In a wink to romantic comedies of the past, Freeform’s “The Thing About Harry” opens with a shot of the twinkling Chicago skyline, making it clear this is a film intended to tug on the heartstrings.
As rom-com fans can attest, the Windy City has been the setting for many cinematic courtships, including “While You Were Sleeping” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Even “When Harry Met Sally,” which many believe to be the genre’s gold standard, begins with a scene at the University of Chicago’s downtown campus before moving the action to New York.
There’s no doubt that “The Thing About Harry” revels in such nostalgia, and as in those earlier movies, a happy ending is guaranteed for two star-crossed lovers by the time the credits roll. The film is also refreshingly progressive, portraying two young queer men who choose to look beyond labels in their quest for love.
Debuting on Feb. 15, “The Thing About Harry” follows the openly gay Sam (played by “Grey’s Anatomy” star Jake Borelli), who is reunited with a former high school bully, Harry (newcomer Niko Terho), en route to a mutual friend’s engagement party.
On the surface, the two men are opposites. Sam is ambitious and career-driven, but he’s a novice when it comes to matters of the heart, while the cavalier Harry dates (and discards) with ease while shuffling between menial jobs. Still, Sam is surprised to learn that his former nemesis ― whom he has known to only date women ― has recently come out as pansexual, meaning that he is open to having relationships with people of any sexuality or gender.
A friendship soon develops between the two men, though it’ll take a number of years and a few unsatisfying relationships for them to discover they’re perfect for one another. (There may be a high-stakes, semi-musical profession of love, too.)
The film’s playful adherence to such tropes, as well as its visual nods to its predecessors, came...