When it comes to modern dating, romantic comedies have tackled it from just about every angle. From Tinder meet-cutes to chance meetings in Ubers and catfishing on social media, the 21st-century dating landscape is just as tumultuous (if not more) than when computers didn't exist. Prime Video's My Fake Boyfriend tackles catfishing of sorts, this time with a deepfake, and it's an interesting enough take on a tried and true premise. With some laughs, enough heart, and a sweet lead performance from Love, Simon's Keiynan Lonsdale, My Fake Boyfriend proves that not all romantic comedies need to change up some predetermined formula. While it pulls some punches, Lonsdale — along with co-stars Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) and Dylan Sprouse (After We Collided) — carries this love story, even if it spends a little too much time focused on its outlandish premise and not enough time exploring the actual romance.
My Fake Boyfriend follows Lonsdale's Andrew, a stuntman on a cheesy soap opera who is in an on-again-off-again relationship with its star, Nico (Marcus Rosner). His friends, Jake (Sprouse) and Kelly (Hyland), have had enough of their constant breakups, leading Jake to create a fake online boyfriend that could make Nico jealous and help Andrew move on. When this fake boyfriend, named Cristiano after the international football star, becomes a social media sensation, things get complicated, especially when Andrew begins falling for a real person. Rafi (Samer Salem) is a cooking instructor and restaurant owner and, when Andrew finds himself falling for him, he must navigate both his fake boyfriend and Nico's repeated attempts to win him back.
Queer art is often held to impeccably high standards, perhaps because so little of it has been made and distributed as mainstream media. Each movie or television show centered around queer narratives is forced to stand in for what is an incredibly diverse community, a near-impossible task and one that, when executed poorly, stands out all the more for its flaws. Fortunately, this is slowly changing and Pride Month has seen a slew of new releases that explore different avenues of queer life in nuanced ways. My Fake Boyfriend may not be the most nuanced depiction of queer love, but the Prime Video movie just being okay isn't a bad thing — there needs to be more average queer art.
The deepfake plot at the center of My Fake Boyfriend comes together perhaps too easily in a sort of dreamy rom-com logic that is perfect for its idyllic version of New York City. Nevertheless, the Cristiano hijinks are perfectly sold by Sprouse, who is more than game for the increasingly wacky situations he finds himself in. Jake's relationship with Heyland's Kelly is another highlight of the movie, proving that the former Modern Family actress is just as funny as when she was on the hit ABC sitcom.
It's ultimately the chemistry between Rafi and Andrew that drives much of My Fake Boyfriend, even if it's a little light on gas. The movie doesn't seem to recognize this, with too much on its plate to focus solely on their budding romance. Instead, My Fake Boyfriend offers social media humor and gross-out bathroom jokes that, while not necessarily a bad thing, also undermine what makes the movie so charming in the first place. A romantic comedy lives and dies by its central couple, but when audiences don't get to spend enough time with them, the climax can fall apart. That's what happens here, with Rafi and Andrew's inevitable coupling undercut by the fact that viewers haven't gotten to know Rafi (or his dynamic with Andrew) well enough to buy into it.
Lonsdale and Salem do what they can to make this romance excel, though. It's just enough to elevate My Fake Boyfriend from mediocre rom-com and there's nothing wrong with that. Like some of the best romantic comedies, My Fake Boyfriend goes down with ease, accompanied by solid turns from its cast and palatable comedy that doesn't really push its R-rating beyond a few sight gags and sexual references. Still, there's something comforting about the way in which My Fake Boyfriend doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. It's content living in its charming version of New York where everything works out in the end.
My Fake Boyfriend is now streaming on Prime Video. The film is 100 minutes long and rated R for sexual material and language.