Sweeter than Chocolate

“Love is Worth the Grief.”

I wasn’t exactly bowled by Dan Jeannotte in the previous movie I remembered seeing him in (turns out I’ve seen him in 4 movies) and was not looking forward to this one. Chocolate. Again. Save the little Shop. Again. But he won me over right away.  He brought humor and charm to his character who started off a little smarmy and full of himself but ended up quite warm and sympathetic. And his chemistry with the female lead, Eloise Mumford, was almost tangible.  She has done an excellent job in several recent Hallmarks. She tends to star in more emotional serious scripts, rather than light comedic fare. Probably because she almost always looks like she is going to burst into tears at any given moment. This movie is sweeter and lighter in tone and she handles the banter and romantic comedy vibe pretty well though it’s not her forte.

The plot wasn’t much and has been done before quite recently (eat magic food-find true love). But despite that, thanks to the pairing of the two leads, and some entertaining side stories, I enjoyed it. Lucy and her mother own a chocolate shop that features their magic chocolate cupids. According to the family legend, anyone who is open to love and eats one of them on Valentine’s Day will meet their perfect match. When her best friend does just that and ends up getting engaged to her boyfriend, she is so over the moon that she posts about it. It goes viral and the little family legend gets the attention of a TV producer who sends her ace investigative reporter to do a story on it. In a little twist, she wants a happy feel good story, not an expose. Unfortunately, too used to looking for scams everywhere, he offends and insults Lucy and her shop and gets thrown out. When his editor tells him that a promotion to the anchor position he covets is riding on his ability to branch out from hard-hitting takedowns of scam artists to include more fluffy morning show-friendly pieces, he convinces Lucy to give him another chance. The publicity would boost sales and save their shop.

The romance between ambitious and cynical Dean Chase and shy and vulnerable Lucy is engaging. Lucy has never tried one of her own chocolate cupids because she does not want to open herself up to love and romance. She was painfully affected by how the death of her father devastated her mother for so long. Despite themselves, Dean and Lucy grow closer as the one story has led to a whole series featuring interviews with couples that the magic chocolates have brought together. She needs the sales that Dean’s stories are generating but the orders become more than the shop can handle. Things get overwhelming, a few things go wrong, Dean may be moving to New York, and Lucy does not handle any of it well. She starts to think that the magic chocolates are cursed, and generally gets all weepy and starts to go off the deep end, which Eloise Mumford is very good at. Luckily for the happy ending, Lucy’s mother steps in with her insights, wisdom, and her own backstory, and helps Lucy to understand that even though opening herself to love may sometimes lead to grief and pain, it is worth the risk. And Grandpa “Opa” would approve.

This Hallmark had a nice balance of emotional struggles, humor, character arcs, and romance. A dash of magic and a good message made for a winning recipe.

Rating: 7 out of 10.