Sunday, March 28, 2010

Make the Yuletide Gay

The sixth film in Melbourne Queer Film Festival that I attended was the suburban romantic comedy Make the Yuletide Gay. The film is a funny, good-natured "coming out" film.

The Festival blurb for the film said:
Openly gay college student Olaf ‘Gunn’ Gunnunderson lurches back into the closet to spend the festive season with his quirky, sweet, but none-the-wiser parents in Wisconsin. Leaving his boyfriend to his own devices, Gunn dons his best Midwestern straight boy outfit and hightails it back home, where he endures a concerted effort by his parents to set him up with his high school sweetheart, Abby.
When his über-gay boyfriend Nathan shows up unannounced after once again being rejected by his distracted parents, Gunn’s charade needs to step up a notch, as he’s yet to tell Nathan that he’s not out to his parents. With the pressure growing from all sides, a Hicksville mother, stoner father, and the miscommunications hilariously mounting up, will Gunn find the courage to 'fess up to them all? (LD)
“Giddily exuberant, Rob Williams’ latest is not only filled with laugh-out-loud jokes, but also with boys who look oh-so-cute together.” - Scott Cranin, Philadelphia Q Fest
The film puns and double entendre's shamelessly, but they all work so you really do laugh out loud. It is, unusually for a gay film, actually quite affectionate about suburban living: it pokes fun but does not mock. Helped by the delicious malice of the interaction between Olaf's mother and her next door neighbour.

But the film is also very good at playing with your expectations. We totally get why Olaf--Mr Queer-On-Campus at college--is not out to his very loving parents. There is a nice little scene where Olaf explains to Nathan how he has seen conservative "Red State" parents be accepting of their gay children and liberal parents cut their gay children off completely. The denouement is brilliantly handled and it is a sign of how successfully the film has got you "in" with its believable and well-realised characters that you are really feeling for Olaf when the moment comes and so unsure of what will happen.

The performances are generally good: Kelly Keaton particularly shines as Olaf's mum. Derek Long is less successful as his stoner father but Hallee Hirsh is very good as the "girl next door" while the two leads hold your attention and make you believe in their relationship and emotional dilemmas. A lovely suburban comedy.

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