by Carrie Rickey
Comic Cautionary Tale About Looks and Really Seeing

Imagine "Ally McBeal" featuring two buff Boston attorneys, GWMs seeking soulmates with brains, bods and bank accounts equal to theirs, and you have "All the Rage," a comic cautionary tale about how the heart and eyes have different appetites.

It is a movie for anyone whose romantic hopes ever have been dashed by that ugliest phrase in the English language, those three little words, "I'll call you."

This diverting, delicious and finally damning story marks the feature debut of filmmaker Roland Tec, who adapted it from his play "A Better Boy." With crisp dialogue, crisper editing and a dynamic use of film and video, Tec creates characters who evoke both desire and disgust.

His principals are Christopher (John-Michael Lander), the golden boy with the cheekbones and physique more commonly found among male models than estate attorneys, and his colleague Larry (Jay Corcoran), likewise a lawyer and gym bunny.

So accustomed is Christopher to being lusted after for his externals -- looks, money, status -- that there's something lacking from his one-night stands. Namely, feelings for and interest in another. He cuts such a confident swath through the boardrooms, gyms and bars of Boston that he inspires envy in his friend Larry, who would happily take his leavings.

But even worse that Christopher's lack of bedside manner -- he leaves admirers hopeful that he'll call -- is his trophy box, a Rolodex containing the names and numbers of his numerous conquests who are waiting for the call that never comes.

While the audience waits for Christopher's comeuppance, something surprising happens. His deliverance. The attorney's good friends, longtime couple Dave and Tom (Paul Outlaw and Peter Bubriski), find Christopher's cruising a little tired, not to mention risky. So they fix him up with a soulful-eyed editor named Stewart (David Vincent).

And while Stewart is as doughy as Christopher is chiseled, unlike the customary boy toys, he arouses something the lawyer has never before experienced. For the first time Christopher is desired for his internals -- his intellect, his humor, his ability to show affection.

While Stewart's love makes Christopher a more complete human, it also triggers an emotional crisis. Why doesn't Stewart love him for his superficials? Deftly, Tec explores ChristopherÕs predicament and the profundity of his shallowness in ways that are surprising, satirical and satisfying.

[Inquirer rating: three stars]

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