‘Single All The Way’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

We all know how tough the Holidays can be. Sometimes it is nice to be around friends and family. Or sometimes, you can feel pressured by the expectations they put on you. The new Netflix movie Single All The Way flips the typical ‘fake boyfriend’ trope and makes the matchmaking a family affair. Even though some family members pressure you about being single around the Holidays, they do mean well. And great things can happen because of their meddling. This entire cast worked so well together and their chemistry made you feel apart of the family.

There are two best friends named Nick (Michael Urie) and Peter (Philemon Chambers) who live in sunny LA. On this particular Christmas, Peter doesn’t want to go home single, again, after another failed relationship. So Peter convinces Nick to be his pretend boyfriend. We are all guilty of loving this trope, especially when it’s done well! This was the most fun I’ve had with a Holiday movie in a while. It’s also one that you can revisit every single year. Oh, and most importantly, Jennifer Coolidge steals the spotlight. No, seriously, her part as the fairy godmother in the Christmas pageant is top tier Coolidge.

Peter comes from such a big, loving family, who just want to see him happy. He has this extraordinary life in Los Angeles but misses the wholesome family feeling in New Hampshire. It breaks his heart knowing that his nephews are growing up so fast and he doesn’t have enough time with them. There is nothing like the Holidays to make you feel grateful for having your family and friends around you. That is exactly what Single All The Way offers audiences. They show this love through meddling in Peter’s fake relationship. When Peter’s mother sets him up on a blind date with a handsome ski instructor, he is whisked away into daydreaming about life in New Hampshire.

His best friend Nick, sorts through his own feelings, and worries that Peter might move away, after living together for nine years. It pulls at the heartstrings because of the relationship between Peter and Nick. The entire family sees a different connection than they do, so it makes for a very interesting love triangle over Christmas. Most importantly, the queer representation in this film was refreshing and it is a Holiday movie that was definitely needed for this community. It’s pure joy and happiness surrounding very cute gay best friends, who don’t realize what they have in front of them.

Happiest Season Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

‘Tis the season to get your onesies out, drink some hot chocolate, and settle around your nearest screen to watch some Christmas movies. Thankfully Clea DuVall made a Christmas romcom that has been long overdue for the LGBTQ community.

Happiest Season is the film that all lesbians have been waiting for. It’s lighthearted, funny and a well rounded romantic comedy. For once there is no sadness, no yearning and no heartbreaking ending. The title of the film says it all and it is such a beautiful movie. Not only does it speak to, and on behalf of, the LGBTQ community but it touches upon family issues that are universal.

The reason why this film is refreshing is because lesbian characters are at the forefront. Two women are in a romantic relationship and they are following all the conventions of a typical romantic comedy. It was just great to see a romantic story about two women in this setting. It is definitely a feel good movie and the speeches in the final act of the film will leave you sobbing until the end. The cast is perfect, everyone fit like a puzzle piece in telling this great story.

Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis were adorable together and their chemistry was great. It felt completely natural and that is the difference. Kristen Stewart was in her element, she was fun, playful and gave a very emotional performance as Abby. Davis gave a complex performance because of the duality of her character Harper. She lived one life with Abby and was another person when she returned home to her parents. What really resonated with me was the idea of perfection and how some families expect so much from their daughters.

I do have to mention the brilliant comedic timing from Dan Levy because it was just effortless. There would be such tense moments and then Levy would just swoop in and make you bust a gut laughing. He was the perfect choice to play Abby’s best friend. Stewart and Levy also bounced off each other, even through serious moments.

Normally, I don’t compare films in my reviews but out of all the lesbian romance dramas we’ve seen, this one definitely felt the most realistic than the others, mind you the other ones were really sad, so maybe that’s the difference? Thanks to Clea DuVall and Mary Holland, they wrote such a great screenplay and brought forth many important conversations.

Happiest Season is a great Christmas rom-com that will hold a special place in your heart and will definitely be added to your annual Holiday watch list. It is a film that explores individuality and acceptance through a lens that the LGBTQ community deserves. Please make sure to watch Happiest Season on Hulu November 25th and it will be available on iTunes November 26th!

Pictures Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Holy, Jingle Bells!

The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two is the film that will definitely get you into the Christmas spirit! My favourite Santa Claus (Kurt Russell) is back and this time the story takes us to the North Pole and his workshop… well Mrs. Claus’s (Goldie Hawn) workshop.

It is a very solid sequel that builds upon Kate’s (Darby Camp) story and her relationship with her mother. It’s a very different Christmas for the Pierce’s as they celebrate the holiday on a beach, in Cancun, thanks to Claire’s (Kimberly Williams – Paisley) new beau Bob (Tyrese Gibson). The intention of the vacation was to bring both family units together to bond, as Bob and Claire take their relationship to the next step.

