Our Dream Wedding

Unveiled

I liked this one right from the beginning. Two medical students, Natalie and Scott, sending out their applications for residencies, are very much in love. We meet her family who also loves Scott. Sometimes you just get tired of two strangers meeting cute and going through the old enemies-to-lovers thing. Natalie is a perfectionist who always has a plan and is in control. Scott is a more fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy. This is demonstrated by his proposal of marriage to her out of the blue when it had never even been discussed. She turns him down, and frankly, it did seem like very poor timing. They are about to do their residencies and there is no guarantee they would even be in the same city for years. But anyway, he is heartbroken and she is conflicted because she really does love him. She goes to Mimi her grandmother and Mimi pulls out her magic wedding veil. Natalie is shot 10 years into the future so she can get some clarity by experiencing life married to Scott. She gets plopped down a couple of days before her sister’s wedding which Natalie is organizing because she is so organized. Needless to say, the marriage is happy and successful. There are some blips, starting with her fainting upon seeing she has two kids and the whole situation. She falls and hits her head and gets knocked out. This gives her an excuse when she acts weird and forgets things she never knew. The couple gets peeved with each other, feelings are hurt, and there is even some bickering, but all in all the marriage is a success. She wants to go back to make things right with Scott,  but Mimi tells her that is up to the veil. When the time finally arrives, I really liked that Mimi explains that when she goes back to trying on the veil 10 years ago, she will think that what she experienced was all a dream. I like it when these little time travel dilemmas are explained. Her “heart will know the truth” and she will know what to do about marrying Scott if she listens to her heart. But did she hurt him too deeply? Is it too late?

There were some minor problems with some of the details. Back to reality, she rushes to the airport to stop Scott from getting on the plane to Chicago and is freaked out when she thinks she missed him. Why didn’t she just text him not to get on the plane? 10 years in the future and everyone looked the same and so did the world. Where are the flying cars? And most egregious of all, The mother of the bride, the maid of honor, and the grandmother all wore white to her sister’s wedding! In the end, Scott and Natalie are engaged, but the probable conflict with their immediate career paths, which is the main reason she turned him down to begin with, is swept under the rug. But all in all, it was a nice story with no festivals, exotic locales, or other gimmicks to fill in the time. UPtv keeps it simple. The acting was really good, and there were touching moments, a little drama, a little humor, and some learned lessons. I particularly liked the actor who played Scott, who was cute, but in a normal guy kind of way.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

June 23, 2022

Coffee Shop

The Same, Yet Different.

This little 2014 movie had a very different vibe from the usual Hallmark or other network romances being produced today, so it already had a leg up with me. I think it was probably produced for a Christian production company because there were several references to God, the Bible, or Christian faith. Other than those gratuitous references, there was no other indication that faith or religion had much of an impact on their lives. So it was great for people who are affirmed by that sort of thing, but it was not intrusive.

The film started with a voice-over by the heroine by way of exposition of her dating trials and tribulations after a break up with her “perfect” boyfriend. The beautiful Laura Vandervoort plays Donavan, the beloved owner of a beloved coffee shop on the verge of foreclosure. After a scary and unpleasant meeting with her banker, played by Jon Lovitz, she sees him talking with a stranger, Ben, and thinks they are in cahoots. In reality, Ben is a once-successful playwright who is struggling to write another successful play after two failures. He is visiting his good friend who happens to be Donavan’s sister’s boyfriend. Because of the mistaken identity, Donavan treats Ben very rudely much to his bewilderment. He is just meeting his friend for a cup of coffee and he is being treated like he is a hostile invader. It’s a funny scene and well played.

We know right away that Ben is the love interest. He is very cute and likable, they just had a “meet cute”, and he really gets Donavan. She is trying to re-establish her love life but she is subverting her own personality and preferences in order to please her dates, rather than just being honest about her own likes. He sees this right away. After a rough beginning, and despite her sister who has taken him in dislike for some reason, they start to fall in love.

He soon has some competition with her ex-boyfriend who has slimeball written all over him. He has come back to town to ostensibly woo her back but really to help the banker sell her coffee shop to one of his big-city clients who is going to (gasp!) turn it into a parking garage! Betrayal!

