Monday, February 8, 2016

Desserts & Romance Back in 2004

Twelve years ago, director Kevin Connor's movie Just Desserts was released as a Hallmark romantic comedy. At 92 minutes long there is little time to waste on build up so the movie jumps right in with a shot of NYC then a chef preparing a chocolate dessert. These two scenes go back and forth traveling around NYC and watching the chef work until we see Marco Poloni, played by Costas Mandylor, working in his mother and uncle's bakery in the Bronx. The bakery isn't doing too well yet Marco and his uncle Fabrizio (Fab), played by David Proval, cannot bring themselves to just become another franchise even if it might save their business. But it is during one of these franchise meetings that Marco tastes a dessert made in this fancy restaurant by Chef Grace Carpenter, played by Lauren Holly. Marco sees an old culinary school rival on TV about a Cooking Channel competition (The Golden Whisk) that could save his family business however he needs a partner. He convinces Grace to join him by playing on her anger at being overlooked and disrespected simply because she is a woman in the high pressure cooking world.

Of course since this is a comedy and a romance we have a a bit of silly dialogue, inconvenient lover interests, over-reacting mothers, and flirting to manipulate. We also have the romcom tropes of high strung professional woman with a lower class yet emotionally volatile man who find what is missing in themselves in each other. Along the way, they must confront Marco rather colorful history in the same culinary school that Grace graduated from a few years later in the former of their former instructor and Marco's former friend and rival who betrayed him and has become a famous TV celebrity chef. Meanwhile Grace's wealthy boyfriend, Jim, played by Bruce Thomas, wanted to propose and is oblivious to the fact that Marco has also fallen in love with Grace as well so he enlists his aid in his proposal. The villains of the film, Jacques and Candy, played by Andrew Lauer and Dorie Barton, use all of their wiles and schemes to try and cheat their way to the victory but Grace sees through their lies and learns to express her own hostile outburst. To tell you more would ruin the show.

In terms of romcoms this is fairly standard for TV movies but what sets it apart for us is that chocolate is a solid part of the show from the start right through the very end. Both Mandylor and Holly act well given the material but Marco's mother, Lina, played by Brenda Vaccaro, is a bit over the top but again I have a feeling she is doing what she is told by the director. Classic this isn't but fun it is especially if you like chocolate.

If you'd like to see this movie you can rent the DVD through Netflix or buy it on Amazon.com. If you buy it using our links, you'll even help The Chocolate Cult because we use their Associates Program to recommend products.

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