21 June 2008 | dglink
The Girls Steal Unfocused Boy-Boy Romance
Although earnest and well meaning, "The Trip" eventually falls victim to a series of preposterous plot turns and derivative rip-offs of other movies. Set in the 1970's and early 1980's, a romance develops between gay activist Tommy and closeted Republican writer Alan. Opposites do attract, and the appealing leads, which are played by Larry Sullivan and Steve Braun, have chemistry and try hard to make the absurd seem convincing. When Alan's book, which is critical of gay rights, is published without his consent, the work undercuts Tommy's political activism. However, the two men, who have been together several years at this point, never discuss the matter or work toward a solution. Evidently, their relationship takes a back seat to everything else, which, in this film, includes even the proverbial kitchen sink. Without revealing too much of the convoluted plot, a "Thelma and Louise" spree unexpectedly develops in Mexico, Alan's mother breaks in on a dinner party and takes to looting the silverware, and an airline ticket clerk turns into a Medusa when Tommy coughs during check-in. Do not even ask how these segments fit together.
Director-writer Miles Swain had too many ideas swirling around simultaneously. Instead of focusing on the evolving relationship between Tommy and Alan, Swain wanders all over the gay landscape. Fortunately, he does find some amusing characters, especially a spacey Valley Girl, wonderfully played by Sirena Irwin; her initial encounter with Tommy is one of the film's best scenes. Jill St. John also has a great time as Alan's free-spirited mother, and she enlivens every scene she steals. Unfortunately, Alexis Arquette fills the requisite dizzy-queen stereotype, and his over-the-top performance eventually grates.
Swain evidently never decided if "The Trip" was to be a comedy, a romance, or a political discourse, because the film rambles into each genre without developing any focus. While the movie is generally entertaining, especially for undemanding fans of PG-rated gay-romances, Swain's work is less than the sum of its parts. Although actresses St. John and Irwin walk off with the honors in a boy-boy romance, Sullivan and Braun hold their own when on their own. If viewers can suspend disbelief for 90 minutes, they may be modestly entertained. However, whatever their feelings about the film, everyone will keep "The Trip" near the TV just to replay the priceless scene when Anita Bryant received a pie in the face.