Red, White & Royal Blue
By Aaron Isenstein
A Charming Adaptation that Understays Its Welcome
It’s fairly common for a straight-to-streaming film to dominate online discourse, but it’s exciting that this month’s version of that is a diverse, sexy, gay romcom. Amazon’s Red White and Royal Blue is an adaptation of a fairly popular novel, but seeing it take off, be appreciated as a solid film, and generate a lot of discussion is nonetheless wonderful to see.
Red White and Royal Blue follows one of the cheesiest romcom plots possible: the son of the United States president falls for the prince of England. And as such, the film does not try to be anything more than a cheesy romcom. Sure, there are a handful of moments with social commentary sprinkled into the politics, but the film is too sweet for these rare occasions to take away from how enjoyable, if a tad disposable, of an experience it is. LGBT-centric films used to exist solely as either awards vehicles or trauma porn (and often, they were both). However, we’re finally entering an era where there is positive, fun content about gay people. Red White and Royal Blue doesn’t seek to push the boundaries of art, but rather to be a goofy romcom that just happens to be gay.
The film of course, is not without the flaws one would find with a Hallmark movie. The entire film is incredibly rushed and would have benefitted from the 3-hour miniseries that the screenwriters wanted. There are a lot of elements from the book that are disappointing to see missing, but with the short runtime, they would have made the movie more crowded. The acting is nothing particularly special, with Nicholas Galitzine being the standout, making the most of his time on-screen as Prince Henry with a handful of great moments. Uma Thurman gives a generic performance as the president that works for the most part, while Tyler Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont Diaz struggles a little with his off line delivery and emotional beats that never truly hit. That being said, these shortcomings actually add to the experience of watching a traditional, corny romcom that just happens to be gay. It doesn’t have to be Oscar bait to be significant; in fact, it not being Oscar bait or prestige makes it more significant.
Watching the film is consistently enjoyable, and there is never a dull moment. Its generic romcom-ness allows for a breezy watch, even if I found myself less invested in the emotional scenes. I would have liked a longer runtime, but I was always eating up Alex and Henry’s relationship. It says something about the chemistry of the actors if you want MORE of them. If you want a casual friday watch, there really is nothing better than Red White and Royal Blue. It’s fun, relaxing, and an easy watch. Sure, it has its flaws, but nothing that makes it a “bad movie” or hard to watch. Let gay people have their cheesy cringe and their Oscar winning masterpieces!