A California Christmas (2020) Review

Hallmark Style with a Capital H, the sunny California setting make it feel less like a Christmas movie and more like a feel good, RomCom.

Certificate: 12

Director: Shaun Paul Piccinino

Screenwriter: Lauren Swickard

Starring: Lauren Swickard, Josh Swickard, Ali Afshar

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Runtime: 106 Minutes

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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With his carefree, playboy lifestyle on the line, Joshua agrees to go to a northern California Ranch and charm the woman who owns it into selling her land to his family company.  Once there, he gets mistaken for the new ranch-hand, but figures this will be a great way to ingratiate himself with the family and make convincing them to sell even easier.  Only two problems, he has never worked any kind of manual job in his life, and he is falling in love with the ranch owner.

Lets get one thing abundantly clear before we even start, no Ranch Hands look like this guy in real life unless they are on the cover of a Romance novel.  That should have been Callie’s first hint that something was very wrong.  And was there a need for him to fix fences and generators with his shirt off? Nope.  Am I mad about it? Not really.  Just making an observation.  So if you were in any doubt that this film is first and foremost a Romance, even after seeing the corny trailer and cheesy poster, then that description of the main guy should give you some idea of what you are in for.

I am not usually a big RomCom fan.  They are predictable and all follow the same general rules and tropes, so nothing that happens is ever really that surprising, and the same is true here.  You know right from the off that at some point Callie is going to find out about Joshua’s deception and that it will probably be right after they profess their love to each other, and you would be right.  But there was just something so wholesome and lovable about this particular film that drew me in more than others of it’s ilk.

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Yes the plot was still predictable and the writing was still cheesy and it was literally a big check list of everything that should be included in a ‘Cowboy/Ranch Romance.’  But it was the great characters that appealed to me.  Even Joshua, who starts off at the beginning as a really unlikeable, city boy who thinks he knows everything, by the end shows that soft emotional, sweet side that Hallmark assures me every city guy secretly keeps buried but that I am yet to experience in real life.  Callie is feisty and strong and of course is only vulnerable once she really gets to know you.  But the comedy stylings of Leo and Manny were really a genius stroke.  They broke up the emotion and the drama at the ranch and were a breath of fresh air every now and then.  Just Fabulous.

This one is light on the Christmas element, with it barely being a plot feature in the film at all so if you like your holiday films a little lighter on the snow and twinkly lights, then this one is for you. 

‘A California Christmas’ is streaming on Netflix now!

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