Inever thought I'd write this, but there is such a thing as too much Cary Grant.

That's the problem with "Touch of Pink," an uneven attempt to make a gay romantic comedy in the same effortlessly frivolous tone as Grant's wondrous "That Touch of Mink" in 1962. It goes so far -- way too far -- as having a known actor play Grant.

Now you could argue that filmmaker Ian Iqbal Rashid has confused Grant with his colleague in the let's-sleep-with-Doris Day flicks of the early '60s, Rock Hudson, but that's neither here nor there. As Rashid has it, poor Alim (Jimi Mistry) is in that hard place for a modern gay man: He's in love and in the closet. The love goes to a fabulous guy named Giles (Kristen Holden-Reid) and the closet shields him from his ultra-traditional Muslim mother. When Ma comes to visit him in London, Giles has to go from bedmate to roommate. Why? Because Cary Grant told Alim that's the way to do it.

Grant clearly represents the old gay paradigm: He's the man, at least according to Rashid (others may have different opinions), who stayed closeted his whole life and reaped the benefits. He is the old way, all those handsome, sophisticated men who seemed somehow never to "find the right gal" and "settle down" like the rest of us, sometimes called, hmmm, "bachelor uncles" or other code words.

Giles, of course, being flesh and blood and not fantasy, represents the new gay aesthetic: He's here, he's queer, and he isn't going away. (Although he does, reluctantly, go into the spare bedroom.)

The movie pretty much collapses upon the fulcrum of Kyle MacLachlan's Cary Grant. What MacLachlan offers is earnestly studied, but somehow out of rhythm. He hasn't that unbelievable grace in motion. His hair is Vitalisized back slickly, he's impeccably tailored in a series of dinner jackets, lounging jackets, silk bathrobes and the inevitable ascot (Grant is the ONLY MAN IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD who looked good in an ascot, by the way) and he's perfected what can only be called a pretty bad Grant accent, the sort of husky-Cockney-morphed-into-middle-Atlantic-by-too-many-vodka-gimlets rasp that Grant did so bloody well. Like Frank Gorshin's work or Dana Carvey's, it's not a performance, it's an astute assemblage of tics that briefly evoke the more famous figure but, when sustained over time, begin to drift apart to mere mannerisms. After a while you're thinking: Why is Kyle MacLachlan talking that way?

It's a shame, because the rest of the movie isn't without its pleasures. Mistry is a winning young actor, both attractive and funny at once, and his mother is played with the force of a hurricane with a black belt in kendo by Sue Mathew, probably the best thing in the pic, even if Rashid does overdo the "Indian Mother" gambit a bit.

Holden-Reid, as Giles, is also hard to take. He seems like a straight guy intent on letting us know he's not really gay even though he's playing gay: His mannerisms, his empathies, his over-vivid eyes, his effeminate walk all add up to a cliche. That exiles you from the picture, straight or gay, because if you don't believe in Giles, you can't believe in Alim's love for him.

Touch of Pink (92 minutes, at Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle 5) is rated R for sexual content.

Kyle MacLachlan helps a gay man play straight in "Touch of Pink."