- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 25, 2001

"All Over the Guy" is a redundant new bulletin from Southern California about the vicissitudes of homosexual courtship.
The author, Dan Bucatinsky, revising a play called "I Know You Are, But What Am I?" plays one of the principals. That is timid Eli, son of fussbudget shrinks (Andrea Martin looms large in a small role as his mother) and the editor of a "Police Blotter" column in a weekly newspaper.
A double flashback structure introduces Eli confiding in a receptionist (Doris Roberts) at a health clinic while his estranged consort, Richard Ruccolo as Tom — supposedly a special education teacher and the alcoholic son of overprivileged, embittered alcoholics — confides in his peers at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
The backtracking accounts for how Eli and Tom were set up by best friends, furniture designer Brett (Adam Goldberg) in the case of Eli, and incorrigible, brassy quipster Jackie (Sasha Alexander) in the
case of Tom.
An awkward first date leads to satisfactory follow-ups and an active romance and then a split, in part because Eli is a softhearted type with pedantic bad habits and Tom is a rolling stone with scant patience for amenities or prolonged relationships. But that's not the end of the relationship.
A romantic subplot also matches Brett with Jackie.
Glib and trite with wearying consistency, the movie often suggests a shaky audition for the writing staff of "Will & Grace." The absence of feature-length variety and stamina might be easier to conceal in a half-hour format.
Mr. Bucatinsky seems comfortable in his role, but Mr. Ruccolo, a regular on an actual sitcom, "Two Guys and a Girl," looks dubious about the whole thing. This impression isn't inappropriate for the restless and troubled Tom, but it doesn't appear strictly in character, either.
The characters of Brett and Jackie prove that writing token heterosexual characters does not have to be more of a chore than writing token homosexual characters. The scariest scene is Jackie's wedding shower, which augments the contingent of brassy types.
Nevertheless, Jackie's most presumptuous line did amuse me: "I know gay men; I practically invented them."
I was also favorably impressed by a recurrent gag at the expense of the feeble romantic farce "In and Out," which deployed Kevin Kline as a coyly adorable, late-onset homosexual. Not one but two characters get ranting scenes in which "In and Out" is justly scorned.
But the recent "Broken Hearts Club" had a more diverting ensemble and delved into some fresh topics in persuasive ways, including the etiquette of carrying on an affair with a homosexual actor who prefers to remain securely closeted, than in "All Over the Guy."
It is a little startling to hear refrains of the last spat between George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" when Eli and Tom are arguing. Tom even mocks Eli as "Mr. Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," arguably snappier than Mr. Peppard's "Miss Whoever You Think You Are," but I suspect Tom may have stolen someone else's rewrite along the way.
Breaking up appears to be kind of habitual with him.
Given the evocation, I was a little disappointed that Mr. Bucatinsky neglected to shoot the works and go for the lost cat and the rainstorm. They're certainly easier to authenticate in a movie than a play.
*
TITLE: "All Over the Guy"
RATING: R (Occasional profanity and sexual candor; episodes of simulated intercourse between homosexual partners; allusions to alcoholism and promiscuous sexual behavior)
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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