Released: 2nd December
Seen: 6th December
Last year the Christmas film Happiest Season came out to rave reviews, as it should. It was a simple, sweet, charming Christmas film that also broke boundaries by being a wide release Christmas film that featured a gay couple. Strangely, Christmas films focusing on members of the LGBT community either have to be little underground affairs that don’t get big releases by major companies… well, Netflix clearly wanted to try and correct that by making their own gay Christmas film, Single All The Way. I guess it’s nice to know that we’re getting to the point where gay Christmas films can just be as cliched as the straight ones.
Single All The Way follows Peter (Michael Urie), a social media strategist who is facing a dilemma. Once again, he will be forced to go home for Christmas as a single man, the way he does every year which always leads to his family giving him strife for it. This year he did plan on bringing a real boyfriend, but that turned out to be a dud when he learned that said boyfriend was actually married with a wife SO his new plan is to get his roommate Nick (Philemon Chambers) to be his fake boyfriend for the holidays.
This plan would work, except before they can say a word it turns out that Peter’s mother Carole (Kathy Najimy) has set Peter up on a blind date with a local man named James (Luke Macfarlane). So, now there’s a new problem, namely that everyone else in the family can see that Peter and Nick actually do really like each other and just need a push to be together. It’s your classic “Family meddles in someone’s love life at Christmas” story, only gay.
To say Single All The Way is cliche would be underselling it, it feels like they just took an actual old Hallmark script and changed a few pronouns (which probably explains the casting of Luke Macfarlane who comes standard with your average Hallmark Christmas movie). It’s charming and inoffensive enough to play at just about any time of day to any audience without it mattering that much. It’s not exactly memorable, not awful either. It’s a big ball of sweet, adorable fluff that manages to do a few things that are genuinely impressive and important without pushing too many boundaries.
Of course I know you’re probably re-reading the description and going “Wait, so they set it up to be about these two pretending to be boyfriends and then abandon that almost instantly?”. Yes, absolutely. You can almost tell that Single All The Way is a Frankenstein of different ideas that come from different “made for TV” movies and just kind of throws them together without care.
Just for fun, some of these ideas include a pageant going on in the background that our main couple have to save, you’ve got the “my family is driving me nuts” story, the actually cute dates between Peter and James that feel like they’re leading to something… this kind of setup might work if they were parodying these story ideas but they’re not, they’re playing this 100% straight which is ironic, considering it’s about a gay couple. Indeed, it’s a genuinely great thing that this is a gay holiday romance between an interracial couple which we haven’t seen before, but beyond the social importance of the material there’s just kind of nothing there… most of the time.
Single All The Way’s secret weapon is the side character of Aunt Sandy, played by the gay icon Jennifer Coolidge, and boy oh boy does Netflix know that this is the part that saves the entire film. Jennifer turns up randomly throughout Single All The Way as the director of the local pageant and is clearly the only person who gets how this kind of film should be done… namely, as camp as humanly possible, which is just what Jennifer does naturally. She barely even has to try to deliver gloriously high camp with her performances, she single-handedly makes the movie into a must see because you have got to witness this icon doing what only a true icon can do.
Other than Jennifer though, everyone else is kind of just going with the flow. There’s no real big stand out moments or scenes that get a particularly big laugh, Single All The Way is just kind of constantly sweet and sincere with no highs or lows to speak about. Sure, we can praise it for being a gay film that isn’t about coming out (which Happiest Season was, though Happiest Season also had more jokes and genuinely great performances by everyone) but even with that praise it’s still just kind of average most of the time. It would be nice if it was something special, it has the kind of cast I would hope could deliver a big bright fun Christmas film but with the exception of Our Lady Of Perpetual Perfection Jennifer Coolidge (whomst we stan) no one really brings it to this.
Single All The Way is a Hallmark movie for an audience looking to show solidarity for their gay relative who always feels left out of the tradition of turning on an average Christmas movie on in the background while everyone eats their dinner… it’s not memorable beyond one performance, but it tries to do something that hopefully becomes a trend. I’d love to be able to talk about a gay Christmas movie every year, even ones that’re just average harmless affairs like this.