Love in the Maldives

Armchair Adventure.

For some reason, I didn’t hate this, although I probably should have. The plot did not deviate from the standard Hallmark playbook except for the geography and had some silly eye-rolling elements in it to boot. But the setting in the Maldives instead of Small Town, U.S.A counted a lot in its favor. It was nice.

Rae is a writer for a magazine whose regular feature is her solo action-packed physically challenging adventures in dangerous places. Emphasis on the solo. She climbs mountains, rafts down raging rivers, goes on polar expeditions, slashes through jungles with snakes, and stuff like that. Her magazine is changing focus, however, and her boss sends her to a luxury resort in the Maldives. To Her Horror. (!) She wants her to write something personal and introspective instead of her usual which is the opposite of that. Can she even do that? Her job depends on it but it doesn’t seem likely. When she gets to the beautiful partially underwater resort, she keeps looking around for exciting adventures in defiance of her intimidating boss’s direct orders but all she finds is a yoga class. Not her thing.

But right off the bat, she develops a sweet relationship with an older widow, they talk and help each other and go to couple-oriented activities together. I really liked this part and the actress, Lucy Newman-Williams, was just great. Rae gives Debra the courage to strike out and do things on her own without her beloved husband, and Debra gets Rae to give her own solitary existence a critical second look. She also gets to know the yoga guy who is the “Experience Director” of the resort. Jared’s yoga class is part of a program he wants to “take international” called “Clarity and Connection.” You get the picture. They start to fall in love while snorkeling, dancing, shopping in nearby Mali, meeting his friends, and rescuing sea turtles. He also knows where the location of a famous shipwreck that sunk with a plundered treasure on board is. That is right up Rae’s street. This is the main eye-rolling part. Rae agrees to keep it a secret and not write about it if he takes her to it and he does. What a chump. But by this time, she is starting to buy into this turning inward instead of outward deal. He takes her out to the wreck which is sticking right up in the air in shallow water in full view of any passing plane or drone or Josh Gates. She is agog. Why haven’t all of the greedy treasure hunters discovered it? “Because it’s not near anything.” Plus it’s called the “Wandering Shipwreck” because every time there is a typhoon or monsoon, it is carried off again to a new place. Wait a minute. Could the ship be a metaphor for Rae’s life up to now? I’ll put a pin in that one.

Rae screws up and takes a selfie with the famous lost ship in the background which her boss sees because they have a shared hard drive. She forgot about that. Of course, her boss gets all excited and books a whole block of bungalows for a camera crew to film the exploration of the ship which Rae discovered and do a whole big thing. Secrets out. Tourists, treasure hunters, and reality show hosts will not be far behind disturbing the peace of paradise (and the exclusive $15,000-a-night resort.) Yoga guy Jared thinks she betrayed him on purpose, and yadda yadda yadda until all is resolved very patly with the shipwreck remaining a secret, the treasure staying in the Maldives, and him taking his Clarity and Connection program international with Rae’s collaboration. Her “Reservation for One” feature has turned into “Table for Two.” Awh.

The two leads in this are married in real life and seemed very comfortable working with each other. I liked Jocelyn Hudon in this though she has been in a couple of stinkers and one good one in the past. Her husband though. Nothing against the actor, but he came across as a slightly vacant teenage surfer dude while Jocelyn was believable as a successful worldly professional. It was as if Christopher Atkins had been marooned on The Blue Lagoon with his Highschool English teacher instead of Brooke Shields. He even had Christopher’s same tousled frosted tips. Just FYI and in fairness, in real life, they look to be a nice young couple and Jake Manley (yes) is actually 5 years older than his wife. I was surprised. I would not be averse to seeing them work together for Hallmark again as long as he lets his hair grow out and buys a comb.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Eat, Drink, and Be Married

Why? What? Huh?

Billie is consulting with an engaged couple, Jess and Max, about their wedding. Jess is being a bit of a control freak in her strive for perfection, and Max could care less. She even has a diagram of the exact dimensions of the flower vases she wants. Right away I’m on Team Max. After the meeting, they decide (rightly) to take a break. When Max’s brother hears about it, he storms into Billie’s place guns a blazing (figuratively). He blames Billie for the breakup because she was the last person the couple talked to. Meanwhile, Billie learns that the beloved old building that her family had had her business in is being sold after being in her family for 3 generations. This begs the first question. How could her beloved building be sold? Don’t they own it? If not, why not? Did they forget to? Anyway, Charlie enlists Billie to save the wedding, and in return, he will save the building because he’s in real estate. And his Uncle’s company is the one that is going to tear down the building and put up a parking lot (literally). Everything goes as expected from there, including Charlie being unsuccessful in handling his end of the bargain. By the end of this, I was left with more than several nagging questions.

She makes a living how though? Takes old after-wedding detritus and gives it to charity? I must have missed something? I guess she’s also a wedding planner? Are weddings the only event that has leftover flowers, decorations, and food? (Might have a problem with the health department there, though) and what charity needs flowers? I’m sure this was addressed, but I missed it, I guess.

