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Monday, September 16, 2013

Rainbow Review! A Unicorn Babble Movie Review - Coffee Date (2006)

Greetings, darlings, and how lovely to see you all again. It’s time for another Rainbow Review! 

Today I’m bringing you a passably amusing 2006 piece called “Coffee Date”, written and directed by Stewart Wade, and starring  Jonathan Bray, Wilson Cruz, and Jonathan Silverman. (This was a recommendation by a Unicorn Babble reader, btw – so keep the recommendations coming!)

I debated whether to put a spoiler alert here, but since the actual *twist* in the film is handed to us in the first 10 minutes, it’s hard to get far without broaching the subject. So, if you want to avoid knowing anything at all about this movie except that there is apparently some kind of date going on, most likely involving coffee, stop reading now.

The plot is very basic. To wit, a guy (Todd, artfully cluelessly played by Jonathan Bray) is set up on a dating website by his brother (less-annoyingly than usually played by Jonathan Silverman). Todd exchanges several emails with ‘Kelly’, sparks begin to fly, and the two arrange to meet for the eponymous ‘coffee date’.  

Unbeknownst to Todd, however, his brother Barry was setting him up in a cruel joke – the website is for gay singles. Todd is straight. The Kelly he has fallen for online is a gay man (played with good nature and humor by the brilliantly adorable Wilson Cruz). 

Once Kelly and Todd meet (at the gay coffeehouse version of Cheers) and discover the misunderstanding (i.e., that Todd’s brother Barry is apparently an asshole who thinks playing a cruel trick like this on his brother is not only acceptable but knee-slappingly humorous), rather than recoiling from each other in horror, the two instead become friends. All of that happens in literally the first 10-15 minutes of the film. 

The remainder of the film revolves around what happens in the aftermath of the ‘date’, and the way that Kelly and Todd decide to get back at Barry – by pretending to hook up. Barry can’t keep his mouth shut, and soon Todd’s coworkers and his overly-attached mother all believe Todd to be gay. Todd is still straight. Todd remains straight, through the entire movie. A bit pointless? Maybe. I'll let you decide for yourselves.


Even after deciding to experiment physically by having sex with Kelly (since they DO seem to have everything other than being gay in common), Todd is still straight. He and Kelly are destined to be ‘just friends’. That’s it – that’s the entire movie. Oh, well, except that Barry suddenly decides that his incredible homophobia is fueled by a secret desire for dick, and – you guessed it – comes out to great fanfare, including leather, hot pink muscle shirts, and glitter galore. Todd? Still straight, and considering dating someone from the office, maybe.

Overall, I would rate this film a solid “Meh”. It was amusing, entertaining, and even made me laugh out loud a time or two. Seeing Barry in his ‘gay wear’ turned out to be the second highest point of the film for me. (The first was the honest and sincere portrayal of Kelly by Wilson Cruz – he rocked that role, and seemed like an actually awesome guy, so much so that I was genuinely let down that Todd didn’t really fall for him.)

In fact, Kelly was the only truly likable character in the film, at least from where I was standing. Barry and Todd both seemed two-dimensional, fake, and not at all well-rounded. Todd, although he did broaden his horizons a bit by getting comfortable hanging around with a gay man and his gay friends at gay places, never really grew. He was presented with options he had never considered, including a potential life-partner with far more to offer him than any of the one-dimensional office skanks we see him with otherwise, and instead – politely says “no thank you” and keeps on with everything status quo. I’ve seen more forward movement in a bar of soap left on the sink too long.

And don’t even get me started on Barry! It’s as if the writer knew the entire premise of the movie was going to make us hate Barry for a homophobic gobshite, and so he decided to have Barry become fabulous to kind of make it up to us, or something. Maybe that was supposed to make up for the fact that Todd and Kelly didn’t end up together – because somebody has to turn gay in this movie, damn it! And I’m going to pretend the part at the end where Kelly mentions that he might be interested in dating Barry didn’t happen, because the thought of cultured, intelligent cinema-lover Kelly and that Neanderthal Barry together makes me want to hurl. Profusely.

So, all in all, stereotypes were run up the flagpole and saluted, and the ending was a cop-out that felt half-sincere at best, but there was nothing inherently hateful or dangerously destructive to the LGBTQ community here. And, considering that it actually did make us laugh, I’m forced to give it a Rainbow Rating of “Meh”, and three sparklers. If you’re in the mood for light fare that requires little thought, “Coffee Date” is probably worth a watch. Just don’t expect any life-changing revelations or enlightenment here.

How gay is the film?
Moderately gay, with occasional gusts of twinklitude.


Vulgarity level:

Watch with your mother?
Probably OK.

Effect on LBGTQ self-esteem?
Probably not much - pretty milquetoast, overall. Neither damaging nor uplifting.

Effect on public opinion of LGBTQ people or issues?
Mostly neutral to positive. I would have said 'positive', due to points awarded for demonstrating that straight people can be friends with gay people without the world coming to an end. However, minus one point for Kelly and Todd having sex (only because they were NOT able to be 'just friends' without sex entering into it, which may lend fuel to that stereotype).

Overall Rainbow Rating: 
Meh (three sparklers).

Thanks for reading, and for the suggestion! If you’ve seen Coffee Date and would like to join in the babble, sound off!

Got a movie you’d like the Unicorn to review? Let me know!

Have a wonderful day, darlings, and – as always -  be fabulous to each other!

1 comment:

  1. I both agree and disagree with your review. It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but it was fun overall. I'd give it a decent rating, a little up from "meh."


    When you mentioned lack of forward movement in Todd's character, I'd have to disagree. Though slightly disappointed that Kelly & Todd didn't become a couple b/c Kelly was in love with Todd & we didn't want Kelly to be unhappy, I was NOT disappointed that Todd discovered he was straight after all. He never doubted he was straight until everyone else in his life decided he was gay. He discovered it's OK to be a straight guy with gay friends and didn't care if it made some people assume HE was gay. I thought that was a realistic amount of forward movement for his character.

    You also mentioned that at the end Todd is considering dating someone in his office. I believe that to be incorrect. He wanted to date Kelly's female and straight best friend and housemate, and he obtains Kelly's OK for that before pursuing that.

    I saw Kelly's mention of maybe dating Barry was either a self-defense mechanism or a willingness to move on and get over his bit of heartbreak over Todd, not necessarily that Barry is someone he'd consider settling down with.

    Also, I didn't see Kelly and Todd having sex as not being able to be just friends. I saw it as Todd's attempt to discover once and for all if he was straight or gay, and Kelly's attempt to get Todd in bed because he was in love with him and was hoping Todd would discover he was gay and in love with Kelly.

    I did enjoy the movie, but there were times when I wondered if it was the acting or the dialogue that made it seem stilted. I think they were trying to portray slight awkwardness in certain situations, but if it made me wonder if it was moments of less than superior acting or dialogue, it wasn't done as well as it should be.

    Overall worth a watch if in the mood for fluffy and insubstantial.


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Please be kind to each other - I welcome discussion and conversation, but if you're deliberately nasty to someone, that makes kittens cry. Let's keep it fabulous!

~ The Unicorn