‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ is a charming LGBTQ romantic comedy – If You can put Uma Thurman’s worst performance of your career behind you.
Based on a popular novel (have tiktok videos on this topic over 500 million views), the Prime Video film is directed by Matthew Lopez and produced by Greg Berlanti.
The story follows Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), a bisexual law student who is the “first son” of the United States since his mother, Ellen Claremont (Uma Thurman), is President.
Alex accidentally causes an international scandal with Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) – a member of this story’s fictional British royal family – when the two men knock over a $75,000 cake at a royal wedding.
In the wake of this disaster, Alex must pretend he and Henry are best friends to mitigate the resulting media crisis during his mother’s re-election.
The spark between Alex and Henry soon flew. But because they’re both public figures — and Henry feels pressured to keep it a secret — they have to keep their relationship a secret.
This often has comedic implications, such as Henry hiding in Alex’s hotel room dressing room from the White House Chief of Staff (Sarah Shahi, who steals the scene) who tells the prince that she is “going to separate your head from your body.” , if he doesn’t. She dashes back to England undetected by anyone – adding a bow and “Your Highness” at the end of her tirade.
The secret service agent Amy (Aneesh Sheth) is also an amusing and exciting highlight in a film that is hardly interested in its secondary characters.
Alex and Henry communicate via phone calls and text messages for much of the story, and “Red, White & Royal Blue” handles this in imaginative and visually appealing ways.
Relatively unknown Perez and Galitzine both shine.
Their winning performances save “Red, White & Royal Blue” from its flaws, such as its superficial politics, which usually makes sense for a romantic comedy but not one with such a solid political backdrop.
The second half of the film also takes too long and becomes cheesy.
And then there’s Uma Thurman.
President Claremont is from Texas, and Thurman has a terrible regional accent. (This is Lopez’s directorial debut, so maybe he wasn’t ready to tell a big star that her accent wasn’t working.)
Thurman is miscast and the role would have been better suited for Connie Britton, Reese Witherspoon or Sandra Bullock.
But beyond that, President Claremont is an oddly written character: coldly ambitious in some scenes, down-to-earth in others. Instead of giving the impression that she’s layered, it just makes her characterization inconsistent.
The “red, white and royal blue” royal family has some parallels to reality – the real Prince Harry isn’t gay, but Prince Henry still feels like a fictionalized version of him: he’s the younger “surrogate” son and his older brother, with whom he has a strained relationship, scoffs at the idea of Henry ruining his reputation to pursue a “crazy” romance with an American lover.
But “Red, White & Royal Blue” also changes some things in its fictional universe. For example, instead of the real Prince Harry answering to his grandmother the queen (before her death), Henry must answer to his grandfather the king (played by a largely jaded Stephen Fry).
Despite all that, many of the film’s jokes are amusing, the relationship sweet, and though Thurman nearly sinks the ship, Perez and Galitzine are good enough to keep it drifting through choppy waters.
Red, White & Royal Blue has some major flaws, but it’s a fun and sweet romantic comedy with heart.