Thursday, December 2, 2021

Single All the Way: Movie Review





Funny and sweet.
Michael Urie (from Ugly Betty and Younger) has finally landed himself a lead role, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Netflix has just started to realize it needs to step up its game with gay rom-coms while its most recent heterosexual offering A Castle for Christmas is hitting rock bottom. Single All the Way is a really silly title, but the comedy is well-earned especially with Urie shining throughout all the well-meaning hijinks.   2021

Directed by: Michael Mayer

Screenplay by: Chad Hodge

Starring: Michael Urie, Philemon Chambers

Peter (Michael Urie) is in LA, he runs social media marketing campaigns, but he’s not very happy. Mostly because his family, who he loves and misses, is on the other side of the country in New Hampshire, and his friends make fun of him for his perpetually single, wrong guy after wrong guy, lifestyle. But his newest guy is perfect. They’ve been together for three months, he’s hot, a successfully doctor, and it’s only slightly alarming that he’s hesitating to come home with Peter for the holidays. The beginning is great: funny and moves fast. We go very quickly from he’s perfect, to he’s most definitely not perfect (married with kids), to the funny and heartwarming break-up, to the most devastating realization: Peter is yet again going home single for Christmas.

Enter best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers), who Peter is pleading with to come home with him and pretend to be his boyfriend. While this is unsurprisingly a predictable rom-com, it constantly threatens to be predictable in the most staid way, but then subverts it with comedy. It is predictable but never obnoxiously so and always funny. The pretending to be a couple storyline lasts all of a minute and then Peter’s mother announces she has set Peter up on a blind date, despite the fact that he’s only home for the holidays.

Peter’s family is large and over-bearing. Some of the comedy seems forced with his older sister Lisa (Jennifer Robertson) and especially his Aunt Sandy (Jennifer Coolidge) who for the most part seems out of place, but it works because of how sweet and well-meaning the movie is. There’s a lot of love and acceptance and that really shows.

The supporting efforts of the family and the entire family from Barry Bostwick as dad and Kathy Najimy as mom, to his two teenage nieces and his younger sister Ashleigh (Melanie Leishman) all have solid moments, but the movie is as good as it is because of Michael Urie. He is consistently funny, occasionally self-deprecating, occasionally snarky, but he never pulls his character too far in one direction. He’s endearing and likable and when he’s conflicted between two men or two cities it feels honest.

Single All the Way loses a little on the romance side. The chemistry with Philemon Chambers isn’t particularly strong. He’s extremely good looking, so it certainly works for the sake of the movie, but the story is supposed to be about how undeniable they are, and Michael Urie just steals focus. If he fell in love with a plant, he could have sold me on that.

An unexpected and hidden gem within the movie is Dan Finnerty as Kevin the Snow Plow Guy. It’s only two scenes, but he’s a great singer and is funny at the same time. And the second scene is helped out by Jennifer Coolidge who first hits on a much younger gay man currently on a date with her nephew, but then she makes her way to Kevin and the two end the movie with the entertaining original song Single All the Way.