Single All The Way

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Philemon Chambers and Michael Urie in Single All The Way.
Philemon Chambers and Michael Urie in Single All The Way.
Photo: Philippe Bosse/Netflix

MOVIE:

Single All The Way

WHERE TO WATCH:

Netflix

OUR RATING:

3/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

Peter asks his best friend to pose as his boyfriend on a Christmas visit home, but their plan - and feelings - change when his family plays matchmaker.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

Netflix has released its first gay holiday rom-com, Single All The Way.

Desperate not to be the 'single one' at the table, Peter (Ugly Betty's Michael Urie) convinces his oldest and closest friend, Nick (newcomer Philemon Chambers), to join him for the holidays in his hometown as his fake boyfriend. Things get complicated when Peter's mom (Kathy Najimy) sets him up with a handsome local trainer (Luke Macfarlane) shortly after they arrive.

This movie is textbook Christmas cookie-cutter stuff. As Netflix's first gay holiday rom-com, Single All The Way is a vital addition to the streaming giant's ever-expanding vessel of Christmas content. But that doesn't mean it's perfect.

The biggest downfall of this rom-com is the apparent lack of chemistry between Peter and his love interests. By overemphasising every little moment, Urie never really relaxes into anything resembling a natural person, especially in his intimate moments. Chambers, on the other hand, is charming and confident as Nick. The big-screen newcomer did a great job winning me over while winning Peter's family over. As for the supporting cast, Jennifer Coolidge has to get a special mention. Her melodramatic Aunt Sandy is a welcome dose of camp. On the flip side, Peter's family fit well within the 'well-meaning straight people trying to understand gay culture' category. Admittedly, as a heterosexual, I probably fit into that group too, but I found it extremely annoying and forced at times.

The best part of this film is how refreshing it is to see a gay romance that isn't focussed on a conflicted coming out story. Instead, the focus is on a family that are all automatically accepting. Don't get me wrong, coming out stories will always be essential to narrate, especially during this time of year, when many LGBTQI people spend their holidays alone or hiding themselves. But it is also important to see stories that show what it would look like in a more accepting environment. Take last year's Happiest Season, for example. While it was well-received by critics, it relied on a protagonist staying closeted throughout, which felt more disheartening than it did comforting.

Speaking to USA Today about the positive narrative of Single All the Way, Najimy explained that "although we know that this isn't the experience for a lot of LGBTQ people, that it's that easy, that their families and the communities are supportive, I thought it was a great example of what it could be".

In addition, Michael Mayer has managed to show that a gay Christmas movie can be just as clichéd as a straight one. Let's be honest, straight holiday rom-coms aren't realistic at all, but that's the point. They're made to offer a glimpse at a kinder world. So, why couldn't the same be done for gay stories?

Single All The Way is not great, or even good, if you're basing your decision on the criteria film critics would use to evaluate a film. But, for some reason, call it Christmas magic, it still works.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

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