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Note: This movie review is one of the films in my Top 5 Queer Holiday Film 2019

Someone – somewhere – decided that all Christmas movies are supposed to be whimsical, charming, and heartwarming.  “Make the Yuletide Gay” nails that brief perfectly; it is a cute, colorful story about family, boyfriends, and the holidays – with quite a lot of comedy too! Since discovering this film, it has become a regular holiday movie to watch.

Still from "Make The Yuletide Gay" - Olaf is on the phone with his mother, while trying to say goodbye to his boyfriend Nathan

Synopsis of “Make the Yuletide Gay”

The premise of “Make The Yuletide Gay” is rather simple. After finishing his last final before heading home for Christmas, Olaf (Keith Jordan) briefly meets up with his boyfriend, Nathan (Adamo Ruggiero), to exchange one last gift before they each go their separate ways; Olaf to his midwestern eccentric parents, and Nathan to his East Coast elite parents. But their meet is interrupted and cut short by a call from Olaf’s mother, Anya (Kelly Keaton), that forces Olaf to get driving sooner because “you cannot keep Anya Gunnunderson waiting!” However, once Olaf heads out, Nathan gets a phone call from his parents telling him that there’s been a change of plans – they’re going on a Christmas cruise. Without him. Dejected, as this is all too common from his parents who don’t seem to care much about him anymore, Nathan decides to surprise Olaf instead!

Meanwhile Olaf has arrived at home, after a quick change of clothes into “boring”, “straight” looking attire. Anya welcomes him with full festive cheer and quirkiness that both makes you cringe and laugh. Kelly Keaton is wonderful in her role as Anya, the eccentric, quirky mother who has to decorate EVERYTHING in the household for the holidays. But let’s not forget Olaf’s father, Sven (Derek Long), who is equally quirky – he’s the intelligent, philosophical university professor who enjoys getting stoned on pot and often forgets what he’s saying mid-sentence! Together, the two of them are such a contrast to Olaf that that alone provides much of the comedy. It doesn’t take Anya too long before she’s starting to meddle in Olaf’s relationships, as the next door neighbour (and Olaf’s high school girlfriend) Abby (Hallee Hirsh) “suddenly” arrives at the door!

The surprise twist of this film is that Olaf, despite being out and proud on campus, is not out to his parents – which Nathan isn’t aware! So it’s QUITE the surprise to Olaf when Nathan shows up the following morning at the front door – answered by Sven who’s wearing only a bathrobe… hanging wide open. Which of course leads one of Nathan’s many quirky comedic lines, “I see the family resemblance!” Olaf immediately intervenes and introduces his “roommate” and attempts to figure everything out and tell Nathan what’s going on – but Anya is right there to intervene, while also telling Nathan that Olaf spent the night before with his “girlfriend” Abbey. Nathan very quickly realizes the situation, and is in utter shock that Olaf isn’t out to his parents. Thus, we have our first heart to heart talk between the two about why – Olaf is afraid that his parent’s wouldn’t love him once they know, and it “just hasn’t come up” or “been the right time.” Olaf is relaying all of what most of us have dealt with at one point or other, the right time to tell your parents that you’re gay.

Once this all unfolds, the story really get’s good and hysterical. Nathan is fully welcomed in by Anya & Sven, and even gets to share the bunk bed in Olaf’s room – which is a cute interchange itself regarding who’s “on top” or “on bottom!” As they finish getting ready for the holidays, there’s an abundance of comedy as Anya continues to try and hook Olaf up with Anya, but at the same time both her and Sven are making comments that are vaguely omnipotent. How Olaf (and later Nathan too, because Anya is quite the nosy mother!) needs to “find the right girl” so that he won’t end up having to share a home like the “charming hairdresser down the road who had to take in a roommate…”; Always showing up right in the middle of Olaf and Nathan’s brief attempts at romance; and more.

