“Red, White & Royal Blue”
Metacritic (3/10), Letterboxd (1.5/5), Imdb.com (3/10), TMDB.com (1.5/5)
There are three things necessary to make a gay romantic comedy work: It needs to involve a readily recognizable gay relationship, it needs an undeniable sense of romance and it has to be funny. However, this heavily diluted, glacially paced piece of insipid celluloid fluff has none of the above, and it truly escapes me how many critics and viewers have found this utterly bland exercise to be heartwarming, charming and involving. In telling the somewhat far-fetched story of an alleged romance between a British prince and the son of an American president who start out as comically exaggerated adversaries but end up supposedly finding true love with one another, writer-director Matthew López subjects his audiences to an unconvincing relationship wholly lacking in chemistry and stemming from an improbable courtship, much of which arises from a string of all-too-convenient, less-than-discreet engagements that are otherwise supposedly impossible to arrange and coordinate. What’s more, the film’s humor is virtually nonexistent and incorporates none of the edginess generally associated with gay comedies. In fact, it’s so dull and so safe that it makes most Hallmark Channel movies seem downright risqué by comparison. To its credit, the picture makes some modestly eloquent statements about LGBTQ+ equality (even if they’re nothing we haven’t already heard many times before), and it features a fine supporting performance by Sarah Shahi as a smart-mouthed, fast-talking presidential aide (arguably the only genuinely funny element in the film), but it misses the mark on so many other fronts that it’s hard to believe this project ever got green-lighted. It’s a shame that the door opened by “Bros” (2022) to make gay romcoms a more viable cinematic genre has been set back by this underwhelming effort. It’s also equally disappointing that an organization like Amazon Studios – one known for generally doing solid work – could let something as sub-par as this out into the movie marketplace. Let’s hope moviegoers can put this one quickly behind them and see the foregoing issues soon fixed going forward.