Groundswell

Wetsuits and cover-ups.

Lacey Chabert plays a sous chef who dreams of running her own restaurant. Her “boyfriend” is a famous chef and her boss. When he not only fails to introduce her to an influential food critic who is in raptures over her food and concepts but takes credit for her work as well, she dumps him. So that was good on her. She flees to her Aunt June’s mansion in Hawaii which is right on the beach and must be worth over $30,000,000. She starts to take surfing lessons from a handsome still sad widower.  And in what must be a first for Hallmark, he doesn’t have any kids! Crazy! Other than that, there are no surprises here plot-wise at least. By the end of the movie she learns to surf, wins a $50,000 cooking contest with sad widower’s nice brother, gives her disrespectful user of an ex-boyfriend a final heave-ho (he followed her to Hawaii), gets the guy, and opens her own restaurant there in paradise.

The most interesting thing about this one was waiting for Lacey Chabert to put on a bathing suit. Here she is in Hawaii, living on the beach, taking surfing lessons in the ocean, and she never puts on a swimsuit. What makes it even odder is that her love interest who is giving her lessons is very tan and fit with many abs fully displayed in appropriate swimwear. The optics of it were so weird, that Hallmark scriptwriters felt the need to address it by having him tease her about the wetsuit when she shows up for her first lesson. Something along the lines of, “You’re not in Cape Cod in the winter, you’re in Hawaii, in the summer.” It doesn’t work. Not even a one-piece in the whole movie. I guess when Lacey Chabert doesn’t want to wear a swimsuit, she doesn’t wear a swimsuit! I don’t really blame her for her modesty, but going forward, maybe she should avoid filming in tropical climes when she is required to go in the ocean.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

August 29, 2022

A Christmas Melody

Coffee, Close-Ups, and Costumes

This Mariah Carey-directed vehicle is semi-notorious for its unintentionally funny softly filtered close-ups of Carey’s face and the jaw-dropping product placements of Folgers Classic Roast Coffee. But beyond that, it is an above-average Hallmark Christmas romance.

Dress designer and single mother Kristin Parson returns to her Ohio hometown right before Christmas after her boutique in Los Angeles fails. On her way out the door for the final time, she gives her framed first 5 dollars she ever made to a white-bearded beggar on the street. Ahem. Welcomed back to Silver Falls by her Aunt, played by the lovable Kathy Najimy, Lacey settles right in with her whiny and sulky-about-moving daughter, ably played by young Fina Strazza. Determined to win her daughter over to small-town life, Lacey sets about getting her talented daughter a place in the Christmas pageant. This is where Mariah Carey rears her almost always disembodied head to provide some conflict and trouble for Lacey to triumph over. Mariah is head of the PTA, in charge of the show, and hates Lacey for an undisclosed reason. And nope, auditions are closed. This is where the other lead, Brennan Elliot comes in. He is the music teacher who had a high school teenage crush on Lacey and gets her singer/dancer/ poet/ songwriter daughter into the show. Lacey and Brendan have great rapport and always work well together.

Everything is going along fine with Lacey saving the show with her talented costume making, her daughter settling into school and making friends with the help of a mysterious white-bearded janitor, ahem, and romance blossoming with the lovestruck Brennan. And then, one night, her former assistant shows up with the news that Lacey has been offered a job in L.A. designing her own line of clothes for a department store chain. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to how this all ends. Spoiler alert: Lacey vanquishes Mariah by killing her with kindness and her daughter steals the show with a surprisingly entertaining solo performance complete with backup singers a la Love Actually. Song by Mariah Carey. Oh weird. Love Actually’s tour de force climatic singing performance at the school pageant was a rendition of a song by Mariah Carey. Hmmm.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Wedding Veil Legacy

Last but not Least

The script was not a challenge for good actors: no great emotional highs and lows, but the whole cast of seasoned Hallmark actors did an excellent job. All handled the good humor and banter with aplomb. I particularly enjoyed Matty Finochio as the assistant, Stanley.

Tracy, played by Alison Sweeney, the third woman in the triumvirate of Wedding Veil owners begins her story by breaking up with her boyfriend, Finn. It is handled very maturely. He has gotten a great job across the country, and Tracy does not want to leave New York or her own great job. They are sad to part ways, but as we have gathered from the previous two installments, they have grown apart lately anyway.

Tracy takes the veil to a tailor(?) to have a snag repaired and meets Victor Webster getting fitted for a tuxedo. There is some good-natured raillery. Allison is planning an important party for her job and is in the market for a new caterer. Her search brings her to a new restaurant accompanied by Autumn and Lacey. Lo and behold Victor is the head chef and part-owner with his family. The meeting between the women and Victor is chuckle-worthy thanks to the three actresses’ comic timing and easy rapport.

