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Kiss Me Guido

Directed by Tony Vitale. Starring Nick Scotti, Anthony Barrile, Anthony Desando, Craig Chester. (1997, R, 91 min.)

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Aug. 29, 1997

Stereotypes abound in Kiss Me Guido: Jewish women are sexually frustrated, Italian-American mothers are hysterical, artistes are pretentious, gay men are bitchy, and Guidos are Guidos. (For the politically correct, a “Guido” is a guy given to wearing gold chains and saying “Yo!”) But because everyone's fair game in this equal-opportunity farce, there's little here to truly offend anyone. In fact, the film's biggest shortcoming is that its caricatured strokes aren't broad enough; it lacks the slam-bang energy of the comically grotesque. The improbable plot of Kiss Me Guido finds a very straight Italian boy from the Bronx who aspires to be an actor (he quotes Pacino, De Niro, and Pesci) becoming the roommate of an openly gay, out-of-work actor in Manhattan who is desperate for someone with whom to share the rent. Their cultural clash is, of course, inevitable, as are the friendship and respect that eventually develop between them. And before you can say 42nd Street, you know that the Guido will step in for the injured Gaydo as the lead in a godawful off-off-Broadway play in which he has to screw up the courage to actually kiss a man! Although slight and predictable, Kiss Me Guido is not without a pedigree (Christine Vachon -- the producer of Swoon, Poison, I Shot Andy Warhol, and Go Fish -- co-produced with Ira Deutchman, the former president of arthouse distributor Fine Line). Furthermore, to its credit, the fact that Paramount Pictures is distributing the film is really something when you think about it -- can you imagine such a thing just a few years ago? Though this pleasant, if unchallenging, movie experience doesn't go out far enough on any limb to ruffle anyone's feathers, it comes closest when Chester is onscreen doing his acid-tongued, best-friend schtick. All dark roots and attitude, he's the movie's Eve Arden, swishing in and out of frame as he lets the bon mots fly. If Chester's character had his way, you can bet that Kiss Me Guido would be more than just a buss on the cheek.

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