Confused and Complicated
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.
March 14, 2022
Lacey and Lace
This was pretty entertaining and I’m looking forward to the next 2 installments of the trilogy starring Autumn Reeser and Alison Sweeney. This first one featured Lacey Chabert with Kevin McGarry playing the love interest.
Three friends are in San Francisco for their yearly get-together. They are out antiquing and Lacey spies a beautiful vintage wedding veil. The owner tells them that the veil comes with magical powers. Whoever owns the veil will meet their true love while it is in their possession. The girls decide to all buy it together, and Lacey will take it home. She soon meets Kevin McGarry and they have an instant connection. Coincidentally they both live in Boston where they plan to continue to see each other. While at the airport, Kevin sees the wedding veil with Lacey and overhears her having a conversation about planning a wedding that he assumes is hers. (It’s not.) He immediately gives her the brush and leaves. Lacey is confused and disgusted.
They keep meeting up while in Boston because Lacey is an assistant curator of a museum and he is the rich philanthropist who is hosting a gala to raise money for the museum. What follows is a quite amusing series of encounters between the two where Lacey seems very open to a relationship while Kevin thinks she is about to get married. He acts very attracted to her and then keeps backing off, confusing and angering poor Lacey to no end. Meanwhile, he can’t understand why such a seemingly nice woman is acting like a cheat and a tease. It’s Cute. The truth finally comes out after an hour and 15 minutes. The subplot is also interesting. Lacey discovers a dirty and faded 19th-century portrait of a bride wearing a very familiar-looking veil in the Museum’s basement and finds out it is a lost masterpiece. She wants it to be the centerpiece of the gala but it has to be restored in record time. So there is a lot of running around and intrigue over that.
Lacey’s wardrobe choices in this were very odd. She wears a lot of flowery floating low cut off-the-shoulder dresses one of which, I swear, looked like a filmy nightgown. You could see right through much of it. They would have been OK for a formal garden party but not for shopping, at work, or rooting around filthy basements. I’m also not sure I liked the pairing with Kevin McGarry although they were fine individually. The chemistry between the 3 queens of Hallmarkland was off the charts, however.
After Lacey and Kevin tie the knot, Autumn Reeser will be taking the veil to Italy with her to have it researched to see if it’s the same veil in the portrait. The suspense is killing me.
January 10, 2022
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.
November 8, 2020
This was a very poorly written Hallmark. I’m not talking about the plot, which usually goes without saying in Hallmark land. The dialogue was sub-par but my main problem was the character of the love-interest and his little girl. Neither one of them had all of their marbles. What kid of her age would even be vaguely interested in the stupid lost polar bear and orca bedtime story that the heroine started to tell her? Let alone transfixed in wide-eyed wonder. No kid of normal intelligence. I predict a very disappointing career for our heroine, an aspiring children’s author. And what single guy would invite his helpful single neighbor to a destination wedding unless he was committed to their future, and not “confused?” An idiot, that’s who. Once again we are expected to be interested in spending two hours with pleasant and attractive but boring cookie-cutter characters whose stories have nothing to engage the viewer. I can tolerate humdrum characters if the story is involving, or an indifferent story if the characters are appealing. But not the lack of both. Three stars for the reject’s nice song, and the crazy Ice Castle, and real snow.
January 15, 2019
Boring and Banal
Love at First Bark is one of Hallmark’s more mediocre offerings. Other than some cute dogs and the odd dog-training tutorial, this one has nothing at all to recommend it. It is a very lazy effort with a cookie-cutter script and unremarkable leads. Usually one can find something to like in these things: a little unexpected twist, appealing actors, some cute lines, an old favorite star in a secondary role, some genuine chemistry between the leads, a villain you love to hate, a heart-tugging moment, etc., etc. This one was a complete waste of time.
The heroine is particularly annoying. She stubbornly refuses a handsome and sweet dog-trainer’s help in getting her new pooch under control until she finally changes her mind. She is very immature about her business and her love life. When she sees her new boyfriend who is obviously and unaccountably in love with her being nice to his ex-wife, she goes to pieces. He has outright told her he no longer has any interest in his ex and why. She sees his ex give him a smooch in the middle of a crowded party. Not a hidden alcove, a crowded party. This is so upsetting to her that she offends a valuable and much-needed client and petulantly breaks up with the dog trainer on the spot. She shuts him down when he literally begs her to listen. Very mean and unreasonable. He is very confused and doesn’t understand. She passive-aggressively tells him that she needs to focus on her new business (after she just dissed a potential client, mind you) and doesn’t have time for a relationship. Unfortunately for him, she apologizes soon after and he stupidly takes her back. That is all. As another reviewer noted, and adding to the irritating nature of this Hallmance, are Julia’s false eyelashes. They are so thick and long that she could literally sweep the floor with them. They deserve a cast credit of their very own. It gets 3 stars from me because the dog trainer/love interest (Kevin McGarry) was a super nice guy and very good-looking. The rest of the cast, including Leanne Lapp, was also very competent. **3 stars out of 10**
April 13, 2017