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'Touch of Pink' a too-familiar tale

It's just retread of cliches from gay cinema

TOUCH OF PINK — ** — Jimi Mistry, Kristen Holden-Reid, Kyle MacLachlan; rated R (vulgarity, sex, profanity, ethnic slurs); see Playing at local theaters for theaters.

As one of its characters helpfully notes, "Touch of Pink" is indeed "the oldest story in the book." Well, the oldest story in gay cinema. . . .

While this same-sex-inclined romantic comedy does have its share of silly moments, it's a too-familiar tale — one that's already been told repeatedly in such like-minded comedies as "Better Than Chocolate," "Mambo Italiano" and the controversial "Latter Days."

That already-seen-it feeling the film engenders is just too much to overcome, despite the good-natured attitude and the fact that it is considerably less sex-obsessed than so many of its cinematic siblings.

"Touch of Pink" follows Alim (Jimi Mistry), a London-based photographer who's obsessed with the romance of old Hollywood. He's also in a committed relationship with his live-in lover, Giles (Kristen Holden-Reid). However, Alim has been hiding the fact that he's gay from his tradition-minded mother, Nuru (Suleka Mathew). So he and Giles have to change their living arrangements when she comes to visit.

To get her off his back, Alim also claims to be engaged — to Giles' sister, Delia (Liisa Repo-Martell). But it's apparent that he can't maintain that charade for long.

Among the film's cutesier touches is having Alim receive romantic advice from the spirit of Cary Grant (played by Kyle MacLachlan). It's an homage of sorts to Woody Allen's 1972 film "Play It Again, Sam," in which Allen's character received romantic advice from Humphrey Bogart. But first-time filmmaker Ian Iqbal Rashid uses that comic device to the point of overkill. And MacLachlan's stylings as Grant become pretty tiresome.

Also, the cliched depiction of parents — especially ethnically diverse parents — as being either narrow-minded or intolerant has become a rather painful clich, and this film doesn't really do much to change that.

Still, Mistry is pretty likable as the conflicted leading man, and the supporting cast is solid (especially Brian George, who steals scenes as Alim's cheery uncle).

"Touch of Pink" is rated R for crude sexual talk and innuendo, simulated gay sex and sexual contact (fairly discreet), and scattered use of strong sexual profanity and ethnic slurs. Running time: 92 minutes.