‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ Review: A Regal Distraction

Kevin Taft reviews Red, White & Royal Blue, a gay romantic comedy that's not adding a lot to the conversation, but is an entertaining enough distraction.
User Rating: 7

Based on the wildly popular YA novel by Casey McQuiston, the new Amazon Prime original film Red, White & Royal Blue isn’t going to alter the course of mainstream gay movies, but it’s an entertaining distraction, nonetheless.

While we can talk about how far we’ve come in getting LGBTQ+ stories told – and this film being highly anticipated is undoubtedly something to feel good about – we must ask ourselves if the film is worth our time.

The answer is: sure, why not?

With a script co-written by Tony-Award-winning Matthew López (“The Inheritance”) and Ted Malawer (Halston) and also directed by López, this bon-bon of a film centers on the U.S. President’s son Alex Calremont-Diaz (The Kissing Booth’s Taylor Zakhar Perez) who gets drunk at the wedding of Prince Phillip and ends up under a fallen wedding cake with the brother of the groom, Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine.) The two, you see, don’t really like each other all that much, but guess what? In true Hallmarkian fashion, the heirs eventually fall in love. But will same-sex love fly with English royalty? Or alter the President’s bid for a second term?

Red, White & Royal Blue follows the path of said Hallmark movies almost to a tee. Two people who dislike each other finally realize they have a lot in common and fall hard. But because of their personal situations, they have to keep their love a secret. Eventually, their affair is discovered, and they must face their families, society, and hope to live happily ever after.

Sure, this film has a few f-bombs, a mild but telling sex scene, and a naked rear-end, but at its core, it’s a familiar rom-com, just with same-sex leads. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

See Also: ‘The Eight Mountains’ Review: A Beautifully Intimate Tale of a Profound Friendship

Despite the presence of Uma Thurman as the President and a brief appearance by Stephen Fry, this is a starless vehicle for most filmgoers. Gen Z will recognize Perez from the “Booth” movies, Galitzine from the forgotten Camilla Cabello Cinderella, and Alex’s best friend Nora (Rachel Hilson), who hails from Love, Victor. All are charming despite some TV-movie-style hijinks they are forced to reckon with. (And some pretty obvious greenscreen set pieces.)

The only character that leans into the R-rating is the President’s PR person Zahra Bankston played with prickly zest by Sarah Shahi (The L Word). Her irritation with Alex and her eventual need to clean up his mess is sometimes one-note, but her energy and comedic timing are a hoot.

Considering the pedigree of Lopez, whose “The Inheritance” is one of the best pieces of theater of the last decade, Red, White & Royal Blue doesn’t break new ground, but at the same time, this is why most people like Hallmark and Lifetime movies. You know exactly what meal you are going to get, and that tastes just fine.

Perez, as Alex, might be a bit of a cocky hottie, but as his relationship with the buttoned-up Prince Henry gets going, he slides into an effortless charm. Galitzine, as Henry, on the other hand, gives a controlled performance because of his character’s position in the Royal Family, but when he finally breaks, we feel his painful struggle.

That said, this might be more affecting to audiences who haven’t seen this story played out before in a hundred other ways. There is nothing new here except the surroundings of the two men who fall in love with each other. But am I glad it exists? Of course. We need more content that tells stories like this – even if they are a bit fantastical.

Red, White & Royal Blue might not be crowned the best LGBTQ+ movie of the year, but it’s certainly an entertaining trifle worthy of a regal wave from the balcony.

Red, White & Royal Blue premieres on Amazon Prime on August 11th.

7
Good
Written by
Kevin is a long-time movie buff with a wide variety of tastes and fixations in the film world. He cried the moment Benji appeared onscreen in “Benji,” and it took him about four times to finally watch “The Exorcist” (at age 24) without passing out. “Star Wars: A New Hope” was the movie that changed everything and when his obsession with films and filmmaking began. A screenwriter himself (one long-ago horror script sale to New Line remains on a shelf), his first film "Two Tickets to Paradise" that he co-wrote premiered in June 2022 on Hallmark. He is currently working on another for the iconic brand.

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