What was with that long cheesy speech Charlie made to Billie after she gave him the boot encouraging her to let her true self shine through because she is such a spectacular person and has no reason to be so closed off, insecure, and damaged. Huh? As far as I could see she was a cheerful, confident, successful, very together woman. I was very confused. Was he trying to gaslight her into thinking his “lying and deceit” was her fault?

Why didn’t Charlie help Billie with her presentation to the committee-who-decides-what-buildings-to-protect-from-mean-developers after sending an email giving her the advice to apply for protection? He wasn’t doing anything else after quitting his job. Why not pitch in with a helping hand and get back on her good side?

Why should the committee save her warehouse despite the fact all were in agreement that the place held no historical value due to burning down in 1910? Even Billie? Because Billie loved it and lots of nice things happened there. Sounds like an investigation is in order especially since Jess was on the committee and didn’t recuse herself.

Why did Billie wear a prom/bridesmaid floor-length formal to Jess’s dressy-casual daytime wedding? Oooof.

Lastly, Jocelyn Hudon, who played Billie, was cute but was robotic in her line delivery and it caused me to lose focus and interest. I might have even dozed off for a minute. Maybe this is why I didn’t catch all of the subtleties in the plot. I was curious and looked up her resume and sure enough, this is strike two for her, from me. She needs to do better, as do the writers who wrote this thing.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

From Friend to Fiancé

A Familiar Trope, but Hallmark Mixes it Up a Bit (!)

I am amazed by the poor reviews this one has gotten so far! I thought this was one of the better Hallmarks. The lead actress, though not super-great was more than adequate. And Ryan Paevey is a big favorite with me. This also had some surprising elements to it that moved it out of the usual very predictable Hallmark template. First of all the rival of our heroine, Jess, who is set to marry Jess’ best friend, Ted, was a high school mean-girl. As any Hallmark aficionado will predict, she will show her true colors, and prove herself to be the fiancé from hell. Our heroine will rescue her buddy from her evil clutches at the last minute and win his love for herself. But no! She has actually changed and is now really nice, if a little suspicious of Jess. Her instincts were correct. Jess has decided she is in love with Ted. We are teased a few times that mean Kimberley is going to emerge from her clever phony façade. But No! It is actually Jess’s stupid antics and non-stop lying to herself and others, that show Kimberley in a favorable and sympathetic light. It was getting to be the last 15 minutes of the movie, and I was cudgeling my brain as to how the writer was going to resolve this. It was shaping up to be another My Best Friend’s Wedding, which I knew was impossible because, come on, Its HALLMARK! They managed it thanks to Kimberley, who, in a faster that the speed of light last minute epiphany realized that she was just marrying Ted to prove that she wasn’t a mean girl anymore, and Ted realized that he wanted to marry Kimberley to prove he wasn’t the fat nerd anymore. It was actually pretty neatly done. The other things I liked were the voice over narration at the beginning and the end, Ted’s granny, Jess’ elderly adviser, and the rest of the secondary characters. So Kudos, Hallmark: try to step outside the box more often!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

May 27, 2019

The Christmas Cure

Nothing to See Here.

This is a very bland story with no real conflict. There are no villains that are fun to root against. Not even a somewhat jerk of a current fiancé that our hero has to compete against. The two leads are likable and it is nice to see Patrick Duffy again. There is nothing spectacularly stupid that happens here (so no joy there, either!). Just a young doctor who decides she prefers a slow-paced small town practice to the fast-paced big city hospital. No mystery, no big reveals, no tough decisions, no struggles, no humor. And the small-town setting vs. The big city has been done to death. It is Christmassy, though. Lots of decorations.**4 stars out of 10**

Rating: 2 out of 5.

July 28, 2017

Baby, It’s Cold Inside

Bait and Switch

I signed up for a Hallmark movie and got an infomercial for the Ice Hotel in Canada. Except the script would have been better in the infomercial. The lead actress, Jocelyn Hudon, droned her part out in a monotone like she couldn’t get the words out fast enough so she could be done with it. Not that I blame her. Meryl Streep couldn’t have created any interest with this lifeless script. She was pretty, blonde, and boring. Her main personality trait was being cutely clumsy. I’ve liked Steve Lund in other parts, so I’ll just move on.

This travelogue consisted of jumping from one cold-weather activity to another. Baking authentic Nordic food, sliding down ice slides, hot-tubbing, touring the hotel, snowshoeing, glass-blowing, maple syrup making, and northern lights viewing. After about an hour of this frantic activity, the heroine actually asks the hotel owner what there is to do in the area. I kid you not. The most exciting thing that happened was the influential hotel reviewer got a maple syrup pop stuck on his hat. There was a bit at the end where the dead-eyed jealous hotel manager (who actually was pretty scary with her coiled hostility masked by her friendly courtesy) said some mean things to our heroine and briefly scared her off the trail of a new career path and a cute boyfriend. But by that time it was too late. Thanks to that hotel hat guy (who reappeared in one of the strangest caps unless you were impersonating an Army Ranger, ever) disaster was averted.

This is the second Hallmark movie starring the Ice Hotel. I think an investigation is in order. **2 stars out of 10**

May 13, 2021