Not Just a Cut Above, But Leaps and Bounds Above
Wow! This one was great! How did that happen? Two attractive and appealing characters played by two attractive and appealing actors who did a wonderful job. The acting, particularly on the part of musician, not actress, Lucia Micarelli, was so so good. I hope she continues to add “actress” to her impressive musical resume. The chemistry between the two leads was strong. I loved that she did not have the cookie cutter “Beauty Queen” looks, but was appealing in her own unique way. She well matched with Michael Rady, who is handsome, but in a “normal guy” kind of way. He’s one of my favorites.
The story was excellent and avoided the Hallmark tedious and corny set pieces that their Christmas movies are known for. The introduction of a woman bravely struggling with a largely unknown disease which rendered her dependent on a wheelchair and a grandmother with Alzheimer’s was laudable and affecting. The fact that they did not milk this for cheap tears is a wonder. Along with Kate’s brave fight to regain 100% of her violin skills after her accident it really made this movie both interesting and moving.
And just for the star on top of the Tree, we had the wonderful music. You made a wonderful movie, Hallmark. Was that really so hard?
November 12, 2020
I don’t feel this couple was very well matched. Beside looking very much younger than Michael Rady, the character of Cleo acted like an immature and spoiled High School girl as opposed to Gabe, who responded to her antics in a mature level-headed way. She pulled a dirty trick on him by ordering all that food she didn’t need while she could see that he was being slammed. What a brat! And then, when he successfully delivered it, he didn’t even charge her for it. Did she even apologize? I don’t remember. And then, when he offered to drop out of the competition, she had a tantrum because he was being egotistical instead of taking it kindly the way it was meant. Was he being egotistical? Maybe. but so what? That was his problem.
I’ve always liked Michael Rady, but have been unimpressed by Natalie Hall. She is just another over made up pretty face, and brings nothing special to the table. The story was actually pretty interesting and I did like that there were no big misunderstandings. A nice epilogue at the end further justified the half-hearted “7” that I gave this effort.
April 8, 2020
Started off Great but Kinda Fizzled.
This one started out great. I don’t remember Nikki Deloach being such a good comedienne. She was hilarious in some of the scenes. Michael Rady was a great foil for her, and the chemistry was good. Nikki played a free spirit type animator who has committed to staying away from romantic entanglements for the sake of her very serious daughter. Her daughter wants a dog and Nikki agrees because she feels her daughter needs to loosen up a little and a dog will help. Rady plays a government executive who is very anal retentive and buttoned up and also president of the PTA. Rady’s son is a bit of a dreamer and loves super heroes. To make a long story short, the two pairs decide to share a rescue dog which brings them together. They are real opposites and of course they clash and then attract. It was funny that Nikki’s daughter related to Rady more than her mother, and Rady’s son was closer in personality and interests to Nikki. I like that Nikki’s ex-husband was a good dad and good friend to her, and Rady’s girlfriend was a nice woman who realized first that they weren’t a good match. Unfortunately all of the laughs and romantic tension were on the front end of the movie. After the two became friends, everything kind of fizzled out. Still, it was still good enough to win an *8* from me.
April 8, 2019
Shameless exploitation of Pride and Prejudice
Christmas at Pemberley Manor is a shameless attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Jane-Austen based contemporary romances. Unlike Unleashing Mr. Darcy, however, the story and the characters have nothing to with Pride and Prejudice. Zip. All the writer did was tack on various names from P & P on to the main characters. Sometimes quite randomly. For example, Elizabeth’s old boyfriend was named “George” and was a nice guy, the mayor of the town, and trying to win Elizabeth back. The doofus assistant to William Darcy, who wins the heart of “Jane” Elizabeth’s last minute assistant, was named Travis. Why not “Charles?” It was insulting to the intelligence.
If you can set that aside, however, this was not a bad Hallmark Christmas movie. At least I stayed awake. I am not usually a fan of Jessica Lowndes. Her looks are usually too jaw-droppingly glamorous for the rolls she has played. In this one, however, they were toned down somewhat, so she looked like a relatable woman. Her acting, as usual, was not the best, but at least she didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Also, I loved Michael Rady, the actor who played the hero. He had a lot of charisma in this role. The young actress who played Jane had appeal and had a secondary romance of her own. The villain in the piece was “Elizabeth’s” boss who was played by the same actress who did such a great job as the prospective evil stepmother in Lindsay Lohan’s Parent Trap. Although the script and the director in this one did not make use of her comedy chops, it was nice to see her again.
Burning questions: Why would the board of directors of a world wide corporation want to demolish the CEO’s beloved home? Surely it’s but the teeniest fraction of an expense against the mega corporation’s humongous assets? Why would a festival that has attracted press from all over the country and is a mainstay of the town’s budget and beloved tradition, have only 20 people attend the climactic event? These questions will remain unanswered. The former is the fault of the writer the latter the fault of the director. Maybe my 6 stars is a bit too generous. Yep, down to 5. I just remembered the magic Santa Claus, the most tired Christmas cliché ever.**5 out of 10 stars**
November 4, 2018
As in no spark or bright spots. This one is an amalgam of Hallmark’s Fish out of Water, and Country good, city bad. It had nothing to lift it up above the plethora of Christmas movies out there and make it worth your time to watch it. Sometimes you find little pearls to give a Hallmark movie watch-ability, or, very very rarely, re-watch-ability. An appealing hero or heroine, or actor or actress with a way with a line or comic timing; Good dialogue, some chemistry between the principals, an evil villain, a truly hard conflict to overcome, A plot that engages and keeps you watching in even a tiny bit of suspense (You know what’s going to happen, but how will they get there?), A heart-tugging moment or some funny situations.
Taylor Cole is undeniably beautiful, but I didn’t fine her appealing. I guess I like the girl next door type that one can relate to. Even beautiful actresses can achieve that quality with good writing or good acting. The character was just boring. The hero was played by an actor that might have some potential* (Michael Rady), but he was also just commonplace, and at times acted very churlish and stupid. The daughter is a talent. She was good.
The premise wasn’t bad: A movie star coming to a small town to play a movie star coming to a small town. But it just collapsed from lazy writing. They did themselves no favors by riffing on one of the most stellar romantic comedies ever made: Notting Hill. Inviting comparison (by the hero coming out the door to a storm of paparazzi and the daughter posing and mugging for the cameras)was not wise. **3 stars out of 10**
December 18, 2016
*Michael Rady has since become a favorite