Paramount Studios presents
Kiss Me, Guido (1997)
"He's not the queerest boy in the world, Warren."- Dakota (Christopher Lawford)
Stars: Nick Scotti, Anthony Barrile
Other Stars: Molly Price, Anthony de Sando, Christopher Lawford
Director: Tony Vitale
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality and strong language
Run Time: 01h:28m:51s
Release Date: 2001-01-09
DVD ReviewKiss Me, Guido tells the story of one Frankie Zito (Nick Scotti), a tough-talking, none-too-bright Italian-American kid who idolizes Pacino, de Niro, Travolta and Stallone, dreaming of an acting career. Anxious to move out of his family's home after breaking up with his erstwhile fiancee, he answers a classified ad and meets Warren (Anthony Barrile), a gay actor and choreographer in need of a roommate. Unfortunately, the naïve Frankie misinterprets the ad's "GWM" to mean "guy with money", and complications ensue as Frankie and Warren learn to fit into and cope with each other's worlds.
Writer/director Tony Vitale makes some serious errors in his debut feature, mostly due to his script's sitcom-ish flavor. Too many scenes are pulled back from the brink of genuine emotion by ill-timed jokes, and the stereotyped characterizations seem designed to offend Italian-Americans and homosexuals alike. For every genuinely funny moment, there are two or three that strain for a gag that's just not worth the effort—Frankie and his brother Pino (Anthony DeSando) confuse "pawn shop" with "porn shop," for instance, and a lengthy phone conversation between Pino and his one-afternoon stand Meryl (Molly Price) depends entirely on an undefined "it" which means "engagement ring" to Meryl and "unwanted baby" to Pino. Most lines sound nothing like anything anyone would ever really say, none of the characters possess functioning "gay-dar," and the film often feels like a few episodes of "must see TV" hastily spliced into feature form.
So why did I still find this film so enjoyable? Perhaps because Vitale's cast is having a grand time, playing these cardboard characters with energy, attitude and humor that lends a certain theatrical credibility to the farcical proceedings. Maybe because the catty exchanges between Warren's gay friends are frequently funny, if not particularly meaningful; maybe because Frankie's knee-jerk homophobia is closer to reality than it seems at first glance. It might just be the fact that Frankie slicks his hair back and resorts to quoting lyrics from Grease when he can't find words of his own.
At any rate, the film ultimately works better than it has any right to. Vitale as director has a good sense of comedy pacing and manages to find the humanity in his material, saving it from the wreckage that might have been. It's hardly radical to suggest that (gasp!) straight and gay men might be able to co-exist on peaceful terms, but it's fun to watch Frankie and Warren figure that out for themselves. There have been better, more substantial movies made on this subject, but Kiss Me, Guido is surprisingly watchable, and the absence of any genuinely sexual content may make it accessible to a wider audience. Kiss Me, Guido peddles obvious truths in a slick, inoffensive package—and somehow gets away with it.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Kiss Me, Guido is presented in its original 1.85:1 theatrical widescreen aspect ratio, with a solid anamorphic transfer drawn from a clean source print. There's a little bit of shimmer on thin edges here and there, but detail is sharp, color and black level are solid, and Paramount continues the studio's tradition of making low-budget comedy look great on DVD.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: Paramount presents Kiss Me, Guido with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well as a Dolby 2.0 Surround track. The film was originally released in Ultra-Stereo (the low-end Dolby Surround-compatible system), so the front-oriented 2.0 mix matches the theatrical presentation; the 5.1 track sounds very similar, though noticeably stronger bass is used nicely in a scene where loud music can only be "felt" through a closed apartment door. Both tracks suffer from slightly obscured dialogue in a few scenes, and neither soundtrack goes much beyond the centered-dialogue/stereo-music comedy standard, but the film sounds as good as it's likely to sound on DVD.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Tony Vitale
Extras Review: Paramount's disc features 12 picture-menu chapter stops, English subtitles, and a commentary by writer/director Tony Vitale. Vitale comes up with some interesting anecdotes about the production process, and he has an appreciation for the rewind and freeze-frame capabilities of the DVD format. He goes silent from time to time, and most of his stories are fairly mundane, but it's still an entertaining track, and enough to bring this otherwise featureless disc's grade up a bit.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsKiss Me, Guido is a contrived, stereotyped but still entertaining culture-clash comedy, presented with a fine DVD transfer by Paramount. No masterpiece, this, but worth a rental.
Dale Dobson 2001-01-10