Sunday, October 24, 2021

Boyfriends of Christmas Past: Movie Review





Enjoyable lead couple, frustrating drama.
Two years ago, the Hallmark Channel aired and then promptly pulled a commercial which included a lesbian wedding. They knew their White brand and it did not include homosexuality. Boyfriends of Christmas Past is a surprising and refreshing change for the company with gay couples, interracial couples, and featuring two Asian-American leads.   2021

Directed by: Don McBearty

Screenplay by: Lisa Parsons, Edie Grace

Starring: Catherine Haena Kim, Raymond Ablack

Lauren (Catherine Haena Kim) is a thirty-something marketing exec, perpetually single, who hasn’t found the right person and continually rebuffs the sweet advances of her best friend Nate (Raymond Ablack), who is obviously her right person. It is clearly a TV movie; the set-ups for the plot aren’t subtle at all, the dialogue feels rushed, and the acting is uneven. All of the main actors have their moments, and the audience will feel reasonably well connected to the characters, but some (Ablack) outshine their counterparts.

After rejecting Nate for a potential date for the umpteenth time, Lauren stays home to work and falls asleep. She is then visited by her high school ex-boyfriend – in teenage form with shaggy hair and a skateboard. This teenage boy giving adult Lauren love advice is hilarious, and the twist on the classic Christmas Carol is handled well. It’s an unoriginal twist, but the film knows that, so it’s primarily just used for comedy and the push that Lauren needs – just say yes to Nate, he’s perfect. And he probably won’t stay single forever.

The drama is caused by Lauren. Her inability to hear Nate out, her inability to listen to the ex-boyfriend ghosts of relationships past (she dumped them all through fear of commitment), and constantly putting work ahead of her friendship with Nate. These are real character flaws so the emotion feels more earned since it’s internal and not external. However, the key emotion is frustration. At first, she’s being oblivious to his feelings and then she’s just coming up with excuses.

The Christmas setting is good here. It’s not overly cheesy, and not overly built-up, and the film leads to a connection between all her past relationships and the holiday.

Ultimately the charm here is does the audience root for the main couple? Yes, easily yes. Lauren and Nate are both smart and funny and sweet, and very hot. The story should move much faster than it does since the entire roadmap is so obviously laid out. The ex-boyfriends should have added more comedy since the drama isn’t as enjoyable.