Wedding of a Lifetime

A Breath of Fresh Air

Jake and Darby have known each other for 15 years and engaged for 10. Yes, I know. But there was a career-derailing skiing accident and Nana ( the wonderful Paula Shaw) had health issues. It will be no surprise that they are in a rut and have lost that special spark. In fact, they are about ready to call it a day and break up when their parents and friends enter them in the “Wedding of a Lifetime” competition on national television. Rather than hurt their loved ones’ feelings they decide to enter and lose on purpose. Unfortunately, they both are pretty competitive and hate to lose.

This was a breath of fresh air.  Even though we all knew where this was going, the plot was new and fresh, not one of the usual in the Hallmark grab bag. The acting by Jonathan Bennett was top-notch both in comic scenes and dramatic scenes.  Brooke D’Orsay is always very appealing and lends sweetness and authenticity to any production, but this one gave her more to work with than usual.  Her scenes of heartbreak were very affecting and her comedic ones were amusing. She is one of the best criers at Hallmark, the other being Allison Sweeney.

The couple acted like rational mature adults. Even though they have an argument, they don’t flounce off in a snit.  Darby gets great news via text right in the middle of it, and the argument is forgotten and Jake is happy for her and supportive. The next day, they apologize to each other. What a concept!

Thanks to working together as a team they find their way back together and decide to give their relationship another chance. They win the competition, and “The Wedding of a Lifetime”. But it’s not over yet! When Darby has to deal with a hilarious wedding dress from hell (see picture but with braids like Heidi), and Jake is given fake groomsmen, they both quit in despair and walk out at the same time. Is it the notorious “Big Misunderstanding?” It’s about 15 minutes til the end, after all. NO! They embrace in solidarity in the middle of the street. Damned if it’s not the opposite of “Big Misunderstanding!”

With the gratifying side story of their failing businesses saved by the publicity from the show, this would be an 8 out of a 10. But I’m adding a point for the cute graphics, the funny bickering TV hosts, and the excellent cast of secondary characters. Not to mention a pretty hot scene on a balance beam.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

September 20, 2022

The Wedding Veil Legacy

Last but not Least

The script was not a challenge for good actors: no great emotional highs and lows, but the whole cast of seasoned Hallmark actors did an excellent job. All handled the good humor and banter with aplomb. I particularly enjoyed Matty Finochio as the assistant, Stanley.

Tracy, played by Alison Sweeney, the third woman in the triumvirate of Wedding Veil owners begins her story by breaking up with her boyfriend, Finn. It is handled very maturely. He has gotten a great job across the country, and Tracy does not want to leave New York or her own great job. They are sad to part ways, but as we have gathered from the previous two installments, they have grown apart lately anyway.

Tracy takes the veil to a tailor(?) to have a snag repaired and meets Victor Webster getting fitted for a tuxedo. There is some good-natured raillery. Allison is planning an important party for her job and is in the market for a new caterer. Her search brings her to a new restaurant accompanied by Autumn and Lacey. Lo and behold Victor is the head chef and part-owner with his family. The meeting between the women and Victor is chuckle-worthy thanks to the three actresses’ comic timing and easy rapport.

The side story of Tracy’s mission to obtain a newly discovered early draft of the famous Emma Lazarus poem for the museum where it can be enjoyed by the public is interesting. It adds some suspense and provides the pretext (Victor might know an investor), along with picking out art for the new location of Victor’s restaurant, fun with food, and rug hauling around, for the promising couple to spend more time together. Alison and Victor make a good pair both age-wise and in physicality.

Unlike the second installment, the plot is tightly written. There are quite a few little stories, but the focus remains on the couple and their developing relationship. Every individual side element gets tied into the whole, including the Emma Lazarus poem welcoming immigrants to America. The continuing mystery of how the veil got to San Francisco is well incorporated into this final chapter and provides a satisfying conclusion involving a lovely coincidence and a twist. After the veil does its job of finding husbands for the three likable friends, it finds its own happy final home.

Of the three movies, I rank the first one the best for its humor, this one second for the well-constructed plot, and the second one my least favorite. 7 1/2 stars

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

February 21, 2022

It Was Always You

Good Hair!

