Kiss Me Guido

on July 18, 1997 by Christine James
   The premise has potential: In dire need of rent money, Warren (Anthony Barrile) advertises for a GWM (Gay White Male) to share his apartment. Homophobic Frankie (Nick Scotti) answers the ad, thinking GWM means Guy With Money, and misunderstandings and hijinx ensue. The film's intent is to show how the fundamentally opposite roommates learn from one another and grow in the process, but the comic possibilities of this construct are barely explored. (The similarly themed 1996 comedy "Maybe...Maybe Not" exploited this culture-clash concept with greater success by overlapping the two protagonists' worlds more, reveling in all the brouhaha involved when straight-laced meets outrageously flamboyant.) Frankie isn't exposed to enough of Warren's friends, family or pastimes, and vice versa, to fully demonstrate the differences in the unlikely roomies' diametrically opposed lives.
   There also aren't enough colorful, dynamic characters to make "Kiss Me Guido" as interesting as it could be, although Craig Chester enlivens things as Warren's catty, sassy friend Terry. Not that over-the-top gay caricatures are the answer: David Deblinger is amusing as the pretentious "#" (whose name cannot be pronounced, but only articulated with hand gestures)--but his persona is perhaps too cartoonishly effete. More detrimentally, Barrile as Warren lacks charisma, and Christopher Lawford as Warren's selfish ex-boyfriend Dakota is distractingly wooden.
   Scotti's performance as Frankie carries the movie, adding most of the film's humor as the literal and figurative straight man. He manages to make sympathetic and charming his character of the homophobic yet otherwise (mostly) virtuous "guido" (a derogatory term for gold-chain-wearing, brashly mannered, style-impaired Italian-Americans who venerate machismo). An aspiring actor who incorporates Al Pacino and Robert De Niro impressions into his everyday conversations, Frankie forces himself to overcome his wariness of the homosexual community in pursuit of his craft, when he's given a role in a play about the gay experience. His naivete and earnestness are winsome, and his prejudices fall away quickly as he finds common ground with his newfound friend. Like the premise, first-time writer/director Tony Vitale also has potential--if he increases the adventuresome aspects of his ideas. Starring Nick Scotti and Anthony Barrile. Directed and written by Tony Vitale. Produced by Ira Deutchman and Christine Vachon. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated R for sexuality and strong language. Running time: 96 min
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