The side story of Tracy’s mission to obtain a newly discovered early draft of the famous Emma Lazarus poem for the museum where it can be enjoyed by the public is interesting. It adds some suspense and provides the pretext (Victor might know an investor), along with picking out art for the new location of Victor’s restaurant, fun with food, and rug hauling around, for the promising couple to spend more time together. Alison and Victor make a good pair both age-wise and in physicality.

Unlike the second installment, the plot is tightly written. There are quite a few little stories, but the focus remains on the couple and their developing relationship. Every individual side element gets tied into the whole, including the Emma Lazarus poem welcoming immigrants to America. The continuing mystery of how the veil got to San Francisco is well incorporated into this final chapter and provides a satisfying conclusion involving a lovely coincidence and a twist. After the veil does its job of finding husbands for the three likable friends, it finds its own happy final home.

Of the three movies, I rank the first one the best for its humor, this one second for the well-constructed plot, and the second one my least favorite. 7 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

February 21, 2022

The Wedding Veil Unveiled

Prego!

In part two of the trilogy, The Wedding Veil Unveiled, Autumn Reeser is going to Italy to teach an Art History class for a month or so. She is taking the veil with her to confirm that it is the same veil in the portrait, and if so, to learn the history behind it. For one thing, how did it get to San Francisco? First of all, if I were Lacey Chabert or Alison Sweeney I would be royally P.O. ed that Autumn Reeser got to go to Italy for her part of the trilogy, and I didn’t. The beautifully photographed scenes in that country were one of the best parts of this one. While Autumn and her love interest are investigating the story behind the veil worn in the portrait by the fictional artist Amici we vicariously explore some beautiful destinations including Venice, Verona, Burano, and Padua. No Rome, and I didn’t miss it at all.

It seemed like there were more side stories in this one than is usual. The story behind the Veil was intriguing and well thought out. They brought in some hurdles for Autumn to overcome in teaching her Art History class which were engaging. It was good that they had the capable and poised Autumn screw up a little bit. Her buttoned-up personality needed to be loosened up. Her love interest, Paolo, had his own problems. He was part of a family that has been in the lace business for generations. We get to know his large loving family, which was nice. But he wants to expand the business, and his father is too cautious and conservative. One of the stories, about the young student who couldn’t afford the tuition came out of left field and was basically a time-filler since it was completely untethered to anything else going on in the stories. Since we didn’t have baking shenanigans, ice skating, or snowball fights? With the extraneous details given about the boy’s situation, it seemed like they were going to hook it in somewhere, but in the end, they just didn’t get it done.

Although the male lead was handsome and likable, the romance was just so-so, and more than a little routine. But I liked the meet-cute and the meet-cute part II. And when the final scene showed them getting married I admit I had an “Awwhh” moment. Maybe there was just too much other stuff going on.

I just want to add that Autumn’s wardrobe in this was beautiful and well-chosen and she looked great. I questioned a lot of the choices for (or by?) Lacey Chabert in part I, but the only thing that was a little questionable in this one was her choice of shoes to go sightseeing in. She looked very uncomfortable. Part 3 featuring the cynical unromantic Alison Sweeney character was well set up and I’m looking forward to it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

February 15, 2022

The Wedding Veil

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

January 10, 2022

Christmas at Castle Hart

A Party Pooper

This was a pretty tired story not helped by some problematic behavior on the part of our heroine. Lacey “Giggles” Chabert’s younger sister, who is somewhat of a goofball gets herself fired from a premier event planner’s affair. The sister is played by Ali Hardiman, and she does a good job portraying the goofy girl. She looks like a cross between Tara Reid and Heather Mattarazzo of The Princess Diaries. She has a very expressive face. The same cannot be said of Lacey, I’m sorry to say. Unfortunately, she looks like she had her forehead botoxed and something else seemed off about her cheeks as well. It is not very exaggerated, but it is enough to notice especially since Miss Muggy McRubberface is acting with her much of the time.

