Boston's Alternative Source! image!

R: ARCHIVE, S: MOVIES, D: 08/06/1998,

Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss

Tommy O'Haver's giddy, glib romantic comedy walks proudly on the wild side, and though it bats its eyes at high melodrama like a shameless hussy, the director's stylistic verve and carefully barbed wit keep it on the straight and narrow. Sean P. Hayes stars as O'Haver's alter ego, Billy, a struggling photographer more concerned with his prospects in love than his career. Both get a jumpstart when he meets Gabriel (Brad Rowe, a dead ringer for Brad Pitt), a buff coffeeshop boy who dabbles as a bassist and model. Gabriel agrees to pose for Billy's "Hollywood Screen Kiss" photo spread, but as Billy quickly learns, Gabriel is straight -- or so he thinks. What ensues is a comedic series of erotic misfires and tempered miscommunication.

As a visual artist, O'Haver stretches his small production-budget dollar to impressive lengths, creating witty and lush side imagery that suggests Priscilla, Queen of the Desert trapped on the set of Austin Powers. But as a storyteller he layers the film with too many heavy-handed diatribes about gays, straights, and "Can't we all just get along." Hayes and Rowe create a genuine chemistry, and Carmine D. Giovinazzo is delightfully outlandish as a stoned-out cabin boy. There's a lot of good work here -- perhaps next time O'Haver will be less straight with his vision about being gay.

-- Tom Meek