Guest Blogger: Marco; edited pbw
Synopsis: As a joke, Todd’s brother sets him up on an internet dating site for gay men. Todd, who is mildly homophobic hits it off with Kelly online, goes to meet her and finds out, Kelly is a man. Despite the gender issue, Todd and Kelly have already bonded and so it is “easy” for them to become friends. Unfortunately, their friendship leads to all kinds of “comedic” problems that propel the plot forward: Todd punking his brother who then outs him to his mother, his mother having her own “I love my [not so] dead gay son” moment(s), and a few questionable sexual encounters. The question on everyone’s mind, including Todd’s, is “is he or isn’t he?”
Review: I wanted to like this movie. I’ve had a crush onRicky Wilson Cruz since My So Called Life. I stupidly thought this would be the film where Ricky finally got to fall in love – not beat up and thrown out just before Christmas with only Jordan to look for him, not cut up into bits probably still wearing his wings, not background to someone else’s love affair, murder, or fashion shoot . . . I was wrong.
Kelly, Cruz’s character, plays every sad gay man’s past: the boy with a crush on a straight guy. He even has an annoying roommate who makes a move on Todd while he is in the house. And guess what, she ends up with him at the end. Its pathetic and painful all at the same time.
Worse, despite Cruz telling Todd to get over himself, Cruz still thinks “if I sleep with him, he’ll do more than . ..” Guess again.
I get the feeling that what happens to Kelly is always secondary in this film. We are supposed to be invested in Todd and the pun(s) on the coming out story. Unfortunately, Todd’s story is a series of sight gags where the punchline is Cruz’s impending broken heart . . . not too funny.
Problems: Besides the obvious broken heart thing and the message to all those pining over straight guys, this movie took things too far to be believable. I just don’t think alcohol can make you switch teams for the night. It might make you stop wearing the wrong jersey but not switch over. I kept waiting for the break in the credits where we find out Todd finally comes out, it just took more than Cruz to pry open the closet door. . . . NOPE.
And I also do not buy that Cruz would end up with Barry or that they would all end up some happy foursome. What I do believe is that somebody needs to cut Ricky a break and let him frickin’ live happily ever after with Jordan Catalano already; or me, whatever.
The good: Truthfully, Coffee Date made me cry. I cried for the guy I used to be who did the same stupid thing back in the day. I cried for the screenwriter who clearly used to be that guy too. [In that way, it was cathartic.] As a romantic comedy focused on Todd, I think it actually ended up just throwing that part of the story away in the end.
Race: there are a lot of poc in the background in the first scene and that was nice. Not a lot is made of Kelly’s race, except a few jokes that did exactly what they were supposed to. His identity was not whitewashed, just subtle.
Gender: The women in this film are pretty much stereotypes like most of the men. Besides Kelly’s roommate and the mom, there is also Melissa, played by Debbie Gibson. If Bonnie is a hipper version of Grace then Melissa is the R-rated Nadine. The most off-type women in the movie are at the beginning in the Coffee Shop and even that seems like a “dumb straight guy” joke more than a nuanced gender thing. The men on the other hand, all seem to be doing gender differently from one another, giving a more nuanced picture of masculinity and sexuality at least on the male side of things.
Overall: it was a fun movie despite everything I just said. Its worth renting, even if you are not obsessed with Ricky. (It’s way better if you are.)