Bottled With Love

Bethany Bottles Charm

This is another take on You got Mail, which was a new take on In the Good Old Summertime, which was a new take on The Shop Around the Corner. That’s OK because it is a  sure-fire and enjoyable trope for a romantic comedy. Closed off  Abbey is disappointed in love again, and on the advice of her aunt pours out her heart in a letter which is found by Nick. He emails her and they start a correspondence. They really connect on a deep level.

Meanwhile, free-spirited Nick is summoned from his vagabond life by his father and sister who want him to temporarily help with the family corporation. Their star employee is none other than focused, efficient, no-nonsense workaholic Abbey who is paired up with Nick, who definitely marches to a different drummer. They strike sparks off of each other because they are so different, but as they get to know each other, they see the other’s value, and become attracted.

The pen pals finally agree to meet, but before that can happen, Nick realizes that his soulmate pen pal is none other than uptight Abbey. He freaks out and stands her up. She blocks him on email.

On a mission for the company, which is a whole other story, Abbey and Nick continue to bond and fall in love especially since Nick now knows Abbey’s business self is so different from her personal self. Nick finally confesses that he is her secret pen pal and humbly apologizes for not telling her sooner and crying off from their big date. Now here is where the Hallmark version differs from its predecessors. Instead of being thrilled that her pen pal soulmate is the same guy she is falling in love with in person, she gets mad! This is because the Hallmark formula demands a conflict and misunderstanding that has to be resolved in the last 20 minutes of the show. In addition to resolving the romance, Nick’s shaky career prospects are taken care of quite nicely as well.

Bethany Joy Lenz is a joy as always and she teams well with talented and attractive Andrew Walker. The scene where she blisses out over her beloved pancakes Nick surprises her with is delightful.  I just can’t say enough about Bethany Joy Lenz. She elevates every show she is in.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

October 15, 2021

Matchmaker Santa

Meh.

Reliable Lacey just didn’t do it for me in this one. This movie was made 8 years ago and Lacey Chabert hasn’t changed a bit. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Same hairdo, same lipstick, same signature eyeliner. Honestly, couldn’t she even wash her face before going to bed? On the other hand, If she ever wiped that eyeliner off, I don’t think I’d recognize her. Same affected giggle: It would make a good drinking game. I didn’t think she had much chemistry with her co-star, and the plot was tired and dull. Cupcake maker Lacey is invited to her bosses home for Christmas and she is hoping for a marriage proposal. On the way to meet him she meets a magic santa claus and is picked up by her bosses really nice friend/assistant. They are stranded on the way to her bosses vacation home. While Lacey and the assistant are falling for each other with the help of magic santa, her boss meets an old flame. And that ties it all up and puts a bow on it.

Maybe I just need a break from Lacey, because she can be a good actress, and is great with comedy when comedy is in the script. Unfortunately that’s a little difficult, since watching Hallmarks is kind of a silly hobby of mine. On a promising note, I have seen her in more recent efforts and she has been fine.

Florence Henderson, John Ratzenburger, Robert Pine, and Lin Shay, of Insidious fame, add some credibility. And I did like her love interest. On his own though. I’d like to see him pared up with someone else.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

November 23, 2020

The Christmas Club

Christmas Magic

This production was blessed by the good acting on the part of Cameron Mathison and Elizabeth Mitchell. They made a good match, and the story was very romantic. A slow development of their relationship with more than a hint of magic provided by the wonderful Gabrielle Rose. Two strangers, both missing true romantic love in their lives, team up to help a little old lady who lost her Christmas Club money. They give her $40.00, and from then on, magic follows them, and brings them together. It was something a little different from the typical cookie cutter offerings from Hallmark. It had some very imaginative and heartwarming plot points. Elizabeth was a little over-sensitive in parts; a little too fragile, but I guess that was her character. They did not drag the misunderstandings out too long. Probably not a re-watch, but I enjoyed it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

November 22, 2020

Forever Christmas

See it for Christopher Russell

If Christopher Russell is paired with the right female lead, and he has a script that takes advantage of his GQ worthy handsomeness and the kindness that you can see behind his eyes, he can be great. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. It does in this one. The script explores the phoniness behind reality series and how untrustworthy and false they can be. I didn’t much care for the heroine, but Christopher made up for that and had charm enough for both. I did like that they had a fairly sizzling love scene as opposed to the usual chaste kiss at the end of the movie.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

November 20, 2020

Merry In-Laws

Enjoyably Screwball

A young mother from a scientific background who abjures anything fantastical gets herself engaged to Santa Claus’s son. And she doesn’t even like Video Games. This was cute, funny, and a nice romance. It was interesting to see Lucas Bryant in a more light-hearted role. Lately he has been playing the sullen, strong, silent types. Shelley Long was way over the top in my opinion, but I couldn’t help laughing. Also there were a few truly badly behaved, even hateful characters (her father) in this one which added some tension to the comedy.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November 20, 2020

A Christmas Kiss

A Bravura performance by Evil Elizabeth

Very good romance with two appealing leads who had a nice chemistry. The supporting cast of friends and mentors contributed greatly. I also like the plot which goes somewhat off the beaten path of the last 2 years. The star of the show, though, was Elizabeth Rohm, as Wendy’s boss, Priscilla Hall. She is so ruthless, so manipulative, and so harsh behind her phony loving face she shows to Adam, who she is trying to trap while he and sweet Wendy are falling in love. She made such an impression with her portrayal, that they made a Christmas Kiss II, featuring her character. When was the last time Hallmark (or whatever) made a sequel to a movie featuring the bad guy rather than the two lovers? Never! It’s been a long time since I saw CKII, but I think she somewhat redeems herself in that one. Just FYI. Sit back and enjoy!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November 20, 2020

A Wedding Wonderland

A Very Merry Mix-Up…Not!

