"Trick," Jim Fall's directorial debut about two mismatched young men who may be falling in love against all odds, bears all the marks of a first time out: the awkward camera style, the slightly amateurish performances, the pacing that manages to be simultaneously giddy and stilted.
But this earnest romantic comedy also possesses a disarming measure of good will, not to mention a smattering of genuinely funny and touching moments. Christian Campbell plays Gabriel, a fledgling musical-theater composer, with the dimpled, freckled wholesomeness of someone who just might go completely crazy and unzip his polo shirt an extra inch; J.P. Pitoc, as the go-go dancer whom Gabriel tries to bed over the course of an evening, brings surprising intelligence to his beefcake character.
But it's the small roles that stand out in "Trick," like Gabriel's friend Perry (Steve Hayes), who steals the show with a naughty cabaret tune sung at the piano bar Eighty-Eights, and Lorri Bagley, whose Marilyn Monroe impression saves an otherwise torturous scene with Gabriel's heterosexual roommate.
Tori Spelling's performance as Gabriel's best friend has been buzzed about, but her portrayal is overrated compared to these memorable elements of a movie whose musical leitmotif -- a little ditty called "Enter You" -- proves to be vexingly hummable. *1/2
'My Son the Fanatic'
From its opening with the great Indian actor Om Puri tootling along in his cab to Dreadzone's merry "Little Britain," "My Son the Fanatic" signals something fresh and funny.
Hanif Kureishi ("My Beautiful Laundrette") has written a richly observant script about Pakistani cabbie Parvez (Puri), who has cruised the post-industrial town of Bradford for 25 years. Ignoring racial slights, he's built a stable if not particularly luxurious life with wife Minoo (Gopi Desai) and adored teen-age son Farid.
His life begins to change after he picks up a hedonistic German passenger named Schitz (Swedish star Stellan Skarsgard), chats up local prostitute Bettina (Australia's Rachel Griffiths) and frets as Farid dumps his white fiancee and finds solace in an Islamic fundamentalist sect.
Fortunately, director Udayan Prasad resisted the Hollywood happy ending, which its U.S. distributor reportedly wanted. The comic study of a once-reserved man's life spinning out of control is a shiny little gem the way it is. *** 1/2