Jul 4, 2010

[Movies] Trick (1999)

Trick (1999)As I continue to dig through my LGBT history for movies of note that might be worth reviewing since I don't have time to watch newer ones, I came across this odd moment in movie making history. As much as it was strange and shallow in many ways, it was also very endearing and sort of sweet if you learn how to see it that way. Plus in its simplicity, it was very real and a lot of movies lose sight of this kind of a goal and end up making somewhat hollow movies held together by special effects, big name stars and post-production 3D.

I first saw this movie based on the promptings of my circle of gay friends who felt this was one of those must-see films in every young gay boy's life, or something like that. For a hardcore science fiction geek, it was a bit tricky for me to break into something like this, but then once the ball got rolling it wasn't that bad. The issues were initially a bit alien / foreign to me given my lack of exposure to the gay scene but in hindsight it does make a lot more sense to me now.

The movie ultimately feels like a sort of slice of life kind of piece given how well it captures the diverse events in a single night for the protagonist. It's not going to change the way you life nor is it going to become something worthy of long-winded arguments with friends. It's just a fun movie to go and see and sort of kill time with.

Trick is a 1999 film that seems very trope-y when you look at it now but it really was designed as a snapshop of the gay world at the time. In this regard, it did a great job and modern viewers may not fully appreciate the time-place setting involved here.

The movie centers around office temp worker / aspiring Broadway composer Gabriel (Christian Campbell) who becomes infatuated with go-go dancer Mark (John Paul Pitoc). The took make an initial connection and decide to hook up for the night and this becomes the movie's extended plot, believe it or not.

They go to Gabriel's apartment only to find that his friend and actress-wannabe Katherine (Tori Spelling, fittingly enough) just had to tell him all about her role in an adaptation of Salomé. Then his roommate Rich (Brad Beyer) arrives with a girl in tow as he also wants to use the apartment for, well, the same purpose Gabriel did. Eventually Mark and Gabriel leave and pretty much spend the rest of the movie trying to find a place to have sex while inevitably learning more and more about one another during the course of the evening.

Yes, the movie is pretty much about looking for a place to do the nasty. I kid you not.

And yet despite the seemingly horrible and shallow premise, it works on a number of different levels.

First, it's a situation that a lot of guys (gay or otherwise) can relate to. We've all fallen into that weird night of trying to find a place to get intimate with another fella and yet the universe seems to work against you. By tapping into this shared experience of sorts, it made it a lot easier for the viewer to get into the mood of the film and just go along with the flow.

Then you get the two characters - an odd mixing and matching of the more cerebral yet physically underdeveloped artist and the physical manifestation of gay lust on two legs. Not that Pitoc was my type mind you, but he had the kind of body that a lot of gay guys would stereotypically go. Sure, they don't seem like a great match for the most part, but then again that's sort of the point of a trick. It's not about starting a relationship - it's just about getting laid and dealing with the consequences after that. Of course this kind of a dynamic taps into the fairy tale mythos of our shared history when we encounter the bridging of the two characters' highly diverse worlds.

The writing was also nicely strong - not too over the top and yet not too serious for it to forget it is still more of a comedy than a drama. It didn't try to pretend to be a romantic piece either - this was about sex and the rest of the stuff can wait for the morning. The movie did have its nicely witty moments, but I never really found myself laughing my head off or anything.

And of course all the side stories show the various complications in all of our lives, regardless of sexual orientation. You have the friend who only cares about herself, the roommate who demands a lot more than he should, the friend who's getting through a break-up, the gossip monger and so on and so forth. They may seem like stereotypes, but they are also roles that we've either played ourselves or have encountered in others. Again the movie does its best to deal with the audience on a level that is fairly open and easily relatable.

On the whole, you just might find yourself eagerly following the main plot while rooting for Gabriel to get laid. He's a nice enough guy to deserve a break once in a while, and what better way than with the physically impressive Mark, right? If you don't get into this plot, well, then at least you can enjoy each of the sequences with the friends like semi-independent sketches ala Saturday Night Live.

Trick is a nice quirky LGBT movie in our shared pink movie history. It's not exactly what I would call a must-see by modern standards, but you will feel a little better in life once you do get to see it. It gets 3 gay movie tropes out of a possible 5.
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