Kiss Me, Guido. – movie reviews

Jan Stuart

Quick test: If you can swallow the

possibility that there is any grown man who lives

within smelling distance of Manhattan who (a)

believes he can find a one-bedroom apartment

there for $200, (b) thinks “GWM” in a

roommate-wanted ad means “guy with money,”

and (c) doesn’t know Julia Roberts from Julie

Andrews, then they’ll be scraping you off the

floor after Kiss Me, Guido. Chances are, you

could be this guy.

Director-screenwriter Tony Vitale

may or may not mean his title to be a

nod to Billy Wilder’s Kiss Me, Stupid, but the

limitless moronic capacity of the new movie’s

eponymous character is never in doubt. Frankie

(Nick Scotti), the film’s Bronx-bred Guido and

hapless apartment hunter, is an ethnic

Frankenstein stitched together from every

condescending thought ever entertained about an

outer-borough homophobe. What’s more, his

extended family are the Munsters of urban Italian

America: a meatball-thumping, gut-growling circus

of high-decibel communication. When your name is

Vitale, apparently you can still get away with this.

The checklist cliches, as it

turns out, are all setups for what is

presumably a gay Italian homeboy’s

revenge. (Vitale, however, has so far

cagily sidestepped discussing his own sexual

identity.) When Frankie discovers his brother

humping his girlfriend and decides to find new digs,

this sneeringly straight actor wanna-be is thrown

into the path of Warren (Anthony

Barrile), a gay star of kickboxing sequels.

Warren recently broke up with his

self-loathing boyfriend (Christopher

Lawford, son of Peter Lawford) and is

being stalked for rent by his romantically

frustrated landlady (Molly Price, gamely

doing the Mercedes Ruehl

ball-busting-babe duties). Because Vitale

strives to be an equal-opportunity

stereotyper, Warren blanches at the

thought of sharing his space with a

breeder and sequesters himself in a

ghetto of gay men with such pulp-purple

names as Terrence, Dakota, Chandler,

and Sebastian. Could their parents have

known so early?

The filmmaker runs afoul not with his

primary-color strokes–intransigence is

the soul of good farce–but rather with

the lack of go-for-broke comic prowess

that enables you to get away with them.

In the most telling moment, Frankie is

schooled by Warren’s prissy chum

(Swoon’s Craig Chester) in how to mince

it up for a gay play in which he’s been

cast: It’s a sly reverse on the classic La

Cage aux Folles cafe scene in which

Albin tries to butch it up, but neither

Vitale nor his actors have the first clue

how to make it fly. In a switch that may

be some kind of first, Warren’s nelly

sidekick is also the movie’s unfunniest

character, which would be a genuinely

subversive gesture if only it were


Kiss Me, Guido began its life as a

low-budget indie film but has the

requisite broad sensibility and faultily

detailed vision of New York City living

to make it credible with the Hollywood

big leaguers (enter Paramount Pictures).

Its favorite camera shot is from the

inside of a pizza oven looking out, but it

has the constricted feel of glimpsing the

world through a peashooter. The crowds

reportedly loved this at Sundance, where

the air is thin and audience favorites (The

Spitfire Grill–puhl-e-e-eze) are to be

given as wide a berth as possible.

There is plenty of vintage disco over

the action for those who believe that

movie sound tracks all went downhill

after Thank God, It’s Friday. The music

typifies the sort of retro yearning film in

which a gay man can still be found

wearing his baseball cap turned around.

But then, Kiss Me, Guido is just another

pseudo-queer picture in which the

heteros have sex and the homos merely

talk about it.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Liberation Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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