Directed by Jim Fall
Review by Matt Heffernan
In Love and Death on Long Island, Jason Priestley found his ideal role: a mindless teen idol. Playing a part he could relate to helped the film, starring John Hurt as a man who has a crush on him. Now another "90210" resident has entered a gay comedy, and manages not to ruin it, simply by playing herself.
Tori Spelling is the only name star in Trick, only because of her TV work, which she got from her daddy, Aaron Spelling. She is a horrible actress, and I certainly don't think she is attractive. But, like Priestley, she plays a dumb actress named Katherine, who is struggling on the New York theatre scene. Her best friend, Gabriel (Christian Campbell), is an aspiring Broadway songwriter. He tries to help her out by having her perform his songs in his songwriting workshop. Of course she has no talent, but it is in character, and Spelling plays it beautifully.
Luckily, Katherine is a small part. The film consists of a day in the life of Gabriel. He is a young gay man who is somewhat uncomfortable in his own shoes. His straight roommate (Brad Beyer) is always using their apartment to have sex with his girlfriend, which just reminds Gabriel how empty his love life is. He certainly doesn't have a problem attracting other men in bars, but he is too afraid to confront his sexuality. He actually denies being gay while watching a go-go boy dance in a red thong. On his way home from a bar, he hooks up with Mark (John Paul Pitoc), and he takes him back to his apartment.
With interruption from Katherine and his roommate, Gabriel and Mike don't get a chance to use the apartment. So, they spend the rest of the film looking for a place to be alone. All the while, Gabriel has to wonder whether this is just a "trick" or the beginning of a meaningful relationship.
Campbell, the older brother of Scream-Queen Neve Campbell, creates a vivid portrait of Gabriel. He is on the screen most of the time, but the audience is constantly discovering new traits of his personality. He is surrounded by several odd, but funny characters including Perry (Stephen Hayes), his mentor. Also adding to the mix is Clinton Leupp, playing his drag alter ego, Miss Coco Peru, in an amusing cameo. A rich environment is created for a very different kind of romantic comedy.
Jim Fall and Jason Schafer are a first-time directing/writing team. They show a great understanding for comedy, and I expect some very good things from them in the future. The script was very funny, but it did not sacrifice the characters for the sake of jokes. Fall has a little way to go in order to be a really good director. Perhaps with an actual budget he may be able to further explore his talent.
Anyway, this film certainly took me by surprise. Now that Tori Spelling has actually made a good movie, I suppose Luke Perry is next. Okay, maybe not.
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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan