‘A California Christmas: City Lights’ Review: Love Overcomes All

'A California Christmas: City Lights' Review

‘A California Christmas: City Lights’ is the sequel to the 2020 Netflix hit rom-com ‘A California Christmas’ with Shaun Paul Paccinino returning to helm from a script by the movie’s star Lauren Swickard.

This feature is streaming on the platform starting December 16 and stars Lauren and her husband Josh, Ali Afisher, David del Rio, Raquel Dominguez, Gunner Anderson, and Laura James.

The first chapter ended with the drop-dead gorgeous hunk Joseph from San Francisco played by Josh pitching camp on Callie’s dairy farm and winery played by his real-life wife, Lauren.

The two are head over heels for each other and managed to get a happy ending in the first movie.

In this second entry, though, the lovebird’s narrative continues as now Callie’s ranch and vineyard are doing pretty well thanks to Joseph’s hand in running the establishment.

The movie’s first five minutes show the insanely gorgeous Joseph going down on one knee and asking the love of his life Callie to marry him. She, of course, says yes, and their blissful union couldn’t be any better until a complication occurs.

Joshua must journey back to the city and take care of some family business that involves him taking over the running of a highly successful real estate conglomerate after his mom steps down.

'A California Christmas: City Lights' Review

Callie, of course, tags along with her beau, leaving her farm and wine business in the hands of her best friend Brandy and property manager Manny, played by Raquel Dominguez and David Del Rio, respectively.

While in San Francisco, Callie learns that Joseph used to be quite the player having multiple relations with different women.

However, this doesn’t raise any red flags for the blonde bombshell as she understands that every person has a past, and people can change the course of their lives, and she is determined to give her love the benefit of the doubt.

All the doubts, worries, and insecurities are ironed out temporarily when the duo decide to take their vows during Christmas Eve, which is literally in three weeks, something that Callie feels rushed in the beginning but obliges to, nevertheless.

There are some Christmas references spread across the movie. The most visible one is the charity run by Owen, the brother to Liam, Callie’s fiancé, who sadly passed away.

Owen serves the unfortunate in the community by providing food to the homeless people under the Soup Kitchen organization that Joseph’s family business has funded for years.

Unfortunately, the company has to withdraw funding apparently to cut down on costs, something that Callie isn’t happy about thanks to her involvement. Joseph’s helping heart grows bigger by the end of the movie.

There isn’t any snow except at the end of the movie during Callie and Joseph’s wedding, which is so minimal and looks like some fake white flakes being dropped from the top.

There aren’t any crazy Christmas shopping sprees, no one’s baking Christmas cookies, and one can’t even spot a roll of wrapping paper anywhere in the movie, but there are some gorgeous Christmas trees and a few Christmas carols form part of the music in the film.

A problem that threatens the lovebird’s tight-knit union comes in the form of Joseph’s jealous ex-girlfriend Victoria who is also serving as the acting CEO after his mother stepped down.

She is determined to drive a wedge between Joseph and Callie and even fabricates lies, serves ill-timed information, all in an attempt to prevent the marriage from happening.

The chemistry between the lead stars is fantastic. Part of the reason could be because they are a couple in real life.

Also, watching the two leads work together to save a company on the verge of collapsing based on a strategy that helped their farm business back to its feet is fantastic.

While Victoria who is supposed to successfully run such a big company is only focused on a gala event where she gets the spotlight in front of all the media and tabloids.

The relationship Callie and Joseph share and their adoration for each other are fantastic. Callie understands that Joseph has some faults, and as her mom taught her, forgiveness is vital for a relationship to thrive.

‘A California Christmas: City Lights’ excellently switches between city and country life seamlessly. There isn’t much in terms of locations as the scenes are basically on the farm, a cutaway of San Francisco, some shots from the soup kitchen, the hotel, and a few from the street.

Manny and Brandy’s relationship is awesome as well. One might say they moved pretty too fast, but Manny’s role as the comedic relief for the movie works perfectly.

The music variation in this film is fantastic. From rock and roll to Christmas carols to mellowed-down feel-good tunes all excellently complement this film making it more interesting to watch.

One scene that can quickly leave a viewer puzzled is when Callie and Joseph arrive at the hotel. They are offered some tea which accidentally spills on Callie and some on the hotel rag.

Interestingly, instead of Joseph taking the tissues and wiping the coffee off Callie’s top, he starts wiping off the liquid from the floor, which isn’t what one would expect.

Despite this movie being about love, family, caring, it doesn’t draw much emotion from the viewer. There are a few aaw moments, especially when the lovebirds share their passionate moments but not the kind that leaves the audience with goosebumps all over their bodies.

‘A California Christmas: City Lights’ is a fantastic movie. Balancing aspects of a rom-com to those of a Christmas movie. It sure does the tropes of movies from both genres, but it still is a watchable film.

It has a few kissing scenes which aren’t gross, has zero nudity, the language is squeaky clean making it a fantastic movie for one to enjoy with the rest of the family without worrying about weird glances of embarrassing questions from the little ones.

SCORE: 6.5/10

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.