Boyfriends of Christmas Past

It’s Only a Dream…

Despite the heroine’s almost deliberate lack of insight into her own behavior being very annoying, I did enjoy this one. Hallmark seems to be making a real effort this year to break out the box of its own making. Time travel is a common Hallmark trope, but in this one, it’s a little different with Lauren going back in time (in her dreams) with 3 of her former boyfriends. They are trying to tell her something: she has sabotaged all of her previous relationships as soon as they try to move to the next level of commitment. Yes, it’s another take on A Christmas Carol, but Hallmark has not used this in a long time, to my memory. As opposed to fake boyfriend, bad city person being transformed by small-town life, save the beloved fill-in-the-blank from a corporation, or royalty in disguise. Or food competition, snowed in, or sad widow/widower for that matter. Or magic Santa. Or kid matchmaker. Somebody stop me.

Anyway, The breakups always occur around Christmas, and now a life-long relationship with her best friend who’s in love with her is in danger. It is not until a trip into the future where she sees her soulmate proposing to another girl that she finally sees the light. I’m afraid I failed to see why this girl was able to attract such nice and attractive boyfriends (except the first one, who wore lipstick and dressed like an elf for some mysterious reason). But the actress was good. It’s not her fault her character was such a pill. The very handsome and charismatic actor who played her true love was a stand-out. What a find! He looked so familiar but I hadn’t seen him in anything else. I couldn’t figure it out until I finally realized that he is the image of Jon Krasinski only Indian. He stole every scene because he was just so darned cute!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

November 2, 2021

A Glenbrooke Christmas

Autumn and Latonya Shine in This. More Latonya, Please.

This was an adequately entertaining Hallmark, and as such, I was a little disappointed because I really expect the best from Autumn Reeser. Also, Antonio Cupo looked super hot and perfectly cast as the fire chief she falls for. I also like the poor little rich girl trope as well. Autumn plays Jessica, a powerful and wealthy businesswoman who is soon to completely takeover her Grandfather’s real estate company. Before her life gets even more consumed, she decides to visit the small town of Glenbrooke, a place that her beloved late parents held dear. She hides her position and wealth so she will be treated like a normal person. As she settles in, she learns the famous Glenbrooke Church Bells are broken and the town can’t afford to fix them. Of course, the needed $10,000 is chump change to her, but she doesn’t want to reveal her wealth. Especially since Antonio Cupo hates rich people.

First of all, Mr. Fire Chief got off to a bad start with me by yelling at nice Autumn for something that was totally his fault. He jay-walked out in front of her car without looking and blamed her for not paying attention! Grrrrrrrrrr. He was sexist and entitled as Mr. Small Town VIP. He got better, then reverted to type again near the end, where he accused Autumn of the same bad behavior he was guilty of. Latonya Williams was adorable as Ruthie, another firefighter, who tells Antonio a few home truths at the end. Overall it was good, although not problem-free, in addition to Mr. Fire Chief’s character flaws.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

December 14, 2020

Christmas in Paris

An Old Fashioned Harlequin Romance Come to Life

This is a straight-up Harlequin Romance Movie and as such it’s pretty OK. And I don’t mean the Hallmark movies based Harlequin novels. This is right out of the playbook that produced about 11 or so novel-based TV movie romances in the 1990s and early 2000s that Hallmark had nothing to do with. Have they started doing these again out of nowhere? Since I saw this on ION television it really does have that different and old-fashioned approach to a romance. The hero was very attractive and a stereotypical early prototype romance hero: A Rich, Powerful, Mysterious Playboy who is a Genius at business. He falls for a normal (ish) girl: beautiful, good, and spunky. It was well-cast and fun. I liked the side story of our hero hating and then reconciling with his biological father (who really looked the part as well) and the asthma angle. For anyone who liked this movie, I urge you to look up these old Harlequin movies some of which are available on YouTube.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

November 8, 2020

Time for You to Come Home for Christmas

Not Cheerful.