Elizabeth is engaged to a fellow dentist, safe boring George, a childhood friend. They go to their old island neighborhood to throw a party for George’s mother and to prepare for their upcoming wedding. George’s brother David with whom she has had a stormy relationship with is also there. When George is stranded on the mainland, Elizabeth and David are thrown together planning the party.

I did not like the relationship between Tyler Hynes (David) and Erin Krakow who played Elizabeth. Tyler Hynes was his usual rough around the edges attractive self. I really usually like him. But his character in this one was irritating. He was out of line about things that were none of his business. The whole relationship bordered on the inappropriate and stalkerish. She was engaged to his brother and he needed to lay off and leave her alone.

And why did the fiance brother not just get a boat over to the island when the bridge was under repair? Ridiculous.

I disagree with the apparent majority opinion about Erin’s hair. I liked the different cut from the way her fans are used to seeing her on When Calls the Heart, which I’ve never seen, (with the inauthentic modern flowing locks in 19th century Canada). It gave her an edge that improved her usual placidly wholesome look.

I did like the end. I’m a real fan of the “One year later” endings. I like that Erin followed her dreams of travel. Tyler’s childhood note to Erin was really sweet and romantic. And I liked that the stick-in-the-mud brother had finally loosened up with the right woman.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

March 2, 2021

A Mrs. Miracle Christmas

“Isn’t that Fortuitous!”

The Mrs. Miracle Christmas movies, based on books by mainstream novelist Debbie Macomber, were a cut above typical Hallmark Christmas fare. I was very happy to see a new one in the series with Caroline Rhea taking over the eponymous character. I was not at all surprised that she brought her own comedic talents, warmth, and energy to the role. I am certain that this will be a yearly event now that they have their new Mrs. Miracle. And we got an extra bonus with the appearance of her daughter, “Mercy,” charmingly played by Jordan Ashley Olsen.

In this one, Mrs. Miracle comes to the rescue of a school teacher and her husband, and the young woman’s “Nana” who are all finding it difficult to move forward from grief. Lauren and Will from the loss of their foster child, and Nana from the death of her husband. Lauren also harbors hurt and abandonment issues because of a dead mother and an absent father. Although certain aspects are as predictable as usual, it does avoid some usual Hallmark conventions. For one thing, money is an issue. Lauren and Will started living with Nana because of financial problems. Loss of religious faith is touched on. The big 20-minutes-to-go-in-the-movie conflict over a new foster child is in no danger of escalating because the couple is married and love each other. So they communicate.

Once she settled into the role, Lauren is ably played by Kaitlin Doubleday who is a dead ringer for a young Kelly Ripa.

Steve Lund who is usually in lighter fare, is effective as her husband who is trying to get his wife to look forward and try again.  It was no surprise that he was great in this more dramatic role and they couldn’t have cast anyone better than Paula Shaw as the funny, feisty Nana. All three are caught up in the force of nature that is Mrs. Miracle who is a firm believer that “Sometimes we don’t know what we need until it is placed right in front of us.” It is all capped off with a very satisfying “3 years later” epilogue.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

November 11, 2021

Five Star Christmas

Perfect Set-Up for a Sequel

Hallmark will have SERIOUSLY disappointed me considering the comparatively weak movies that they do build on if they don’t follow this one up. It is very rare that I give 10 stars to a Hallmark movie. This deserved every one of them. The highest praise I could give is that this almost could have been a regular theatre movie. I said almost. It was laugh-out-loud funny while being heart-tuggingly touching. And without being manipulative like the “soldier’s sad widow who finds a new love” movies are. There were multiple engaging story lines and a nice romance. Lucy and her siblings meet at home for Christmas only to discover that their Dad has turned it into a B&B and is making a mull of it. They all join forces to help their Dad turn it into a success. When who they think is an influential B&B reviewer drives up, they all pretend to be staff or happy guests, as there are no real ones, and that would not be a good look. The direction was awesome by veteran Hallmark director, Christie Will Wolf. She has not always helmed good movies, but in this case, the good script was made something special. The acting by most concerned fills the bill.

Once I got used to Bethany’s new eyebrows and Victor Webster as her love interest, it did not put a step wrong. I like Victor, but he was a little miscast. And can you believe no flour throwing scenes or snow-ball fight or snow angels to be found?! Instead, there was a Taffy-Pull! What a concept!

Each cast member had a very engaging story, and any one of the characters could be the focus of a next spin-off or two. Or Three.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

November 28, 2020