[There’s truth to this statement. I do, generally, hate New Year’s. Why so much pressure to have the best evening ever on this one night of the year? Argh! You’re stressing me out. But when I saw this title pop up as an option to review, I jumped at it. In an ocean of Christmas movies, it was exciting to see a slightly new theme join the holiday streaming dance.]
Singing superstar Layne Price is suffering from a wicked case of writer’s block. The solution? Visit a fortuneteller, naturally! (Never mind that Layne is a total skeptic and the appointment was booked by her agent.) Though she can barely sit still during the tarot card reading, Layne emerges with the kernel of knowledge she needs in order to reinvigorate her creativity: She must learn to love again! And the only way to do that is by confronting her past, present, and future so she can move on. (Hi, Scrooge – I see you! Christmas, I knew you couldn’t resist butting in.)
So, it’s off to Nashville for a whirlwind visit with her bestie in hopes of tracking down her ex-girlfriend. But, wait! Could it be that she needs to look no further than what’s right in front of her? While Layne is focused on spending New Year’s running after the past, her supportive friend Cassie is waiting for the right moment to confess her true feelings. Will the two women get on the same page in time to ring in the special night with a kiss?
This film is so cute! Anyone who’s a fan of the Mar Vista/Hallmark variety of Christmas movies will appreciate the low budget cheesy vibe of a project that’s willing to make a holiday the sole focus of its plot. (And believe me, I say this with love. I’d stream Mar Vista directly into my veins if I could.) The prerequisite for these projects is the willingness to get absorbed in this world and release your expectations. You want a happy ending, I want a happy ending, the writers know this and are going to give us that happy ending – so just relax and wait for it.
What’s so lovely about I Hate New Year’s is, of course, the all too rare opportunity to highlight LGBTQ+ romances. (That the community finally got a high-profile holiday romcom with Hulu’s excellent Happiest Season just this year shows how much work still needs done when it comes to offering a wider breadth of representation, in entertainment and beyond!)
The leads in IHNY are absolutely adorable. Dia Frampton (Season One runner up on The Voice) as Layne Price and Ashley Argota (The Fosters, Nickelodeon) as Cassie Holmes both shine. Add in the bonus of Candis Cayne (Dirty Sexy Money, RuPaul’s Drag U) in dual roles and you have a really fun cast.
And thank goodness they’re all so likeable. This plot is extremely thin and the watchability balances precariously on their shoulders. It’s unfortunate that writer Kathryn Trammell wasn’t able to flesh out her script with a bit more action and a few subplots. Again, as expressed above, the expectations are set appropriately low for these offerings. We know what we’re getting into and we’re all just here to be comforted and have fun. That said, something more than the characters chatting has to happen. Even the most basic of these holiday films usually has a bit of variety to offset the inevitable ending. Unfortunately, most of the scenes in IHNY are simply way too long. At one point, I felt I was in taking a cab ride with them in real time, and I just wanted to be dropped off.
I’ll still give this a thumbs up. Tello Films is working hard to provide original queer women-focused content and that’s always worth supporting, no matter what. Given what a nasty year 2020 has been, this remains a perfectly lovely way to ring in 2021!
Nuggets – more film thoughts:
* I was thoroughly entertained by Cassie’s gigantic home, furnished with the tackiest Airbnb décor. A framed print of a recipe for “Ruth’s Yeast Rolls”?! I am dying.
* It’s New Year’s Eve in Nashville, pre-pandemic, but the streets are dead in every scene. You’re telling me there’s no traffic – foot or car – on the busiest night of the year in a totally hopping hip city? I understand budget constraints, but there has to be stock footage of a bustling Lower Broadway somewhere in the archives.
* I love that Layne, in an effort to lay low, performs karaoke under the name “Arlene Peckerwood,” and then proceeds to sing her own greatest hit. LOL!
* Cassie and Layne’s portmanteau of “Lassie” is perfection.