Trick

Review by Adam Blair

Directed by Jim Fall
Written by Jason Schafer
Starring Christian Campbell, J.P. Pitoc, Tori Spelling, Steve Hayes, Clinton Leupp

Rated R, 89 minutes. (1999)

While it's becoming less astonishing to see a movie where a character's homosexuality is a matter of course instead of a PROBLEM to be dealt with, it is a pleasant surprise to find one that replaces angst with so much fun, affection and humor. Trick manages this with charm to spare, and in ways that consistently upend the audience's expectations about roles, situations and stereotypes, sexual and otherwise.

Trick is the story of Gabriel (Christian Campbell), an aspiring musical theater composer and nice, but lonely, guy. The film follows his frustrated attempts to find a place, and a little time, so he and the hunky go-go boy he's just met (J.P. Pitoc) can let lust have its holiday. The stuff of countless teen flicks, albeit with the sexuality slightly altered, you might fear. But the film's balancing act is to make the situation more touching, and more revealing, even as the comedy, with its farcical roadblocks to satisfaction, gets wilder.

These roadblocks include Christian's straight, womanizing roommate (Brad Beyer), who demands their tiny shared apartment for his own fun and games; Christian's friend Perry (Steve Hayes), a middle-aged gay man masking the pain of a recent breakup with the cocktail of cabaret singing; and a bitter drag queen (Clinton Leupp) who sows the seeds of doubt in Christian about Mark's true nature.

Funniest and most frustrating of all is Christian's friend Katharine, played by "Beverly Hills 90210"'s Tori Spelling. Who knew she could be so un-self-consciously funny as a woman who tries just a little too hard at everything, from her acting to her friendships to the way she eats a french fry?

While the characters might sound stereotypical, the cast, and director Jim Fall, let us see more about these people than they may even be aware of themselves. Most important, love is given its due in a way that many mainstream, heterosexual romances seem to have abandoned.

In addition, Campbell and Pitoc are both finds as the central couple. Campbell makes Gabriel's embarrassment and annoyance lovable instead of whiny, while Pitoc seems to shed his character's masks as easily as the clothes he shucks as a go-go boy. Go ahead, treat yourself to a Trick.

(This article originally appeared in Films in Review, www.filmsinreview.com)

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