Post-Sundance raves have claimed that Trick represents a new, agenda-free brand of gay film (call it the Gay Gay Cinema), “revolutionary” (as more than one reviewer has frothed) precisely for its lack of revolutionary qualities. Setting aside for now the obtuseness and condescension of such a stance, it should be pointed out that,
taken purely as fluff (which one can safely assume to be “its own terms”), Trick is a failure. Jason Schafer’s screenplay—about a would-be one-night stand miraculously transformed into something more—is a ragged, witless patchwork of subsitcom scenarios; the godawful acting compounds the torture.
Trick‘s protagonist, Gabriel (Christian Campbell), is a model of bland, lowest-common-
denominator appeal—a musical composer but not a drama queen, dorky but kinda cute, shy but kinky in an unthreatening way (his fantasy is to be serviced while he plays the piano). On the subway one night, he encounters Mark (John Paul Pitoc), a go-go boy whose seeming blockheadedness masks a soft side and a journalism degree. The two spend all night looking for a place to fuck—they’re repeatedly thwarted and, owing to the fatuous contingencies of romantic comedy, fall in love.
Trick draws on audience empathy for Gabe—alienated Everygay—and revels in the reassuring accessibility of an idealized object of desire. Or at least in theory it does. The film is so insecure about its own premise—the idea that these two should get together—that it reflexively surrounds them with grotesques. Everyone else is obnoxious, idiotic, or pathetic. Directed in anonymous fashion by Jim Fall, Trick (working title: Gay Boy) plays like a neutered dicktease. Sex is the nominal driving force, but the film couldn’t be any less sexy. Or any more misogynist. Tori Spelling, shrill and horsey, plays a monstrous fag hag; Gabe’s roommate’s girlfriend is essentially a breathy, dumb, one-note joke. This film is so retrogressive that it would, in a sane world, inspire not drooling praise but a revolt—in that sense, Trick may have some revolutionary worth after all.