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Movie Review

'I Think I Do' Is Light Comedy Done With Heavy Hand


Here's an idea you haven't heard more than four dozen times: Take a group of demographically diverse college friends, ones who never seemed to like one another that much to begin with, and toss them like a salad with croutons of unresolved sexual attraction, floriated radishes of career anxiety, the occasional legume of substance abuse, serve it all up at a wedding--it could be a funeral, but let's keep things light--and watch the comedic indigestion begin!

Just to remind us that we're all fin de siecle postmodernists and that life is an absurdist romance, pepper the soundtrack with the Partridge Family. And garnish the entire dish with the processed cheese of marketing savvy (read cynicism).

"I Think I Do," which for 91 minutes asks the all-but-obvious question of whether gay Bob (Alexis Arquette) and straight Brendan (Christian Maelen) will, in fact, make Bob's long-suppressed dream come true, attempts to put classic screwball comedy in a gay context--as if it weren't there already. Uh, by making homosexuality the hook in an otherwise cliche-ridden enterprise, aren't you really making something like an exploitation flick? Just a question.

"I Think I Do" is, among other things, about how things change. Director-writer Brian Sloan's earlier short film, "Pool Days," was a subtle, sensitive snapshot of a young man's sexual awakening and it got him a lot of attention (especially as part of the "Boys Life" anthology released in 1994). Having been subtle and sensitive once was apparently enough, because "I Think I Do" is as heavy-handed and overacted as might be possible in ostensibly light comedy.

The main characters are a diverse collection, or a motley crew, depending on your POV. Bob, the group's resident gay male, was in love with Brendan all the while they were roommates at school, although Brendan never knew. By the time they're brought together at the Washington wedding of their close friends Carol and Matt (Lauren Velez and Jamie Harrold)--along with Eric (Guillermo Diaz), Beth (Maddie Corman) and Sarah (Marianne Hagan)--the playing pieces have moved: Bob, a soap writer, is in a long-term relationship with the show's hunky star, Sterling (Tuc Watkins); Brendan, of now-unspecified sexuality, remains a babe magnet for both sexes, especially Sarah, a slightly shrewish sexual adventuress now working for a Republican senator. Carol and Matt seem to be marrying at precisely the moment when the romance is over.

To get where it's going, "I Think I Do" has to leap cliched dialogue, a bloated sense of its own relevance and some serious misdirection. The biggest casualty of the latter is Maddie Corman, a seemingly talented comedian playing the Joan Blondell-inspired (but not otherwise inspired) role of Beth.

The characters are mostly cartoons, especially Carol's parents. At the same time, this is a cast of what are fairly charming, personable actors. One can only guess that ethnicity keeps the talented Diaz from breaking out of movies like this. Arquette has a great deal of screen presence. Watkins is very funny. However, they and their movie are a marriage not made in heaven--just to rework one more cliche.

* Unrated. Times guidelines: scenes of substance abuse and dicey sexual situations.

'I Think I Do'

Alexis Arquette: Bob

Christian Maelen: Brendan

Maddie Corman: Beth

Guillermo Diaz: Eric

Marianne Hagan: Sarah

A Lane Janger production, released by Strand Releasing. Director Brian Sloan. Producer Lane Janger. Executive producers Jon Gerrans, Marcus Hu, Robert Miller, Daryl Roth. Screenplay by Brian Sloan. Cinematographer Milton Kam. Editor Francois Keraudren. Costumes Kevin Donaldson, Victoria Farell. Music supervisor Gerry Gershman. Production design Debbie Devilla. Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes.


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