It’s been a good year for fans of romantic comedies.
After a far-too-long hiatus from the spotlight, 2018 saw a resurgence of the rom-com, thanks to films like Crazy Rich Asians and Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And luckily for us, actress-writer-director Jenna Laurenzo is now taking things a step further by adding a queer spin to the genre with her new holiday romantic comedy, Lez Bomb.
The film tells the story of Lauren Anderson (Laurenzo), a young woman who plans to come out as a lesbian when she returns to New Jersey to celebrate Thanksgiving with her loved ones. But dropping the “lez bomb” is no easy feat and leads to the classic dysfunctional family fun that is reminiscent of films like The Family Stone and Little Miss Sunshine, two movies that Laurenzo just happens to love.
“I’ve always been nostalgic and there’s just something about those family films that always just hit that nerve in me,” Laurenzo told NewNowNext. “There’s something that feels really relatable about that—that all these families that love each other so much, that they come together and there’s just so much dysfunction.”
“I love watching how it will unfold,” she added, “Because the family loves each other despite the dysfunction and there’s just something about that that’s heartwarming and it feels like every single holiday I’ve ever experienced.”
It’s those maladjusted members of the family that create the eccentric cast of characters in Lez Bomb, and Laurenzo pulled out all the stops when it came to casting her relatives. For starters, Oscar-winning legend Cloris Leachman and Academy Award nominee Bruce Dern play Lauren’s grandparents.
Laurenzo said Kevin Pollack was the first actor to sign on to the project in the role of Lauren’s father, and that there is a specific moment in the script that he was immediately attracted to. And while she doesn’t want to spoil the moment for viewers before they see it, she explained what it is about that scene that made Pollack, and eventually Leachman and Dern, all decide that it was important to tell this story.
“The aspect of self-acceptance is what attracted them to the project because they hadn’t seen the coming out experience explored through that context,” the writer explained.
With a star-studded cast like this, it’s clear that Lez Bomb doesn’t need to be relegated to a niche LGBTQ flick, but rather something for the entire family to enjoy. Especially because it’s one of very few films about lesbians that delivers happy endings instead of devastating drama, something audiences have come to expect from queer cinema.
“At the end of the day, the people that need to see films with these narratives are not necessarily the people who are going to the film festivals,” Laurenzo said while explaining her reasoning behind breaking away from the more serious tones of most movies about gay women. “Comedy is such a wonderful way to make powerful messages more digestible and it brings people together to laugh.”
She continued, “It was really important to me for there to be a happy ending because you have to present these stories in a way that showcases that there’s hope, otherwise, people who are looking for these stories and need those stories, they don’t have a promise that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Lez Bomb opens in select theaters and across VOD platforms on November 9.