Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Todd (Jonathan Bray) is anxiously awaiting a date at a coffee shop where he runs into Kelly (Wilson Cruz), who is also awaiting a date. It turns out that they are each waiting for the other, which is awkward because Kelly is a man and Todd is straight. Apparently Todd's brother, Barry (Jonathan Silverman), has played a mean trick on him, but Todd gets even with him by bringing Kelly home and taking him into his bedroom as a joke. Barry spreads the word to their mother, Mrs. Muller (Sally Kirkland), and before long everyone seems to know that Todd is gay, even though he keeps protesting that he isn't. As they continue to go out together as friends, Kelly begins to fall for Todd even as Todd wonders if he might be gay after all, leading to rather ridiculous developments. Coffee Date is one of those mediocre independent "gay" movies that was LGBT cable channel LOGO's bread and butter in the early days (and maybe still is). It actually starts out well, with likable characters and attractive actors, but it becomes increasingly stupid as it proceeds. Todd can't figure out if he's gay or not unless he goes to bed with Kelly -- what, at 35 he can't just tell if he's attracted to men or not?! -- but decides that he's really straight after all. Todd's flamingly gay associate Clayton (Jason Stuart) suggests that a "stiff dick knows no conscience," especially when there's alcohol involved, and it doesn't mean anything, but Todd suggests that he and Kelly get it on when he's sober, and he doesn't just lie there to be serviced -- it's a full-on bedroom sex scene (even if it's played mostly in the dark). What seems especially weird in these modern days of alleged "sexual fluidity" is that no one ever suggests that Todd might be bisexual, which would explain his (supposed) interest in women and his attraction to Kelly, and certainly makes more sense than his being "straight." [For another thing, maybe Kelly just isn't Todd's type.] For a movie that possibly was supposed to smash stereotyping on both sides, it does just the opposite, and virtually every gay character with a speaking role is swishy; even Kelly is a self-described queen and some of his lines suggest a degree of self-hatred. Like The Boys in the Band decades before, it's almost as if Coffee Date is assuring conflicted men in the audience that only campy guys are gay and everyone else is safe. What makes it more confusing is that Todd, without being a raging queen, pretty much comes off as gay from his first appearance. Both of the lead actors are good, although one suspects they may have played gay a bit too much; Sally Kirkland, even if her character is stupid, nearly steals the movie as Todd's mother. Jonathan Silverman is given a thankless role and can do very little with it. Even a silly comedy shouldn't have this many gay cliches. In fact with its narrow view of gay life, gay men, and LGBT realities, Coffee Date almost comes off as homophobic.
Verdict: Some amusing moments of one man's dilemma, but it goes in all the wrong directions. **.