Original or Crispy: A Recipe for Seduction (2020) - Reviewed

"Don't call me crouton." 

This statement, uttered with unsubtle dread by Mario Lopez is the totemic representation of 2020.  The unexpected surprise that this hilariously sleazy production is a Christmas film only heightens the insanity.  Featuring a scandalous central plot, a delightfully sexy and diverse cast, and the promise of future installments, this is one of the best-worst viewing experiences of the year. 

Heiress Jessica Mancera rejects her rich boyfriend's proposal forcing her mother to make a series of dangerous decisions as she attempts to solidify her family's influence.  In the wake of the proposal, Jessica develops feelings for the family's new live-in cook, Colonel Harland Sanders, leading to devastating consequences. Dripping with satire and self-deprecation, this is a film that is almost a parody of a parody.  Lifetime movies, especially Christmas movies are renowned for having recycled plots and characters and while Recipe continues this storied tradition, it also subverts the formula with unexpected twists and turns.  


Mario Lopez stars as Sanders, he does well with what little he has to work with, bringing his well-known charm to bear in each of his scenes.  His chemistry with Justine Alpert’s Jessica is natural, but most importantly easy going.  Despite the preposterous timing of their love story, it works for what it is, and perhaps the best part is that the calm foundation allows the more dubious aspects of the story to flourish. Martin Morrow is hilarious as Jessica's best friend and while the gay sidekick trope has been exploited ad nauseum, it’s clear that Morrow understands this and leans into the comedy.  The scene stealers are Tessa Munroe and Chad Doreck who play Jessica's mother and her boyfriend respectively.  As the unmistakable villains, one of the best attributes of their performances is how things go from neutral wealthy snobs to murderous maniacs at the drop of a dime, an element that pays tribute to the gaudy and absolutely hysterical situations that these pictures deliver every holiday season, and most likely continue to do so until the end of all life on planet Earth.  

Now streaming via Lifetime, A Recipe for Seduction is a wonderful piece of pop culture mysticism whose very existence is a mystery.  This is a year where the film industry is being fundamentally redefined while simultaneously fighting for its very existence.  Major tentpole films are being relegated to streaming platforms and studios are shutting their doors permanently, and yet, somehow, through the darkness of the pandemic, a twisted love triangle involving the king of fried chicken emerged into reality, an inverted Saturn Devouring His Son, spewing rumor, scandal, and indefatigable holiday cheer into the ethos.  A titan that now roams the collective subconscious of our entertainment memories forever, whether we like it or not. 

--Kyle Jonathan