Christmas in Tahoe

Shattered Dreams

Laura Osnes works in her father’s resort hotel and is basically in charge. However, her dream is to manage a big entertainment venue in the entertainment capital of the world: Las Vegas. If she can successfully book her father’s Christmas show, the job is hers. After her star act cancels on her, the movie consists of her going around with her ex-boyfriend trying and to book replacement acts. Her ex is the head guitarist in a successful rock band who fired her as their manager when they started to hit it big. That is why he is her ex. The problem is that the actor who plays the famous rock star is too young and skinny looking for Laura, who has a mature look about her. He looks more like a junior accountant than a rock star.

The other problem is that to me, it seems as if her Dad knows something is up and tries to emotionally blackmail her into staying with him. He goes around looking concerned and puts her on blast making a speech about how proud he is of her and how he doesn’t know how he could get along without her blah blah blah. Unfortunately, he succeeds in his plan. She ends up giving up her dream to stay home and try to make her Dad’s hotel an entertainment destination. Also, she gives it up for her man, who is going to stay there in Tahoe and write instead of performing on tour. Which is his dream. So literally everyone gets their dream except poor Laura! Merry Christmas! Even her co-worker buddy and aspiring singer becomes the opening act for the rock band.

What is it with actors who think they can sing in Hallmark movies lately? Or was it that God-awful song? Hard to tell. How ironic that Laura Osnes, who actually can sing, doesn’t. Couldn’t they even have given her a verse of Jingle Bells or something?

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

December 3, 2021

Raise a Glass to Love

Subtle Overtones and a Smooth Finish

I went into this one without too many high hopes. Wine has become the new desert food as far as Hallmark food themes go. Also, I have not been overly impressed with the female lead, Laura Osnes. She’s been OK, but just kind of  “meh.”  I liked her in this, and I loved the male lead, Juan Pablo Di Pace. His chemistry with Laura was definitely there, although in truth he would probably have had chemistry with a fence post.

This one centered around a  female character dealing with feminist challenges. Jenna is studying for her 3rd try at passing the notoriously difficult sommelier exam to become a master sommelier. In the United States, there are only 172 of which only 28 are women. One of these real-life women has a small but important role in this movie. The background provided was interesting and educational.

Jenna is the daughter of legacy vineyard owners and a lifelong wine lover. She has a long-term relationship with the owner of a 3-star Michelin restaurant (Matthew James Dowden). Her dream is to become the restaurant’s sommelier. But to become qualified for that position, as in any Michelin-rated restaurant, she must pass her master’s exam. She goes home to her parents’ vineyard to study and meets our hero, her family vineyard’s innovative new Argentinian winemaker. As they spend more time together, she realizes that not only is she attracted to him but that his attitudes and dreams are more of a match to hers than her current boyfriend’s are. Aiden does not respect her opinion on wine and when his master sommelier quits for a better opportunity, he does not even consider her for the position. He apparently has no faith she will pass her master test. In a bit of a twist, when she finally lays all of her feelings and dreams on the table, he changes his mind and hires her whether she passes her test or not. This was actually pretty big for him. Despite this hiccup that separates the potential soulmates, it soon becomes clear that he still doesn’t trust or respect her judgment fully. He depends too much on outside validation such as diplomas and awards on the wine he wants in his restaurant rather than her infallible instinct and taste. His number one concern is the success of his restaurant. Ultimately, she realizes he is a follower, not a leader, and she rightly leaves him and her job. He wasn’t bad, or even wrong. They just did not have the same priorities. The reunion of the two wine lovers is romantic and even touching. They are a perfect match.

It is not rare that Hallmark champions women pursuing their professional dreams over romance (as long as they can have both), but this one was handled with more sophistication and subtlety than the usual Good vs. Bad Boyfriend trope. It added some complications, real-life challenges, and hard decisions that women are faced with when finding their best path to happiness and fulfillment.

P.S. Speaking of sophistication, kudos to the design team on the fresh approach to the promotional poster. Nice to see some whimsy for a change.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

September 24, 2021