Love, Classified

All About Emilia (or Trudy or Jan)

This one started off extremely well. The writing was intelligent, and Melora Hardin (A.k.a. Trudy Monk) delivered her lines with verve and vivacity. It was clear that this was going to be one of the Hallmark 2.0s that the network has been flirting with lately that eschews the usual fill in the template set-pieces and characters. Paul Campbell in a cameo appeared as a bartender who serves to introduce the main character, Emilia, played by Melora. So I was set to enjoy this. We later see an uncredited appearance by Ashley Williams and a welcome cameo by Michael Kevin Anderson. And Steve Bacic is a big favorite of mine as well.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the mother, Emilia’s, past abandonment of her children after the death of her husband. Yes, people make “mistakes”. But a 5-year absence is not a “mistake,” it is a heartless, selfish, cowardly choice. And while I know that health crises do cause people to rethink the importance of family and old ties, I thought it was significant that she didn’t come back to see her children until she felt personally vulnerable. Apparently, when everything was going well, her children were not very high up on the priority list. And as for self-centeredness, her hurt daughter was a chip off the old block. She was very unlikable. I don’t fault her for her feelings towards her mother, but I didn’t like her childish acting out, especially towards her very faultless and innocent love interest, Her mother’s doctor. Her son, on the other hand, handled everything perfectly. He was cautious about his mother’s reappearance in his life but willing to give her a chance. When she (predictably) was set to run away again, he called her out on her propensity to run from trouble and conflict instead of sticking it out. I liked his anger.

As the movie went on, Melora Hardin’s performance started to grate on my nerves more and more. Her over-the-top emoting was just hammy. Her speech at her book signing was just cringe-inducing. The self-involved airing of all of her bad behavior and embracing her children’s successes was not an apology to her children, it was another “all about me” TMI performance. So, what promised to be a more sophisticated (lesbian romance front and center instead of a brief hint in the background) version of family-friendly fare, just fizzled, for me. Stars for the good things about it.**6 out of 10**

Rating: 3 out of 5.

April 24, 2022

Wedding Every Weekend

Way to Go, Hallmark!

I agree with all of the positive reviews regarding this movie. Kimberley Sustad is a very likable and talented actress and does comedy very well. I liked the plot and the slow-building realistic growth of her feelings for Paul Campbell and his for her. It’s been a long time since I have looked forward to the inevitable happy ending with such anticipation in a Hallmance. Too often it’s just a big yawn. They did avoid most of the usual Hallmark tent poles in the plot although the “big misunderstanding” was front and center.

Yes, the diversity was laid on with a trowel. Jewish, Black, multi-ethnic, and gay weddings. But sometimes the politically correct thing is also the right and good thing. In fact, the only “normal” (Ha Ha) couple was the lead couple, now that I think about it. Hopefully, the religious right can take some comfort in that. As for me, I hope Hallmark doesn’t think they’ve done their duty for the time being as far as diversity is concerned and non-WASP non-straight people go back to being relegated to tokens. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will be guided by the praise and not the invective.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

August 17, 2020

The Last Bridesmaid

Bad Vibes

I am a fan of Paul Campbell so I thought I’d give this a re-watch, even though I didn’t remember being overly impressed the first time around. Paul was fine. Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. I used to like her all right. She used to be one of the go-to Hallmark actresses. The more I have seen her in recent years, the less I like her. She has a real stagey acting style. She says her lines like she knows there is an audience watching her. No matter what role she plays, beneath the smiles and niceness, she kind of comes across like she knows she is kind of superior to everyone else. This is just the way she comes across to me. I know she has her fans, and that is fine.

I found that her interaction with Paul Campbell came across as borderline hostile especially at the beginning. And it wasn’t due to the story. Her eyes were so cold when she looked at him in a few scenes, I actually got a little freaked out. I wish I knew what was going on there, if anything.

The story wasn’t all that bad, hence a semi-respectable 6 1/2 stars from me. The script seemed well-written and had some cute and clever lines. I liked that she was playing her age not an almost 40-year-old actress playing a young inexperienced girl just starting out in her career. The jewelry-making subplot was interesting and added a lot to the usual love story. The message was a good one: Follow your dreams, do what you love, but stay sensible and grounded. The romance as scripted did not come out of nowhere, the relationship developed naturally and realistically.**6 1/2 stars out of 10**

May 26, 2021

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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, played by Leanne Lapp, 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 a match-up between them 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