Hallmark’s best crier meets Hallmark’s most gloomy sourpuss. Yes folks, this is a real holly-jolly one! For her son’s sake, Alison Sweeny, the sad widow, braves coming home for Christmas to her small town where she lived with her now killed husband. And she saves a bakery! And no murders are involved. She also meets Lucas Bryant, who lately has been cornering the market on sullen doleful damaged characters. He has also come to her hometown to finally return the pocket watch of a mysterious soldier who saved his life. A snow fort is built, a snowball fight is had, clumsy ice-skating occurs, a festival is held, baked goods are consumed, a tearful kiss happens and our heroine “moves on.”. This one does not miss a trick.

On the positive side Sweeney and Bryant have good chemistry, and Sweeney is usually pretty appealing. She does what she was hired for: brave tears. Lucas Bryant is very attractive. The productions values are good, and the story had a little mystery to keep interest going. The young son was adorable and I hope to see him in other productions. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for this very popular entry in the Hallmark repertoire of Christmas movies.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

November 29, 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 Mistletoe Inn

Has the Big 3: Acting, Writing, and Premise

I’ve have become an Alicia Witt fan since re-viewing two of her excellent early movies. Even these later ones take advantage of her charm and great acting without quite reaching the classic status. This one, though, was really great and her talents pushed this above the Hoi Polloi of the usual Christmas movie fare. This one sends our heroine to a romantic writers conference and competition after her long-time boyfriend dumps her in a shall we say over abundance of ego that she is not the serious writer that he is. It features some authentic insights into the travails of unpublished romance writers. Her chemistry with both her new found friend, Samantha, and her love interest was tops. I usually don’t like traditionally handsome heroes (boring). But this guy had it going on. It should be said that that the producers hit a gold mind with the idea of setting this in a romance writers conference. Great premise, good writing and great acting push this one over the top.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

November 9, 2020

Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater

It Wasn’t Bad, But Nothing Out of the Ordinary

I’m a fan of both Ashley and Niall. They both bring credibility to any project they are in. However, lately Ashley has apparently heard or read once too often about her own famous megawatt smile. Some of her scenes have a definite “insert smile here” feel. This was well made and Hallmark pulled out their A-Game for two of their most popular stars. They put a little more work into the plot, this time. Not one of their cookie cutter jobs, although they couldn’t resist the usual flirty snowball fight. However, truth be told, the story was a little boring, and Ashley’s character was a little too sweet and good. Sometimes her behavior with grumpy-pants Niall was kind of cringeworthy. She just would not leave him alone. For me it did not rise past the slightly above average rating. Kudos for having her ex-husband and his wife make appearances and her daughter was very appealing. Oh, and I do like Brendon Zub. He needs more starring roles. Oh Oh. The search for the out of print book was true to life and exactly right. Loved that.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

November 9, 2020

Anne of Windy Poplars

Almost as Good as Anne of Green Gables

Delightful follow up to Anne of Green Gables (1934 version). The acting by all concerned was very effective, especially the luminous Anne Shirley as…Anne Shirley, and Joan Carroll as the child Betty. Marcia Mae Jones, usually seen as Shirley Temple’s nemesis is perfectly cast as Jen Pringle. Well worth searching for. One of the last “lost” movies on my want to see list. It is not available on DVD and even the Anne Shirley marathon of TCM did not show it. I found it by means of a link which downloaded it to my computer. You can find it as a link on You Tube posted by an angel named Susannah.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

August 29, 2020

Echoes

Weird Ending

Based on a Maeve Binchy novel and set in 1950s Ireland, I enjoyed this miniseries very much until the ending. The actors were great and I liked the story and the romance. But the ending was strange. They kind of didn’t give us closure. It was not a sad or tragic end, it just left us hanging a bit. We are pretty sure our heroine will make the good decision eventually, but the writers didn’t see fit to show us that. And there didn’t seem to be a good reason for it. Without the weird ending, I would have given this a 7.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

April 20, 2020

The Scapegoat

Much Better than the Depressing Book

Excellent story using Daphne Du Maurier’s novel as inspiration. Brilliantly re-formulated to use QEII’s coronation as a metaphor for how we are at the mercy of fate and chance. And how we should make the best of it. Although the initial idea of doppelgangers changing places was Du Maurier’s, this adaptation makes a more satisfying and intriguing plot. Loved it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

April 13, 2020