Top critical review
Good Film -- Less Than Credible Ending
July 7, 2017
**There may be spoilers in this review.**
I am a fan of the first two movies, so you can imagine the shock when I was flipping through Amazon Prime Video to find something worthwhile to watch and saw there was third movie. Chris and RJ have taken a hold on me. I was thrilled to see how things would end up with them.
Benjamin (as Chris) has been a good actor since the first movie, so it's no surprise that he continues to turn in a credible performance of a liberated young man who is still emotionally tied to an institution that despises his very nature. There's a lot of tension in his situation, and Benjamin really allows the audience to feel it.
Nick (as RJ) has shown the greater growth. As I wrote in a prior review, his acting in the first film was stilted. In the second film, he loosened up and allowed the viewers a better view inside the heart and mind of RJ, but there was still a part of him that was inaccessible because Nick couldn't quite manage to open that side up. In this third outing, he's a full-fledged actor who perfectly captures a young man who is at once comfortable with himself but also who isn't quite sure if he should finally tell Chris he loves him.
There was some decent acting from others, such as Chris's father. One character that either is a stellar actor or is genuinely "off" was RJ's best girlfriend. Perhaps she was going for "keep it real." The result was she seemed like she was keeping it real crazy.
The plot is why I didn't rate the movie five stars. The gist is that Chris and RJ live in separate cities and occasionally see each other but aren't officially together, although RJ desperately wants a relationship. Chris ends up visiting RJ in Portland (where RJ lives), and they finally consummate their relationship -- free from shame and disapproval from their families. I did like that when they initially got intimate, it was a frenzied event, which worked well because it perfectly captured how two young men who hadn't seen each other in a while. (They later are more passionate about it.)
From there, we're once again faced with a conflicted Chris still working out how to reconcile his sexuality with his religion (and church that is staunchly opposed to marriage equality) and an RJ that has moved beyond the condemnation and concern about what the church may think of him. This, once again, creates a tension we witnessed in the predecessor film, although it's more volatile this time around.
I won't spoil any more. I will say that the dénouement is what disappointed me, although I understand what the director was attempting to achieve: bringing closure to the lives of the protagonists. Everything was wrapped up neatly, with no loose ends. Why is that?
*Chris, conflicted throughout all films, finally reconciles being gay with being a Mormon. No further conflicts.
*RJ, always ensconced in everything Chris, finally lands the guy of his dream.
*Chris's father, who is one of the church leaders, finally accepts Chris, and more than that, becomes an advocate for marriage equality.
*Chris and RJ get married, and RJ now inherits a stepdaughter.
*Chris gets into law school and RJ becomes and adjunct professor in Salt Lake City.
This is why I find the above points to be ridiculous:
*As a former Mormon, you will likely continue to wrestle with reconciling your sexuality with your faith. Mormonism runs deeply.
*It's fine he finally gets Chris, but it's positioned that all the previous issues between them just vanished -- poof, be gone!
*Someone staunchly opposed to marriage equality coupled with being a high-ranking church member -- you don't do a 360 like that. Not credible.
*The marriage is fine; after all, it's legal. But Chris and RJ have primary custody of the daughter? Super-religious mom's nowhere to be found?
*Getting into law school? Okay, that's fine. RJ becoming an adjunct professor? After a three-year career as a writer for a Seattle magazine? Yeah.
This is too neatly wrapped up. I'm not suggesting that the plot should introduce 400 new issues to make the ending seem like real life. Still, walking away from the film with the realization that the five-year saga, one filled with undulations, has ended PERFECTLY. Everyone rides out into the sunset. That doesn't work for me.
This is a good movie. Not great, just good. It could have been better had they not brought everything to a neat close. If I were to rate all the films, they would be rated in the order they were released: the first being the best, and the last being the least best.