Romantic Comedy With a Queer Eye

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 9, 2005

"We talk normally -- in English."

That's gay college student Kyle (Jim Verraros), explaining to his clueless, straight roommate, Caleb (Scott Lunsford), how to communicate with Marc (Ryan Carnes) during Caleb's first boy-boy date in "Eating Out," a silly romantic farce about sex-orientation switcheroos from first-time feature writer-director Q. Allan Brocka. Ah, if only that were true. Most of the gay characters here -- and even a few of the straight ones -- talk anything but normally, batting such a barrage of zingers, bon mots and pop culture references back and forth that each of them winds up sounding like a cross between Bruce Vilanch, Carson Kressley, Steven Cojocaru and a reincarnated Oscar Wilde.

"When he's around, my heart beats like a trailer-park husband," says Marc about Caleb, the heterosexual object of his homosexual affection who has recently been pretending to be gay to get the attention of Gwen (Emily Stiles), Marc's straight best friend and roommate, who has a thing for gays and gay-acting guys. Kyle, meanwhile, secretly likes Marc but is too shy to tell him. Confused? Wait till you get to the scene where Caleb, who's still pretending to be gay (and really well, I might add) has phone sex with Gwen while allowing himself to be, ahem, "serviced" by Marc. It may just be one of the hottest -- not to mention weirdest -- sex scenes I've seen lately.

My favorite moment, though? That comes later, when the still-straight Caleb is forced to "come out" during a dinner with his parents and little sister. The family's reaction, a parody of open-armed tolerance and acceptance, is hilarious, as well as a sweet touch of wishful thinking. Which, come to think of it, pretty much describes "Eating Out," a sweet and funny take on the crossed-wire romantic couplings of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," albeit one that, as filmmaker Brocka freely admits in his own production notes, is "way too gay" for Middle America.

Eating Out (Unrated, 90 minutes) -- Contains obscenity, nudity, scenes of sensuality and graphic sex talk. At Landmark's E Street Cinema.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company