Disappointing Sequel to the Excellent A Gift to Remember
I was disappointed in Ali Liebert in this one. I loved her in A Gift to Remember, but there was just something different about her in this go round. The character’s personality was just as sweet and overly nice, but she just didn’t connect with me and I can’t quite put my finger on it. I found the character of Mrs. Henley very irritating as well. Ali is taking care of her nephew during the season because both of his parents are deployed. He was behaving like a perfectly nice if a little reserved kid, and she was all worried and hovering just because he didn’t behave all joyful and Christmas-y every second. She just wouldn’t rest until he conformed to her expectations of how happy he was supposed to be. She was not disappointed. The kid was bouncing off the walls by the end. I also think the young actor was mis-cast. Perhaps he was supposed to be adopted. Peter Porte was just fine. In fact, he kind of saved this one for me.
November 27, 2019
This should Cement Ali Liebert’s Place in the Hallmark Pantheon of Female Leads
After several turns as “the best friend” of the heroine, where she all but out shown the leads, Ali Liebert has finally been getting much deserved leading roles in these Hallmark seasonal romances. This one is the best yet. Kudos to Hallmark for recognizing her appeal and giving her prominent roles. I hope she becomes as ubiquitous as Chabert, Reiser, Boston, Polo, and several others.
This one is also helped by a tightly woven plot, good character development and an attractive leading man who has a real arc into becoming (or being revealed as) a good guy after all. I must quibble at this point over one plot hole. Our hero, a diva chef, has his career almost ruined by a viral video of him throwing food on a restaurant critic in a fit of temper. He reveals later that the the video edited out the fact that prior to the food on the lap incident, the victim had made his waitress cry by being so mean to her. Why didn’t he just explain that on Facebook or Twitter? Instead of needing an image rehabilitation, he becomes a hero. It is also absent some of the overdone stupid gimmicks that most of these Hallmarks seem to hinge on. No angels, City bad, country good, factory shuttings, time travel, nor I Hate (just fill in the holiday). What keeps it from getting a higher rating from me is the lack of depth, suspense, pathos, or super hot chemistry between the leads. But it’s good. Really good.
Ali has the super nice girl who is maybe a little too nice role down pat. Plus she has the most energetic eyebrows I’ve ever seen. Very cute, if a bit distracting. Couldn’t take my eyes off of them.**8 out of 10 stars**
February 26, 2018
Doris and Rock 2.0
This was a charming romance with the talented and funny Autumn Reeser and the too handsome to live Antonio Cupo. Despite his fictionally good looks, he managed to be appealing and a worthy match for one of my favorite Hallmark actresses. They had great chemistry. This older effort (2012) is so heads and tails above the romances that Hallmark is spewing out these days. No cheesy cheap looking decorations or the phony Christmas tree. No small town with the Christmas name. I absolutely loved that Autumn’s character loved and wore vintage clothes. That was a great imaginative detail written in that wouldn’t even occur to whoever is writing the efforts of the last 2 years. And it really added even more to the homage to an old Doris Day romance. Her stupid boyfriend was not evil, but such a loser that it was fun to hiss and boo at him. There were a few little glitches, such as Henry dressed up as Santa at the end and making out with Emily in front of everyone at the parade. WTH? but other than that, Great writing, a sense of humor, talented stars, a good supporting cast, and lack of Christmas cheesiness made one of the best Hallmark Christmas movies ever.**9 out of 10 stars**
November 17, 2017
One of the better productions in a long time. Set in beautiful wine country, the country-side was gorgeous. Rachel Leigh Cook makes a great Hallmark heroine and her chemistry with the love interest was very good. It started out with some good conflict with her father who not only took her for granted but figuratively slapped her in the face by denying her her rightful place in his business. She rightly struck out on her own by buying her own vineyard, much to his dismay. I love a good comeuppance story. The plot moved on nicely, forcing the h/h to co-manage their vineyard which was somehow sold to both of them at the same time. They had a history and a rivalry already, which added interest to their romance and the development of their relationship. There was a little hint of a secondary romance of an older couple (the hero and heroine’s parents and the heads of competing vineyards.) and a younger couple. There were plenty of interesting secondary characters to keep things moving along. I really like the actress who played the friend. (Ali Leibert) And it was interesting that his family was kind of sketchy. They avoided a real T.V. remote throwing potential plot twist by avoiding the trap of having her save her dad from bankruptcy by giving up her own successful venture. That would have been a terrible message to send. So thank-you. **8 out of 10 stars**
October 11, 2016