At first glance, A California Christmas is another cheesy romance holiday movie. On one level, it is completely cheesy, yet on another level was really a great story. Written by Lauren Swickard, who starred in the lead as Callie, alongside her real-life husband Josh Swickard, who plays Joseph.
Their love story may be the main selling point of the story; however, both Callie and Joseph are not the best characters. That honour would go to Leo (Ali Afshar) and Manny (David Del Rio). Those two are the comedy relief, and they are simply amazing. I think I could watch a movie of just these two living it up.
The movie’s major conflict is that Callie will lose her farm to Joseph’s mom’s company. They plan to harvest the farm and winery to build warehouses. Joe poses as a farmhand to earn her trust, only to see his opportunity go up in flames after his cover is blown. In an attempt to save face and win the girl, Joe will go to the extreme to save the farm and his reputation.
I actually really enjoyed this film. One of the aspects I loved was the connection between Callie and Joe. After learning these two were married in real life, I could see how they looked at each other; the love was in their eyes. It felt real. My wife said the on-screen romance may have felt forced, which at moments, it feels that way; however, when it happens, it felt genuine to me.
When the film begins, I rolled my eyes because Joe’s mom lays the law down. He needs to clean up his act or not get promoted within the company. My initial thought was this would be another inheritance story, where the main character needs to go do a good deed to save face in the company and continue his rockstar life. Although the story is a tad bit like that, it is actually nothing like it. Joe needs to get the farm contract, but he decides that working for the first time in his life was well worth it. Of course, falling in love also changes his intentions, so he decides to go against his mom and save the farm. It was a good character arc that ends as you would expect, yet not for the reasons you expected.
I appreciated the film because it was written by the lead actress, and she had the courage to star opposite her husband to tell this story. 7/10