Trick

As the boyish, endearingly self-effacing hero of Jim Fall's winning romantic comedy Trick, Christian Campbell occupies an uncommon place in gay cinema. An outsider among outsiders, shy and inexperienced, he reluctantly cruises the club scene for guys, but doesn't have the force of personality to make himself known; save for his dimples, the only thing conspicuous about him is his mild drink order, a Diet Coke with lime. His luck changes when he catches the eye of muscular go-go dancer John Paul Pitoc, but a potential (and much-needed) one-night stand turns into an evening of coitus interruptus as they haplessly scour Manhattan for a place to consummate their relationship. Fast-paced and smartly written by Jason Schafer, Trick recalls After Hours in its compact screwball premise, SoHo locations, and eccentric night owls, though it's far more innocuous and slight. Not all the peripheral characters turn out to be welcome—Tori Spelling, as Campbell's chattering, self-obsessed best friend, is notably dreadful—but the two leads are charismatic enough to carry the love story past its clunky stretches. Campbell's minor ambitions as a musical-theater composer further underline Trick's essential sweetness, and the gradual development of his work-in-progress contributes to the film's dreamy, ebullient mood. Trick may be rightly accused of soft-pedaling its romance to appeal to a wider audience, but it remains true to a small corner of the gay experience that's rarely illuminated.

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