Where Your Heart Belongs

Dreadful

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

Random Acts of Christmas

Bad Acting on Display Here

A single mother and journalist is investigating random acts of kindness in her hometown. Are they random or are they the doings of one “secret Santa?” She figures out it has to be someone rich. The guy and Patrick Duffy and Jaclyn Smith are fine. They are the ones that rescue this one from 1 or 2 stars. I also appreciated the semi-original premise of the plot. The actress and her annoying son doom this movie. I can’t believe the good reviews. They were horrible. The kid was the epitome of the super cheerful sweet cliché fantasy child. And the Mom was like a Miss America wanna be. So phony. I choose to blame the director, as I actually did not mind the actress in one of her efforts and the kid is not to be blamed as yet for bad acting. As far as her character. Why is she so mad when she finds out who the secret Santa is? Probably because she hadn’t thought through the idea that the guy was hooked on her and he was super-rich. Well, she finally got it. Set for life. Get a prenup, dude.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

November 8, 2020

High Flying Romance or Kite Festival of Love

What is the Title? High Flying Romance or Kite Festival of Love?

So kites. That’s a new one. The awkward alternate title is Kite Festival of Love. This is probably why this very recent Hallmark slipped under my radar. Still, it’s surprising considering it featured two of their biggest stars: Jessica Lowndes and Christopher Russell. They are not the most talented actors, but they interest me. Jessica because she started off so badly in the talent department with nothing but her beauty to recommend her, and Christopher because he is so handsome and likable despite sometimes walking through his part like he is asleep or on drugs. When he’s paired with the right female co-star, he does a great job.

Christopher plays Gavin, a widowed father of an eight-year-old who returns to his small town upon the death of his wife to be near family. He meets Hannah (Jessica) a childhood acquaintance and neighbor who is a music teacher. They start a relationship because why not? She is gorgeous, super sweet, has a cute dog, loves kids, loves his kid specifically, his kid really likes her, his parents love her, and she’s single. As for her, come on, Christopher Russell. As a loving father. What could be more adorable? Oh. They both love kites. It was meant to be. Unfortunately, there is very little chemistry or spark between the two. They are very stiff and awkward around each other.

All proceeds very boringly with no conflict, suspense, or problem to solve until about three-quarters of the way through. That’s when brazen hussy ex-girlfriend starts to get jealous and commences to stalk him and manipulate him into dates and tries to make Jessica think they are a couple. I thought things might get interesting, but right off the bat, she tells him she doesn’t like children and suggests his daughter, ably played by Amelie Will Wolf, is being manipulative when he wants to go home to tuck her into bed! Can you imagine? What a dummy. Not that she had a snowball’s chance in Hell anyway. Even though Christopher’s too nice to tell her to get lost.

Christopher is average in this one. Jessica has plateaued as far as her acting is concerned. She’s not bad, but another actress could have done so much more with this part. Her delivery is still a little strange with a California girl cadence and she sometimes slips back into her habit of not enunciating and talking too fast. She is miscast in these girl next door parts. It is simply not believable that, with her glamorous beauty, she would have anything to fear from the only above average looking ex-girlfriend who’s not very nice to boot.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

September 14, 2020

To Have and to Hold

Really Good!

I was thoroughly entertained by this movie in the “Books to Screen” series on Lifetime. I particularly enjoyed Erica Christensen’s performance. Even though she did not throw the bum out at the first infidelity, she did not come across as a doormat. There was lots of Drama, but it was not over the top so as to be squirmy. I liked that the bad husband was not thoroughly evil and hateful. He did not physically or verbally abuse her, he just could not keep it zipped and wanted her to be a certain type of wife. Which she went along with until she decided not to. The movie kept me engaged through both her personal and professional development and I liked the final outcome with the fresh start with both.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

July 1, 2019

The Christmas Pact

I Guess She Didn’t go to London

The attractive and very diverse young cast is a plus. At first, since the story started in the 80’s when the H/h were only 8 or 10 years old or so, I was afraid this was going to be another one of these Hallmances where they would end up in their late 30s and still be romantically unfulfilled and still struggling with their careers, acting like teenagers or in their 20’s instead of mature adults established and successful in their careers. Thank goodness most of the action concludes when they are still in their very early 30’s or late 20’s, with the epilogue in the present day. The main problem I had with the story was the unlikely development of the heroine giving up her exciting almost fairy-tale-like dream career as a photographer who travels all over the world in order to settle in a small town with her guy who runs a garden center. I mean she kisses away a presumably very well-paid editor job in London? Big Lifestyle change, there. Huge. That decision needed to be dealt with upfront and seriously instead of happening off-screen.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

January 29, 2019