For the sake of everyone around me, I usually limit my intake of cheesy rom-coms to just the Christmas season. But this year I’ve let some of that festive cheese ooze over into Valentine’s Day and traded in mistletoe for cupid’s arrows.
I spent all of January doing some serious research, digging around in the Hallmark movie vault. My parameters were simple: all films to be considered had to be centered on the magic of Valentine’s Day, and they had to be extra cheesy. That means there’s no “Always Be My Maybe” or “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” on this list. Both are of a different caliber than the five selected below. So grab some chocolate and some wine and get ready for a cheesy time with these Valentine’s Day-centric rom-coms:
‘Sweeter Than Chocolate’
Lucy Sweet (Eloise Mumford) runs her family’s chocolate shop, where they have one particular confection that’s special: Legend has it that anyone who eats the famed chocolate cupid on Valentine’s Day is guaranteed to fall in love — if their hearts are open to it. The shop even has a “wall of love” featuring photos of couples who met after eating the chocolate. When the shop’s rent is set to go up, they start advertising the special chocolate on social media, drawing droves of people hoping to find true love, as well as a skeptical and cynical TV news reporter Dean (Dan Jeannotte) looking for a story. Dean and Lucy end up spending time together as he films a series of interviews with couples from the wall, and they open up to each other about their hopes and dreams. Available on Peacock.
For a school project, middle schooler Clara (Mia Quaranta de la Rosa) decides to start a matchmaking business. With some simple surveys, she’s able to pair up kids and adults alike. Her biggest challenge? Matching up her dad, restaurant owner David (Nicholas Gonzalez), and her teacher, newly single Kerri (Laura Vandervoort). It’s sweet to see David working to navigate how to be a parent after his divorce and Clara is a pretty clever cupid. There are also lovely touches of Mexican culture sprinkled throughout, and a fun Valentine’s Day matchmaking event at the restaurant with a mariachi band and heart-shaped tortillas. Available on Peacock.
‘Love, Romance and Chocolate’
I mean, the title really sums up the three tenets of Valentine’s Day. Hallmark queen Lacey Chabert is back, along with another cheesy rom-com favorite, Will Kemp. (The two have appeared on-screen before in “Christmas Waltz.”) Food stylist Emma (Chabert) gets dumped by her boyfriend just a romantic trip to Bruges, Belgium. Heartbroken, she decides to go on the trip anyway, with letters and photos from when her grandparents met in Bruges and fell in love. Somehow Emma gets roped into helping chocolatier Luc (Kemp) try to win a competition to create the most romantic chocolate for the upcoming royal wedding. There of course is a meddling rival chocolatier, and things come to a head at the Saint Valentine’s ball at the royal palace. They spend most of the movie eating chocolates and sweets, so be sure to have your own supply on hand. Available on YouTube TV.
‘All Things Valentine’
Avery (Sarah Rafferty) is a newspaper columnist who gives relationship advice under the pseudonym of “The Coach,” but she hates Valentine’s Day after some bad holidays in the past. To boost her column’s readership, her editor tasks her with writing about Valentine’s Day. Avery starts the project as a skeptic, but her point of view starts to change when she meets another anti-Valentine’s Day person, a veterinarian named Brenden (Samuel Page). As the pair start to get to know each other and begin to believe in love again, there’s a looming secret connection: Brenden’s ex-girlfriend broke up with him after reading Avery’s advice column and ever since then, Brenden has been leaving hateful comments on Avery’s work. Available on YouTube TV.
‘The Secret Ingredient’
Yes, yes, it’s another movie about sweets. This one goes beyond just chocolate and focuses on small-town bakery owner Kelly (Erin Cahill), who is nominated to participate in a baking competition show in New York. It’s a Valentine’s Day-themed show, with the showstopper challenge being a romantic proposal cake. The production is shrouded in secrecy: no one can know she’s on the show and the production takes steps to keep the contestants’ identities a secret from each other. Mysteriously, Kelly runs into her ex-fiance Andrew (Brendan Penny), who currently lives in Paris and is working for a famous chef. (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I didn’t see this movie’s big plot twist coming.) Throw in a meddling sister and some meddling producers and this one is just a sweet story about two people rekindling things after their careers took them separate ways. Available on YouTube TV.