A Familiar Recipe
In "Recipe for a Perfect Christmas" J.J. Jenner (Carly Pope) finds herself being unexpectedly promoted to food critic for the magazine she works for which means she is extremely busy. So when her mother, Lee (Christine Baranski - The Grinch), arrives unannounced not only does J.J. have no time to baby-sit her but dislikes the fact that when ever her mother is around she takes over and makes her feel ignored. Alex (Bobby Cannavale - Shall We Dance), a chef with a new restaurant, is struggling and so contacts J.J. hoping she will review his restaurant but in return J.J. asks Alex to take Lee off her hands for the next two weeks in return for the review, except J.J. finds herself falling for him.
There are no real surprises in "Recipe for a Perfect Christmas" and anyone who has watched romantic comedies which feature food, Christmas, pushy mums and so on will know how things will play out soon after it starts. There is also absolutely no depth and very little subtlety as you know at some point there will be a scene where Alex feeds J.J. some of his wonderful cooking. Even the amusing idea of Alex taking Lee out as a favour to J.J. does little to hide what is going to happen and doesn't really deliver the complication it is meant to.
What this means is that "Recipe for a Perfect Christmas" is a movie which trades on 3 things; energy, cast and the way they look. Cast wise, well Carly Pope and Bobby Cannavale have that typical romantic comedy look, as in they look good but not ridiculously good looking and they both deliver the fun sort of performance which typicall fill this sort of movie. But the casting gem is Christine Baranski who as Lee is like a hurricane blowing through the movie delivering a larger than life performance of a pushy mum.
But that leads me to what ended up killing the movie for me and that is that it is so full on it is like an assault on your eyes and ears. Maybe its just a bit of Christmas movie burn-out on my part as I found it too energetic and bubbly, too cliche and chipper. In truth it isn't that different to so many other romantic comedies, especially those set during the lead up to Christmas and I guess probably works if you haven't over indulged in festive films.
What this all boils down to is that "Recipe for a Perfect Christmas" is just a typical Christmas rom-com and even more typical with it featuring a character who is a chef. It doesn't really deliver anything new and what it does deliver ended up feeling full on but I guess if you haven't already watched lots of Christmas movies it will be okay.