A California Christmas: City Lights Parent Guide
This is an irritating film because most of the plot's issues could be avoided if anyone possessed communication skills or emotional maturity.
Parent Movie Review
A year after arriving on the ranch and falling in love with Callie (Lauren Swickard), Joseph (Josh Swickard) is ready to take the next step in their relationship. But when Joseph has to go back to the city to deal with some family and business obligations, the couple has to confront his past, and make difficult decisions about their future.
I didn’t mind last year’s A California Christmas. It was cheesy and sappy, but mildly entertaining. Unfortunately, this sequel leans further into the mushy faux-drama for which the holiday romance genre is rightly mocked, and ends up a cringy, frustrating mess. Almost every conflict in the story could have been resolved if any of the characters had basic communication skills and some level of emotional maturity. Were the characters 13 years old instead of 30, their actions would be a bit more comprehensible As it stands, the constant miscommunications and misunderstandings are so infuriating that the movie becomes almost unwatchable. Most of the characters are flat stereotypes and the actors lack the skill to add any depth beyond what is (poorly) written in the amateur script.
Even worse is the confusing and often toxic messaging this movie tries to get across. The first installment dealt with that whole “relationship built on a lie” trope that we’ve seen and criticized before. This film expands on that and comes out with the message that if you love someone, you must forgive them for everything they do because love is enough to keep a relationship going for a lifetime. Trust, honesty, and communication don’t matter because love conquers all! The writers try to shoehorn in a message about caring for those less fortunate, especially at Christmas, but it’s so surface level that it comes across as preachy and hypocritical. The plot could have tried to address economic and social inequalities in a meaningful way, but I guess it’s more important that we watch bland rich people make out with each other.
Thankfully, I do have a couple positives to point out. One is that Manny (David del Rio) continues to be the best part of these movies, though I do wish he and Leo (Ali Afshar) spent more time together this time around, as their bromance is by far the most enjoyable aspect of the first installment. Also, there’s a lot more Christmas in this story, so at least I can’t accuse the title of false advertising again. There are relatively low amounts of negative content, especially considering the genre, but that’s not enough to make me recommend this film for anyone but the most hardcore of Christmas romance fans.Directed by Shaun Paul Piccinino. Starring Lauren Swickard, Josh Swickard, Amanda Detmer. Running time: 90 minutes. Theatrical release December 16, 2021. Updated May 31, 2022
Watch the trailer for A California Christmas: City Lights
A California Christmas: City Lights
Rating & Content Info
Why is A California Christmas: City Lights rated PG-13? A California Christmas: City Lights is rated PG-13 by the MPAA Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material.
Violence: A man smacks another man in the groin as a joke.
Sexual Content: Adult couples kiss throughout. A man and woman kiss and begin to undress before the camera cuts away. A woman grabs a man’s buttocks. Some mild innuendos.
Profanity: There are over ten uses of terms of deity and two mild expletives.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adults are seen drinking socially in many scenes. Adults are seen doing shots.
Page last updated May 31, 2022
A California Christmas: City Lights Parents' Guide
What conflicts do Joseph and Callie face over the course of the story? Do they handle those conflicts in productive, healthy ways? What do you think of the choices they both make in regards to their relationships?
Related home video titles:
This film is a sequel to 2020’s A California Christmas.
Another romance blooms on a farm in The Lost Husband.