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review by Anthony D.


Rated R

Studio: New Line

Running Time: 89 minutes

Starring: Christian Campbell, J. P. Pitoc and Tori Spelling

Written by Jason Schafer

Directed by Jim Fall

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Trailer, Talent Files

Specs: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 2.0 Dolby Digital English, English Subtitles, Chapter Search (16 Chapters)

Let's say for a moment that this is your life: your roommate has locked you out overnight so that he could have sex, your best friend is an almost talented aspiring singer-actress who thinks that the musical comedy you've been composing is being written especially for her. So after a trying day (sleeping in the stairwell, stuck in a no-win job, auditioning your musical), you drop into a corner bar and meet someone special, someone very, very special. A drop-dead-gorgeous someone who happens to be a stripper! And that body! Wow! You leave the bar knowing that this angel is "out of your realm," so you take the subway back to your apartment. And who should be riding that same subway car? Your angel. Your eyes meet. The angel follows you out of the car. You chat, and find that the angel wants the same thing that you do: a place to get together for an afternoon tryst. Wherever you go, you tryst is thwarted: your best friend is in your apartment copying her resume, but she offers to help you entertain your angel by singing some of the songs you have composed...though your angel would rather hear you sing...and when you do, this angel begins to make your sexual dreams come true only to be interrupted by your roommate and his fiancee reminding you that the apartment is being used for his reunion with his fiancee who has been spending time abroad. What can you do but pull up your trousers, take your angel by the hand and lead HIM off into the night in pursuit of an hospitable environment conducive to sexual activity...

Jim Fall's 1999 independent film, "Trick" takes the age-old tradition of comedy-of-manners, turns it inside out and creates a bold new comdey-of-gay-manners. Christian Campell takes the starring role of Gabe, a youthful, hopefully Broadway-bound composer who meets his angel, Mark (J. P. Pitoc), a go-go boy with abs of steel just as Mark is finishing up his dance show for the day. Riding the same subway car, their eyes meet and they know they want to get into the sack as soon as possible. Pandemonium strikes at every corner, leaving Gabe and Mark to wander off into the night, prowling the cabaret rooms and dance floors of Manhattan, meeting the mischievous glances of both friend and foe. Their city-wide sojourn may not lead them to trysting place, but it leads them to a better understanding of each other, and a possibly bright future together.

Opening with a stunning sunrise-drenched New York City skyline worthy of the best technicolor films of the 1940's, one can tell that "Trick" is going to be an eye-pleasing experience on DVD. Fortunately, the rest of the digital presentation lives up to the promise of the opening shots. Terry Stacy's cinematography captures Manhattan in all its guises through the course of Gabe's long day's journey into night; from sunny interiors to fluerescent-lit audition halls and into the neon-drenched world of discos, the picture quality remains on target. Due to it's budgetary restraints, "Trick" only rarely shows signs of grain, and the focus is so clear, you can count the physical imperfections on Tori Spelling's face (Chapter 3, Enter You)! Colors are for the most part natural - the film looks as if it used available lighting for the most part, giving it a realistic feel.

"Trick's" soundtrack is limited to an English 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround track - - not that there's any call for a more intricate mix, but there are scenes that are screaming for a pounding bass (Chapters 4, & 10 are both set in different dance clubs, and each features a superior dance mix of the 70's classic songs Dream Weaver and I am Woman) and we're only treated to a thumping bass. Both mentioned chapters however, do make the most of the surround channels, enveloping the viewer with music. Dialogue is clear and sparkling, the better to hear such lines as Gabe's classic self-effacing, "I've spent the last eight years of my life writing in a genre [musical theater] that has been dying a slow death since Gypsy," and the humorous cabaret paean to the penis, "Como te Gusto mi Pinga?", a rollicking, Spanish-flavored ditty delivered with tongue firmly implanted in cheek by Steve Hayes (Chapter 8, Piano Bar).

A cute theatrical trailer, and text-only talent files are the only features on this New Line (non-Platinum) home video release.

Heterosexuals beware, this movie contains naturalistic portrayals of gay men and women! Not that this is an issue picture, but the spin on the traditional "boy meets girl" tale has something for everyone of any sexual persuasion. Because the characters are so well-conceived, and expertly cast, they contain elements that each of us can identify with: Gabe's longing to be accepted by someone he considers "out of his reach," Katherine's not-really-all-that talented actress/singer seeking the role that will show off her "talent," as well as Gabe's straight roommate who seeks woman after woman without a qualm. That the tale ends on a note of hopeful encouragement will cure the incurable romantic in everyone.

"Trick" is a pleasant little diversion, worthy of an evening's rental. Anyone who has harbored any doubts about Tori Spelling and acting will be surprised by the truly comic performance she delivers here. Christian Campbell brings none of the labored mannerisms of the Campbell clan to his portrayal of Gabriel. (He is the brother of "Party of Five's" Neve Campbell). As for J. P. Pitoc's Mark, aside from the fine acting chops, he boasts a body that will make make women swoon, and force insecure men into a strong exercise regimen. If I have one caveat concerning "Trick," it is the unnecessary coarseness of a minor character in a major scene, the scene though played for truth, rings false in an otherwise light-hearted love story. It brings the film to a sudden stop, and really adds nothing important to the plot.

Hopefully, viewers will not be too put off by the thought of a "gay" film, and will plop "Trick" into their dvd player for longer than a one-night stand.

(3.5/5, NOT included in final score)




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