All Over The Guy
Long a staple of romantic comedies, the gay-best-friend character has enjoyed a colorful and generally honorable position by upstaging many films' bland, heterosexual protagonists, spicing up their no-less-bland journey to romantic bliss. Appearing only to deliver emotional support and the occasional pithy one-liner, GBF characters rarely get the recognition they deserve. In the infinitely tolerable My Best Friend's Wedding, for example, Rupert Everett's prominent role is a kind of valentine to the work of Nathan Lane's spiritual kin, while on television, NBC's hit sitcom Will & Grace rotates around the gay/straight pal dynamic. But what if the gay best friends had their own movie? All Over The Guy, the latest from director Julie Davis (I Love You, Don't Touch Me!), takes on that question, but its answers may be enough to push GBFs into the background for some time to come. Davis' adaptation of Dan Bucatinsky's play is an emotionally nonsensical, overwritten romantic quagmire about the coupling of an introverted science-fiction devotee and crime reporter (Bucatinsky) and a hard-drinking, chain-smoking teacher (Richard Ruccolo) who meet via their straight best friends (Adam Goldberg and Sasha Alexander). Many attempts at wit-soaked roundelays follow, all scripted in the style of an ambitious sitcom writer working without supervision or a sense of shame. At one point, Bucatinsky's story even spins a plot-advancing argument out of a disagreement over the proper delivery of the "fuzzy wuzzy was a bear" rhyme. While the cast is appealing enough, their characters never register, no matter how many monologues or flashbacks they get. Davis does little to help: In 2001, is it possible for a film to be improved by a getting-dressed-for-the-big-date montage sequence set to a snappy pop song? Did every scene have to be filled with comical business, as when Bucatinsky eats eggs out of a frying pan balanced on an oven mitt? Ultimately, even a radical restaging by Julie Taymor wouldn't have helped this script. Though Bucatinsky filled his play with complaints about the state of gay filmmaking, his own efforts do little to improve it.