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ALL OVER THE GUY (article first published : 2003-10-20)

The search for true love is at the heart of All Over The Guy, an engaging new romantic comedy which pushes Christina Ricci and Lisa Kudrow as stars, but featuring them only in small cameo roles.

Directed by Julie Davis, the film's cast is headed by mostly unknowns, a fine ensemble that includes Dan Bucatinsky, who wrote the screenplay, based on a gender reworking of a popular stage play he'd penned.

Shot on a shoestring budget three years ago, the film weaves a fresh and witty yarn about a furniture designer (Adam Goldberg) and his new girlfriend (Sasha Alexander) discovering that each has a best friend who happens to be a single gay man. So they decide to hook them up on a blind date together.

The date proves a nightmare for both hunky, yet insecure, Tom (Richard Ruccolo of TV's Two Guys and a Girl), a straight-acting, boozing and promiscuous teacher saddled with a lot of emotional baggage stemming from alcoholic parents; and the less rugged Eli (Bucatinsky), son of therapist parents and the editor of a police newspaper.

But as the film develops, they slowly become friends, refocus their relationship and take cautious steps towards a more meaningful relationship, at a time when their mutual friends start talking marriage.

Tom and Eli do everything they can to not fall for each other, stumbling over their own fears, family dysfunctions and foolish bouts of self-sabotage.

Their comedy of errors rolls on, with the two oblivious to what everyone else can clearly see in their hearts. Ultimately it's in the small moments of truth - the talk among trusted friends and the fear between new lovers - that the two find their way to a love that will last.

Sharply scripted and free of stereotypes and political messages, All Over the Guy is a warm, refreshing, credible romantic comedy which, in spite of its gay central characters, should enjoy wide appeal. Rating: 7/10. Billy Suter




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