A Fresh and Wholesome Romance.
This is a delightful romance between two clergy-persons. Samaire Armstrong as Casey is battling sexism and some hostility among the board of trustees and her own feelings of insecurity and self-esteem. The actress who plays her is very attractive in a “girl next door” way and I liked her portrayal. Her love-interest/colleague is played by Brendan Penny who is a reliable Hallmark stalwart. I do have a soft spot for romance involving clergy so full disclosure. I think it adds a certain tension and interest when the parties have to be responsible to a community and maintain a certain standard of behavior that their feelings and emotions might conflict with. The movie does not hit you in the head with Christianity, but also does not shy away from bringing Christian values and church politics(usually the opposite of Christian values) into the story. I was touched by some of the developments.
Adding to the enjoyment is the delightful Leanne Lapp as Casey’s secretary and supporter, Letoya Luckett-Walker as her fellow pastor and wise friend, and Jody Thomson as the supportive trustee. Not to mention Gabrielle Rose as the “baddie” who has a story of her own.
Highly recommend for Hallmark movie lovers who are sick and tired of the stale Hallmark plot lines but who want a wholesome sweet romance with a little character growth, conflict and suspense. With more and more options to choose from with PixL and UpTV on the scene, Hallmark would be well-advised to stop taking their loyal audience for granted and provide some fresh material and casting as this one does.
May 31, 2020
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
This is a slightly above average Hallmance which at least did keep my interest. I liked the ice sculpture theme and the setting in an acclaimed kitchen of a master chef both of which I found educational and interesting. The touch of villainy and rivalry with the sous-chef was balanced by the lack there of with the boyfriend and the wisdom, fairness, and niceness of the head chef. Her romance with our heroine’s widowed father added a further touch of piquancy. Rachel Boston is always reliable, though I find her giggle distracting. Her romance with the boy she met briefly in childhood but never forgot was rather dull. Her misunderstanding of his relationship with his work partner was not understandable, so thank-goodness, it was brief. I guess the reason I did not like the romance much was because I did not like the hero. First of all, his lack of height and too handsome face bothered me. I thought his behavior showed a lack of character. He let his partner shoulder all of the responsibility of meeting the very important proposal deadline while he was romancing Rachel. The romance should have waited. She wasn’t going anywhere. His stupid arrogant move in entering Rachel in the ice sculpture contest in the first place was just incredibly clueless (and she told him flat out not to and why!). After writing this, Maybe I didn’t like it as much as I thought I did! **6 out of 10 stars**
November 16, 2015