** out of ****
Jim Fall’s 1999 comedy, “Trick,” takes a funny, realistic look at gay life but ultimately falls flat with a weak script.
In the film, Gabe (Christian Campbell) works in an office by day in hopes of one day becoming a successful Broadway writer. At his side is really clingy, needy friend, Katherine (Tori Spelling), who takes everything way over the top in her quest to become a successful actress. After a difficult day at an aspiring Broadway writers’ showcase, Gabe decides to go to a gay bar, where he sees sexy go-go dancer Mark (J.P. Pitoc) and becomes interested. When Mark follows Gabe out of the subway later that night so that the two can hook up, everything goes wrong as the two fail at every turn in order to finally get the space and privacy to get off. After being thwarted several times, particularly when Katherine expropriates Gabe’s apartment (and printer) to make 500 copies of her résumé (what an optimist), the two start to feel the pressure to finally get together, all the way to the film’s surprising ending.
One of the best parts of the film is Coco Peru’s bathroom confrontation with Gabe. In true diva style, her guest appearance steals the show near the mid-point of the film. In fact, I would debate that Coco was the best actor in “Trick” (especially since Campbell relies on his cute dimples, Pitoc his occasional sour look, and Spelling her overall annoying personality). If anyone was ever able to rip quotes from a film for use in real-life conversation, Coco’s lines are the most easily accessible from the film.
For an LGBT film, “Trick” is far more mainstream than most. Although I admire it for its frank portrayal of gay life (including older queens and even drag queens), “Trick” as a film is nowhere near the caliber of films like “Transamerica” or “Brokeback Mountain.” Its greatest weakness is Jason Schafer’s script, and with the screenplay being so essential to any film, a weak script is never a good sign. It is also never good when I am left, thirty minutes into the film, questioning the character of Gabe and why I feel like I know nothing about him. I also do not understand the film’s incessant need to linger on scenes that could easily be edited further, especially dreadfully long scenes like Tori Spelling’s singing number (in his original review, even Ebert exclaims, “She's singing the WHOLE SONG!”). In addition, plot shifts reveal that a seemingly shallow go-go dancer is perhaps not so shallow, but I do not buy it; with a film based around two guys trying to desperately get in each other’s pants for just one night, the introduction of a possible relationship or substantial connection is simply unbelievable.
I cannot fault the film its moments of charm, but “Trick” is just all over the place. Though it is worth seeing once for the laughs, the average viewer would probably not require return engagements.
June 16, 2008
** out of ****