In Coffee Date, heterosexual Todd (Jonathan Bray) has been set up on an Internet blind date by his brother Barry (Jonathan Silverman), but when he arrives for his tryst--at "Romancing the Bean"--he realizes that the "Kelly" he has fallen for in cyberspace is actually a guy (Wilson Cruz). And oh, the (non)hilarity that ensues!
This is the kind of film that makes you think some gay indie writer-directors need to get out of the house more often. Stewart Wade has fashioned a winsomely quirky comedy that might have been made 20 years ago (at least), so been there/done that is the feel of the entire enterprise. The roots of his basic mistaken-identity premise go back beyond Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner, but how lacking in real wit and radiant human feeling this is by comparison. Old movies (both Todd and Kelly natter on about their love of Milos Forman and Ingmar Bergman double features) and being queer seem to be Wade's paltry, only interests, which doesn't set him apart from scores of other gay auteurs. Despite 35-year-old Todd's interminable protests, everyone from his brother and mother (Sally Kirkland, at her most unappetizingly overwrought) to his co-workers to Kelly's entire circle firmly believe he's gay-gay-GAY. I only reiterate the word to underline the heavy-handedness of Wade's farcical technique. And, of course, in this lamely idealized Los Angeles, no one really has a problem with his sexuality, including his boss (Leigh Taylor-Young), who practically does backflips of politically correct approval.
You are made to swallow large doses of implausibility here, including Kelly's own inability to hook up, despite the fact that Cruz has honed his formerly doughy self into buff muscularity, and his character runs a sizzlingly successful salon/spa. All of the other gay characters are strictly mincing stereotypes, Franklin Pangborns in Banana Republic. When even Barry turns (unconvincingly) gay, Wade cartoonishly has him prancing about in hot pink spandex and a spiked collar. (No one, gay or straight, has ever dressed like that.) The only unpredictable element here is that Todd remains straight-even after a night with Kelly-but the complexities of any kind of truthful friendship between the two men are way beyond Wade's capabilities.
Bray and Cruz manage to forge creditable, sometimes even affecting performances out of this junk, but theirs is a losing histrionic battle. Former pop star Deborah Gibson has a dry wryness as Kelly's roommate, but does any actual woman ever really refer to herself as a "fag hag" when being introduced?