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Bountiful Trip: the charming love story the trip crosses decades and political parties.

The Trip * Written and directed by Miles Swain * Starring Larry Sullivan, Steve Braun, and Alexis Arquette * TLA Releasing

Why is the gay date film so elusive a critter? You'd think all the societal and media visibility we've gained would be good for regular doses of popcorn-popping, hand-holding, Saturday-night-dinner-and-a-movie gay-themed flicks. Like a Jennifer Lopez pic, only with homos. And a better script than Maid in Manhattan or The Wedding Planner, por favor.

Miles Swain, a sometime actor based in Los Angeles, cultivated this spring's first gay date movie, The Trip. Set during the '70s and early '80s, The Trip dishes up a mix of cute guys, gay romance, political awareness, gay drama, and great soundtrack ditties. The ride begins in 1973, when uptight young Republican journalist Alan (Larry Sullivan) meets young gay activist Tommy (Steve Braun). Pity for Peter (Ray Baker), a sleazy older lawyer scheming to sip Alan like honey wine. In short order, Alan gets ditched by his flaky New Age girlfriend (Sirena Irwin), comes out of the closet, buries a fag-bashing book he secretly wrote, and moves in with Tommy. They live happily ever after. Sort of.

Peter, having stewed in bitter juices for several years, clandestinely engineers a public scandal involving Alan's coincidentally unburied book. Dumped again, Alan shacks up with the duplicitous Peter, and they live happily ever after. Sort of. Come 1984, Alan learns of Peter's diabolical doings and runs off to find Tommy--who's dying in Mexico.

While very much echoing Hollywood formula, Swain's film is more bittersweet, soulful, and complex than much of its heterosexual romantic comedy ilk. Alan and Tommy are well-drawn, evolving characters, charismatically brought to life by Sullivan and Braun. They only have to struggle through the occasional sitcom set piece (notably a pair of "zany" dinner scenes, which serve as major turning points), god-awfully bad wigs, and stereotypical supporting characters--namely Alexis Arquette as Tommy's flaming friend and Jill St. John as Alan's sticky-fingered mom.

In The Trip's defense, those awful wigs were a product of budgetary constraints. And while it's a pity that this movie didn't benefit from the tidal wave of money going into sappy Julia Roberts vehicles, we've at least got one Saturday night filled, for now.

Ferber has also written for Entertainment Weekly and Time Out New York.
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Author:Ferber, Lawrence
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Jun 10, 2003
Words:382
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