The Trip

Ten tumultuous years in the history of the gay rights movement serve as the backdrop for this warm, engaging romantic comedy from writer-director Miles Swain. Tommy (Steve Braun) and Alan (Larry Sullivan) first meet in 1973 at a swinging boys-only party thrown by influential lawyer Peter (Ray Baker). Alan is writing a history of the "homosexual lifestyle,"...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Ten tumultuous years in the history of the gay rights movement serve as the backdrop for this warm, engaging romantic comedy from writer-director Miles Swain. Tommy (Steve Braun) and Alan (Larry Sullivan) first meet in 1973 at a swinging boys-only party thrown by influential lawyer Peter (Ray Baker). Alan is writing a history of the "homosexual lifestyle," and when he learns that Tommy is active in the gay lib movement, Alan invites him over for dinner. Tommy shows up for what he thinks is a date, but quickly figures out that Alan not only has a girlfriend, Beverly (Sirena Irwin), but is an active member of the Young Republicans. The evening abruptly ends when Tommy unsuccessfully puts the moves on Alan, but the encounter leaves Alan questioning his sexuality and, straight or not, wanting more. A difficult courtship follows, but Alan and Tommy are soon inseparable. When Alan's editor, Larry (Dennis Bailey), tells him the cultural climate just isn't right for his book, "The Straight Truth," Alan is actually relieved; he realizes now that his arch-conservative diatribe was really nothing more than the anti-gay musing of a self-loathing closet-case. Flash forward to 1977. Disco has moved out of gay clubs and into the mainstream, Anita Bryant has mounted her anti-gay "Save Our Children" crusade, and Tommy and Alan have been together for nearly four years. Still jealous of their relationship, Peter underhandedly pressures Larry into publishing "The Straight Truth," then leaks the fact this controversial best-seller's anonymous author is Alan, the lover of a prominent gay rights activist, to the press. The revelation is too much for Tommy to handle, and he walks out. The third act is set in 1984. The scourge of AIDS has already radically transformed the gay landscape and Alan, now a prominent gay activist himself, gets a surprise visit from Beverly bearing news of Tommy: He's very sick, and needs Alan's help. As the times continue to change, Tommy once again helps Alan realize the better part of his true self. Swain's real achievement here lies in the way he's able to reflect momentous societal shifts through his characters' behavior and still make it dramatically convincing. Passing years are marked by snippets of carefully chosen newsreel footage — watch for the famous moment in which Bryant gets a banana-cream facial; it's still gratifying after all these years — and the imaginative costumes and production design help capture the tenor of the times. A great soundtrack — "Bang a Gong," "Shambala" and "Destination Unknown" all figure prominently — completes the picture.

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  • Released: 2003
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Ten tumultuous years in the history of the gay rights movement serve as the backdrop for this warm, engaging romantic comedy from writer-director Miles Swain. Tommy (Steve Braun) and Alan (Larry Sullivan) first meet in 1973 at a swinging boys-only party th… (more)

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