Friday, September 10, 1999

A winning look at the waiting game

Movie: Trick

Posted on Fri, Sep 10, 1999 at 4:00 AM

***1/2
Our Rating: 3.50

Falling in love is easy. Getting a room is the hard part. In "Trick," Gabriel (Christian Campbell) is a young musical-theater writer uninspired and down on his luck. He's got his talent, good looks and youth, but the closest he gets to romance or passion is sitting outside his own apartment door listening to the mattress creaking under his womanizing roommate.

Gabriel isn't only shut out of his own room in New York City; he seems shut out of the thrill of life itself. Because he's become lifelong friends with his former high-school sweetheart/aspiring actress Katherine -- played with great and not-so-great moments by Tori Spelling -- Gabriel spends too much time and energy being the nice, gay guy-friend. Instead of looking for a relationship, he's parked at his piano accompanying Katherine, who belts out his lackluster show tunes with a helium-tuned voice and a pair of tap shoes that make Shirley Temple's performances seem like quality cabaret.

Katherine's whiny longing for the now out-of-the-closet Gabriel shines through in the way she curls up and makes herself comfortable in his life, hopping into it as she needs to, as if it were an old sofa. This makes Gabriel's world seem only more desolate, his chances for happiness more unlikely. That's until he breaks away for a solo adventure on the local gay-club scene, where every guy is shirtless and looks like he should have a month of the year printed above his head. Although disconnected from the excitement going on around him, Gabriel spots a dark-haired male dancer in a red thong.

Later, Gabriel meets the tall, handsome go-go boy, Mark (John Paul Pitoc), in the subway. Mark charms him, first feigning sleep so Gabriel can stare at his angelic face -- and the rest of him. Then Mark follows Gabriel off the subway to his apartment, where the two are repeatedly interrupted, first by Katherine, who needs to print 600 copies of her resume on a daisy-wheel machine.

Gabriel and Mark spend most of the movie trying to escape the rest of the world and get to know each other. And there's nothing like a common goal to help potential lovers bond. The few moments the two spend alone in the apartment give Mark a chance to listen to some of Gabriel's music, hear him sing and glimpse his creativity in front of the piano. An evening that had "one-night stand" written all over it begins to turn into a chance for friendship, complete with a tour of Mark's gay night-clubbing life -- where Gabriel is cornered by a wild-eyed, mischief-making drag queen named Miss Coco Peru (Clinton Leupp).

The drag queen, Katherine and the lusty roommate frame this quirky love story nicely, as the peripheral characters act out all the neurotic extremes Gabriel and Mark forget about in their quest. Yet the most qualified analysis of the situation comes from the roommate's conquest No. 5, Judy (Lorri Bagley), who sits naked and unabashed in bed puffing on a cigarette while offering sex and relationship advice to Gabriel and Mark.

As strange as it sounds, this perky breast-baring monologue seems almost sexually climactic. Yet it takes place when the only guy who's getting laid in the movie is shut in the bathroom. And if you think that's confusing, wait till you see the scene where Mark dips and kisses an aging gay lounge singer on the street.

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