music in the park san jose

.Self-Discovery is a Joyous Journey in ‘Egghead & Twinkie’

music in the park san jose

Egghead & Twinkie is a film I wish I’d had in high school: a brightly-colored, unabashedly dorky queer buddy comedy.

Screening on August 17th and 24th at Cinequest, the first feature-length film by 25-year-old writer/director Sarah Kambe Holland aces the road-trip genre, both embracing and subverting teen movie tropes.

Recent graduates Twinkie (Sabrina Jie-a-Fa) and Egghead (Louis Tomeo) are across-the-street neighbors and lifelong best friends, bonded by their shared love of anime and their mediocre summer jobs. The two are determined to keep their bond strong after a botched attempt at redefining the friendship precedes Twinkie’s coming-out to Egghead (then to her conservative parents, who’ve decided Egghead is her boyfriend). Buzzing with summer restlessness and new confidence in her identity, Twinkie convinces Egghead to drive with her to Dallas so she can meet up with her online crush––without letting him in on the last part just yet. As the movie’s first half unravels through fast-paced, back-and-forth recollections, our protagonist’s literal straight-man learns how to support Twinkie, while each make their respective stupid, teenage choices on the way.

“I feel like often in cinema, platonic relationships are perceived as less important or glamorous than romantic ones,” says Holland of her choice to center the title characters’ friendship. “That really interested me, because some of the most valuable relationships in my life are platonic friendships.” 

While the movie doesn’t hold out on its moments of romance, Twinkie’s knowledge of herself as a lesbian doesn’t depend on having that experience. 

“There’s this kind of weird idea––especially toward young people–– that you need to have a romance to know yourself or your sexuality, and I just don’t think that’s true.” Holland manages, along with Jie-A-Fa and Tomeo, to let Twinkie and Egghead be clumsy with their best intentions in a way that rings true.

Twinkie, an aspiring cartoonist, relays her inner monologue throughout the film with help from lead animator Jill Cefalo-Sanders––cartoon versions play out the characters’ strongest emotions. Holland wanted the film’s style to reflect her protagonists’ passions and her own (one scene is a direct homage to gender-goofy shojo anime Ouran High School Host Club). Holland found the Cleveland-based Cefalo-Sanders through an open call on TikTok; after hiring them for the project, “we would just sit on Zoom for hours and talk about anime, art style influences, what Twinkie would have grown up watching.”

Starting from a short film she made at 19 (with a cast of four, including Twinkie’s parents, all portrayed by the same actors as in the feature), Holland has spent six years with Egghead & Twinkie, growing as close to her titular characters as they are to each other. Supporting characters “BD” (Twinkie’s crush, played by Ayden Lee) and Jess (a sweet, goofy restaurant server played by Asahi Hirano) feel similarly fleshed out as figures young queers can recognize their crushes and themselves in. Holland cultivated this sense of authenticity behind the scenes: during production for the feature, for example, she made Spotify playlists for each of the four characters, on which their respective actors could collaborate and add songs. 

Like any good teen movie should, Egghead & Twinkie has a strong soundtrack of underground bops. Highlights include a cheeky childhood montage to the aptly-titled “Lesbians,” (written by the Punk Group and covered by the Suicide Notes), whose twee refrain makes the flashback reminiscent of Jamie Babbit’s iconic queer comedy But I’m A Cheerleader (1999). Style isn’t overlooked either––Twinkie’s trademark space buns-oversized jacket-Doc Martens combo and the neon makeup rocked by Jie-A-Fa, Lee and Hirano throughout the film are all right on the money for 2020s queer fashion.

The importance of a fun, light-hearted queer teen film isn’t to be underestimated in today’s political climate, and the significance of setting the protagonists’ hometown in Central Florida (where Holland attended college and many of the cast & crew is from) wasn’t lost on Holland either. 

“For queer youth especially, the last few years have gotten pretty bleak,” she says. “I think having this movie come out of Florida now, with a positive message, made by primarily young Florida filmmakers and actors, is an exciting and encouraging thing.”

Egghead & Twinkie

Thu, 7pm, $14 

California Theatre, San Jose

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