The wonderful thing about this sequel is that it brings the same Christmas magic as the first one and tells a heartfelt story about adapting to a new life, after grieving. It seems dark when explained in that way but the Christmas spirit created a lighthearted atmosphere in order to tell this story. Kate has the Christmas spirit because of her father and it is a beautiful thing to see. Kate is headstrong and wants to celebrate Christmas the normal way, her dad’s way but Bob just came in and decided to change everything.

Courtesy of 1492 Pictures and Wonder Worldwide
(left) Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp, Jahzir Bruno and Kurt Russell

The idea of moving on, from any situation, is easier said than done but when it comes to grieving a parent, there is no amount of time to even process the pain. Kate has wonderful memories of her father, even the song “O, Christmas Tree” has a special place in her heart and it’s associated to a memory. As Kate processes her possible new life with Bob and a kid brother Jake (Jahzir Bruno), she calls upon jolly old Saint Nick to help her with one final Christmas wish.

The story isn’t only about Kate, there is a parallel with the antagonist of the film named Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), who has an interesting story of his own, involving Santa’s workshop. As the story unfolds Belsnickel and Kate have more in common than they thought, in regards to how to deal with their feelings of neglect. It presented such a great story that young children will definitely understand and allow parents to understand what their child could be going through. It is fun for the whole family with a great lesson to be learned.

The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two improves upon the same heartfelt story and elevates the action sequences from the first instalment. It is a film designed to make you feel warm and cheerful about the upcoming Christmas season, even though things may seem bleak. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn bring their charm to the screen to steal everyone’s hearts, as they both embody the true spirit of Christmas. It is lighthearted, very funny and wholesome.

Make sure to catch The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two on Netflix November 25th for a jolly good time with the whole family!

Last Christmas Review

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart and the very next day, you gave it away”

Emma Thompson pens an adapted screenplay from George Michael’s Last Christmas. She takes the song, dissects it and add a completely different meaning to it. If you listen to the song, it’s pretty evident how the story unfolds between Kate (Emilia Clarke) and Tom (Henry Golding) but the important thing is the lesson that is learned by the end of this film.

It’s a sweet film about a family of immigrants, from former Yugoslavia, who currently reside in London, England. Emma Thompson plays the eccentric and overbearing mother quite accurately and Emilia Clarke is the youngest daughter, who can’t get her life in order. Clarke and Thompson had such great energy and complimented each other. The family dysfunction mixed with the Christmas setting is always fitting because the pay off at the end is more meaningful.

The mystery that flows in and out of Kate’s life, is much like a ghost and Tom Webster is more than just a tall, handsome stranger.Whenever Kate is at her lowest or she feels defeated, Tom tends to show up and create some positivity in her life. Slowly, but surely, Tom mends Kate’s broken heart and helps her find her true calling.

The film may not make complete sense but the sentiment behind it is heartwarming. It shows us that we need to look deep within ourselves to rebuild our mind, body and soul. It takes time to mend our thoughts and feelings, but there is always enough time to do so. It also delivers a Christmas message, which should be used year round and that is, without even realizing it, in order to make ourselves happy we enjoy making others happy.

I also want to personally thank Emma Thompson and Paul Feig for using the best George Michael songs for the soundtrack. It’s such a lovely Christmas film and it made me feel warm inside. He definitely deserved a film like this.

The Knight Before Christmas Review

Another Christmas season is upon us and it wouldn’t be complete without a Vanessa Hudgens romantic comedy.

The Knight Before Christmas is a heartwarming fairytale about our journey through life and the treatment of others surrounding us. It is filled with holiday spirit and highlights different family units, who have to spend Christmas celebrating the way it works best for them. It’s a story that shows the value in paying forward kindness, gratitude, love and the craft of gift giving.

Vanessa Hudgens as Brooke, is darling in this, as she navigates her own feelings about love and Christmas traditions. The noble knight, Sir Cole, played by Josh Whitehouse, is on his journey of self discovery, or as one would say in the 1300’s, he was sent on a Quest. Hudgens has great facial expressions and her comedic timing is perfect and Whitehouse played with the duality of speaking in his medieval language, while adding modern day slang. The references and modernization of certain words like “wench”, showed how important language is and how much it has changed. Hudgens and Whitehouse had great chemistry and it felt magical.

The true meaning of Christmas is strong in this film and it was lovely to see the kindness spread throughout. It’s also important to keep family traditions, no matter how hard it may be. Whether you’ve lost a loved one or you can’t afford the gifts you think your family deserves, you can always make new traditions and honour the Christmas spirit.