[“Too Cool for Christmas” is the second film of my “5 Queer Christmas Films for 2021” post. To read the next review, “The Christmas Setup”, click HERE. To read the previous review, “Anna and the Apocalypse“, click HERE.]
“Too Cool for Christmas” is not actually cool – in any way. This made-for-TV film is a bit of a weird fit within the queer niche. The producers actually filmed TWO versions – one stars a straight couple (“A Very Cool Christmas”), and the other one stars a gay couple (“Too Cool for Christmas”). To be honest, it has taken me a couple years just to track down the gay version. I should have left it buried – it’s that cringeworthy! Even if you take into consideration that it’s supposed to be a knock-off version of “Clueless” set at Christmas, there are so many issues that it’s almost painful to watch. Grab a drink – we’re going to rip this film to shreds!
Synopsis of “Too Cool for Christmas”
Detailed synopsis… to be written…
16 year-old Lindsay decides to give Santa Claus an extreme makeover.
Where do I begin with “Too Cool for Christmas”? Let’s start at the top and work our way down, shall we!
Right away from the synopsis, the plot looks teenage and catty. Why does Santa need a makeover, and why does it need to be from a 16 year old teenage girl? Well, that’s because the writer, Michael Gelbart, wanted to make a knock off version of Clueless but set at Christmastime. Otherwise, I cannot find any reason why such a premise should exist! However, I initially the give the benefit of doubt because Santa getting a makeover *could* be interesting. That quickly dissipated after we watch Lindsey’s snotty, stuck up, vapid character who begins the film with a “nightmare” of being gifted knockoffs and last year’s clothes. And then she wants to skip Christmas with her family to go on a ski trip, to finally get together with the boy she’s crushing on but utterly ignores at school. Ugh!
Everything continues to go downhill from there. Even under the guise of comic relief, the mall cop’s character doesn’t fit and actually makes the film worse. His obsession with teenagers and getting them banned is not comical, but rather terrifying – especially when he takes matters into his own hands and shows up at Lindsey’s home to convince her parents to ban Lindsey from the mall. While Santa’s makeover wasn’t special, I do have to concede that Santa helped give Lindsey some insight into what matters most. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to overlook the horror of the rest of the script.
Now, onto casting and acting – oh boy! Brooke Nevin actually portrays Lindsey quite well, to the point that I have no desire to see anything else she may be in. (And given the script lacks any real depth, I must question whether she is actually that talented… or just as vapid as Lindsey.) And similarly, I have to concede that Michael Gelbart portrays the mall cop, Chuck, appropriately. To my disgust. But the worst casting choice: George Hamilton as Santa. The producers knew that they needed another big name in order to even draw attention to this trainwreck, but was the aging and nearly outdated Hamilton the best choice? While I absolutely loved his acting in one of his earlier films I reviewed (Zorro: The Gay Blade), his acting was flat and often emotionless. Sure, it contrasted to Lindsey’s self-absorbed pettiness, but not in a good way.
After bashing the film to hell and back, you may be wondering – is there anything decent about this queer Christmas film? The answer is not much. However, I cannot ignore that many of the cinematographic bits are actually adequate. The sets and lighting, for the most part, are well balanced. I also feel that director Sam Irvin did as best of a job as possible to breathe life to this crap. For some unknown reason, I just couldn’t rate both of those rating categories a zero… however, there are still too many issues for either to be given a full star! And while I think the actual plot is cringeworthy, when everything works out well in the end it is almost enough to induce a bit of happiness. Almost. I can’t give it that much credit!
I think the only way anyone could enjoy “Too Cool for Christmas” is if they themselves are teenagers. For anyone watching this as an adult, I’m sure you’ll join me in the urge to simply ground Lindsey, take away her phone, and try to make her learn. But that wouldn’t make for a “interesting” film, would it? Granted, we STILL didn’t get anything even remotely decent. I highly suggest that you skip this film – there are plenty of other queer Christmas films that are more entertaining that this tripe! However, if you insist on giving it a go… break out the wine first. You’ll need it!
Queer Relevance of “Too Cool for Christmas”
The only reason “Too Cool for Christmas” belongs within the queer film niche is because Lindsey has two dads. Which makes it kinda queer and fitting for review. But other than a quick kiss and some hand holding, there isn’t much to show that Stan and Adam are really a loving same-sex couple.
However that’s only in the Canadian version of the film. The American version is actually not queer at all – because they swapped out Adam’s character for a woman!
Yup, as Twitter users discovered in 2019, the producers decided that rather than risking everything on same-sex parents, they filmed TWO different versions of the film to cater to their two planned audiences. (Since back in 2004, showing same-sex parents or gay folks in a film that wasn’t about AIDS or dying was utterly taboo in the US.) While I only watched the Canadian version, “Too Cool for Christmas”, I cannot compare the two. But frankly I have zero desire to watch it given that the film itself is utter crap regardless of who are Lindsey’s parents.