Yellowstone Romance

Wacky Fun

After being away for work, Olivia returns to New York City and finds her best friend and roommate, Amber, engaged to a guy she’s only known for a few months. Olivia disapproves. Amber is a city girl and a ditz. Her new fiance is a rancher and Amber will be following him to the boondocks. Olivia thinks (rightly) that Amber does not know what she is getting into. In the guise of a “bachelorette retreat,” She takes Amber to a working Dude ranch along with their other best friend, Jason, to give her a taste of what is in store for her. Olivia selfishly does not want to lose her best friend and roommate, but she also is genuinely concerned.

What follows is kind of a hoot. First, the trio arrives at the ranch dressed in New York City’s idea of what is proper ranch wear. It is a cute visual. They are greeted by the ranch owner and his son, played by Christopher Russell.  Christopher’s natural fallback position in his roles is laid-back and easy-going. He was perfectly cast in this role as the strong but silent cowboy who is unhappily roped into taking care of the “citidiots” and showing them a good time as well as a taste of authentic ranch life. The “Dude” part of the dude ranch is just until his Dad makes the extra money to pay the back taxes.   It’s all wacky fun while the three take on Getting up at the crack of dawn, camping, horse riding, egg-gathering (and breaking), fence repair, cattle herding, barn dancing, wolf and bear avoiding, etc.

To Olivia’s surprise and frustration Amber is game for everything and her enthusiasm never flags. Except when she is attacked in a river by a leech. And who can blame her for that? Cowboy Travis is exasperated but is very good at hiding his annoyance at the situation, and it’s not long before the trio’s good humor and effort earn his respect and liking. The actress who played Olivia really grew on me and had great chemistry with Christopher Russell. Amber and their friend Jason were funny, and Christopher was in his element. And when CR is on point, he is the bomb-diggity.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

May 18, 2022

Feeling Butterflies

Confused and Complicated

**Spoilers**

On the surface, this was pretty standard stuff as far as plot and character. But if you look harder, it featured some very awkward elements and a very Strange-for-Hallmark romance. First of all, 2 very contentious and competitive butterfly wranglers not only in the same city, but booking parties right next door to each other? I had no idea that releasing butterflies at parties was such a booming dog-eat-dog business! Our heroine, Emily, hates her rival Mandy because Mandy treats butterfly parties as a business instead of a calling. Plus, she’s cheaper. She does not have a deep personal connection to the insects like Emily does. Emily suspects Mandy of salting her butterfly releases with moths and actually has the gall to also do Puppy and Kitty parties as well. Hopefully, these dog and cat parties don’t involve releasing them into the wild like the butterflies. Better just shrug and move on. This is one of those Hallmark set-ups that you can’t think about too hard.

Emily’s love interest is a single Dad who hires her to give a party for his daughter. The romance is unusual for Hallmark. Emily is very attracted to him but is worried that he is still hung up on his ex. They actually have a pretty lengthy conversation about that issue, and guess what? He actually is! I don’t know why because she is rude, pushy, bossy and they have nothing in common except a 2-year history. He says “It’s complicated.” End of. He thinks. But no. Emily wants the cards on the table and good for her. He admits he really likes Emily but he is very “confused.” He is so “confused” that after thinking about it long and hard, he chooses the ex over Emily and drives off for the airport, New York City, and a high-paying career! And Emily is perfectly OK with that. In fact, she says that “she’s never felt better!” She seems to mean it because although she looks sad for about a minute, there are no tears or hanging around in her PJs eating ice cream out of the carton. Although this spoke volumes for her strength and self-sufficiency and not needing a man to complete her, it kind of sucked for the romance. At this point, the Hallmark Gods had to intervene because God forbid a woman is alone with friends, family, and a thriving business at the end of a Hallmark movie. He changes his mind off-camera and comes back. And now she is really really happy. We get the final (and only) kiss and fade out before he can change his mind again.

In addition to the problematic romance, We have a creepy and possibly mentally ill father. His antics at a party near the end were not funny. He was horrifying. And I found his conversation with Emily about her attraction to Garrett inappropriate and uncomfortable. Throw in Emily’s self-righteous and judgmental attitude towards Mandy, a truly hateful and psycho bride, an abundance of dead and diseased caterpillars, and losing the entertaining Mandy for most of the movie until she is resurrected and rehabilitated at the end, this movie had me feeling caterpillars, not butterflies.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

March 14, 2022

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