Trick

Trick

There are no tricks about Trick. It is a sweet and classic character-driven romantic comedy, set in a lower Manhattan filled with aspiring writers, actors and performers. As songwriter Gabriel (Christian Campbell) and go-go-boy Mark (John Paul Pitoc) move through Soho and the West Village in a vain attempt to find a place to consummate their new relationship, the situations and dialogue that arise are believable and very funny. Whether or not Gabriel and Mark actually do get together becomes happily secondary as we find ourselves involved in the lives of the rest of the excellent cast.

In many ways the two leads serve best as foils for the fast-paced comic relief of Gabriel’s high school friend Katherine (Tori Spelling in a wonderful role), hysterical drag queen Coco Peru (Clinton Leupp), and friend and fellow Broadway songwriting student Perry (Steve Hayes). Also humorous is Gabriel’s room-mate’s sexually liberated girl friend Judy (Lorri Bagley), whose rhapsodizing over her favorite street in Paris where "everyone is gloriously bi" sets up a funny topless dialogue with Gabriel and Mark.

There are subplots which will be familiar to many viewers – the Broadway music scene, torchy bars and frenetic discos, and the whole smorgasbord of gay lower Manhattan. But to call Trick a "gay film" is to miss the point. Although the two leads are indeed gay ("Gabriel’s into musical theater," Katherine says to her mother, "how much more proof do you need?"), the far larger issue here is friendship. Katherine obviously still holds out hope for some kind of relationship with Gabriel, but above all wants to remain his best friend. Mark, the fast-lane boy who seems willing to be the object of Gabriel’s fantasy to have sex while playing the piano ("But what should I play? Do you like show tunes?"), also hopes for more than just a one-night stand. We feel the camaraderie of Katherine’s theater crew as they sit at a Seinfeld-like diner having after hours coffee, just as we feel the togetherness of the piano bar where Perry is singing.

Unfortunately the one relationship that needs work here is the principal one. Both Gabriel’s yes/no reticence and Mark’s yeah/let’s-do-it attraction to Gabriel are stilted and one-dimensional. We don’t really get to know anything about either of the leads, and as a result are not cheering madly for them to end up together. It is interesting that both men playing gay lovers are straight in real life. Perhaps this has nothing to do with screen chemistry, but there isn’t much, and it does cast a bit of a pall on the proceedings.

But this is a nitpick. The other characters will have you in stitches. Overall, Trick will make you feel good about the promise of finding friendship in a cold world. You’ll laugh as Gabriel finally figures out how to write that one missing line in his song, Enter You. Forget the double-entendre of that title. For Gabriel, just one kiss is all it takes. If that ain’t Broadway, what is?

– DAK

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