by Bob Graham
Rage Erupts With On-Target Gay Satire

"All the Rage" is a slick satiric comedy about a "perfect" gay lawyer that manages, before its 104 minutes are over, to wipe the self-satisfied smile off his face.

Christopher (John-Michael Lander) is the type of gay man who inspires envy among some and resentment among many others. He is young, rich, handsome and almost completely self-absorbed.

After a string of airhead gay comedies hereabouts, it's nice to come across "All the Rage," which actually has a point of view. Written and directed by Roland Tec, it's particularly gutsy because the target of its satire is also, to a certain degree, its target audience. It opens today at the Lumiere.

At first it appears that if Christopher has any other interests besides the gym and his reflection in the mirror, it is in a string of men who are buff knockoffs of himelf.

He ridicules the sentimental guy who sent his lawyer buddy (Jay Corcoran) a dozen roses after their first date, calling him a loser at best and maybe a psycho. "Screen your calls and don't call him back."

The main topic of conversation in their upscale social circle is their sex lives. Sometimes it all becomes a blur. Christopher is merely doing what's expected when he makes statements such as, "It's much more important to cultivate close personal relationships..."

Tec uses a string of quick scenes intercut with a monochromatic flash-forward in which Christopher addresses the camera and recites the attributes of his ideal "type," but there are hints of an underlying remorse.

The settings are law offices, trendy restaurants, gay bars, the health club, spiffy apartments, a therapist's office and a sex club. The action takes place in San Francisco's "sister" city, Boston, in case anyone thinks all this hits too close to home. The chraracters work on their tans on the banks of the Charles or up on the roof.

Tec's tone is satiric, but the really sharp thing about his approach is that it cuts Christopher some slack. He is not a completely supercillious jerk -- otherwise, why should we be interested?

Many gay men might find the "type" of boyfriend he says he's seeking -- a "sensitive, culturally literate jock" -- appealing. When he meets Stewart (David Vincent), an editor for a small publishing house whose twin passions are baseball and ballet, it should be a marriage made in heaven.

Stewart's indifference to many gay yuppie values -- he doesn't work out at the gym and is starting to sprout love handles -- could be seen as a point in his favor.

For Christopher, who is used to exchanging telephone numbers with tricks he never intends to call, the relationship is a revelation, up to a point.

The title "All the Rage" is right on -- and, yes, the pun works both ways.

Other members of this arch little circle include an interracial couple on the cusp of an "open relationship," Stewart's roving roommate and a woman in the office who stares indredulously at a series of coffee dates who have answered her personals ad, including a self-described "professional white liberal."

There is also a therapist whose sole technique seems to consist of repeating back whatever a patient has just told her.

[Chronicle Rating: man sitting on the edge of his seat, applauding!]

Return to "All the Raves" page