From my conversations with friends and acquaintances, TRICK is either the greatest gay film
ever, the one with breakout cross-over appeal, or it's one of the most overhyped disappointments
to come along. In my typical fashion, I'm more on the fence. I certainly didn't hate the film or was
bored by it (as my viewing companion was) nor do I think it ranks as a high point in gay/queer
cinema either.
TRICK is a little movie with grand aspirations that I think it only occasionally
achieves what it sets out to do. There are plot holes big enough to drive a humvee through, but         
there is also a sweetness to the story and several engaging performances that held my interest.
It was also nice to see a "gay" film that was not about 1) coming out; 2) coping with AIDS; or
3) confronting the hatred/bashings of others. The makers of
TRICK, however, couldn't quite
decide if they were making a sex comedy (hence the title) or a love story or a little of both. There
are some characters that people in the gay and lesbian community will see as stereotypes and
they are right. That doesn't mean that there aren't people like that walking the streets of Manhattan,
but that won't stop the complainers.

      TRICK is essentially the story of a pick-up between the baby-faced aspiring musical
comedy writer Gabriel (a dimpled Christian Campbell) and a go-go boy Mark (the buff J. P. Pitoc)
he has spotted in a club and later meets on the train. They spend the entire film (and the course of
one long night) seeking a place to consummate their lust—and purportedly fall in love. One of the
biggest problems with Jason Schafer's script are the various impediments Gabriel and Mark must
face. I can accept that Gabriel's heterosexual roommate (Brad Beyer) might have dibs on their
small apartment because his girlfriend (Lorri Bagley) is returning after a trip to Europe, but I had
some difficulty with Gabriel's friend Katherine (a terrific Tori Spelling—that's right, she's quite good
in her role) using his apartment to print copies of her resume and being so dense as to hang
around. A subplot involving an older friend of Gabriel's who agrees to let them use his apartment
because he has just broken up with his lover and then having a chance meeting with said
ex-lover on the street has some touching moments and allows Mark to show a sensitive side,
but as written, his character remains the most oblique. He is a hunk—albeit with perhaps a
sensitive side—but more of his physique than his psyche is revealed in the film.

      As such, Pitoc (in his first film role) does what he can with the role. Campbell has a
lightweight but pleasant screen presence and he mines what he can out his part. Tori Spelling
has perhaps the most interesting and fully developed character in the piece and she comes
through with a wonderful turn as an ambitious, confused singer-actress who possesses
questionable talent — her rendition, replete with tap dancing, of one of Gabriel's songs is a
high point. She also is given several dramatic moments near the end of the film and Spelling
handles the challenges with aplomb. Anyone who thinks this girl owes her career just to
nepotism will be greatly surprised by her work.

      Making his feature debut director Jim Fall is not experienced enough in shaping scenes
and performances in a consistent fashion. I will grant that a lot of the problems are script-related
but there are scenes (like Clinton Leupp's monologue in his drag persona of Miss Coco Peru —
a  monologue about a night with Mark delivered to Gabriel in the confines of a men's room at a
dance club) that go on far too long. Fall also fails to find a consistent tone for the film, and
sometimes it veers close to parody in places and that is perhaps the one area he needs
to develop for future work. I'm not indicating he is a hack or lacks talent — Fall does use the
camera well, evoked the work he did from the actors and created a specific (if slightly
unrealistic) world for the film. It just seems that there is the potential for an interesting and
engaging gay love story with crossover potential.
TRICK tries to hard to be that film but
for me, fell short of achieving that goal. Taken on its own merits as a charming fable, however,
it has a few things to offer — Spelling, Campbell and Pitoc as well as David Friedman's original
music and a soundtrack that includes such classics as "I Am Woman" and "Dreamweaver," as
well as references to such now defunct but much missed institutions like the cabaret rooms
Eighty-Eights and Rainbow & Stars.

                                                              Rating:                C
                                                              MPAA Rating:    R
© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.