Love is a Piece of Cake

A Bakery is Saved

This is a pretty much a by the book save the ______ story. This one is about a bakery owner whose building has been sold out from under her. Her main focus has been to honor her grandmother’s, from whom she inherited the bakery, legacy not to actually grow the business and make a profit. Thus she is averse to change and shies away from any innovation or move forward because it would take the business further from how she remembers it from her childhood with her Grandmother. And of course, she can’t envision the business without the setting. I really have a problem with running a business like it’s some idealized lifestyle rather than a functional contributor to the economy. It’s all too common in Hallmark-land. Grow or Die, as they say.

Anyway, inspired by a new rich client, whose wedding she is going to provide the cake for, she finally gets a fire lit under her and decides to finally do everything she can to make enough money to buy the building from her landlord herself. Also, she falls in love with her client’s brother and his little girl, who, yes, is truly adorable. She actually is successful in making enough money to make an offer on the building. But not before the inevitable flour fight with her new man and the wipe the flour off the nose kiss.

The big existential crisis occurs when her bid is turned down and she finds out that the real estate company who is buying the building is the employer of the new boyfriend. Of course he is innocent, but she won’t give him a chance. She mopes, sulks, and backslides to her unambitious self and gives up despite the efforts of her kooky assistance and her energetic business manager. Desperate, they finally call in the big guns (her mother) who tells her her grandmother would not approve of her trying to preserve the bakery like it was some kind of monument to her. She tells her that when Granny took over the bakery from her mother, she moved the business into a new building and changed and innovated to save the business. The lightbulb finally switches on for our heroine.

It’s a revelation! The finish is a strong one which moved the needle from lackluster to fairly watchable. She demonstrates that she has really changed by letting go of her controlling “only I can do it right” attitude. She lets her assistant decorate the cake (which turned out really hideous in my opinion) for the wedding, buys a new and even better building, makes her two loyal employees partners, makes up with her boyfriend and is his date to the wedding. The director did some editing to take advantage of the talent and appeal of five year old cutie-pie by making her a flower girl at the last minute. Check that wedding scene out carefully.

A Puppy for Christmas

Would Have been Kind of Awful Except for the Great Cast.

Cindy Busby is one of my favorite Hallmark actresses, so I gave this one a whirl. She plays a journalist who has been given an opportunity to write a feature on the secret of a happy marriage. At first, her character, Noelle, is very annoying and does some really stupid things. Like buying a dog while living in her boyfriend’s apartment without consulting with him, taking the badly behaved dog to work without permission, and being incompetent writing her feature story. She is not likable at all. She is also snotty to her office mate, a handsome but kind of dorky fellow writer. And the dog is possessed by the devil. But, hey, Cindy Busby! I couldn’t stay irritated for long, and she finally starts to redeem herself. She is dumped by her commitment-phobic boyfriend of 5 years, and, now homeless, is invited to spend a country Christmas with her super-nice and dog-loving office colleague.

The male leads were superb, which further bumps it up. Christopher Russell plays the bad boyfriend, for a change, and does a great job. Greyston Holt was very very attractive and the complete opposite of his rival. He played a bit of an eccentric with long hair and a beard. For a change, he also had a fiance who shared his outdoorsy and adventuresome spirit, which added some interest to the final happy ending. I also liked his quirky sister and Cindy’s older friend.

Clichés, tired plot elements, and unbelievable coincidences would normally doom a Hallmark movie. But this one is saved by the cast, some well fleshed out characters, and a few unusual additions.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

December 23, 2018

The Christmas Secret

Great Acting Makes this One Shine

The main attraction for me, in deciding to re-watch this Hallmark Christmas movie from way back in 2014 was Bethany Joy Lenz. She is a very talented actress, very likable in all of her efforts with Hallmark, and is an excellent comedienne. She didn’t have too much of an opportunity in this one to show off her great comic timing, but she really touched my heart in this portrayal as a down and out single mother who is being harassed by her heinous ex-husband. He was credibly played by Greyston Holt, who we usually see as a Hallmark hero these days-I really hated his guts.

Actually she is only down and out for the first 20 minutes or so, because as soon as she gets fired from her job as a waitress for being late for work, it is all uphill from there. She’s late because she saved a woman’s life(Susan Hogan).  She loses her beloved locket in the process, but magically, good things start to happen. She gets a much better job in a bakery with a nice lady, Betty. She meets a nice handsome man who is looking for the woman who saved his step-mother’s life. (Guess who?) Due to mistaken identity he does not find her until the end. Her daughter has a fall and is concussed, but she’s OK and it leads to her meeting the lady that her mother rescued. Through coincidences and magical doings, everything bad turns to good for our lovable brave heroine.

I do want to especially give kudos to the two actors who played Christine’s children. They were both great, but Jaeda Lily Miller is a treasure. She is probably the most talented Hallmark child actress ever, and in this one, one of  her first efforts, she is absolutely adorable. She steals every scene she is in.

And the icing on the cake that really sets this one apart is that Christine gets a big romantic kiss from her nice handsome man well before the last scene. No tentative interrupted at the last second chaste tender one either, but a real seal the deal sexy kiss.

I gave this one a 10 back in 2014. Yep, still a 10.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

June 29, 2021