This is an agreeable little film that is almost certain to disappear without a trace theatrically before finding a home as a perennial on the Sundance or Independent Film Channel. And that’s something of a pity because, yes, it’s a small film and the only names you’re apt to recognize in the credits are supporting performers like Christina Ricci, Doris Roberts and Andrea Martin, but it’s a damn sight better than a number of nominally big, certainly far more expensive and star-laden Hollywood efforts in the realm of romantic comedy. Of course, both the hook and part of the drawback with All Over the Guy is that one of its couples — the main one, in fact — are two gay men, a factor bound to draw an audience while having the opposite effect on some people. In other words, just the sort of factor that helps to keep a movie like this small. There’s an irony here, because Dan Bucatinsky adapted the screenplay from his play of the same name and one departure from that original play was making one couple gay. “When I adapted it into a screenplay, everything pretty much stayed the same. And it proved a point: you could literally change these genders, but keep the issues, the parents, and the best friends all the same. And you’ve created a story that’s just about relationships,” says Bucatinsky. And in essence, that’s what All Over the Guy is, though it’s certainly been infused with more than a little gay-specific humor in the process. The film traces the history of Eli (Bucatinsky) and Tom (Richard Ruccolo), a seemingly mis-matched pair who were hooked up by their respective best friends, Brett (Adam Goldberg) and Jackie (Sasha Alexander), primarily to further their relationship with each other. Brett, however, has a history of fixing Eli up with bad dates (even to the extent of once getting him a blind date with a woman, which he seems to have thought would be alright since she was a lesbian), so Eli is far from surprised when his date with Tom is a fiasco. Eli’s the ultimate nerd (one of his goals in life is to acquire an original Planet of the Apes Cornelius action figure) and compulsively correct. Tom is the jaunty, hard-drinking playboy sort, who has never even seen Gone With the Wind (he says he doesn’t care much for black and white movies!), and is prone to incorrectly over-using phrases like, “You do the math.” The two hardly seem fated to be mated, but they keep being drawn back to each other. Unfortunately, like the characters of Eli’s favorite movie, GWTW, they suffer from appallingly bad timing. (Hey, after all, what is GWTW but a four-hour movie about two people with bad timing set against the Civil War?) Whenever one of them tries to pursue the relationship, the other isn’t interested — usually to an antagonistic degree — and those positions are apt to shift within the course of an encounter. It’s a simple story, but by no means is it a simplistic one, since it deftly and realistically explores the factors that made each the way he is. Moreover, by effectively utilizing elements of pop culture, it charmingly plays on the fact that once we learn about someone’s likes and dislikes, once we learn what is important to them, those things taken on a resonance of their own. Bumping into Gone with the Wind on TV or seeing Planet of the Apes action figures up for bids online suddenly have a significance to Tom. It is things such as this in the film that keep it firmly anchored into a realm that anyone can identify with. Add likable performances and a nicely edgy, but unforced directing style from Julie Davis, and you have a funny and warm little film that really deserves more attention than it’s going to get.
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