Happy after-Valentine’s Day, everyone! In an unfortunate turn for Hallmark, Valentine’s Day landed on a Thursday which made the last film in their #CountdowntoValentinesDay air on the Saturday after said holiday. A bit strange considering it was filmed out of the country and features Lacey Chabert, one of their top Hallmark leading ladies. Maybe they thought she would draw viewers post-Valentine’s Day.
What is Love, Romance, & Chocolate about?
New York accountant Emma Colvin is heartbroken when her boyfriend leaves her before their planned romantic getaway to Belgium for Valentine’s Day. Convinced by a friend to go alone on the trip, Emma has the adventure of a lifetime when her Belgian innkeeper introduces her to renowned chocolatier, Luc Simon. Luc and his fellow chocolatiers are in the midst of a competition to create the most romantic chocolate in Belgium for the upcoming Belgian royal wedding. He discovers her kitchen skills and soon she’s immersed in the competition and a budding romance develops. Starring Lacey Chabert, Will Kemp, and Brittany Bristow.
The film starts with the making of a cupcake. It looks edible which is nice. It’s delicately boxed up and taken to an office by our heroine Emma. Her friend eats a cupcake and asks Emma if she’s excited to be going to Bruges. Emma happily talks about it, but the conversation is interrupted by a phone call from her boyfriend. She rushes over to a restaurant to meet him.
Emma is happy to see him, but he looks less so. Maybe she didn’t get him a cupcake. Actually, he’s probably annoyed because she won’t stop talking about how her grandparents met in Bruges. She’s even showing him pictures of their first date.
Boyfriend sighs and says that he won’t be going. He’s been offered a promotion in Albany. He’s choosing his job over LOVE which is a cardinal Hallmark sin.
Emma is bummed and complains to her friend about the breakup. She brings up her dead grandparents again. The friend encourages her to go to Bruges by herself. That’s not a bad idea. Especially if the flights and hotel reservations are non-refundable.
We catch up with Emma in Bruges. She’s greeted by the hotel owner, a woman with a fake Belgian accent. How do I know this? Because this woman was the secondary love interest in Christmas at the Palace which took place in a fictional country. I think this actress only takes roles if they fly her to another country which is a pretty savvy move. I also knew that she wasn’t Belgian because the accent is terrible.
Marie the hotel owner tells Emma that she’s arrived at the best time because there is going to be a royal wedding.
Emma settles in and decides to tour the city with her digital camera.
A man with a fantastic head of hair blocks one of her pictures so she asks him to move. He doesn’t. She tries another language. He still ignores her. Emma moves along.
At the hotel, Marie has gathered her guests to get them started with the chocolate tour and tell them that there is going to be a chocolate competition to crown the royal chocolatier. Everyone is excited.
Emma is the only single person at this gathering which is kind of awkward for her. She bonds with Marie and happily declares, “Who needs love when you have chocolate!” And thus, a thousand cheeky mugs, novelty pajamas, and kitchen plaques were born.
Marie takes the group to one of the oldest chocolate shops in Bruges so that they can make their own treats. She introduces Luc, the chocolate shop owner….WHY IS HE ENGLISH?! Apart from being British, he’s also the guy that wouldn’t move out of the way of Emma’s 6-megapixel digital camera.
While taking the chocolate making class, Emma and Luc butt heads because Emma decides to change up the recipe.
Once the tour group has left, Luc’s assistant Petra says that the shop isn’t performing very well and may go under soon. Luc tells her not to worry because things will quickly pick up once they win the royal chocolate competition. This is a bad business decision and Luc deserves to fail if that’s how he plans to run his finances.
The next day, Emma returns to Luc’s shop to buy some chocolates. But poor Luc is having a bit of a time. You see, Petra is heavily pregnant and although she wants to work, she needs to stay at home. Emma is in the middle of this workplace discussion and offers to help Luc with the competition. Luc reluctantly agrees. Hopefully, Emma won’t be paid because this would be a complete violation of her tourist visa.
Emma and Luc get down to business. Unfortunately, Luc just isn’t getting it right. His illegal assistant decides that they should take a walk to get inspired. After buying a ton of other people’s chocolates, they buy a blanket, go on a picnic, and share feelings.
Later that night, Luc is approached by a guy in a turtleneck named Max. Max thinks Luc’s shop is old-fashioned. He wants to buy the property and have Luc work for him, but Luc is hinging his hopes on winning the ultra-competitive royal event.
The next morning at Luc’s shop, Emma goes on about her friggin’ grandparents and says they could use the dead couple as inspiration. Maybe top a chocolate with some ashes? Luc isn’t really buying it, but she’s cheap labor so whatever.
At night, Emma goes on a walkabout with map in hand. She bumps into Max who informs her that the blue lines on a maps stand for water. Emma never realized this. I have no words. He helps her, and I guess he probably likes her too now because men love stupid women who can’t read maps.
