A Big Fat Family Christmas (2022)


A Big Fat Family Christmas Storyline

Liv gets an assignment to photograph the Chang family’s annual holiday party for a front-page story–nobody at work knows that they are her family. She wants to confide in new co-worker Henry but doesn’t want to jeopardize her big break.

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A Big Fat Family Christmas Movie Reviews

Didn’t bowl me over, but very nice

First, it’s delightful to see Tia Carrera in this film, and she did a great job as the mother of the female lead.

Next, they did a good job with a nice switch to an Oriental themed family, and a MUCH better job than the montage story about the Chinese restaurant (Golden Dragon) closing.

This story is one of growth and acceptance with few stumbling blocks along the way. The two incidents which did arise didn’t cause a major crisis either time. The romance really didn’t have the normal “How do they get past this?” moment, which also provided a nice change from that cliche.

I enjoyed the movie, and I can recommend it to Hallmark fans.


Liv is a photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle who reports to Jack Wagner who plays Charles. She is assigned to work with Henry, a newcomer from Bangkok, to write about the Chang family’s famous Christmas party that raises money for the Chinatown community, affectionately called The Changtastic Christmas. It is circus-like, outlandish, and unapologetically over the top. Little do her boss and new partner know, Liv Rose is actually Liv Chang. She has always kept her identity a secret because she has always been embarrassed by her “Crazy Loud Asian” family, especially at Christmas. She prefers quiet elegance and muted tones. It’s a tribute to Shannon Chan-Kent’s portrayal that her character isn’t thoroughly dislikable. It is made clear that other than her blind spot about her family’s Christmas traditions, she loves them very much and she has a good heart.

It is not long before Henry, who is thoroughly charmed by the Chang family, finds out Liv’s true identity as their beloved daughter. She agrees to help with the story as long as she and her connection to the family are kept out of it. She cares too much about what people think and does not want her connection to her parents (Mom played by Tia Carrere) made public. It is not long before love between the two journalists is on the horizon. Unfortunately, the romance is a weak point in the movie. Henry is very bland and has a very weird accent. For me, the vibe was “friendly colleague” rather than “smitten true love”. He is kind of stand-offish with her even at the end. Too bad, I really liked him in The Conjuring.

Henry submits his story to Charles who gives it a thumbs down, saying it needs a more personal connection to the famous Changs. This is where Liv confesses her secret identity to Charles. With her OK, they set about giving the feature a more personal spin and bringing in more about the family. Henry goes with Liv to collect the donations from each family in the community which are hung in red bags on the Christmas tree at the party. (the donations, not the families.) This is where it all goes sideways. Liv (and Henry) lose the big bag of money on the trolley car! This in turn leads to what might be an unhealable and hurtful breach with her family. Words are had.

Luckily, this had a very strong and satisfying ending. We learn about a childhood incident that caused Liv to put up her boundaries in the first place. A depressed and contrite Liv seeks refuge at her local church, the historic Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral on Grant Avenue. She is given wise advice and hope from a nice woman who works there. May I digress? I think it’s really cool and says a lot for Hallmark that they have retreated from their move towards the more secular and incorporated some religious themes. And they have done it with subtlety, and with sensitivity and discretion. Yes, the shift was probably due to the emergence of GAC (Gack) as another alternative Christmas movie channel and the defection of some of their more prominent old…uh, stars and the attendant publicity. Of course as it turns out, GAC’s ratings are not even a blip on the screen compared with Hallmark’s mighty numbers. But competition sometimes shakes things up, doesn’t it? Anyway, Liv finds a way to make good on the donations, heal the breach with her family, her community, and embrace her culture regardless of “what people think.” And it all results in their story being featured on the front page of the newspaper! Ka-ching ka-Chang!

The story is more than a simple romance

While there are some echoes of some common Christmas stories, there is a lot that is unique in this one. At the start it is about a photo=journalist who gets assigned to cover a famous Christmas party in the Chinese community without her editor knowing the family giving it is hers. As the story goes on, we learn that she has also had an influence on the development of the party.

Liv reacts strongly to anything that ties her to her family in public. At first I thought Shannon Chan-Kent was overacting with this. By the end of the story her emotion becomes more understandable. This woman brings real energy to the part.

There is a romance between Liv and the writer, Henry, assigned with her. They spend a lot of screen time together, but the romance between them is not as obvious as would be expected from all that screen time. There is Chinese-American history and culture and sights to see.

The conflict begins far earlier than usual but is complex and takes time to really develop. In that, there are some threads associated with racial bullying mixed up with and contributing to Liv’s insecurities.

Chan-Kent sings twice in the movie including the climax. I believe the language was Cantonese. Her voice and the song are beautiful.