Eric D. Snider

Touch of Pink

The "gay son comes out to his parents" film has been made, oh, a million times now, and the "son or daughter raised in a modern society rebels against his or her parents' old-world ways" film has been made, oh, two million times. Now we're starting to see overlaps. Now there are films where maybe a Muslim guy living in Ohio has to tell his strictly traditional parents that not only is he not very hardcore on the Islam thing anymore, but he's gay, too.

"Mambo Italiano" did it with old-fashioned Italian families last year, and now "Touch of Pink" takes care of the Muslims. The appeal for directors and writers in combining these subjects is obvious, because some of the jokes must write themselves: Is Mom more upset that Junior is gay, or that Junior's boyfriend isn't a Muslim?

Mom doesn't even know Junior IS gay for most of "Touch of Pink," a cute, ineffectual film that breaks absolutely no new ground but enjoys itself as it skips down the familiar paths. He is Alim (Jimi Mistry), a photographer in his late 20s living with his boyfriend Giles (Kristen Holden-Reid) in London. Alim's cousin is about to get married back home in Toronto, and with Alim apparently having no prospects of following suit anytime soon, his mother Nuru (Suleka Mathew) flies to England to reconnect with her son, boss him around, take control of his life, and find out why he's not producing grandchildren for her.

Alim wants to hide his sexual identity from Mom, a plan which Giles is surprisingly willing to go along with. She finds out eventually, of course, and the expected anger, denial, acceptance and hilarity ensue. All that is a given, and writer/director Ian Iqbal Rashid, in his first feature, handles everything competently but without much flavor.

His one master stroke -- and it really is wonderful -- is having Alim aided in all his decisions by the spirit of Cary Grant, played to enthusiastic perfection by Kyle MacLachlan. Alim grew up watching Grant's films, and now he imagines the dead actor observing, commenting on and guiding his life. The amusing part is that all of Cary Grant's suggestions, when followed, make Alim's life complicated and silly -- just like a Cary Grant movie, in other words. (Cary Grant is completely in favor of having Giles' sister pretend to be Alim's fiancee, for example.) I love MacLachlan's performance, and I wish it had been in a better movie.

The central cast is fine, and would be better if they had anything to do that was more demanding than your average mediocre sitcom. The problem is that the film has big ideas, but Rashid never treats them bigly. The whimsical musical score is overactive, punctuating each and every bit of merriment, and when the movie thinks it's being "serious," all it's really doing is being slightly less whimsical. It's too light and fluffy -- and not funny enough -- to be remembered, especially since another movie just like it will come along in a few months anyway.

Grade: C+

Rated R, a little profanity, some vulgarity, some moderate sexuality. Should have been PG-13.

1 hr., 30 min.

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