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Film review: Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss

Published: Friday, Sept. 11 1998 10:18 a.m. MDT

The gay-themed comedy "Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss" stops being funny about midway through the opening credits. The movie itself, however, continues for another 85 minutes.

That's not to say the film doesn't try to be better than most of its competition. But all too often it stoops to the same negative heterosexual stereotypes that others have included and relies on soap opera-like contrivances to propel its slight subject matter.

And frankly, the cast — and the audience — deserves better. Relative unknowns Sean P. Hayes, who plays the film's ingratiating lead character, and Brad Rowe, who bears a striking resemblance to Brad Pitt, are appealing performers. But they're sunk by writer-director Tommy O'Haver's script, which thinks it's funnier than it is.

Hayes stars as Billy Collier, a gay photographer living in Hollywood who is at the end of his rope financially and romantically. To help him pull out of his funk, friends persuade him to finally start work on his dream project, a series of photos recreating romantic scenes from film classics, using an all-male cast (including drag queens).

And he finds the perfect model in Gabriel (Rowe), a hunky coffeehouse employee. But complications ensue when Billy finds himself falling for Gabriel, who seems a bit unsure of his sexuality.

What happens next is supposed to be surprising but won't exactly startle anyone who's paying attention. That air of predictability that pervades the film (even fantasy sequences aren't exactly innovative). And despite its pretentions to be "romantic" and stereotype-shattering, the movie doesn't really succeed in either endeavor.

To their credit, Hayes and Rowe try to make the material work. But their efforts — and those of talented newcomer Meredith Scott Lynn, who plays Billy's wisecracking roommate — are wasted.

"Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss" is rated R for profanity, vulgar gestures and use of vulgar slang terms, simulated drug use, male and female nudity and brief simulated gay sex.

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