Last night PJ and I watched Make the Yuletide Gay, which is about a 22-year-old college student, Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, who goes home for Christmas to visit his parents, who don’t know that he’s gay. When his boyfriend,  Nathan, shows up unexpectedly, comic mayhem ensues. Here’s the trailer:

After watching the movie, I read some other reviews online. The most accurate summary would be that Make the Yuletide Gay got mixed reviews. On the one hand, some people criticize it for being over the top, badly written, and cheaply produced. On the other hand, positive reviews praise its humor, good intentions, and leading performances. I can’t totally disagree with the former, but I nevertheless loved this movie. I think it’s a fun, adorable, heart-warming Christmas movie, and it’s about time we gays got a fun, adorable, heart-warming Christmas movie!

One of my main beef against gay independent films is that they tend to fall into two categories: either drug dealers show up deus ex machina-like to either kill or at the very least pose a threat to the romantic leads or the writer/director/star had a good idea but then never gets beyond that one (often funny or clever) idea. Make the Yuletide Gay could easily have fallen into either of these categories but admirably avoided these pitfalls. Some scenes and characters are badly written, it probably was made on a shoestring budget, and is definitely over the top at times, but all for the right reasons: to create a fun, positive movie. I think the filmmakers have succeeded.

The movie stars Keith Jordan as Gunn, who is totally queer on campus but closeted at home. Jordan plays this part with a calm likeability that helps to ground the movie in some semblance of reality as other characters are allowed to soar way over the top of realism. Jordan’s Gunn becomes an everygay, and I think this is largely due to Jordan’s understated performance. The opening scene in which Gunn turns in his last final exam before heading home only to learn that his professor has the hots for him is especially fun — I think professors (gay or straight) often fantasize about such moments. Jordan’s opening scene quickly establishes his character’s humor, evenness, and attractiveness.

Adamo Ruggiero plays Nathan, Gunn’s boyfriend. Ruggiero is most famous for starring in Degrassi: The Next Generation, where he played a gay character, and for coming out as a gay man about two years ago. Since acknowledging his gayness, Ruggiero has been active in gay causes, especially some PSAs concerning gay teen issues.

If I were a teen or undergraduate, I’d totally have the hots for Ruggiero. He’s totally cute and a good performer. I especially liked that he was able to make Nathan both a bit of a flamer and a normal person. In some scenes, he switched back and forth between being totally gay and then being less performative. I think that added depth to his character and performance. In real life, most of us can and do switch back and forth in an instance between “being gay” and “being normal,” for lack of better words. Like Jordan, he imbues his character with humor, likeability, and normalcy.

This is important, since most of the other characters are totally over the top. Kelly Keaton, for example, plays Gunn’s mother as a bubbly, seemingly oblivious cartoon character who laughs more than she talks. Similarly, Derek Long, who plays Gunn’s pothead father, is simply bizarre until we realize that he’s high all the time. And Nathan’s parents, played by Ian Buchanan and Gates McFadden are caricatures of the cold, wealthy, New England parents who couldn’t care less about their son. Finally, Alison Arngrim‘s turn as the Gunnunderson’s desperate housewife neighbor is little more than camp.

But all of this works for me because the central couple, Gunn and Nathan, are so likeable and relatively drama (or camp) free. And I was delighted that, despite the pot references, no drug dealers showed up to collect their money, no one gets killed in a deal gone wrong, and, while this movie loves jokes about sleeping on the top bunk or the bottom (and I love that Nathan, the more obviously gay character, prefers to top while Gunn loves to bottom!), I enjoyed the campy humor because it goes hand in hand with the movie’s positive themes of love, family, and relationship. It’s a sweet movie that made me laugh.

Make the Yuletide Gay was written, directed, and co-produced by Rob Williams, who also wrote, directed, and produced 3-Day Weekend, Back Soon, and Long-Term Relationship. I haven’t always liked Williams’s movies (see my review of Back Soon) but I really hope there’s a sequel to this one. At the very least, I know have a favorite gay Christmas movie to watch each year!

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