Five More Minutes

No Beer, Trucks, Guns, or Jesus

I approached this one with a lot of misgiving. I mean, a story based on a country song? By Scotty McCreery? But to my surprise, it was pretty good. Nikki Deloach, who is good as always, is a dedicated Art teacher who is losing her job and is having doubts about her relationship with her boyfriend. She wishes she could have just five more minutes with her beloved late Grandpa who always gave her great advice.

When she goes home to celebrate Christmas(?) Thanksgiving (?) I don’t remember, she finds a journal written by Grandpa when he was a young man detailing his first lost love.  She gets together with an old ex-boyfriend, and they decide to try to find her. Or was that another movie, Christmas Together with You?  They’re already starting to run together a bit. At the same time, a young man shows up for a job at her store because he said her grandpa was going to hire him. He turns out to be a wonder and is the best employee ever. It’s pretty clear from the get-go that something spooky is going on. There are lots of clues, which I’ll keep to myself.

Sherry Miller plays Bonnie, Clara’s mom, who lost her husband about a year ago. She looks great. I always think of the actress with fondness because she was in one of my favorite TV romcoms, This Matter of Marriage, back in the late ‘90s when she was a young whippersnapper. Highly recommend. She has her own romance along with her daughter finding love with her ex, Logan, and dumping her current beau. I liked that Bonnie did not approve of the ex, who behaved badly dumping Clara when they were teens, and kept giving him the stink-eye. She came around though.

There were a couple of things I did not like. Despite both Clara and Logan being established as Hallmark paragons of niceness, they both behaved badly. Logan kept putting the moves on Clara even after she said she had a boyfriend. And Clara totally dumped Logan and canceled an invitation for the family-less guy to spend Thanksgiving (?) Christmas (?) with her family just because he was called back to active duty. This was really low behavior and hardly patriotic or compassionate. Also contrary to the Hallmark ethos.  The third thing I didn’t like was the under-use of Leanne Lapp who played Clara’s sister and a favorite of mine.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

December 22, 2021

Heavenly Match

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 it 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.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

May 31, 2020

Love at First Bark

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**

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

April 13, 2017

Ice Sculpture Christmas

Tolerable

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

Surprised by Love

Slinkys and Twinkies

This Hallmark non-holiday romance has all of the prerequisite Hallmark clichés: Stuffy boyfriend, quirky true-love, visit to well off but mean parents, heroine caught in the wrong career, and troubled sister. It manages to overcome them all, thanks to the whimsical charm of Paul Campbell as Quigley, and Tim Conway as the grandfather pretending to have dementia in order to escape being drawn into the various family dramas. The redemption of her parents is well done and accomplished with a slinky and a Twinkie cake. The secondary romance of the sister and her next-door neighbor and son of the Mother’s nemesis is a nice touch. The sister was tons more likable and interesting than the primary heroine, and actually is more compatible with her love interest, but would not have provided the necessary “opposites attract” dynamic and her eventual character arc where she has her epiphany regarding her love life and her career. **8 out of 10 Stars**

Rating: 4 out of 5.

January 6, 2015