Love at Sunset Terrace

UPtv Gets it Right Again

This was a very well-done little story. Up TV, in recent days, is really showing up Hallmark in terms of fresh faces, well-written scripts, and character development. The three leads were more than half the appeal. Ellen Woglom was appealing and charming as the female lead. She has a killer smile and I appreciated that she did not have a stick-thin runway model body. Carlo Marx was handsome and likable as the vulnerable father who was over-protective and almost needy with his daughter. The young daughter was played by Erica Tremblay. Again, a young actress who was hired for her talent rather than cutesy-wutesy looks and perky sparkles. She is the younger sister of the multiple award-winning film actor, Jacob Tremblay.

The romantic relationship developed naturally and believably rather than a series of “meet-cutes” and fake instalove based on nothing but two pretty people snarking and bickering at each other. The setting looked like a real place rather than a McMansion plopped down in front of a stunning view. I’d stay there and feel right at home. The conflict was the same old same old (workaholic big city girl reconnects with nature while meeting troubled widowed Dad of young girl and presto chango lifestyles are changed and a new family is formed). But Up TV shows once again that this tired plot can be done in an entertaining and engaging way. Hallmark really should be upping their game. I fear they are have become over-reliant on their “big” name stable of actors and actresses at the expense of giving exciting young talent a chance to shine and scriptwriters who work hard to offer a quality product while still falling within the genre’s parameters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

March 21, 2021

Winter Castle

Sn-o-o-o-o-o-w Boring.

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.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

January 15, 2019

Journey Back to Christmas

Strong Ending Redeems a Lackluster Tale

***Huge spoilers****Unlike many, I am not a huge Candace Cameron Bure fan. I find her competent. The first ¾ of this movie left me rather cold, despite the wonder and mystery provided by the great concept of a miraculous Christmas comet. The main character, Hanna, was just a too-sweet cardboard cutout. However, the time travel gimmick usually delivers stories that keep me engaged or at least semi-engaged, and this one was no exception. I did roll my eyes at the irrational behavior and attitudes of some of the townspeople and the police. Why all the hate and suspicion of nefarious motives on the part of the police chief, Her primary supporter, Jake’s partner, and the town busybody? The conflict was too manufactured and not rational. When Hanna, fresh from segregated 1945, is examined by the black doctor, and interrogated by the black chief of police, why no surprise or incredulity? They missed a great opportunity to add a little depth to the story there, and it would have taken all of 20 seconds. Her one champion, Jake, a policeman, was nicely played by Oliver Hudson. Sarah, Jake’s partner, was foreshadowed to be the love interest, but for most of the movie, her cynicism and unfounded suspicions made her very unlikeable.

The last ¼ of the show is more than redeemed by the appearance of the Tom Skerrit character. Now an aged and respected figure whose life was changed by Hanna by her kindness to him when he was a little boy, he validates her story. He leads the way to finding a solution to her predicament of which life to lead. Previously unknown ties between Hanna of 1945 and Hanna of 2016 are uncovered. The doubters are proved wrong and they are even a bit redeemed in the process. Both Hanna and the understanding cop, the two leads, find their happy endings, though hers was cheesy to the max. Oh well. Sometimes cheese is the way to go.

Everything was tied together beautifully. The last quarter of the film had me in tears. It was that good. I don’t think I have ever seen a Hallmark movie that went from “blah” to stellar with such whiplash speed!**8 out of 10 stars**

Rating: 4 out of 5.

December 4, 2016