Love in Glacier National: A National Park Romance

Snow Job

This one left me cold. The plot was the usual boring and predictable with the added bonus of annoying characters (3), examples of lazy incomprehensible plot elements (2 main ones), and downright offensive stereotypes of women (2). It drove my rating below  5 stars, that is, not entertaining but tolerable, into 3 or 4-star territory (not entertaining plus something very very wrong here.) It had some beautiful mountain scenery if you do not mind it was not filmed in Glacier National Park or any National Park at all, or even in this country.  The title of this one would be the worst ever for a Hallmark even if it were filmed in Glacier National Park.

Heather is a world-renowned expert in snow and avalanches. She has a doctorate in the subject and has developed a technology that predicts them with proven accuracy. She accepts an invitation to visit an old friend’s ski resort and install the forecasting equipment. She brings her sister who has spent the last of her and her husband’s savings on IVF treatments to get pregnant. It has been very hard on them and she needs a break while waiting to find out whether this last treatment has worked. Heather meets handsome hunky Chris who is the head of the search and rescue team. He is not only a Luddite who eschews her science-based life-saving technology, he is downright offensive about it. He relies on looking at the weather and sniffing and tasting the snow to determine whether the ski runs are safe. No kidding. His whole team is open-minded and on board, but when he stumbles into her class he rudely stands at the threshold disruptively chewing on a donut, and then leaves. Nevertheless, he is a good father to his motherless young teen daughter Samantha.  That, combined with his hunky hotness is enough for Heather to fall for him despite his disrespect for her life’s work. Especially when he emerges shirtless from the sauna looking like the top half of every action figure ever made and just as plastic. The daughter is played by Amelie Wolf, the daughter of the director. She is a Hallmark regular kid actor and she is fine. Unfortunately, Heather has a rival in red-haired Sonya, a shallow catty jealous massage therapist. She is so unprofessional that when she sees the sparks between Chris and Heather she tries to hurt Heather on the massage table. Sonya is the worst stereotype of a man-hungry desperate female (see paragraph 1) She even comes to his cabin at night to seduce him with his daughter practically in the same room. Amusingly, Samantha calls her on putting lipstick on before she goes to bed. Heather’s sister is similarly enamored by Chris’s hotness swooning and drooling all over him on her sister’s behalf because she needs a man to be happy. (Offensive stereotype #2.)

That takes care of the annoying characters. There were two plot points that were needlessly mishandled. The first was fairly minor. When Sonya shows up at a party where Chris and Heather are dancing, she is told off by his daughter in the one entertaining scene in the movie. She stops Sonya in her tracks. “My dad is with someone smart who chooses Chapstick over lip plumper. Now is not the best time.” Sonya retorts by telling her that she has some things to “talk over” with her dad which comes across as a veiled threat. I was sure curious!  But she leaves the party and the whole thing is just dropped. We never see her again. The more egregious one involves the suspense of whether the sister’s IVF, her last, has finally worked. [SPOILER ALERT] She finally gets up the nerve to take the pregnancy test while Heather is at the party. Tragically it is negative and she looks devastated. But the next morning, all is well and we have a scene where she and Chris’s daughter are yucking it up in a hot tub and jumping out to make snow angels in their bathing suits giggling uncontrollably. She doesn’t even tell her sister the I guess not so devastating news after all, and her sister doesn’t care enough to ask. Again, the whole thing is just left hanging never to be referred to again. Both loose ends could have been easily fixed with a quick edit or two. That they just left it is lazy and contemptuous of their viewers.

Despite her great relationship with his daughter and her attraction to Chris, Heather can not handle his disrespect and his refusal to even consider being open to using her technology as a tool. She pleads with him to trust her and hits him with argument after argument but nothing doing. She is strong and persistent but he won’t even explain himself.  To his surprise and disbelief (!), she walks out on him. This guy. It is only when her method saves his life, the lives of his team, and an injured skier that he admits he was wrong and apologizes.  That’s what it takes. But not before he checks with a male colleague who went to Heather’s training sessions first. What a prize.

The music was annoying and weird. The only other plus besides the scenery and Samantha’s takedown of Red Sonya was that Heather only brought 2 coats. You would have to be a Hallmark regular to understand how ground-breaking this is.

Rating: 3.5 out of 10.

Don’t Forget I Love You

Very Smiley

This was very nice, pleasant, and boring. We meet our heroine, Emilie Ullerup, listening to daily affirmations with her earbuds as she is getting ready for work, going to work, and arriving at work. Already, I’m disconnected and struggling to stay awake. The lady’s voice is very soothing. Emilie is the head of her own company which specializes in neatening and organizing peoples’ spaces.

Despite her roots showing, we get that our heroine leads a sterile life that is very planned out with no surprises or spontaneity.

