I do like it when Hallmark goes to England, and this was no exception. Rachel Skarsten is good, as usual, and very striking looking with her hair up. No long overprocessed ringlets, thank goodness. Her English accent was a little distracting, but that was a me problem as she has the accent credentials once playing Elizabeth Tudor in the popular series Reign. But I digress. Enough about Rachel.
This had elements of a typical Nannyfish out of water taking care of precocious Royal Children and falling for the Prince. But this usual template is rescued from dreary business-as-usual by the fact that this was also part MI5 spy story. Agent Rachel helps uncover a plot against the Royal Family and the military intelligence department sends her to protect the family disguised as the new nanny. She is partnered by Tousaint Meghie as Wallace, the new chauffeur. She resists the assignment because she grew up in an orphanage and has zero experience with children. She goes through a whirlwind training by the Nanny Whisperer, Greta Scacchi, who has aged gracefully and settled into character parts very comfortably, thank you very much. Her specialty is weaponizing the ever-present Nanny umbrella. Once she is installed, high jinks ensue with the kids trying to prank her. She is not MI5 for nothing and their amateur efforts are nipped in the bud quite resoundingly with the bucket of spaghetti landing on their co-conspirator, Uncle Colin (the love interest). She wins the kids over by not ratting them out to their mother, the Princess, and even indulging in a prank of her own. The princess is a dead ringer for Felicity Jones, BTW. Of course, we have the inevitable invitation to the Royal Ball and a jaw-dropping entrance. She wins Colin over when he sees her with her hair down (in an unfortunate return to her long ringlets) and in a feminine ball dress. But also by jumping in to help with his charity coincidentally benefitting her old orphanage. The enemies attack as they are exiting and Rachel saves the kids with some ninja umbrella action, but Colin gets kidnapped.
The romance was lame with little chemistry between the two lovebirds and really had no future despite the kiss at the end. The spy part was adequate. I suspected one character, who turned out to be guilty of something, but not of the main threat of harming the children. When Colin gets kidnapped, Rachel’s boss tries to fire her but the princess stands up for her and throws the male spooks out on their ear. Yay! The main bad guy and the motive will be no surprise to anyone with even a passing interest in British mystery and international intrigue stories, but that was totally OK. In a good scene, Rachel has some succinct words for any bad guys thinking that the end justifies the means: “You can never do right by doing wrong.” And her reply to a common defense: “This job. It changes you.” “I think it just makes you more of who you are.” Simplistic, but usually true.
Megan wakes up from a coma and learns the life she dreamed of wasn’t real. Or was it? Or will it be? Time-slip movies can be difficult as well as entertaining. This one left me with too many questions. This woman dreams up 2 children and they weren’t real? Did she dream the pregnancy and birth as well? If it was just a dream, what was the deal with the clock? Did she go back in time? Were the first couple minutes of the movie just a sneak peak into her future? If it was just a dream why did she meet the dream husband in real life? If she hadn’t had that dream would she have met him anyway and felt the same way about him? Did she have the same kids eventually? Would her real life be forever influenced by her memories of her dream? What about the dream kids? Did they have thoughts and feelings? Souls? Would she have to still live in that same house? decorate it it the same way? So many questions. Rachel Skarsten did a great job, and I did enjoy the movie despite it all.
Nothing special here. Same old same old story partially redeemed by the character of Johnny Blake played by a well-cast Trevor Donovan. The secondary characters were played by Hallmark perennials, though the 2 female leads were relative newcomers to the Hallmark stable. Emily Tennant, the bride, who provides the #2 lead was fresh and appealing. I see Hallmark in her future. I wish Hallmark would steer away from extravagantly beautiful heroines toward more down-to-earth girls. I just can relate to cute more than impossibly gorgeous. All though this is a backhanded compliment to the physical beauty of Rachel Skarsten, I was distracted throughout most of the movie by her over-processed long ringlets. What is this? 1989?
The success of these things, for me, depends on the existence of some dialogue with some snap to it, some humor, some surprises(a little suspense?), appealing casting, good acting, enough non-phony not-needless conflict to provide some catharsis or the comeuppance of evil-doers. Do I ask for all of these things at once? No, that would be asking too much. (though it has happened, rarely). But I need at least 2. The “supercute” (gag me) snowball fight kicked off a big fail for me.
On a side note, when, oh when, is Hallmark inc. going to get on the bandwagon and start starring a few of the talented and numerous black actors and actresses as the romantic leads? And I’m not talking about black bosses, black millionaire clients, or black best friends. A.) It seriously calls into question their values, and B.), It’s super stupid business-wise. The most popular and profitable romances and dramas in the theatres today feature black people in the leads. Tyler Perry anyone? What about Malcolm D. Lee and his Best Man movies? There are dozens of examples. Come on. I have more than a few black women friends who would jump on such a Hallmark movie like a duck on a junebug. I can’t believe they have seldom been called on this. WTH?!**4 stars out of 10**