Peter and Nick are just friends. Peter’s family knows better.
[“Single All The Way” is the fifth film of my “5 Queer Holiday Films for 2022” post. To read the previous review, “The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls”, click HERE.]
Just from the synopsis alone, I felt that Netflix’s “Single All The Way” would equal some of the other great queer Christmas films. With an incredible cast including Kathy Najimy, Michael Urie, and Jennifer Coolidge, I knew that this would be entertaining. However, it’s the unusual plot twist that really got me excited! Unlike most Christmas films where the single guy gets set up with the man of his dreams while home for the holidays, “Single All The Way” posits the question: what if your perfect match is your best friend, only you just haven’t seen it yet? The end result is a cute, romantic film that leaves you feeling happy – the perfect Christmas film ending! So let’s break down what Netflix did right.
Synopsis of “Single All The Way”
Desperate to avoid his family’s judgment about his perpetual single status, Peter (Michael Urie) convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to join him for the holidays and pretend that they’re now in a relationship. But when Peter’s mother (Kathy Najimy) sets him up on a blind date with her handsome trainer James (Luke Macfarlane) the plan goes awry.
Frankly, there really isn’t much I could find wrong with “Single All The Way” – even if I get real nit-picky! Sure, I can rehash some of the things that other reviewers found wrong with Netflix’s first queer Christmas film. Some found that the storyline was simply too gay (usually from folks who are rather homophobic) or used cliche stereotypes (gay men can’t have relationships, married men cheating, etc). Others couldn’t get past the cliche tropes from nearly every other Christmas romcom film such as the best friends become lovers, family meddling with their kid’s romantic lives, and more. Are these elements present in “Single All The Way”? Perhaps – but frankly they didn’t bother me! Part of that is because while many of these are common tropes – in straight heterosexual holiday films. But by featuring a gay couple at it’s heart among a family who’s accepting of their gay son, it’s a fresh welcome addition to the Christmas film oeuvre.
So what did Netflix do right with “Single All The Way”? Just about everything! Visually, the film is stunning and uses an abundance of Christmas decorations without going overboard. Heck, hanging Christmas lights and the decorating are even used as a gag throughout the film. Nick volunteers to help hang Christmas lights further impressing Peter’s family, Peter ends up swapping Carol’s artificial Christmas tree that no one but her likes for a real tree, and of course, the two boys helping out with his aunt’s Christmas pageant is the family’s attempts to force them to realise they should be together. However, it’s not just the Christmas decor that the production team got right. The camera angles work and help elevate this film in a way that makes it better than the typical low-budget Hallmark-esque holiday film.
Granted, casting well known actors & actresses already made that quite evident! I absolutely loved that we get to see Luke Macfarlane (known for starring in Hallmark films) play a gay man instead of the straight leading man! In fact, it was a condition of Michael Urie that all three of the leading gay men were played by actual gay actors in order to create realistic portrayals. And it works out quite well! All three have great chemistry together and create some magical moments. And even though it’s clear from early on who will end up with Nick, James actually makes great boyfriend material – creating even more of a dilemma for Nick who eventually has to choose. And it’s within some of these tender moments where we saw their acting skills put to work, along with some excellent directing by Michael Mayer.
But let’s not forget the rest of the talented cast. Jennifer Coolidge as crazy Aunt Sally was a hoot, even though she seemed drunk in every scene and wasn’t the best director. But we cannot overlook the amazing talent of Kathy Najimy. Her quirkiness fits the wacky fondness for Christmas of “Christmas Carol” perfectly, yet balanced out by Barry Bostwick as her husband. Jennifer Robertson’s character of Lisa is a bit similar to her character from Schitt’s Creek, but that zaniness fits in perfectly with everyone else. The cast alone was enough for many folks to tune in when it aired; but the fact that they work so great together was an added bonus.
But it’s the script that really shines in this queer Christmas film. Writer Chad Hodge, takes some classic holiday film & romcom tropes and both mixes them up and turns them upside down to create “Single All The Way”. Yes, it was very obvious after Peter begs Nick to come home with him and pretend to be boyfriends that they would end up as actually boyfriends later on. But it’s the fact that Peter’s family not only catch on that they should be together, but that they’ve been saying this all along makes the plot unique. However, it’s actually not until his mom stops trying to put the two of them together and sets up the blind date for Peter, that they both start looking at each other as potential boyfriends. With a bit of help from his family, of course! Thankfully, despite some cliche plot bits at its heart, Hodge’s writing thankfully elevates them to a point where it doesn’t bother me at all.
“Single All The Way”, Netflix’s first LGBTQ Christmas film, takes an impressive cast, a couple of typical holiday romcom tropes, amazing writing, and weaves it all together to create a magical film that is simply better than most of what Hallmark puts out! However it’s the strong acting of our three male leads that make this film utterly enjoyable. So if you have not yet watched this queer holiday film, I strongly advise that you stop what you’re doing and add “Single All The Way” to your watch list today! I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as I do.
Queer Relevance of “Single All The Way”
Netflix has already long ago given us LGBTQ characters in their films and series, however it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t until 2021 that they gave us “Single All The Way” that we had our first gay Christmas romcom! I will always celebrate more diversity and greater representation of LGBTQ stories in films. However this queer Christmas film is important for another reason: they cast actual gay actors in the lead roles! While many folks have remarked that if you’re a good enough actor, a straight actor can play gay character accurately and equally a gay actor can play a straight character convincingly. Except the sad reality is that Hollywood continues to look over out LGBTQ actors & actresses. So for a film to throw that out the window and cast appropriately is wonderful to see.