TLA Releasing // 2009 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // November 18th, 2009
Ho-ho-homo! Mary Christmas and a Happy New Queer!
Gay film producer/director Rob Williams (3-Day Weekend) has set out to make a holiday film for the GLBT community. For years seems all we've ever had is the Jodie Foster directed Home for the Holidays in which there was a minor gay brother subplot, so it does seem like the right time to try and crank out a few homo Christmas movies. I mean The Lion in Winter comes close to a gay holiday classic, but again it's only a sub-plot! This one's out and proud, and about to ask Santa for a Pride necklace. So get ready for some holiday queer, and remember -- don't drink the egg nog!
Nathan and Gunn are an out and proud college couple about to head their separate ways for Christmas break. Gunn (Keith Jordan, Suburban Girl) goes right back in to the closet for his Wisconsin parents, even hitting a rest stop en route to change clothes and get the gel out of his hair. Meanwhile poor Nathan (Adamo Ruggerio, "Degrassi: The Next Generation") comes home to find his upper crust family has left him to go on a cruise through the Holy Land. So Nathan decides to surprise Gunn by showing up on his doorstep as a holiday treat. The only trouble is, what do you do when your boyfriend's parents think he's straight? So now the two have to deal with the fact Nathan's parents don't know they are "ho ho homo."
The nicest thing about Make the Yuletide Gay is that it simply sets out to entertain and make you laugh. There are no deep political messages, no calls to arms, no hate crimes, and nobody is dying of anything. The whole thing is a lighthearted romp out to make you feel good. Period. The end. In that mission the film does a nice job. The characters are likable, the script is witty, and the heart of the whole piece is in the right place. If you're looking for a gay good time for Christmas you're arrived at the right place.
The cast is an interesting mix of gay favorites and familiar Nick at Nite celebs. Keith Jordan and Adamo Ruggerio do solid work, playing everything very naturally as the two leading men. They never lapse in to pure stereotype or parody, but certainly allow everyone else to spin out of control. Derek Long is a favorite of director Rob Williams from 3-Day Weekend, and he plays Gunn's hippie father who smokes a little too much pot. He is coupled with the always giggling Kelly Keaton (Long-Term Relationship), and together they provide the right Wisconsin flavor to carry off a very young looking set of parents with a kid in college. They do nice work carrying the film's comedic setup. If you're a television junkie you will have a blast recognizing the supporting cast. Ian Buchanan from Twin Peaks shows up as Nathan's father, while his mother is played by Gates McFadden of Star Trek fame. Also appearing is Alison Arngrim who fans will recognize as Nellie Olsen from Little House on the Prairie. There's a television veteran named Hallee Hirsh playing the neighbor's daughter, and she steals every scene she is in with impeccable comic timing.
TLA Releasing is a mix of naughty and nice with great support and a sub par transfer. The DVD has plenty of extras on it, and it's nice to unwrap all these special features. Up first is a commentary featuring director Rob Williams and his two leads. It's as perky as the film, and offers lighthearted insights into what they were trying to achieve. Other extras include a couple of deleted and extended scenes, cast interviews, a blooper reel, and behind-the-scenes footage. The transfer is problematic with this one, looking dark throughout -- even during daytime scenes. Black levels are off big time with bits and blocks showing up any time we see the color. For a film this recent the authoring of the DVD seems off and not up to par. Part of that is simply a budgetary issue, but it seems even a low budget flick can get a decent look on DVD. The sound is a simple stereo which does fine with the dialogue and music.
I don't want to give anybody the idea this is a polished and perfect film. If there is anything to kvetch about with Make the Yuletide Gay it is that sometimes the pacing is a hair off on the comedic bits. I noticed a beat or two that occasionally languished on the jokes, and they would fall flat. Especially the ones that revolved around the double entendres which were now and then almost groan-inducing. You can only take a joke about who is on top in a bunk bed so far, and stuffed beavers are only good for a chuckle. Certain actors in the film know how to pick up the tempo the right way, and you can tell when they hit the screen that the rest of the cast is just throwing things out too slowly. There are also some moments that seem too precious and self-conscious. I gloss over the shortcomings because the movie itself has all the right intentions, and comes off fine despite any slips.
This is an easy movie to like, and it gets an extras-filled DVD presentation to make it even more fun. The actors pull off the sweet nature, the script carries the breezy plot well, and the whole film has a great holiday vibe that should please audiences. It's funny, sweet, and has enough spirit to make even the Grinchiest and bitchiest of queens love the holidays. Make the Yuletide Gay continues director Rob Williams' streak of creating heartfelt GLBT movies that set out simply to entertain. I wonder what holiday he'll tackle next. We've got Labor Day covered with 3-Day Weekend, and now Christmas is set with this one. Can Halloween or 4th of July be far behind? I'm happy to see the GLBT community finally getting some tinsel out, and getting our very own holiday films. I mean honestly, Christmas has always been pretty much the "drag queen" of holidays with lights, tinsel, skirts, and pink candy canes. Mary, please!
Not guilty of making Christmas any less gay, this is a nice film looking to
become a tradition at the right houses.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: TLA Releasing
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted/Extended Scenes
* Photo Gallery