Withdrawal from my routine of watching then reviewing the new Hallmark (and occasionally other) Christmas movies led me to re-watch two old Hallmarks from 2015 and 2017. These are ones that I have rated but never reviewed. A Country Wedding, I originally rated as a 7, and The Perfect Catch I rated as a 6. A Country Wedding is a favorite with Hallmarkies with glowing reviews on IMDb and is frequently included in “All-time Favorite, Best of” type lists. Also, it stars one of my favorites, Autumn Reeser. I anticipated going up in my rating as is usual with movies that I originally rated long ago. With due respect for their recent first-rate efforts, I have sadly had to adjust my standards downwards for Hallmarks in the last few years. At the end, it remained a 7. The Perfect Catch stars a favorite duo: Nikki Deloach and Andrew Walker. I bumped this one up to a 7 when I finished with it.
I was pretty disappointed in A Country Wedding given my expectations. Autumn as the owner of a struggling horse rescue ranch was great of course, and Jesse Metcalfe as a country music star was a good match for her. Also good was Laura Mennell in a ropy blond wig as Jesse’s movie star fiance as was Lauren Holly as her henchwoman/manager. Jesse leaves Lauren in Hollywood while he cuts ties with his past by finally selling his dead family’s old farm. While there in the country he gets re-acquainted with his old childhood best friend and next-door neighbor, played by Autumn.
There were two main reasons why this one did not impress me as much as I thought it would. First, the southern accents were way over the top and really got on my nerves. Related is the SOP of stereotyping southern small-town people. More importantly, were the characters of the two leads. Autumn was smart and strong. Jesse was dumb and weak. What was he doing engaged to that shallow self-centered Hollywood thing to begin with? But worse, he persists in stubbornly deceiving himself that he lu-u-u-vs her and continues planning the wedding in the face of huge red flags, not to mention his growing love for Autumn. She is helping him plan the wedding as he had the fine idea to get married there in a barn instead of in Hollywood. When he kisses her in front of everyone on a crowded dance floor, Autumn wisely realizes she is getting in over her head with an engaged man and backs off. Jesse won’t let her alone and follows her around like a puppy dog. He doesn’t get it. Since he won’t take the hint, Autumn is forced to lay it all on the table with no kidding around, even telling him that he does not love his fiance because he doesn’t even know her. This straightforward honesty is rare in a Hallmark. But instead of seeing the light, he ignores the good advice and ends up apologizing for the kiss explaining that he just got “lost in the moment” and was carried away. It takes the spectacular arrival of his fiance and a lot more hits with the clue stick before he finally finally finally wises up. Autumn takes him back at the end, the fact that he bought her ranch (without knowing it!) having nothing to do with it, of course.
A Perfect Catch met my expectations of impressing me more now than it did originally. It deserved to be bumped up a notch. First of all the easy rapport between Nikki Deloach and Andrew Walker was very enjoyable as usual. Andrew plays a star pitcher who hasn’t been able to find a new team after giving up a grand slam in the World Series. He returns to his hometown and his Mom and Dad to lay low while waiting on his agent to bring him some good news. He meets his old girlfriend, Nikki, who owns a struggling diner in town. She is a divorced single mother of a son who loves baseball but is awful at it. While he coaches her son he starts to feel more and more at home in the small town and with Nikki. Meanwhile, he repairs the strained relationship with his Dad and encourages Nikki in her brave idea for boosting the diner’s profile and sales. Even though she is in debt and against the advice of her stick-in-the-mud risk-averse accountant boyfriend, she buys a food truck. Her standing her ground against her boyfriend and giving him the heave-ho in a timely and decisive manner is definitely cheer-worthy. And the food truck is a massive success! Yay! Andrew retires from pitching but gets a great position in MLB that allows him to stay with Nikki and her son! Yay! Plus he will coach at the local school! Yay! And the kid hits a home run! Yay! Totally predictable but very satisfying with an especially neatly resolved and very happy ending for everyone involved. And a special shout out to Lisa Durupt, Hallmark sister/supportive friend/ second fiddle extraordinaire who gives another cute and charming performance. Also liked Andrew’s haircut. He should go back to that floppy-hair look.