Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Was All Over Both Guys!?: "All Over the Guy" (2001)

All Over the GuyLead actor Dan Bucatinsky adapts his stage play into a funny romantic comedy.

The story, told in flashback, has Brett (Adam Goldberg) and Jackie (Sasha Alexander) meeting and making an instant connection. Most rom-coms would stay with this relationship, except Brett's best friend is Eli (Dan Bucatinsky), a gay man, and Jackie's best friend is Tom (Richard Ruccolo), a gay man. The two fix up their friends on a blind date that does not go well.

Brett and Jackie are suddenly on the fast track in their relationship. Eli and Tom get bogged down in that awkward stage when you first begin dating someone. Both seem to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, they don't have a lot in common (except some very screwed up family dynamics), and they sometimes are not even attracted to each other all that much. Yet something keeps pulling them back together, and there is actual suspense as you begin to wonder if these two should be together, much less will they end up together.

The main four characters are all very strong and very funny. Eli is a sci-fi fan who seems to be the most neurotic of the four. Tom is not used to relationships, has a drinking problem, and definitely is not ready for someone who may be interested in him for more than just anonymous sex. Alexander is very funny as Jackie, and Goldberg steals his scenes as Brett. Also funny is Eli's memories and dealings with his psychotic psychiatrist parents. Andrea Martin plays his mother, and should have received a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her scene on the phone involving testicular examinations. Joanna Kerns is also here, playing Tom's mother, and her scenes shed light on Tom's behavior more than go for the easy laugh. This is one of the fun things about Bucatinsky's screenplay. He does not give his character the "best" lines or funniest moments. He shares the love, even cameos by Lisa Kudrow, Christina Ricci, and Doris Roberts are funny without being intrusive. Bucatinsky knows these characters. Julie Davis directs with a wonderfully airy touch, using locations to their maximum benefit. Her scenes flow, and I did not feel the staginess that comes with most stage-to-screen adaptations.

Some of the dialogue does fall flat, and not all of the jokes work. There are a couple of places where I felt Eli and Tom were just repeating themselves, and their strange opinions of each other and love in general. It was nice to watch a gay love story without having the actors draw attention to themselves by playing homosexual roles. Eli and Tom's brief argument over "In and Out" with Kevin Kline is one of the most perceptive pop culture arguments I have ever seen, putting Quentin Tarantino to shame.

I really liked "All Over the Guy." It was very funny, often romantic (in a roundabout way), and certainly entertaining in its treatment of a gay couple as something more than two middle aged men running a South Florida nightclub and getting into all sorts of shenanigans. I recommend it. (* * * *) out of five stars.