Where Your Heart Belongs


This was dreadful. Jen Lilley seems doomed lately to playing contemptible characters. And contemptible characters that are written poorly. Mackenzie is a top marketing executive in New York City who is losing her clients to a shiny new rival. She is stressed out about that when her best friend moves her wedding up and needs her help to pull it off in their old hometown. She hasn’t been home since her mother died and did I hear right that it’s been 10 years? Her father has health problems and his maple syrup business is failing because he stubbornly refuses to modernize despite the financial support and advice of his “employee”, Mackenzie’s old boyfriend played by Christopher Russell. It doesn’t help that the trees he is tapping are not Maple trees.

Her friend wants a simple hometown inexpensive wedding because that is the kind of down-to-earth person she is. Mackenzie basically hijacks her wedding to promote herself to her rapidly departing clientele. The kicker is that she knows she is doing wrong, but just continues to do it. Her actions are contemptible but Jen Lilley plays it with a sugar coating that only makes her seem like the ultimate phony. She uses her friend’s easygoing nature to run roughshod over her while being on the phone almost constantly to her New York assistant talking about her career problems. She browbeats the bride into going with an ugly over-the-top designer dress instead of the flattering simple gown she loves and gets the lovely little country church trashed by the famous D. J. she hires and his followers who also deface a tree that has a sentimental history to the bride and groom.

Meanwhile, even though she finds out her father’s farm is in foreclosure, she makes no attempt to help or find out what’s going on. She is just too busy and important unless she is flirting with Christopher. Near the end, she goes to the banker/lawyer who tells her that Christopher actually has her father’s power of attorney. That finally gets her attention and she somehow concludes that CR is trying to steal her father’s business when he was really financing it to save it. She pouts and sulks when she isn’t looking panic-stricken and is just generally an A-#1 jerk to lovely Christopher as well as everyone else. But does she try communication? Heck, no. In fact, when Christopher tries to set her straight, “she doesn’t have time” to hear it. No idea why her career is on a death spiral. I don’t mind a character who starts out very flawed but has a character arc over time. Jen Lilley is horrid throughout the whole movie until she ruins everything and she has nowhere to go but up.

To make it all worse, Jen Lilley delivers many of her lines so quickly and incoherently it’s like she wants to get them over with instead of actually acting. She has no connection whatsoever with Christopher Russell. The fact that he, her father, and her friends put up with her throughout the whole movie just made this viewing experience even more unpleasant. The only one who finally stands up to her is the bride. Nelson Wong, (for once not named “Kenny”) who usually is a charming presence in any movie, is annoying and horrible in this, and the ending and resolution made no sense whatsoever. This production is populated with many regular Hallmark supporting players but even they cannot prop this one up.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

January 2, 2022

Christmas in Tahoe

Shattered Dreams

Laura Osnes works in her father’s resort hotel and is basically in charge. However, her dream is to manage a big entertainment venue in the entertainment capital of the world: Las Vegas. If she can successfully book her father’s Christmas show, the job is hers. After her star act cancels on her, the movie consists of her going around with her ex-boyfriend trying and to book replacement acts. Her ex is the head guitarist in a successful rock band who fired her as their manager when they started to hit it big. That is why he is her ex. The problem is that the actor who plays the famous rock star is too young and skinny looking for Laura, who has a mature look about her. He looks more like a junior accountant than a rock star.

The other problem is that to me, it seems as if her Dad knows something is up and tries to emotionally blackmail her into staying with him. He goes around looking concerned and puts her on blast making a speech about how proud he is of her and how he doesn’t know how he could get along without her blah blah blah. Unfortunately, he succeeds in his plan. She ends up giving up her dream to stay home and try to make her Dad’s hotel an entertainment destination. Also, she gives it up for her man, who is going to stay there in Tahoe and write instead of performing on tour. Which is his dream. So literally everyone gets their dream except poor Laura! Merry Christmas! Even her co-worker buddy and aspiring singer becomes the opening act for the rock band.

What is it with actors who think they can sing in Hallmark movies lately? Or was it that God-awful song? Hard to tell. How ironic that Laura Osnes, who actually can sing, doesn’t. Couldn’t they even have given her a verse of Jingle Bells or something?

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

December 3, 2021

Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2

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.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

November 27, 2019

A Taste of Summer

Nothing Special

This had nothing over and above the usual formula. I do appreciate Hallmark’s efforts towards more diversity which this one exemplifies. I found the heroine too glammed up to be relatable or realistic for a hardworking chef in a kitchen. When will Hallmark learn that tarting up their actresses like they were selling cosmetics in a department store is not the way to go. Unless that is their profession. Or on TV. Or a model. The romance was not front and center which was actually refreshing. But Ironically, I didn’t find the chemistry out of the ordinary considering the two leads are married in real life. The actress reminded me of Sandra Bullock but without her appeal and the actor reminded me of Topher Grace.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

August 19, 2019

Love Struck Café

Textbook Hallmark

Nothing special at all. Not much to like here other than the reliable Andrew Walker. I am sure he appreciates the paycheck and the work as an actor, but if he is not careful, he is going to be labeled the Crown Prince of Hallmark movies. I mean, how many of these things has he been in? I didn’t understand the motivations of the heroine. Completely nonsensical. She is given the assignment to convince an old friend and neighbor to sell her property so her boss can encase a beautiful country lake setting in a concrete monstrosity of a residential development. She knows this is a horrendous idea, yet blithely does her best trying to get the nice lady to sign on the dotted line. Why? because of a vague promise of maybe she can be promoted to an architect? To keep a job with a firm that obviously is the lowest of the low? Why would anyone of any character put up with this? She compromises her integrity and endangers a bucolic picturesque ideal location for a resort. Of course, she ends up designing a more suitable project, which her stupid boss (surprise, surprise) just loves. This one was kind of insulting, actually. **3 stars out of 10**

October 19, 2017