We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Let’s face it. Gay audiences scarf up gay-themed cinema like puppies going after table scraps: Without a hell of a lot to choose from, we’re happy with just about anything. Eating Out, the feature debut from writer-director Q. Allan Brocka, will satisfy many a scraggly craving, but even the hungriest among us shouldn’t confuse it with steak. The plot centers around studly straight guy Caleb (Scott Lunsford), who falls for a sassy little thing named Gwen (Emily Stiles), who herself has eyes only for gay guys. Caleb’s surly gay roomie, Kyle (American Idol’s Jim Verraros) suggests that Caleb play gay in order to win Gwen over. That’s all fine and well until Gwen decides that Caleb is just right for her hunky gay roommate, Marc (Desperate Housewives’ Ryan Carnes)—who, it turns out, is the object of Kyle’s affections. Confused? Who cares? It’s a gay thing. The Three’s Company– on– acid– style plotting provides Eating Out with plenty of opportunities for mischief, and Brocka makes fine use of them all, piling on the camp, full frontal nudity, and ribald humor. (Gwen, for example, defends her, ahem, “positive” attitude by saying, “I couldn’t be any more positive if I was gang-raped in a repository bin at the needle exchange.”) At its best moments, the film is a fun, if somewhat sloppy, send-up of gay men’s sex fantasies (although the extended, er, encounter between Gwen, Caleb, and Marc should be a real turn-on no matter what your sexual persuasion). And though Verraros should stick to singing, Stiles is terrific, and the rest of the cast approaches the material with what the generous would call gusto. Too often, however, the fun and gusto alike are quashed by Brocka’s insistence on showing us he can yap, yap, yap like a Gilmore girl: Such persistent mile-a-minute popspeak as “I don’t think I can have a Molly Ringwald/Anthony Michael Hall speech!” is a recurring irritation. And speaking of Molly Ringwald, why on Earth did Brocka resolve the film’s decidedly loopy setup with a pat happy ending straight out of Sixteen Candles? Doesn’t he know we can take it? (“I will survive,” remember?) Oh, how Eating Out disappoints in the end. But hey, it feeds us nicely for a while, so we’ll go ahead and lick its face anyway.—Mario Correa