At the hotel, Emma talks about her stupid grandparents to poor Marie and we’re introduced to the concept of a secondary love story. Fast forward.
Max spies Emma waiting in a long line for a fancy chocolate shop and decides to charm her. He pulls her to the front of the queue because, lo and behold, he is the owner. Max’s shop is uber modern. He believes in mixing flavors and experimenting which totally makes Emma melt.
Back at Luc’s stuffy trAdiTioNaL shop, Luc says cupcakes are easier than chocolate. So they do this whole competitive thing where Luc finds out that cupcakes are hard. Marie sees the blossoming love and sets up a romantic snack table for them. Luc has a big idea and ditches Marie’s carefully laid out meal to run off with Emma for a fancy dinner and canal ride.
After the romantic canal ride, Max runs into the couple. This bothers Luc and he pushes Emma away since she said she kind of liked Max’s chocolate. Chocolate is a euphemism.
Despite the weird reaction to Max, Luc and Emma get closer. Luc regales her with the tale of his parents’ courtship. If their love of other people’s love isn’t enough of a reason why they should be together, I don’t know what is. When Luc is alone, he looks at a picture of his parents and appears to become inspired.
When Emma returns to Luc’s place after montage dress shopping, Luc gets her to work. His plan is to combine Emma’s cupcakery and his chocolatiering. After having a tour group sample it, they decide that this is the chocolate to enter into the competition.
Emma finally makes it to the royal palace and whips out that photo of her grandparents again. Somehow, Luc hasn’t yet seen it which is astonishing. Hopefully, Emma gets married, so she can stop focusing on her grandparents’ “love story”.
It’s time for the judging. Luc is the final chocolatier to present his piece. Although the prince and princess absolutely love it, they won’t reveal the winner until the Valentine’s Day gala. Luc is happy and runs off to tell Petra.
With Emma alone, Max uses this opportunity to pounce and ask her out for a coffee. He also asks her to the Valentine’s Ball, but she refuses. Max tries to bamboozle her by dropping some hot gossip that Luc’s place is close to shutting its doors. Emma is saddened that her “partner” never told her. As Max “comforts” Emma, Luc saunters by with a big bouquet of flowers. He gets the wrong impression, of course, and drops the flowers. (Fun fact: I wrote “drops the flowers” into this recap before he actually did it.)
The next day, Max rubs the potential relationship he may have with Emma in Luc’s face. Presumptuous, but I guess this guy’s character is “turtleneck creep.” Luc has brought Petra back to work which makes Luc and Emma’s encounter at his shop really weird. Emma tries to leave Belgium early, but Marie stops her and invites her to the ball.
It’s the day of the big Valentine’s Ball. The two competitors size each other up by the snack table and realize that neither one has Emma as their date. Just as this happens, Emma arrives in a red dress. Luc asks her to dance and gets real with her. Luc asks her to stay. How long are US tourist visas for Belgium?
They then sloppily kiss on the dancefloor at a royal event.
After sucking face, the dorky prince and princess announce the winner of the competition and title of royal chocolatier…Max! No. It’s Luc. Luc and Emma receive their award that is a bird’s wing.
Fast forward and the shop is full of cupcakes, chocolate, and patrons. Presumably Emma stays. They kiss again. FIN.
Lacey Chabert was Lacey Chabert as Hallmark Heroine number 109. She’s top of her game in this field so there’s not much to say about her. Luc was English. It never explains why he’s English and runs one of the oldest chocolate shops in Bruges, but maybe Hallmark thinks their audience thinks everyone in Europe sounds British? Brexit refuge? I also suspect Max looked not enough like a Lego man for them to consider him as the primary love interest. Vague French accent = philanderer. I must say that this film felt a little bit more like a cinema romcom than a Hallmark film. I suppose the location had something to do with it and the filming looks a little more quality. However, that newspaper at the start really just reminds you how much of a Hallmark film this is.
That’s it for Valentine’s. Stay tuned for either Christian Mingle: The movie OR Longshot. What’s Longshot? Oh, wouldn’t you like to know!
- The film’s header actually looks like a legit romcom poster for a film that’s released in the cinema. Maybe it’s the leading man’s smirk that makes it.
- Emma’s ex works for a “firm.” Firms are bad things, by the way.
- The Palace Times is printed on copy paper and is written in English. I’m just baffled by this prop. Why even bother?!
- When Emma tried to speak to Luc in German when they first meet, she said “I love you” instead of “I am a tourist.” She’s either bad with languages or she was listening to a prank book on tape.
- The shots of chocolate, people making chocolate, and people eating nice chocolate are a delight.
- Luc perfectly recites one of the grandparent’s love notes which is super weird. Why? How? Did he have ownership of them for some time? Does he have a perfect memory??
- When looking this up on IMDB, I kept seeing the surname “Bristow.” The actress who played Marie is named Bristow. Some family connections in Hallmark, methinks?