I’m not sure what the message of this movie was supposed to be. Don’t be such a wimp? Put your too good to be true future husband before your mother from hell? Hallmark Christmas movies are not supposed to make you angry, frustrated, and disgusted.

Lucas proposes to Hallie at his parents snowy mountaintop vacation home. Hallie and her mother are prevented by circumstances from having the tropical destination wedding they both have dreamed of. Mommy is not happy. All hell breaks loose, while the poor bride and groom are put in the middle trying to keep the peace. The bride’s mother’s inexcusably rude and loathsome behavior, as detailed by some of the other reviews was never confronted the way it should have been by either the bride, her groom, or her husband. Or her gracious hosts, the groom’s parents, for that matter. She basically got away with an apology and a half-hearted promise to do better. And that twist at the end only made her horrible behavior even worse. And then, her disapproving but whipped husband just told her he was even more in love with her! What? There was no justice or balance. I feel most sorry for the wedding guests that traipsed all the way up the mountain to be cheated out of a nice wedding and told to go home with a gift bag, and then they ended up having the wedding with just family the next day. What?

I am disturbed by one review that said that the groom was too handsome for the bride. That they “didn’t match” and that he should have found someone more gorgeous. That is the one thing I really liked about this movie. He really was handsome and appealing. She was just a normal looking girl. But he was so in love with her. So tender and considerate. He loved HER, her kindness and generosity. They were friends that were also in love. It wasn’t just the sexual attraction for a beautiful sexy girl that might fade with time. It was true love. If their physical attributes didn’t “match”, their hearts did. Their relationship really lifted this movie to tolerable status.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

November 16, 2020

One Summer

Hallmark Blues

This one is a throwback to those old time very earnest Hallmark Hall of Fame type productions that play sometimes on Hallmark Drama. Thus it makes sense that they showed it on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries rather than the main Hallmark Channel. Because Hallmark Drama just shows reruns and this one doesn’t fit with regular Hallmark’s mission statement. Apparently.

It is about a man who lost his wife while he himself was dying from a mysterious disease he got while deployed in Afghanistan. When his wife was getting him medicine she dies in a car crash, leaving him, his 15-year-old daughter and younger son bereft. He “wills” himself well from this unknown but fatal disease. It’s a miracle.

He takes his kids to the little (North?) Carolina Island where his wife grew up so they can heal from all of this sad trauma. He becomes friendly with a nice café owner and his daughter becomes infatuated with her son. The dead wife starts to appear to Sam Page, the Dad, to guide him through his grief.

This is not a real light-hearted cheerful movie. The actors do a fine job. Sam Page, who usually plays such conservative buttoned-up looking characters with the straightest hair part in Hallmark-land, really lets his freak flag fly with longish tousled hair and a scruffy beard. I liked it. Amanda Shull as the ghostly wife and Sarah Drew as the alive love interest do a fine job as usual. Madeline Grace Popovich who plays the typical teen age girl, that is, unreasonable, obnoxious, and whiny, makes you really dislike her. Almost as much as you dislike the annoying and controlling mother of the dead wife. But the young actor who plays the sad anxious little son is fantastic, and really tugs at your heart.

This drama is not about romance. What there is between the parents and their teens is only to cast a hopeful rosy glow on the final scene of the movie. Do not question or think it through. Things cannot proceed with the two single parents until the kids are out of the house because that would be more than just awkward. Enough said.

I like the direction that Hallmark seems to be going with some of their features. Whether they can keep it up throughout the upcoming rampage of Christmas Movies remains to be seen.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

October 8, 2021

The Christmas Temp

Cute Story and Cute Leads

Two charming leads with great chemistry put this one in “rewatchable” status. I had just been thinking that Robin Dunne had a real Tom Hanks vibe going on when lo and behold he started to play Christmas songs on the giant piano keys. Coincidence? I don’t think so. The plot was interesting and amusing as the struggling female love interest worked to decorate our hero’s boutique hotel lobby for Christmas. His job and a possible promotion was on the line, and her art career would get a much needed jump start. I was a little underwhelmed by her final product, but everyone in the movie seemed to like it, so it must have been me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November15, 2020

Christmas on the Vine

Too Template-y

Yeh… This was just too by the book for me. Too many cliché set pieces: flirty sledding, flirty snowball fight, save the small family business from the big meanies, cookie baking, wreath making, and the Christmas festival (which also had to be saved). I think even Winter Storm Meghan has an impact! The only good things were Juliana Guill and the quality of the production values. Julianna plays a marketing expert who is sent to save a small local winery from bankruptcy and the evil conglomerate which is buying up all of the land and has it’s eyes on the little vineyard that could. Meredith Baxter Birney makes you hate her as the head of the evil winery. I didn’t like the male lead and didn’t think he had good chemistry with Julianna. Plus his character was stupid: resentful and fighting good advice and counsel almost every step of the way. The end came out of no where and was too abrupt.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

November 15, 2020