Friday, August 11, 2023

A gay romcom follows formula


I suppose that Red, White & Royal Blue proves that a gay-themed romcom can be as formulaic and mushy as those that feature relationships between men and women. The movie’s premise brims with high-concept simplicity: What if the handsome bisexual son of an American president fell in love with a handsome British prince, the one who — like real-life Harry — never will ascend to the throne. Can the prince (Nicholas Galitzine) defy royal stricture and go public with his love? Will the American (Taylor Zakhar Perez) torpedo his mother’s campaign for reelection? Will Uma Thurman, who plays the president, accept her son’s gayward tilt? Director Matthew Lopez answers these questions in a movie that opts for fantasy and glamor while preaching-to-the-choir about the importance of love and acceptance. No arguing with the message, but the delivery system is mostly lightweight, moving the two main characters from antagonists to lovers and bringing the proceedings to a feel-good conclusion. Stephen Fry makes an appearance as the king who wants his grandson to deny his gayness, even after exposure in the tabloids. Maybe Red,White and Royal Blue deserves credit for not trying to be anything more than late-summer fluff, a movie in which two men fight the odds, rush into their love/sex scenes, and face predictable obstacles. But is it asking too much for even a formula job to include a few edgy touches?

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