I enjoyed this. Although it was a very simple and predictable love story, it had really nice warm cinematography and a cozy, intimate atmosphere. There were no silly scenes or gratuitous montages that only serve as a substitute for story-telling. The secondary characters had their own little stories and nicely sketched in personalities. There was suspense and anticipation as to what would transpire and how the inevitable happy ending would come about. In the end, we get Laura’s voice-over again which wraps up the story nicely. And even a breaking of the fourth wall with a little wink at the audience by Laura. It was a nice little touch.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

January 26, 2022

Midway to Love

Appealing Leads with Great Chemistry

I really liked this one primarily due to the likability of the two principals and their chemistry together. Daniel Stine plays an unconventional though very appealing looking hero who was an unlikely match with Dr. Rachel, who was sharp of mind and looks. Mitchell, her love interest was kind of shlubby looking. Kind of a Vince Vaughn type. She is a famous big earning Doctor (a psychoanalyst) and he is a fourth-grade teacher. I do like unconventional pairings so much more than the typical beautiful person falls in love with another beautiful person. It adds relatability, anticipation, and a layer of emotional depth. I liked that although he was not her equal in terms of career choice or “typical” good looks, he didn’t grovel at her feet.

That’s it though. The story was unremarkable and, of course, predictable. The career crisis was interesting and although Dr. Rachel put up with the indignities meted out by the villains way too long, when she did leave, it was a pretty satisfactory scene.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

April 5, 2021

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

Promising Start and Some Good Scenes but Didn’t Like the Romance.

Jill Wagner plays a hardworking single Mom who wants to get back to Interior Designing but is afraid to leave her stable job as a programming director at an assisted living facility. Donna Mills encourages her to apply for a primo job with her big-shot son redecorating and re-purposing their old unused mansion for office space and a Christmas gala. Donna who was pushing 80 when this was filmed in 2019 looks absolutely gorgeous.

The setup for this is good as Donna’s son is cold, “imperious,” and has no sense of humor, and his V.P. and trusted advisor, Kate, is a cold bitch. They both make it crispy clear they are not impressed by her qualifications or demeanor. And I can’t say that I blame them. For while we like Abby who is warm, enthusiastic, and charming, her qualifications were not the best, and she misspoke during the interview. When they haughtily dismiss her, she has a meltdown and acted like the “interview” was just a formality and she was guaranteed the job. She yells at them and storms out of the room. Very entitled and unprofessional. She’s hired because she has “spunk”.

Jill remains as charming and likable as ever while trying and succeeding in jollying up the Scroogey Nick. He slowly but surely warms up to her, her son, and her ideas (which are diametrically opposed to Kate’s who keeps getting meaner and meaner). His character arc takes up a large chunk of the movie and they start to give each other smoldering looks. Meanwhile, Abby meets a nice doctor who loves kids and whom we like as well. It is a measure of Jill Wagner’s appeal that she remains likable while stringing the nice doctor along while being attracted to Nick and behaving very unprofessionally at times.  Nick keeps following her around like a puppy dog and even at one point stalks her while she is on a date with the doctor and actually horning in on it with scary Kate at his side. It is very awkward and painful to watch.

He loses an important client because he is neglecting his business and I actually started sympathizing with Kate and her frustration. He gives a nice speech to Abby about why his business needs his full attention. Abby’s work on the mansion is a triumph and the writers now decide to rehabilitate Kate instead of punishing her for being so mean to Abby. She acknowledges Abby’s good work and admits she was wrong. A.) They need her to give the good doctor some romantic closure as he is left twisting in the wind by our heroine which is not a good look. B.) They need her to take on the bulk of Nick’s business responsibilities so he can have more of a work/life balance with Abby. So she gets a promotion.

This one ultimately did not fly for me despite Jill Wagner’s appeal. I could never warm up to Nick, especially due to the worthy competition of the sexy and nice doctor. She had more in common with him and it seemed like it was just physical attraction between Abby and Nick. Also, I just couldn’t get quite forget that the actor who played him was that blockhead Warner from Legally Blonde.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

December 21, 2021