A Gingerbread Romance (2018)

There’s six weeks to go until Christmas, but I’m ready to call it a day with Hallmark. I don’t know if I can last much longer if I keep watching duds like A Gingerbread Romance. This movie is a good reminder that this channel is more about quality than quantity this time of year (okay, maybe every time of year), and you can’t just throw together some sparkly decorations, vaguely Christmas happenings, and spiced baked goods and expect something merry and bright.

Yet that’s the idea. The thinking here seems to be that larger gingerbread will pack a bigger holiday punch, and that is not the case. Taylor (Tia Mowry-Hardrict) and Adam (Duane Henry) are tasked with building a life-sized gingerbread house for a local charity event, leading them to reassess their personal and professional lives. Taylor, an architect, takes charge because, well, she’s an architect. Her design skills aren’t exactly suited to the cookie medium, however, and she cedes some control to her partner, who hopes to elevate his reputation as a baker. Adam has been whipping up basic cakes and muffins for awhile now but is eager to start his own fancy pants bakery.

The two clash over competing gingerbread visions; she wants sleek and modern and he wants classic Hansel and Gretel, a problem that may be easier to overcome than her ego. Taylor is a snob’s snob; she doesn’t hide her contempt for this cake delivery guy and isn’t too pleased to be assigned this glorified art project while waiting for a promotion to her firm’s Paris office.

I wouldn’t have minded a more antagonistic relationship between the two. Adam pushes back at first but mostly has the look of someone who just wants to get through this silly affair to prop up his resume, and maybe impress his daughter. Taylor also takes a bite out of that humble pie when she realizes the baker knows a thing or two about cookie construction. In this case though, nice begets boring, and I think more attention needs to be paid to fact that this is a tense last minute project for the both of them. If Food Network has taught me anything, it’s that something of this scale requires more than on-site sketching and casual experimentation in your home kitchen.

In truth, a giant gingerbread building contest could have made for a fun movie. I can deal with the storyline since this is the blueprint for every Hallmark movie. I can also deal with the somewhat lackluster pairing of Mowry-Hardrict and Henry because it’s about time more POC take the lead roles. What I can’t deal with though are the embarrassingly fake gingerbread blocks and the disregard for timelines. I know it’s nitpicky of me to go off on bad props and inattention to detail in this particular film, but I guess this is where I’m drawing the line.

Released: 2018
Dir: Richard Gabai
Writer: Barbara Kymlicka, Gregg Rossen, Brian Sawyer
Cast: Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Duane Henry, Melody Nosipho Niemann, Jordana Lajoie, Giles Panton, Kazumi Evans, Melissa Peterman, Heather-Claire Nortey, Jocelyn Panton
Time: 90 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2019