Switch Hitting

Fag-hag farce, full of stilted female sidekicks and toys for straight and gay men, flops

Caleb (Scott Lunsford) has been tossed out by girlfriend Tiffani (Rebekah Kochan) when he proves too wimpy a lover for her. His gay roommate, Kyle (Jim Verraros, the first finalist voted off the first season of “American Idol”), advises him to pretend to be homo to attract women, in particular, Gwen (Emily Stiles), an unregenerate fag hag who never tires of trying to “switch” gay guys. Meanwhile, Kyle lusts for Gwen’s roommate Marc (Ryan Carnes, of “Desperate Housewives”) who, of course, wants to get with the nervous, but game, Caleb.

Got all that straight?

Anyway, the crucial thing here is that director/writer Q. Allan Brocka blows his chance to make a trenchant comedy about gay men and, more particularly, the straight women who love them. His script is overloaded with would-be hilarious one-liners that are like snappy rejects from “Will and Grace,” and to describe his direction as crude would be understating things. He strives mightily for sexiness but, at most, achieves the low-grade heat you see on those soft-core porn features forever running on the lesser cable channels.

A ridiculous 17-minute phone-sex scene between Gwen, and, on their first “date,” Caleb and Marc (whom she’s set up together), strains viewer belief and patience. There’s so much aimless heaving, grunting and failed wisecracking that you feel rather embarrassed for the actors, who are all in there, sportingly giving it their everything.

Stiles is clearly the cast standout for the all-out gusto with which she invests her clueless character. Gwen pulls some pretty nasty shit on everybody in her ego-driven desire to divest herself of sexual frustration, but, as Stiles feistily plays her, it’s impossible to hate this crazy woman. She also gets the one truly memorable line in the film, when she wails, “I feel like a turnstile at the White Party!”

You wonder why it is exactly that she and women like her—that Brocka clearly believes exist in ample numbers—lust after gay men so, but the filmmaker never bothers to fill in the psychological blanks. That might have made better cinematic material than much of what he’s shot.

Lunsford also manages to be pretty good, and damned attractive, even under these trying circumstances. It doesn’t hurt at all that both he and the comely Carnes are given full-package shots, however brief.

Verraros is unappealingly abrasive, however, making it hard to root for his underdog, so-called “B-list” character. His happy ending, fulfilling his romantic longings, feels particularly cheap and tacked-on, as well.

Kochan is nearly as gratingly obnoxious as Stiles, raising the strong suspicion that Rocka has an overriding vision of women as shrieking, demanding harpies.

Three “actors” are recruited to play Caleb’s family, including a stereotypically bratty little girl, in a lame dinner sequence—that features John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” of all things. It was during this scene that the whole affair began to reek of called-in-for-an-Indie-favor amateurishness.

Brocka is Filipino, and the nephew of the late esteemed director Lino Brocka, who brought us the incisive “Macho Dancer.” It’s fair play to ask why Brocka didn’t include some casting color in this altogether white-bread movie.

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