Cary Grant helps a gay man in derivative ‘Touch of Pink’

  • By Robert Horton / Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, August 5, 2004 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Back when Woody Allen put an imaginary Humphrey Bogart into his scenario for “Play It Again, Sam,” he couldn’t have dreamed that a similar concept would be appropriated for a gay movie 30 years later.

But not with Bogart. This time it’s Cary Grant, or the ghost of Cary Grant or something, manifesting himself in the life of the hero of “Touch of Pink.”

The late Mr. Grant introduces himself to the camera in the opening sequence of “Touch of Pink,” ably embodied by iron-jawed Kyle MacLachlan. If MacLachlan doesn’t always have the distinctive voice down, he certainly has studied the mannerisms (and sports the big black-framed eyeglasses).

Grant has come into the life of Alim (Jimi Mistry) a gay man in London of South Asian heritage. His family back in Toronto doesn’t know he’s gay, and his cheerfully dominating mother (Suleka Mathew), a very traditional mom, would not be happy to find out.

Still, there she is on his doorstep, visiting London for the express purpose of hauling him back to Canada to attend the wedding of a cousin – a cousin who is fulfilling all the requirements of his parents’ very old-fashioned expectations.

London is a disaster. Amil tries to pass off his live-in boyfriend Giles as a buddy, and pretend Giles’ sister is his fiance. She’s obviously not a Muslim, but at least she’s female. Eventually, all sorts of things come flying out of the closet.

The plot seems awfully similar to Ang Lee’s comedy “The Wedding Banquet,” with a South Asian family substituting for Chinese. The new wrinkle is the dapper presence of Cary Grant, who consistently fills Amil’s head with circa-1956 advice on how to hide his true character. (The title is a play on “That Touch of Mink,” a 1962 comedy with Grant and Doris Day.)

I enjoyed the one-liners from Cary, including his withering assessment of Toronto’s lack of glamour. The movie has more of a problem with its ostensible hero, Alim, who’s such a spineless drip that it’s hard to get involved in his dilemma.

The standout performer is Suleka Mathew, who makes a thoroughgoing delight out of Alim’s meddlesome mom. She takes a somewhat stock character and makes her a busy, ultimately sympathetic woman.

“Touch of Pink” was written and directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid, who shows a light touch himself with throwaway comedy. With a more original idea, he won’t need to lean on Cary Grant anymore.

“Touch of Pink” HH

Light touch: A gay man of South Asian heritage barricades himself in the closet when his meddlesome mom calls him home to Toronto for a traditional wedding. He gets witty advice from the ghost of Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan). The movie has a light touch, if not much originality.

Rated: R rating is for language, subject matter.

Now showing: Harvard Exit.

“Touch of Pink” HH

Light touch: A gay man of South Asian heritage barricades himself in the closet when his meddlesome mom calls him home to Toronto for a traditional wedding. He gets witty advice from the ghost of Cary Grant (Kyle MacLachlan). The movie has a light touch, if not much originality.

Rated: R rating is for language, subject matter.

Now showing: Harvard Exit.

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