Gingerbread Had Nothing to Do With It.
Instead of “save the store,” in this one we have “sell the store.” Don’t worry, with Hallmark no store is ever allowed to be sold, they are all saved, so we’ll just get that out of the way right now. The cheery Merritt Patterson is a freelance lawyer who is trying to re-establish her career in the big city after a bad breakup sent her back to her hometown. The glum and sinister-looking (but nice) Mexican baker (I thought all bakers were jolly?) and proprietor wants to retire, so he asks her, a trusted friend, for help in finding a buyer for his bakery. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? However, his nephew, a big city lawyer, visits for Christmas and wants to horn in. I found him very out of line, pouty and whiny to boot. He doesn’t like being a lawyer and wants to be a baker instead, but instead of having the guts to do something positive about it, he tries to put the kibosh on the sale of the bakery. Rude.
Merritt and Alex, the nephew, have a history of mutual crushes on each other, bad timing, and communication problems as teens. As adults, the reboot of their romance goes pretty well, and they do have some chemistry. Alex is very attractive and once he got over himself and Merritt realized that she was happy in her hometown rather than re-joining the rat race, all proceeded to the usual conclusion despite the appearance of a handsome French patisserie owner.
There was also some magical gingerbread involved but it was more of a superfluous gimmick than a miraculous gamechanger. It was cute though. I also enjoyed the Mexican Christmas customs. All in all, this was perfectly pleasant, but nothing really special.
December 18, 2021
Mom gets Burned by the Boyfriend, Sees the Light, and Drinks Eggnog
I love the Hallmarks where a hero or heroine we like is not appreciated by their family or their boss and is not treated as well as they deserve. We know that, with the help of the love interest, they will finally be appreciated and valued. It always makes a nice satisfying sub-plot to the romance, which is, of course, the main event. Thinking back, many of my favorite hallmark movies have this element. Mingle All the Way does, and they do it very well. I guess I’m just a sucker for comeuppances and nice people prevailing over mean people.
I loved the chemistry between Jen Lilly and Brant Dougherty. The plot device used to get them together was clever and really worked. Molly has to personally test out her new app which, instead of matching couples interested in romance, it finds the perfect “plus-one” for functions for those with no time or interest in a relationship. The writers did a good job of making the viewer understand their initial antagonism with the fight over the angel ornament. They really invested me in their situations by making you root for them by well-written antagonists that you loved to hate. Also, the viewer sympathizes with them being focused on their goals, while all their family and co-workers are interested in is whether or not they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. How disrespectful!
The scene where our hero really tells off her mother was a gem. And I loved the way the angel came back into play in that scene as well. He was truly a knight in shining armor. Lindsay Wagner did a great job with making us really dislike her. She was terrifying. And then, after the hero told her a few home truths, showing us a sincere change of heart. I loved the way the eggnog played into that: very good writing. That whole scene at Molly’s house was worth the price of admission. I wish we had had more of it.
And the same goes with Jeff’s work troubles. She took a less proactive approach with helping him in that department, but she had his back as well as he had hers. And it did the trick. I love the way his rival was taken down. What a jerk and contemptible human being! Good writing and acting on the villain’s part. I just wish Molly had done the taking down.
The only low point was Molly’s silly petulant overreaction to Jeff meeting his ex by chance at a party. But that’s par for the course in Hallmark romance. It’s a plus when it’s avoided. All in all, though, one of the best this year.**8 out of 10**
December 9, 2018
This should Cement Ali Liebert’s Place in the Hallmark Pantheon of Female Leads
After several turns as “the best friend” of the heroine, where she has all but out shown the leads, Ali Liebert has finally been getting much deserved leading roles in these Hallmark seasonal romances. This one is the best yet. Kudos to Hallmark for recognizing her appeal and giving her prominent roles. I hope she becomes as ubiquitous as Chabert, Reiser, Boston, Polo, and several others.
This one is also helped by a tightly woven plot, good character development, and an attractive leading man who has a real arc into becoming (or being revealed as) a good guy after all. I must quibble at this point over one plot hole. Our hero, a diva chef, has his career almost ruined by a viral video of him throwing food on a restaurant critic in a fit of temper. He reveals later that the video edited out the fact that prior to the food on the lap incident, the victim had made his waitress cry by being so mean to her. Why didn’t he just explain that on Facebook or Twitter? Instead of needing an image rehabilitation, he becomes a hero. It is also absent some of the overdone stupid gimmicks that most of these Hallmarks seem to hinge on. No angels, City bad, country good, factory shuttings, time travel, nor I Hate (just fill in the holiday). What keeps it from getting a higher rating from me is the lack of depth, suspense, pathos, or super hot chemistry between the leads. But it’s good. Really good.
Ali has the super nice girl who is maybe a little too nice role down pat. Plus she has the most energetic eyebrows I’ve ever seen. Very cute, if a bit distracting. Couldn’t take my eyes off of them.**8 out of 10 stars**
February 26, 2018
Seriously, I Couldn’t Take My Eyes Off of It.
This one was actually not bad at all. The chemistry between Jack Wagner and Josie Bissett was good. They were both age-appropriate despite numerous comments about Jack Wagner being 11 years older than Ms. Bissett. They looked fine together. At least, at 45, she was playing a woman with a college-age daughter instead of a toddler. Same for him. I liked that they did not try to follow the usual Hallmark formula and manufacture a secondary romance between their 2 kids. Instead, casting two talented young actresses who became instant buddies. Jack’s daughter looked like a tall and thin Scarlett Johanssen. The one wrong note was Josie’s god-awful wig. Why? Surely, if she needed a wig, Hallmark could have afforded one that looked natural. This one was so ugly, I am surprised Miss Bissett herself didn’t speak up. I have seen more flattering wigs in a Halloween costume shop. It was all very strange, especially since her make-up looked quite pretty instead of being laid on with a trowel like many of the Hallmark makeup artists do. **8 out 10 stars**
June 29, 2016