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  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

Red, White and Royal Blue (A Movie Review)

Updated: Aug 30, 2023


Starring Taylor Zakhar Perez, Nicholas Galitzine, Uma Thurman, Stephen Fry, Sarah Shahi, Ellie Bamber,Rachel Hilson, Malcolm Atobrah, Clifton Collins Jr., Aneesh Sheth, Polo Morín, Sharon D. Clarke, Akshay Khanna, Thomas Flynn, Ahmed Elhaj, Juan Castano, Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid and the voice of Jemma Redgrave.

Screenplay by Matthew López and Ted Malawer.

Directed by Matthew López.

Distributed by Amazon Studios. 118 minutes. Rated R.

The attempts to take LGBTQ romance into the mainstream have not quite caught on as one would expect. Last year’s rom-com Bros was expected to be a hit, but never caught on with bigger audiences. Then the sweet-but-tragic Spoiler Alert made just a ripple in the popular conversation.

Perhaps what is needed is an old-fashioned, cheesy, dreamy, completely fantasy romance. Maybe the characters should exist in rarified air – how about the slow-burning romance between a young Prince of England and the son of the US President? What if both are beautiful enough to be models? And they are both whip-smart and sensitive and just a bit insecure? And, of course, they’ll despise each other at the beginning, only slowly thawing to the other’s charms.

If Red, White and Royal Blue wasn’t about two dudes, you’d expect to find it running on the Hallmark Channel.

By the way, I bet that if this couple was not both men, Red, White and Royal Blue would not have gotten an R-rating. There are a few vaguely explicit scenes, but nothing you couldn’t see on cable TV.

Actually, Red, White and Royal Blue is based on a popular YA novel by Casey McQuiston. As is often the case with YA titles, it is highly pitched, emotional and just a tiny bit predictable. It takes some safe risks – the American is the son of the first female president and of course the whole idea is a bit chancy in the current political climate.

But mostly, you can see where the movie is going from the very beginning. It is the type of film that shows the odd couple vibes in the movie poster with each of the guys wearing colorful socks of their country’s flag underneath their staid suits. (I don’t believe that little weird character quirk actually is shown in the film.) And, if you imagined that they would first be thrown together by an international incident in which the guys arguing caused the knocking down of a huge multi-layered cake, you get a gold star.

As you may see, there is nothing overly high-minded about the storytelling of Red, White and Royal Blue. It’s soapy, silly, funny and relatively unrealistic. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a lot of fun to watch as it is going on.

The two relatively unknown stars (Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine) are charming and funny. Uma Thurman and Clifton Collins Jr. have a good time as the first family (although, Uma, what’s with that Texas accent?) And Sarah Shahi steals every scene she is in as the President’s hardened Deputy Chief of Staff.

Red, White and Royal Blue is not high art, but it is pretty decent pop art. Finally the LGBTQ world gets its own Princess Diaries. Hey, that’s progress, right?

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved. Posted: August 11, 2023.

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