Eventually, Abbey discovers that Olaf and Nathan are gay and together – and she’s totally fine with it. But her knowing gives us some of our heartfelt moments. Nathan cannot understand why Olaf hasn’t told his parents he’s gay as they both seem accepting. Abbey explains it a bit more, but also tells Nathan that he needs to give Olaf time. Unfortunately right after this, Nathan gets a phone call from his father reminding him that he is just a guest and not part of their family, and that there are things to be done at the estate at home. Nathan ends up leaving to head home on Christmas Eve, which is a hard scene to watch because Olaf clearly doesn’t want Nathan to leave – especially knowing that he is going home to an empty house. But Nathan hurts Olaf a bit, saying that he feels like an outsider – Olaf’s parents think he’s just Olaf’s roommate and it’s bothering him. He goes so far to remark that even if they were with his parents, which isn’t an ideal option, they at least would know who Olaf is.

The next day, Olaf has another mother/son talk and Sven comes across Nathan sitting in a cafe. We discover that Nathan couldn’t get a flight home that day so Sven invites him back home saying “If you can’t be with your family, you can be with ours.” As expected, Olaf is quite enjoyed when his dad shows up with Nathan in tow and apologizes for what he said, adding that he will tell his parents that he is gay and why Nathan is special to him. And our hearts melt a little as Nathan tells him, don’t do it because of me but do it for you.

Christmas Day is nearly perfect, especially after the drama the day before. Anya and Sven exchange gifts and display a romance that everyone can hope to have – and where Olaf & Sven sneak in a quick hand grip and romantic look that says, I’d be kissing you too. Anya evens gives Nathan a gift, a stocking full of candy canes. Simple, but Anya tells him that you have to have something to open on Christmas. This scene will melt your heart because it’s exactly the type of “first Christmas” with the folks we all would love to experience.

It’s after Christmas dinner, and a remark from Anya about finding the right girl, when Olaf decides to tell his parent’s. He even notes that he needs to get angry if he’s going to get it out – but tells his parent’s that he’s gay, and that Nathan is his boyfriend not roommate. We get a bit of tension – for both Anya and Sven go quiet and blank faced, as Anya gets up, walks over to Sven who then gets up himself and starts to leave the room – except he’s only going to get money, which he hands to Anya. She then blurts out “Told ya so!” It’s quickly and comically clear that they have known all along that Olaf was gay – which then gives many of the sexual related jokes throughout the film even funnier. When Olaf asks since when, they note since Sophmore year… of high school! In the end, they both tell Olaf they love him always and are proud that he told them. Olaf goes upstairs to change, we have a few more funny quips from Anya, and end the film with a kiss between Olaf and Nathan. Finally!

Still from "Make The Yuletide Gay" - Anya & Sven, Olaf's eccentric parents look at each other while opening gifts on Christmas morning

The Good

The script of “Make The Yuletide Gay” is chock full of comedic lines and situational humour. Are they cheesy or cliche at times? Perhaps, but the director and the talented cast are able to bring them to life with smoothness and perfect timing. The cast might not be well known, outside other independent films, but they are amazingly talented; each character is realistic, believable, and fits the character.

Cinematographically, while this isn’t a major studio production, you don’t notice. The song choices are quite fitting and add nice transition; sound editing is on par. The camera work is smooth and steady, with nicely framed shots. And “Make The Yuletide Gay” is full of colour and Christmas cheer – a perfect setting for his holiday rom-com!

The Bad

Honestly, there is very little wrong with “Make The Yuletide Gay”. Is it an oscar winning script? No – BUT, it doesn’t need to be. It’s a simple, cute film that makes your heart melt and is perfect addition to the holiday movie oeuvre.

Still from "Make The Yuletide Gay" - Nathan and Olaf lean in, trying to capture the moment alone

“Make the Yuletide Gay” lives up to it’s title. It’s the perfect, cute & charming queer Christmas film that will get any Scrooge in a cheerier mood. It’s one of my seasonal classics, and is perfect to watch while cuddled up in front of a fire with a cup of cocoa.

Queer Relevance of “Make the Yuletide Gay”

“Make The Yuletide Gay” features two gay leads in a romantic relationship, while also having to deal with the fears and issues with coming out, parents who aren’t or might not be accepting – I think this film is quite full of Christmas queer – I mean,…. cheer!