“Dashing in December” Movie Review – A More Adult Take on Queer-Led Holiday Movies

dashing in december movie review 2020
Wyatt and Heath in “Dashing in December” (Image: Screengrab)

Dashing in December was the final entry on my list of new queer-led Christmas films to watch this year. I appreciated it for being quite different compared to The Christmas House and The Christmas Setup.

Paramount’s Dashing in December, in my opinion, was more adult than Hallmark’s The Christmas House and Lifetime’s The Christmas Setup. And you know what? That’s a good thing. There’s no reason for every queer-led holiday movie to follow the same pattern.

From writer/director Jake Helgren, the premise dealt with Wyatt (Peter Porte), a successful financial consultant in New York City, deciding to come back to his family ranch to meet his mother Deb (Andie MacDowell) for Christmas and to also urge her to sell the property because it’s been making them lose money for years. However, ranch hand Heath (Juan Pablo Di Pace) isn’t keen on the family selling the ranch. 

There’s emotional drama between Wyatt and Deb because he hasn’t come to visit her at the ranch after the death of his father (I think he died five years ago). Deb did go and visit him in New York two years ago, though. The point is, they haven’t been communicating as much as they should.

While Wyatt’s interested in finding a buyer for the ranch (which will also help secure a big professional promotion), Deb’s been hoping for him to connect with Heath because she thinks they’re perfect for each other. Also, Heath’s been like a son to Deb, helping her around the ranch while Wyatt’s been busy in New York.

Now, after seeing another mother try and play matchmaker in The Christmas Setup, I was expecting Dashing in December to be another holiday rom-com. But it ended up being quite different. Wyatt and Heath were written as broken characters. And you know that there’s going to be a lot of emotional baggage to address when telling a story about such people.

Wyatt just can’t seem to find someone to be in a lasting relationship with. Apparently, he’s too focused on his work or has commitment issues. Or maybe both? Deb did say that Wyatt’s the kind of guy who ignored talking about his emotions to hide his vulnerability.

Heath’s afraid of having his heart broken again. He’s unsure about Wyatt being able to give him what he wants. There’s also this backstory involving Heath facing a lot of homophobia while growing up gay in Colorado. And Wyatt wanting to sell the ranch, which is very dear to Heath, made things worse between the two.

The disagreement between Wyatt and Heath went from 10 to 100 in seconds during the dinner scene. I was shocked the movie decided to go there. As I mentioned before, the entire narrative felt more adult compared to the gay-led holiday movies released before this one. Certain adults would talk like that!

Heath and Wyatt’s will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic did lead to serious questions. I nodded when Heath asked about what Wyatt had planned for them if they decided to be in a relationship. Why should Heath leave everything behind and go to New York City with Wyatt on the chance that things might work between them? What if they broke up and Heath had to move out? What then?

These are the questions adults should be asking. And it’s kind of weird to me when certain films gloss over such things.

The movie also handled homophobia differently. While blatant homophobia didn’t exist for the married husbands in The Christmas House or only came up during backstories in The Christmas Setup, it existed more clearly in Dashing in December. They have both had their struggles as queer kids. As men, Wyatt and Heath didn’t feel comfortable dancing together to a slow song at a local bar. Viewers had to settle with them dancing away from judgmental eyes during a special date Heath had planned at the ranch.

The good news is that Dashing in December did address Heath and Wyatt’s relationship issues in a satisfactory manner during the third act. So, even though there’s a lot of tense moments and drama, you should still consider watching this movie because it delivered a queer-led happy ending. It also didn’t shy away from showing affection between Wyatt and Heath. We got more than one kiss. A romantic dance. And a lot of flirting.

As for the rest of the characters, I enjoyed Deb opening up to a romance with Carlos (Carlos Sanz). Yes, she still missed her husband. But it was time for her to move on and be happy again.

Wyatt’s high school best friend Blake (Caroline Harris) also got her wish fulfilled when her Doctors Without Borders husband came back.

Happy endings for everyone!

Hit the Floor actress Katherine Bailess was also part of Dashing in December as another friend of Wyatt’s. She’s always fun to have onscreen.

If you’re into a more grownup and serious queer-led holiday movie, you should consider watching Dashing in December

Let us know what you thought if you’ve already watched it.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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