The two ex-waitresses are touring an Irish castle and overhear the owners lamenting that their party planner quit. The younger sister lies that she and her sister are not only party planners, but that her sister is the world-renowned event planner, Paige Monahan, who is a person of color, which Lacey is not. And the very one that recently fired them. When the brother and sister look up her website they are very impressed. (Isn’t there a picture of her anywhere?) Lacey and her sister agree to take over. Lacey doesn’t like it but the Lord and his sister need help and are desperate. You know that this will not end well before it does end well (of course). The Lord and Lacey (that goes together) fall for each other. They overcome some serious challenges and manage to put on a pretty good party. The inevitable disaster occurs when the elite party planner hears that the two waitresses are impersonating her and comes to Ireland to open a can of whoopa$$ on them. And who can blame her? They do manage to get themselves forgiven, and near the end when a happy coincidence occurs, the sentence, “It’s a real Christmas miracle” is actually uttered. Crazy Credits: Paul Campbell wrote this. This is your mulligan, Paul. Sean McGinley was in this. He is a very famous and respected Irish actor (Braveheart, Michael Collins, George Gently, the Republic of Doyle, Shetland, etc.) In fact, all of the actors are Irish or English, except Lacey, even the Americans.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

December 3, 2021

Matchmaker Santa

Meh.

Reliable Lacey just didn’t do it for me in this one. This movie was made 8 years ago and Lacey Chabert hasn’t changed a bit. And I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Same hairdo, same lipstick, same signature eyeliner. Honestly, couldn’t she even wash her face before going to bed? On the other hand, If she ever wiped that eyeliner off, I don’t think I’d recognize her. Same affected giggle: It would make a good drinking game. I didn’t think she had much chemistry with her co-star, and the plot was tired and dull. Cupcake maker Lacey is invited to her bosses home for Christmas and she is hoping for a marriage proposal. On the way to meet him she meets a magic santa claus and is picked up by her bosses really nice friend/assistant. They are stranded on the way to her bosses vacation home. While Lacey and the assistant are falling for each other with the help of magic santa, her boss meets an old flame. And that ties it all up and puts a bow on it.

Maybe I just need a break from Lacey, because she can be a good actress, and is great with comedy when comedy is in the script. Unfortunately that’s a little difficult, since watching Hallmarks is kind of a silly hobby of mine. On a promising note, I have seen her in more recent efforts and she has been fine.

Florence Henderson, John Ratzenburger, Robert Pine, and Lin Shay, of Insidious fame, add some credibility. And I did like her love interest. On his own though. I’d like to see him pared up with someone else.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

November 23, 2020

The Crossword Mysteries: Abracadaver

I Came Here to Solve a Mystery

I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t remember watching this movie, because I know I would not have missed it. I really like the Crossword Mystery series and have it set up to record on the DVR. After relentless promotion, the movie never aired. Well now I know I’m not crazy. What the what Hallmark? ***finally saw it, after a 3 month delay.*** This installment was a disappointment although, in general, I think the Crossword series is going to be my favorite mystery series by Hallmark. Brennan Elliot’s investigative skills leave a lot to be desired. They consist of asking everyone in sight, “did you see anything unusual/out of the ordinary/strange?” Lacey Chabert is really starting to get on my nerves with her little “Heh-Heh” giggle after what seems like every other line she delivers.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

October 27, 2019

Love, Romance, and Chocolate

Not the Worst, but Pretty Darn Bad

Lacey Chabert has some good comedic chops when the material is there. It wasn’t in this one. Also, someone needs to take Lacey aside and tell her to lose the ever present nervous giggle and the eye-liner. They are both seriously distracting. One is a very tired look, and the former threatens to be the next Hallmark inspired drinking game. Also character she played seemed a little man hungry.

Even for a Hallmark, this was cheesy, trite, and dull. Cupcakes, baking competition, small business in trouble, dumped but still game heroine to the rescue, successful lucrative career given up for love and a childhood dream, royalty in the house, Cinderella entrance at a ball…was there any Hallmark cliche left behind?

The stars I did give it were for the location filming in Bruges, a pretty hot kiss at the end, and for Brittany Bristow who played the owner of the B&B. She was a charmer.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

February 21, 2019

Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe

A Waste of a Good Idea

This one was a pretty solid effort which kept my interest. it was somewhat multifaceted with some interesting corporate politics along with the usual city girl v. small town Christmas. I liked the pairing of Lacey Chabert with Brendan Penny. Lacey is a solid actress, and with this one, she seems to have tamed, a bit, her nervous giggle tick that she seems to have developed in later years. I liked her family, especially Sherry, who was one of the stars in one of my favorite Hallmark-like romances, This Matter of Marriage, which was actually produced by Harlequin. It was great to see her again. This one did feature the usual boring boyfriend, but it was refreshing that she really just let him go and didn’t hem and haw about it.

Like another Hallmark movie this year, I think it is pretty shameless to try to reel in Jane Austen fans, with the title of the movie, while not incorporating any of the themes in the actual plot or character. It’s too bad, because the role reversal of the heroine taking the Darcy role, and the hero taking the Elizabeth Bennett role could have been great. I don’t recall that that gimmick has ever been done before. Would have been pretty interesting. **7 out of 10**

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

December 4, 2018