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I've been expressing my distaste of so many gay-themed films to so many
friends about how the films portray the men as stereotypical, young,
and FABulous. And worse yet, always throwing in the obligatory drag queen.
With the current trend of fantasy lesbianism, the gals are hot and act
everyday people but the gay males are kept in a lower level of being
effeminate and weak. This of course is because heterosexual males only
safe if the gay men aren't portrayed as masculine (that's why so many of
straight guys are terrified of Cruising, seeking comfort in the delusions
The Man Show and Howard Stern).
All Over The Guy is a film that breaks the barriers and focuses on issues of intimacy and finding ways to communicate -- and it's a big shame it didn't get the major distribution it deserves as it is right on the mark and so much more enjoyable than the endless line of circuit boy romances being released. Yes, there is a LOT of bickering and arguing going on between all the characters in this film, and that may become tiresome and turn some viewers off. But when you really listen to what they say, understand their backgrounds, and realize that this is the kind of thing that really does occur between friends everyday, it makes for fascinating entertainment. The dialogue is sharp and quick and not in the campy way, but in the way that friends who know each other can convey in codes and gestures without a lot of extra narration. This film is chock full of HONEST dialogue. I know some will compare this to an R-rated type of Will & Grace, but the big difference here is the characters in All Over The Guy are very real and have much more dimension than the sitcom offers. It doesn't dwell on stereotypes for laughs, and even in a speach by Richard Ruccolo about the film In & Out was one the TRUEST things I've ever heard about Hollywood and how mainstream "gay" films are so horrible. His character Tom is actually a bit rough around the edges and is refreshing because he's not portrayed as a youth obsessed club type. Dan Bucatinsky's character of Eli may be well groomed, but he isn't snapping his fingers and saying "girlfriend" ...these guys are just regular men, and it is comforting to know that someone out there knows the truth that many gay men are just as average as most people. Besides, Eli loved Planet Of The Apes memorabilia and that's a nice change from the usual cliched obsessions . I have always thought Adam Goldberg was a cool actor, and his involvement as Jackie's love interest was wonderful, as was Sasha Alexander as Jackie -- I sure wish I had her as a friend! Good moments from Christina Ricci, and Doris Roberts was perfect (wow, can she cuss too!). I just wish Lisa Kudrow was given a little more to do! Joana Kerns was a nice surprise and as always, I WORSHIP the ground Andrea Martin walks on, she's one of the funniest women around.
It's one of the only films I've seen that touches on issues that I've been trying to get so many people to understand: how so many assume gay men are only looking for quick sex and that when you get two guys together, it is assumed that one certain type of sexual act will occur. All Over The Guy discusses definitions of sex and the importance of intimacy and it's refreshing to see it handled in a manner that doesn't come across as preaching.
For me, I was extremely impressed by the choice of music. Instead of diva tunes from Cher and others like that (gawd, we don't all listen to Streisand or the latest flavor of the month "Destiny's Child" type group), there are very good rock songs by David Gray, The Jayhawks, Matthew Sweet and others that help keep the story grounded in reality. Even the club-type "Future Love" tune during one scene was more akin to a B-52's song than the fluff that saturates Queer As Folk's soundtrack.
It gives me great hope when I see a breakthrough film like All Over The Guy. It's for everyone, as this is not exclusively a "gay" film. I just hope that other film makers will see this one and learn that you don't have to make a flamboyant dragfest or youth worship type of film in order to involve a gay element. This is impressive filmmaking and funny, funny stuff!
And don't forget about Joan Van Ark in "Not Without My Nosejob" (wink wink)!
I thought about doing this review long ago (and actually started it at one
point), but, well, you know how it is... but I just happened to catch the
first hour when I went home at lunch, so here goes.
All Over the Guy is, ultimately, a classic boy meets boy, boy falls in love with boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back. In short, the kind of movie I wished for most of my younger life. It is -- yes, let's just say it and get it over with -- sweet. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.
First, a disclaimer -- I have worked with both Rich Ruccolo and Don Roos (I haven't seen either in years)... but that makes my love of this film all the more amazing. I find it difficult to watch films of actors I have worked with because it's hard to separate the character from the person I know. Rich succeeded in making me forget the actor and concentrate on the character of Tom. Tom is at once vulnerable and supremely sexy; you're not sure whether you want to hug him like a teddy bear or throw him down and get wild with him.
Dan Bucatinsky's Eli is perhaps not the polar opposite of Tom he appears to be. Tom almost physically runs from relationships while Eli backs away apologizing the whole time. They both embody the whole kaleidoscope of feelings that most of us have when we meet someone who interests us -- mostly, of course, fear. Fear of falling in love, or of not falling in love. Fear our feelings won't be returned, or that they will.
Personally, I see an enormous amount of chemistry between Tom and Eli. Look at the scene in the flea market, the interaction of their eyes, the body language... here are two guys who are fighting what they're feeling every step of the way (oh, and by the way, Eli is much more forgiving that I would be about the smoking).
The rest of the cast is superb as well, including some great cameo roles. Most of all, the characters of Brett and Jackie are very funny in a superb role reversal -- instead of the ubiquitous second-banana gay best friends, we have second-banana straight best friends.
