In the warmly intentioned, but unfortunately frosty romantic comedy “Single All the Way,” Peter (Michael Urie) is a perpetual bachelor who finally has a boyfriend to bring home to his family for the holidays.
But when Peter’s beau turns out to be someone else’s husband, Peter convinces his best friend, Nick (Philemon Chambers), to visit over Christmas instead. Nick is well-loved by the family — so much so that they hatch a matchmaking scheme for the two singles. Peter’s holly-jolly mother, Carole (Kathy Najimy), cajoles, but his father, siblings and nieces push the pair to help with kooky Aunt Sandy (Jennifer Coolidge) and her Christmas play, in hopes that the two friends might realize they’re better off as lovers.
The director Michael Mayer creates an appealing twinkly backdrop for holiday shenanigans. But the warm-and-fuzzies promised by this Christmas comedy (streaming on Netflix) depend on a display of suppressed passion from Peter and Nick that would propel family members to scheme for their romantic union. Unfortunately, the chemistry between the characters never materializes.
Peter and Nick are exceedingly polite, and frequently kept at a respectful distance from each other within the frame. This otherwise cheery movie is stingy with the longing glances or lingering touches that might suggest subterranean longing. At times it’s difficult to believe the pair as best friends, let alone as secretly pining admirers. Even their names suggest their generic anonymity.
This lack of chemistry makes for lonely viewing, as if the film exists within a universe where the entire concepts of flirting, sexual tension or even baseline human rapport have yet to be discovered. The supporting cast compensates with piquancy in the side dishes, but the main course is a flavorless misfire.