Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, November 16, 2001

‘Will and Grace,’
shrilly paced

"All Over the Guy": Playing at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Honolulu Academy of Arts Theatre, 900 S. Beretania St. Tickets $5 general; $3 for members. Call 532-8768

Review by Scott Vogel

The saga of Tom and Eli, as told with surgical precision by "All Over the Guy," is a cute romance of opposites that, while cloying in spots, is sustained by better than average indie acting and its screenwriter's gift for snappy dialogue.

As it happens, the screenplay of "All," which is playing one night only at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Sunday, was written by Dan Bucatinsky, AKA Eli, a neurotic gay man trapped in a "come here, go away" relationship with alcoholic Tom (Richard Ruccolo).

"We met on a blind date, which sucked," says Eli of their turbulent history. "Then we became friends and now we don't speak to each other. So it's a happy ending."

This elliptical sarcasm is typical of a film that sees the Lifetime Channel as "TV for women and gay men" and as the cable home of "Joan Van Ark in 'Not Without My Nosejob.'"

All the characters, especially a straight couple named Jackie and Brett (Sasha Alexander and Adam Goldberg), fire withering quips with apparent ease, tossing out ferocity and the rare compliment with equal brio.

Welcome to West Hollywood, a strange world where people reach for cellphones, answering machines and remotes as a way of dealing with psychological isolation. It's satellites and circuitry that keep this round robin tournament going once Jackie and Brett hook up in the latter's place of business, a furniture store.

Conveniently, each possesses a gay best friend who is single and looking; hence comes about the aforementioned blind date and the codependent tug of war that follows.

Nicely outfitted with cameos by Lisa Kudrow, Doris Roberts, Christina Ricci and others, "All" does a better job with put-downs and witty barbs than with plot, and the story is alternately tiresome and mechanical.

Most of the few nuances come in the depiction of Jackie and Brett's relationship, and while Goldberg in particular deftly underplays things, the couple still manages to generate some quirky heat.

As in "Will and Grace," the similarly quirky NBC comedy to which "All" must inevitably be compared, it's the second bananas -- rather than Tom and Eli -- who capture our attention.

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