The only problem I have with the film is the same problem I have with straight versions of this kind of story. How likely is it that people who appear to have such different interests and such volatile emotions will stay together... not to mention Tom's penchant for alcoholism. But then in "Pretty Woman" I just couldn't shake the feeling that this rich guy wouldn't stay with a prostitute long whether she looked like Julia Roberts or not.
Gay cinema has, thankfully, branched out from the early "Oh my God I'm gay I hate myself I can't let anyone find out" films like "Doing Time On Maple Drive." There is a place for gay cinema in every genre. And this film is in a definite class by itself in its genre.
Well, I wonder: if it had been about two male/female couples (as the play it
was based on was), would "All Over the Guy" have gotten such a critical
reception? More likely it would've been seen as an honorable, at times
sparkling, addition to the screen tradition of romantic comedies -- which is
what I think it is. Sure, the characters are wildly neurotic and frequently
annoying; so are people in real life, especially when they're in love. Is
it distracting that Richard Ruccolo (who does indeed give an exquisitely
tuned performance) is so good-looking? Actually, I thought it was
necessary; Tom is so screwed up that we need the physical beauty to help
relate to him. Do the women steal the movie? Well, with the likes of
Andrea Martin, Lisa Kudrow, Christina Ricci and Doris Roberts in support,
what do you think -- and how can you lose, especially since Dan Bucatinsky's
script is so frequently sharp?
Forget the nay-sayers and see this one. It's a very good romantic comedy, at times maybe even a great one.
Very nice, easy-going and consistently charming. And still ,looking back, I find it hard to find that something special to remember from the movie. There is simply not very much to make it stand out from every other `romantic comedy' except the fact that the story is about two men! The performances are nicely turned and Ruccolo is charming in his part, as is Doris Roberts, who ultimately makes the biggest impression even though she is only on-screen for about 15 minutes. For a gay-themed movie, there is quite a large budget at work here (at least it looks that way) and that certainly is a nice change from all the grainy, blown-up indy-movies that is too common when the subject is homosexuality. And it has a script that is witty and sympathetic towards its characters, gay or straight, with some hilarious comedy from Eli's psychologist parents as portrayed by Martin and Abatemarco. But nothing new is on display here. Eli, as portrayed by Dan Bucatinsky, comes over as somewhat annoying, even though he should be the most sympathetic of the two main protagonists, mainly because he is unnatural in his wittisisms and one-liners. These lines are penned by Bucatinsky himself, by the way, and while they often are very funny, sometimes they come over as too contrived. And I couldn't escape a certain feeling of shallowness. The movie constantly touches on an interesting issue or storyline, but chickens out before anything goes too far away from the mainstream (as in the story about Tom's parents and his sister, alcoholism). And the biggest damage is done from the fact that nothing very special happens. The plot must have been written on the back of a stamp because basically Tom meet Eli, walks out of Eli, comes back to Eli and so on. But what am I complaining of? It still is nice to see a movie with gay characters acting as normal people. It is sweet, good-natured and watchable. Just not very memorable.
I saw this film last evening at its premier in Boston at our Museum of Fine Arts. It is a well told story, set in a gay context. It is entertaining and has guts to it. It is a good addition to a growing genre of films, which deal with human issues about relationships in a gay/lesbian/bisexual context. The film's writer/leading actor, Dan Bucatinsky, was at the screening. He explained that the film is actually a screenplay version of his own play, which was produced in Los Angeles. The original play was not written in a gay context. The translation works and, as Bucatinsky shared at the screening, it actually expands his work in ways that he found quite fulfilling as a writer/actor. The film's pallet is much lighter than the recent "Urbania", but its themes are just as powerfully portrayed. It is not as goofy as "The Opposite of Sex" (written by this film's Executive Producer, Don Roos), but it has a lot of great laughs. The acting is evenly engaging, with cameo appearances by well known actors. I have intentionally omitted a plot summary. This is a project of love on a small budget. I think anyone who reads this comment can be guaranteed a good film and should go an see it to experience its warmth, humor and intelligence about people in love.
I don't think I have ever seen a lovelier film than this. It is a complex
and wonderful story of 4 friends, and it includes a seldom-seen-in-films
friendship between a straight man and a gay man which was very real and very
wonderful to see.
The romance between the straight characters is less interesting than that of the two gay men, however, because the two gay men come from such different worlds: one is an alcoholic WASP with alcoholic parents and the other is the son of hyper-analytical Jewish psychiatrists. The road to romance for the men is more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding and beautiful to see.
All of the characters are likeable and interesting people. It is a great date movie... a terrific feel-good movie. Everyone leaves the theatre feeling good at the end of this one. My thanks to all involved in making this lovely film. We need more like it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has gotta be one of the most under-rated and "under-known" US-made
gay movies out there (well, maybe not under-rated since nearly 75% of
the comments here award a 7- to 10-Star rating). But how could it have
gotten by without having kicked up more dust?
