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Friday, May 12, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

"Adam & Steve": A year of bliss, and then 1987 rears its ugly head

Special to The Seattle Times

Not many comedies could survive the scatological joke that caps a preface to "Adam & Steve." Nor could they go on to become a winning directorial debut.

But that's what happens in this film by Craig Chester, the long-faced actor who has made a solid name for himself in independent cinema ("Swoon," "Grief").

Movie review 3 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"Adam & Steve," with Craig Chester, Malcolm Gets, Chris Kattan, Parker Posey. Written and directed by Chester. 100 minutes. Not rated; contains sexual content, language. Harvard Exit.

Chester wrote and directed the clever, liberatingly silly and sweet "Adam & Steve," casting himself as Adam, an anxious, Central Park guide who enjoys a yearlong romance with Steve, a hunky psychiatrist (Malcolm Gets).

During that year, the two men, in their late 30s, seem to sail through all the usual trials of a new relationship. They meet one another's families and best friends, set up house and talk through fears of commitment. But none of this is ordinary: Chester doesn't let any opportunity go by to mine a scene both for poignancy and farce.

Steve brushes aside Adam's warnings that his parents live under some sort of curse, but Adam isn't kidding.

His folks (Paul Sand, Julie Hagerty) are prone to frequent bodily injury, while their wall hangings mysteriously crash to pieces during dinner. Steve's straight best friend, played very well by Chris Kattan, is a graceless pig who offends Adam's close pal, Rhonda (Parker Posey), a once-obese comedian who hasn't updated her old repertoire of fat jokes. Of course, the two fall in love.

The great gimmick in "Adam & Steve" is this: After a perfect year together, the two men realize they met before on a disastrous night in 1987, when they were vacuous slaves to fashion and their date was spoiled by cocaine and diarrhea. (The moment when Adam grasps this fact is superbly directed, with comic understatement.)

One way or another, the past puts pressure on love's future. "Adam & Steve" faces it with a mix of earnestness and absurdity.

Tom Keogh: tomwkeogh@yahoo.com

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