a young gay hustler who takes Johnny under his proverbial wing.

Coming-of-age stories are tough to sit through, especially when the audience can see coming-of-age plot devices miles before the protagonist does, and Johnny’s naivety is pretty extreme. The pace of the film is such that it takes a while before Johnny gets it.

After he does, the relationship between Johnny and Eric starts to mature — Eric loves Johnny in a way the straight Johnny could never return. But Johnny cares for Eric in a manner far more meaningful.

Of course, it all ends badly.

There are times when Speedway Junky feels like it drags, but it’s the friendship between Johnny and Eric that keeps the film engaging. Despite having to hustle to stay alive, the two find their own ways to express love for the other.

And that’s what viewers are left to think about in the end.