Christmas at the Golden Dragon

The More the Merrier

This is a delightful interconnected multi-story movie with an ensemble cast along the lines of Love, Actually, and the Garry Marshall helmed holiday-based productions. The casting and the acting were impeccable. The stories center around a popular Chinese Restaurant whose owners are retiring and will permanently be closing its doors on Christmas Eve. Each story is an engaging little gem and they all come together in a well-organized and balanced way. All of them are wrapped up like a neat little Christmas gift, but leave us wanting more.

First, we meet a lonely widow, played by the classy Barbara Niven, whose CEO daughter, Sara Canning, is frustrated with her for her inability to move on from her husband’s death. They do not remember their late husband and father in the same way at all. At the restaurant, she runs into an employee of her corporation she is friendly with, a divorced father (Antonio Cupo, Wow!) of two girls. He is struggling with how to parent his girls as a single father. Next, we meet the weak son of the owners. He flunked out of college, is quite lost, and with the restaurant closing, his future is up in the air. He is secretly a talented chef but is discounted and dominated by his traditional father. Will he find a backbone with the help of an old friend and classmate? Working as the restaurant delivery boy is a hard-working, kind, and caring young Hispanic who has been accepted at several prestigious universities but can’t afford to go without a scholarship. He is afraid of his father’s reaction if he tells him about his college aspirations. Finally, we have the daughter of the family who has never experienced a traditional American Christmas because she has always worked at her family’s restaurant on Christmas Day. This one provides most of the humor. She is finally free to leave and visit her non-Chinese boyfriend’s family for a “real” Christmas, which, to her confusion and disappointment, turns out to be nothing but a fantasy. It’s actually pretty funny thanks to the lovely boyfriend and his patient family.

I liked that almost all of the characters start out with some unlikeable qualities. Their relationships with each other with the restaurant serving as the foundation serve up much-needed personal growth, shaking up, and change for the better. As they all come together to keep The Golden Dragon open through one more Christmas Day, we see sadness and frustration left behind and reason for hope and optimism in the future. And just maybe a few promising romances on the horizon.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Glenbrooke Christmas

Autumn and Latonya Shine in This. More Latonya, Please.

This was an adequately entertaining Hallmark, and as such, I was a little disappointed because I really expect the best from Autumn Reeser. Also, Antonio Cupo looked super hot and perfectly cast as the fire chief she falls for. I also like the poor little rich girl trope as well. Autumn plays Jessica, a powerful and wealthy businesswoman who is soon to completely takeover her Grandfather’s real estate company. Before her life gets even more consumed, she decides to visit the small town of Glenbrooke, a place that her beloved late parents held dear. She hides her position and wealth so she will be treated like a normal person. As she settles in, she learns the famous Glenbrooke Church Bells are broken and the town can’t afford to fix them. Of course, the needed $10,000 is chump change to her, but she doesn’t want to reveal her wealth. Especially since Antonio Cupo hates rich people.

First of all, Mr. Fire Chief got off to a bad start with me by yelling at nice Autumn for something that was totally his fault. He jay-walked out in front of her car without looking and blamed her for not paying attention! Grrrrrrrrrr. He was sexist and entitled as Mr. Small Town VIP. He got better, then reverted to type again near the end, where he accused Autumn of the same bad behavior he was guilty of. Latonya Williams was adorable as Ruthie, another firefighter, who tells Antonio a few home truths at the end. Overall it was good, although not problem-free, in addition to Mr. Fire Chief’s character flaws.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

December 14, 2020

To Have and to Hold

Really Good!

I was thoroughly entertained by this movie in the “Books to Screen” series on Lifetime. I particularly enjoyed Erica Christensen’s performance. Even though she did not throw the bum out at the first infidelity, she did not come across as a doormat. There was lots of Drama, but it was not over the top so as to be squirmy. I liked that the bad husband was not thoroughly evil and hateful. He did not physically or verbally abuse her, he just could not keep it zipped and wanted her to be a certain type of wife. Which she went along with until she decided not to. The movie kept me engaged through both her personal and professional development and I liked the final outcome with the fresh start with both.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July 1, 2019

Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade

Doris and Rock 2.0

This was a charming romance with the talented and funny Autumn Reeser and the too handsome to live Antonio Cupo. Despite his fictionally good looks, he managed to be appealing and a worthy match for one of my favorite Hallmark actresses. They had great chemistry. This older effort (2012) is so heads and tails above the romances that Hallmark is spewing out these days. No cheesy cheap looking decorations or the phony Christmas tree. No small town with the Christmas name. I absolutely loved that Autumn’s character loved and wore vintage clothes. That was a great imaginative detail written in that wouldn’t even occur to whoever is writing the efforts of the last 2 years. And it really added even more to the homage to an old Doris Day romance. Her stupid boyfriend was not evil, but such a loser that it was fun to hiss and boo at him. There were a few little glitches, such as Henry dressed up as Santa at the end and making out with Emily in front of everyone at the parade. WTH? but other than that, Great writing, a sense of humor, talented stars, a good supporting cast, and lack of Christmas cheesiness made one of the best Hallmark Christmas movies ever.**9 out of 10 stars**

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

November 17, 2017