Each time I watch it I enjoy it more, each time I watch it I appreciate it more. It becomes like picking up and studying a finely crafted object; it suddenly hits you: hey, there're no seams here, no rough joints; its finish is wonderfully even. How'd they do this? And then you think: Well, Goldberg and Alexander......sure, they've been around for awhile and are truly spot-on here, but.....Bucatinsky...who is this guy??!!?? (only the one who crafted/wrote this play-to-movie, of course).....and Ruccolo...wow...where'd all this acting depth come from of a sudden? And however in the world did one apparently straight guy actor playing against one apparently gay guy actor get this so right? Well, the answer has to be, of course, that they understood if it's about love, it doesn't matter whether 2 guys, or guy and gal, or 2 gals are the focus. These actors obviously came to realize that, and so it became easy for them to act that. (Not something that two other guys, named Ennis & Jack, were ever fortunate enough to learn in time, eh?).
Well, on to a bit of what this movie's all about. A pure romantic comedy this is NOT.........perhaps, more correctly, it's a "dramedy." After all, how many mainstream gay movies have you seen in which a character utters such descriptively jarring words (see title of this comment, above) after a sexual act that's earlier taken place? Yes, this movie's for real and is very much a real life movie. Just stop to think about it---that when you've had Eli's and, particularly, Tom's kinds of childhood---well, you'll then have a great deal to overcome in adult life, whether it be a heterosexual or homosexual one. And if you, dear reader, haven't grown up in a household where alcohol has been a parental "drug of choice," then don't presume to judge Tom's behavior in this movie. Most realistically, Ruccolo has made Tom a direct product of his parent's relationship.
In this dramedy Ruccolo gives us an especially intense performance which is actually easy to see, if you will only carefully watch his scenes: the telling facial expressions and eye movement; his body-set when he, for example, moves to stand against Eli in one scene, or to unobtrusively cup Eli's hands in another; even his movement of jaw muscles (did someone think his role through, or not!) His end-of-film, wedding kitchen tirade ("Hey!!!!!........") is more than enough to almost scare and stop any viewer short, as it certainly does Eli in that scene. This guy is one hell of an actor......why haven't we since seen a lot more of him? (The "curse" of playing a gay role, the hex of giving us such an intense guy-on-guy bedroom scene; is there such a jinx as this?)
Yet it is in Eli's control freak behavior that lies Tom's salvation. For, of all the inappropriate things Eli's shrink parents (and they're marvelously performed) have given him that they shouldn't have, it's his capacity for being understanding (which they also bequeathed) that will in the end save Tom......and Eli, himself, for that matter. And Bucatinsky is just great at showing us a little bit of ourselves (or, perhaps, a lot) in his skillful portrayal.
If you're reading reviews for a movie such as this, then please accept my recommendation to make it a part of any DVD collection you may have.....it's more than worthy of repeated viewings.......you'll catch so much more each time that you do.
PS--Oh, oh.........almost forgot to give you your Possible Spoiler, so here goes. At movie's end we find our struggling duo sitting and conversing in a garden, when all of a sudden you can see in their eyes and faces---as if the proverbial light bulb's been turned on---each one realizing that they have in the other what they've been needing and wanting all along. What a great heart-swelling moment for us, eh?
PPS--You're missing out on a really good "insider's" comment on this movie if you haven't read the one by keithla43 (from Culver City, CA), posted at this site on 20 May 2003, under the comment title, "Classic love story."
Eli (Dan Bucatinsky) and Tom (beautiful Richard Ruccolo) are both gay and attracted to each other but while Eli wants a firm commitment, Tom is afraid. The movie chronicles their on-again, off-again relationship and the effects on their family and friends. There's nothing new or ground-breaking here--just a very pleasant, occasionally hilarious story. The leads are attractive, there's a very strong supporting cast (Doris Roberts, Sasha Alexander, Christina Ricci and Lisa Kudrow in a great cameo) and it's all well-done. Sometimes the characters get a little whiny (Eli especially) and do real stupid things (Eli again) but the film works regardless. There's also a straight couple thrown in for the straight people in the audience. So, nothing great, but pleasant.
I recently saw this movie on video and was instantly struck by how sweet and original this film was. It did not show the ever constant gay teen that wants to commit suicide because his parents don't understand him him, or the gay man that is dying of AIDS, nor does it have drag queens and leather daddies. It shows two ordinary men who fall in love and are trying to sort out their own dysfunctional backgrounds in order to try and have a relationship. It just so happens that these two men are gay. The hetrosexual relationship is perfectly mirrored with their own gay one, the four leads are perfect and I loved Doris Roberts as the straight talking STD clinic worker. I just hope that there are more films like this in the future.
I watched this movie last night for the second time, and I got to say that I
really enjoyed it. Like a lot of reviewers have said here, it's nice to see
two gay men viewed in the true representation of their lives. I mean come
on, who really wants to be like their parents. These two guys came together
and brought so much garbage with them that they couldn't see each other and
the love that they had for each other.
I really don't have that much to say about this film, except that I truly enjoyed it and I would watch it again anytime. Oh and by the by, I've seen Richard Ruccolo on the street once, and trust me, he is that handsome, in every sense of the word.
Rent It!!!!!! You won't be sorry.
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