Coffee Date

2007, Movie, NR, 94 mins

Review

COFFEE DATE
starstarstarstar
Writer-director Stewart Wade's fluffy comedy asks how much wiggle room a straight man has before "just gay enough" becomes just plain gay.

Not content with abusing the hospitality of his metrosexual brother — buttoned-up computer programmer Todd (Jonathan Bray) — slob Barry (Jonathan Silverman) sets up a boorish prank. Now that Todd is finally getting over his rotten divorce, Barry sets him up on an Internet date with a man. Off goes Todd to a noncommittal rendezvous at a coffee bar — a gay coffee bar where he's forced to share small talk and a smaller table with a flirty gay guy who's also waiting for a blind date. By the time the edge is off Todd's homosexual panic attack and the two of them realize the "Kelly" for whom Todd is waiting is the same Kelly (Wilson Cruz) with whom he's been enthusiastically talking foreign movies, meddling mothers and relationship woes, they're pals. They even conspire to get Barry back by coming home hand in hand. It works — so well that deadbeat Barry instantly moves out. But as the conspirators celebrate with a movie non-date, Barry tells their mom (Sally Kirkland) that Todd has come out of the closet. In no time flat, everyone and his gay brother has heard the news and no one believes Todd's story that the whole thing is just a big misunderstanding. In fact, Todd's mom confides that she's known ever since she caught her smart, sensitive little boy playing doctor with his friend David. As the circumstantial evidence mounts, Todd starts wondering whether he's the one who's got everything wrong.

Once upon a time, Hollywood turned out genuinely funny, genuinely romantic comedies with such a regularity that it would have been monotonous, except that they were such reliable escapist entertainment. Not so now: The genre is trapped in an increasingly unfunny rut that relies on ridiculously contrived complications and adults who act like 14-year-old airheads in order to delay the inevitable. So this bittersweet indie's greatest asset is that stars Bray and Cruz have both real chemistry and a real problem — as opposed to a series of trumped-up plot machinations — standing in the way of romance. It's not earthshaking or life-changing, but it's cute, occasionally predictable and only requires actual idiots, like Barry, to act like idiots. As formula entertainment goes, that's a pretty sweet deal. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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