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

Cranberry Christmas

Hallmark Christmas Movie for Grown-Ups

This is a mature and well acted offering that explores what it takes to have a happy marriage despite the challenges. Nikki DeLoach and Ben Ayers were fantastic and have wonderful chemistry. They play a separated couple, who have to pretend to have a solid marriage because they are publicizing their small town festival which will promote their family business for a TV show. It was like they were really married and falling back in love. They were a perfect match. Nikki is so sincere in her delivery, you really believe that everything that comes out of her mouth is from her heart. The whole cast was great, except for grandma who was a little teensy bit over the top. Sorry Grandma. The script was excellent with humor, heart, and a few tender moments. And it managed to avoid most of the Hallmark set pieces. Even the big misunderstanding near the end was handled with maturity and aplomb. The challenges to the happy ending were complex and real. No phony silliness at all. A breath of fresh air.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

December 7, 2020

Sweet Autumn

No Cliché Left Untouched

Soooooooooooo Boring. I’ll have to disagree with most of the reviewers here. I usually like Nikki Deloach and Andrew Walker. But Nikki had a weird hairdo and no opportunity to shine because of the dull script and Andrew was just meh in this one for the same reason. It all centers on the over-used-to-death plot of the successful woman’s having to return to her small town to run a business she inherited but has to share with a handsome man who she conflicts with. Lord, I almost fell asleep typing that. Throw in the obligatory festival and a frolic and there you have it. This one, however, is made worse by the dead aunt from whom she inherited the candy store (SWEET Autumn, get it?) reaching back from the grave by leaving cloying and hackneyed words of advice for the couple in order to bring them together. This was a lazy effort and unworthy of the talent.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

October 23, 2020

Love to the Rescue

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

April 8, 2019

Reunited at Christmas

Hallmark Actually Leaves Some Clichés at the Door

**spoilers**

Reunited at Christmas is not a typical Hallmark Christmas movie. I don’t know what got into those folks at Hallmark, but I hope we see more of these presentations that don’t follow the usual bone-tired formula. Not that it wasn’t predictable or anything or had a sad ending, God forbid. But they did break free a little bit. Briefly the family’s beloved “Nana” dies and her final wish is that her Son, his ex-wife(who she loved like a daughter) and their two daughters spend Christmas in the family homestead, which is now going to be sold. Our focus is on the daughter played by Nikki Deloach. She is a writer and has a serious boyfriend who is an anchorman. He accompanies her to the family gathering where he pops the question. She says yes, and immediately freaks out because she has abandonment issues(dead Nana and her former fiancé practically left her at the altar.) Believe it or not, steady city boyfriend does not get dumped for a local boy. Instead they work out their problems and resolve her doubts and fears. There is hope that the divorced parents just might get back together eventually as well. Nikki and all of the cast members do an excellent job. On the negative side, most of the movie consisted of Nikki moping around being indecisive and her father pining away for his independent ex-wife, who appears to have moved forward quite nicely without him. All in all this was a Hallmark Christmas movie that was a very mature and sort of realistic approach to a family at Christmas. No magic Santa’s, time travel, bad boyfriends, or failing businesses, or hate turns to love conflict. It was quite refreshing.**7 out of 10 stars**

November 26, 2019

A Dream of Christmas

Another Hackneyed Plot Device, but…

Our heroine, Penny, (Nikki DeLoach) frustrated because her loving but frequently absent husband may not be home for Christmas, casually voices a random thought about how she wishes she had never been married. Voila! A busybody and eavesdropper behind her in line uses her Christmas Angel powers to grant her her “wish.” Except it is not a real heartfelt desire, it was just a momentary voicing of some mild frustration. She loves her husband dearly, and her husband is crazy about her. He is absent because he is a wildlife photographer, and it is now or never to catch the reindeer migration for his book, which is a mutual dream for the couple. She can no longer go with him because they decided she had to give up her marketing of his photos to get a paying job to support them until his business becomes profitable. And now she has to give a presentation that may lead to a big promotion.

Horrified and bewildered at her new life, she encounters the Christmas demon…er, angel again, but the cold rhymes with witch refuses to take back her thoughtless whim…er, sincere wish. It was nice to see Cindy Williams again, but the character she plays is really creepy, scary, and mean. I don’t think this was intended. I blame the director. She has the gall to blame Penny’s dilemma and tragic consequences (her happily married sister is now single and her children no longer exist) on Penny and then on God himself, refusing to see it was her grossly inappropriate and unasked for meddling that is at fault and it is her responsibility to fix all of the collateral damage.

Enjoying some of the perks of her rich and successful new life, Penny briefly flirts with just moving forward and forgetting her past. A very handsome new client wants to date her, she likes her VIP status, her important position and the work she does, and her Jaguar. Who wouldn’t be tempted? Luckily she and her husband never had children. So that is an important hurdle she doesn’t have to jump. Only two things are wrong. She misses her husband, and her sister is no longer a happily married mother.

It sounds like I didn’t like this movie, but I really did. It is based on a very weak premise, but Penny’s journey really is done well. Her flirtation with the client, who seems at first like a great guy, is tanked because she knows and feels like she is still married. She seeks out her husband, now a very successful corporate photographer, and sparks still fly. The chemistry between them is some of the best I’ve seen in a Hallmark movie. Andrew W. Walker, a Hallmark perennial, really touched my heart in this, as did Nikki Deloach, as Penny. Of course, all is settled in typical Hallmark fashion but this one had some intriguing qualities and even a few surprises. **9 out of 10 stars**

December 11, 2016