Under the comic book spoofs, dating app quips and infectious indie pop numbers, Lizard Boy is an endearing tale about self-acceptance and opening yourself up to love. Writer and composer Justin Huertas plays Trevor, an awkward recluse whose neuroses are hardly helped by his scaly green skin – the result of a childhood encounter with a dragon on a kindergarten playground. When, tired of hiding out in his flat, he opens Grindr, what starts as a promising date soon evolves into a call for a reluctant hero to save the world.
Trevor's loneliness and yearning for affection are beautifully rendered in Huertas' songwriting, whose heartfelt yet catchy pop sensibility resembles guitar-wielding singer-songwriters like Jason Mraz. The music can stray into twee territory at times, though the operatic vocals of Kirsten deLohr Helland – who plays the jaded rock star villain, Siren – underpin it all with a furious clout. Some cutesy numbers are used to good comic effect, particularly when the “dark story” of the dragon of Mount St Helen is told with a jaunty ukulele and kazoo.
The plot could be taken as a parable for the prejudices that still haunt Grindr – Trevor’s green skin is portrayed not by costume but an appeal to the audience’s imagination, which brings to mind the racist preferences that some users put in their dating profiles – but Lizard Boy doesn’t dwell on this for long. For the most part it is fun romp, if a little saccharine, with a nice dose of romantic wish fulfilment.