Director: Michael Mayer
Not going to bury the lede. Single All the Way (2021) is the gay-starring romcom for the holidays that Netflix's DataTron3000 realized would do quite well for clicks as it would serve a perpetually underserved audience. The probably good news is that it is not trying to either fit the Hallmark mold, nor is it a Hallmark spoof. It's its own, stand-alone, comedy movie.
I am already aware that it is also a YMMV affair, as are many-a-comedy, as I've had one pal weigh in with a "that sucked" response, and - hey - you probably do not want my opinion of your favorite comedy. Unless it's Young Frankenstein. Or anything with Madeline Kahn.*
In general, and partially because I've been taking in so much gentle "comedy" on Hallmark (and Netflix) the past several days, this movie seemed positively innovative. I'm also a fan of a lot of the supporting cast. I'm old enough that Kathy Najimy is playing the mom to grown adults. Barry Bostwick plays the dad. Jennifer Robertson (Jocelyn on Schitt's Creek) plays the lead's sister. And, of course, Jennifer Coolidge as the wild card aunt trying to put on a Christmas pageant. For you Hallmark viewers, yes, that one guy was in a bunch of Hallmark movies, and his name is Luke Macfarlane.
The movie catches our lead, Peter (Michael Urie), as he's realizing maybe his LA cool career is played out, and his attempts at romance are a disaster. His best pal and platonic roommate, Nick (Philemon Chambers), had one success of a kid's book and is now a Task Rabbiter. Pondering a Hallmark-style scam that Peter show off Nick as his boyfriend - all of that falls apart the minute Nick and Peter arrive in New Hampshire and Peter's mom (Kathy Najimy) has set him up on a blind date with her trainer.
Anyway, it's a sweet, good-natured movie where a guy can still get along with him family that may get things wrong, but are endlessly supportive (and you don't need to be gay to get that one, I can tell you). The conflicts is mostly man-vs-himself for Peter. And Jennifer Coolidge trying to put together her pageant.
There's plenty to like here, especially the teen-daughters' whispery scheming. But mostly the cast manages to feel buyable as a family. And I very much appreciated Barry Bostwick's seemingly bumbling dad who sort of has stuff figured out and knows its best to just play it cool. Co-star Philemon Chambers has done near nothing on screen, is really solid. He's young and I expect this may just be the start for the guy.
Anyhoo, it's not going to get nominated for an Oscar, but in a season of movies with absurd set-ups and characters who seem like they're more hitting marks on a set than acting - this movie at least features a buyable pair for romance who seem like interesting characters having buyable conversations. And the set-up here is just goofy enough to be a romantic comedy, but it doesn't seem it shook out of a machine.
And, hey, we got to see Jennifer Robertson again, and the final tableau of Jennifer Coolidge's Christmas pageant will be locked in my mind forever.
*speaking, of - out of nowhere, this movie references Madeline Kahn's role in Clue in the first five minutes