On her 30th birthday, she visits her father who has a time capsule from her dead mother. It contains 5 beautifully calligraphed challenges for her daughter to accomplish to enrich her boring dull life. Even though she seems perfectly happy and very cheerful. The first one is “Meet Someone New”. The last one is “Tell Someone You Love Them” (presumably someone not a relative, single, and of the opposite sex). So we know that her mother has reached out from the grave to get her workaholic daughter A Man. But we don’t know that yet because the last edict is not revealed until the end. LOL.

She meets her super cute neighbor, a single dad (widowed) who is a bit of a slob and has just moved into the neighborhood. He is the target and he will not escape. She helps him unpack his boxes and it’s on. They do the rest of the challenges together. The only hiccup is another predatory female who also has her eyes on him. Who is gorgeous and nice, by the way.

We’ve seen this all before but Emilie and Clayton James (formerly Clayton Chitty), who plays The Man, bring nothing to the show, although Emile tries very hard to be super cute and endearing. A little too hard. Clayton is very cute, like I said, but doesn’t move the needle as far as personality. The whole shebang is about as contrived as the photo of the mountain scene that is propped up behind them during one of their last “adventures.” It just goes through the motions but without even a fan to ruffle the hair.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

January 24, 2022

Chasing Waterfalls

Chasing but not Finding

This was a very boring story with a good cast. I usually like Cindy, but as usual, she doesn’t have much to work with here. And unfortunately, she seemed very stiff with Christopher Russell who is gorgeous as usual but really needs some spark with his co-stars to bring him to life when the script does not give him anything else to work with. She did have a good scene on the phone with her boss though.

Speaking of the script, how do I count the ways that this fell off the cliff (pun intended)? One line comparing a mythical waterfall to a unicorn was used twice. Speaking of which, she found this legendary waterfall which is so elusive explorers believe it doesn’t even exist without even breaking a sweat. It turns out was within a few hours hike from a busy lodge. She led the world of waterfall enthusiasts to another hard-to-find fall that she promised to keep secret. Her boss betrayed her and put in the GPS coordinates with the photographs she published in the magazine. We never find out what the outcome of that was. Do the sightseers leave a trail of litter, or do they respect the sacred place? She doesn’t quit in anger, like she should have, and is going on to her next assignment. If she changes her mind, we never know about it. Will she continue on with her dream of being a professional photographer, or will she quit and stay with Christopher and his daughter now that he’s not mad at her anymore? He was about to send a chopper to the secret location of the mythic waterfall, by the way, when they talked about how secret it was throughout the movie. Another silly lapse in the writing.

Nice scenery though. And in a first for Hallmark, at the end, they are planning to spend the night together in the same tent. We have to assume, since it is Hallmark, that this means she is going to quit her job and be a wife and mommy (since his ex travels and leaves their daughter with him most of the time. And why should he take on another one of those situations?) It all ends very vaguely.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

March 23, 2021

A Valentine’s Match

Plot: Boo! Actors: Yay!

The plot wasn’t anything much. It follows the usual formula:1) successful career-woman with useless boyfriend gets fired and goes back to small hometown to recharge. 2) Meets Old Boyfriend she has been avoiding for 10 years due to misunderstanding. 3) 2 interfering mothers, sensible father 3) A festival is saved after the 2 exes are forced to work together. 4) they fall in love again only to have another blow-up which sends heroine back to the big city with terrible boyfriend. 5) they come to their senses and reunite for a happy ending. Not to mention: 6) black actors relegated to the best friend zone. So why does this get high marks from me? The Acting and Appeal and Chemistry of Bethany Joy Lenz and Luke McFarlane. Luke has long been a favorite of mine and they both breathe life and humor into unremarkable lines that in less talented actors’ hands would result in a snooze-worthy cookie-cutter romance. The 2 love scenes were emotional and steamy, especially the slow dance near the end. Their break-up was tense and sad, and in-between, they were funny both together and apart. The end scene was cheesy in the extreme but at least it didn’t end with the smooch, and some loose ends were tied up.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

February 3, 2020

Road to Christmas

Some Special Touches

Very pleasant. Nothing super special, but nothing to make you want to throw your remote at the TV set either. The acting was definitely above average by Jessy and Chad Michael Murray. I like the actress who played the mother, Teryl Rothery. She is in many Hallmark films and always very reliable. I liked the plot with the three adopted Brothers finally reunited as a surprise for Christmas. It added an emotional Depth that’s been missing in many of these Hallmark Christmas stories. I love the graphics that showed the journeys of the two protagonists! One normally does not see such creativity and cuteness in a Hallmark movie. It took me by surprise.

One final comment that I hope isn’t too mean but just needs to be said. Jessy Schram has lost way too much weight and looks a good bit worse for wear. If she’s been sick I hope she gets better soon because she really is a top-notch Hallmark actress.**7 out of 10 stars**

Rating: 1 out of 5.

November 7, 2018