Gay viewers receive an early Christmas present this year from Rob Williams, the director of Long-Term Relationship, Back Soon, and 3-Day Weekend. The winner of Audience Awards for Best Feature at the 2009 Seoul LGBT Film Festival and FilmOut San Diego 2009, Make the Yuletide Gay is a silly, sweet, and likeable romantic comedy. Besides writing and directing the project, Williams co-produced again with his long-time collaborators Rodney Johnson and Matthew Montgomery. Some of the actors from his previous films return as well, along with other familiar faces from TV or movies.
Adorable Gunn (Keith Jordan from the movie How do You Know When?) leaves college for the Christmas break. He plans to spend his vacation with his parents in Wisconsin, but without his gorgeous boyfriend, Nathan (Adamo Ruggiero, from Degrassi: The Next Generation).
Nathan’s parents know he’s gay, but avoid the subject, and their son. Gunn dreads coming out to his loving but bizarre parents, fearing they might reject him. When Nathan suddenly shows up at Gunn’s house, Christmas turns into a comedy of masquerades.
As with any comedy, some of the humor doesn’t quite work. However, the film constantly benefits from Williams’ clever references to books, movies, TV shows, etc.—even to projects that involve his cast.
That cast shows obvious chemistry, especially the two male leads and their parents. Acting teacher and Star Trek icon Gates McFadden appears with well-known soap and primetime TV actor Ian Buchanan as Nathan’s parents; despite their brief roles, they provide an important counterpoint for Gunn’s family life.
Kelly Keaton and Derek Long play Gunn’s parents. Those two Rob Williams film veterans both nearly steal this movie more than a few times. Some of Keaton’s funniest moments involve her neighbor and nemesis, Heather, played by Little House on the Prairie neighbor and nemesis Alison Arngrim. Hallee Hirsh, another former child actor, plays Heather’s daughter and literally can’t keep her hands off the closeted Gunn.
The resulting mixture leads to a movie with some good laughs, a few poignant moments, and a lot of heart. It definitely warrants repeat viewing, regardless of the season. As for the DVD extras, skip the drawn-out Behind the Scenes features, and go straight for the amusing interviews.
Back to the movie itself, though, I recommend it for gays and their loved ones, or anyone who likes light-hearted comedies. I enjoyed previous films from Williams, but this one easily stands out as my favorite, and a good introduction to his work.
Distributed by TLA Releasing.