Red, White & Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue ★½

Let it be known that I am not opposed to this kind of thing (i.e. WattPad schlock) in principle. Red, White & Royal Blue, though, is underwhelming, sloppy, and indulgent in all the wrong ways, overdosing on romcom clichés and bland side characters while never overcoming the fact that its uncharismatic leads have no chemistry together.

Apart from being overlong and messily structured, the movie is just kind of confused about what it wants to do. Making both main characters repressed and sexually inexperienced prevents it from enjoying itself as cool, funny, sexy luxury porn, but the drama is not particularly compelling, either; the characters are paper-thin, and all the conflicts are just too vaguely set up and resolved. The election plotline, for instance, depicts politics as pure vibes, containing little discussion of policy, campaigning, or messaging, and the challenges a queer prince might face are left similarly underexplored.

Equally impactless is the movie's barely touched on class angle, probably because it can't decide whether political dynasties are good or bad. Don't expect any coherent statements to be made. (Apart from gay princes, the most oppressed social class is definitely the president's children – Uma Thurman's campaign team is so mean for not wanting to look at her son's shitty election plans!!!)

Given that the premise is wholly mishandled, it is pretty unfortunate that there is nothing else even vaguely interesting in Red, White & Royal Blue – all the stock romcom characters and conflicts have never felt more tedious. The evil ex, a pretty boring archetype in general, is executed so lazily here and sucks even worse for being the only other queer person in the story. (Can gay people really not have gay friends or even maintain positive relations with people they've engaged in casual sex with? Bros, although a disaster in its own way, at least got that part right.) In terms of visuals, it's pure streaming original sludge, rarely looking even slightly pretty and having no interesting ideas beyond the visualization of texts and calls, so removed from the actual thing that it loses the emotional impact of long-distance relationships. I will also just say that there were like... 2 or 3 decently funny jokes in there.

So yeah, nothing worth your time here. Pretty much any garbage they screen at queer film festivals will satisfy viewers in want of trashy gay romance more, and nothing about the admittedly original premise makes for thrilling drama. At least the obligatory made-exclusively-for-streaming stunt casting (Stephen Fry as the king) is slightly amusing.

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