When Love Springs

What Does that Title Even Mean?

Adorkableness is hard to do right and Rhiannon Fish was way over the top in this. No one acts this nutty, bubbly, and cute in real life without blowing a gasket. It was exhausting, but thank goodness she did manage to tone it down later in the movie.

Ms. Fish plays Rory, a “junior publicist” whose big dream is to become a partner in her firm. She works for the owner, a very angry and unpleasant task master who holds Rory’s ambition over her head to pile on the work. She and her goofy sister (she carries around a toaster) are joining her parents on vacation at the B&B where they first met to help them renew their vows. Rory has agreed to work while on vacation but continually misses deadline after deadline because she is so distracted by A) The handsome son of the Inn owner who is running the thing while his Dad is out of town, B) Her old boyfriend who dumped her and has shown up at the B&B with a beautiful new girlfriend, and C) Her scheme in which she gets Noah the B&B guy to pose as her new boyfriend to make old boyfriend jealous and save face. In return, she will use her expertise to rebrand the B&B to impress an important travel critic who can hopefully save the Inn with a good review.

Despite a towel shortage, no WiFi, no televisions in the rooms, no pool, and no employees, the big push to wow the travel critic is for her sister to design a new logo.

The fake boyfriend plan and the usual entertaining shenanigans that trope entails kind of falls by the wayside while Rory and Noah swan around the countryside falling for each other. I should say falling further, because it was pretty much a coup de foudre for them both. No old boyfriend in sight. Rory is all set to ditch her job with her always-irate boss when Noah declares his undying…friendship. Rory is understandably confused as was I.  I guess it had something to do with Rory hugging her ex Jason after his new girlfriend dumped him. Seemed pretty obvious she was just being nice, but whatever. With Rory’s guidance, the B&B leans into the homey, no-frills, or fancy amenities vibe. When Penny the travel critic finally shows up she is impressed and writes a favorable article. Rory’s boss calls her (irate as usual) about the article because Rory has broken faith with her by neglecting her work and missing deadlines all the while working for someone else. I really couldn’t blame her for being angry. But Rory, Instead of just quitting because, Wow, her scary boss really really hates her, and her future with the company is now kaput anyway, she fights with Noah and ditches her parents’ ceremony in order to be back on the job Monday morning.

When next we see her, she is back at the B&B just in time for her parents’ celebration. She has seen the light, but we are cheated as the whole “Take this job and shove it, you crazy b***h” happens off-stage.

Even though the plot didn’t live up to expectations, there were some bright spots. Rhiannon Fish’s wardrobe was sophisticated and stylish. Loved the polka dot halter dress which was actually not the color in the above picture, but a very pretty eggplant purple. The scenery was gorgeous, although someone fell a little too much in love with the split screens. James William O’Halloran as Noah is a find. He is very attractive and really effective as the love interest. His appeal was enhanced by the actor who played Rory’s ex, who was fine, but looked like a kid next to him. It was never believable that Rory would be even mildly tempted to give him a second chance with Noah gazing at her hotly. Finally, Rory’s family was a plus. I liked her sister, who ditched the toaster, and her parents in particular were sweet, understanding, and sensible. Fun and odd fact: The entire cast is from Australia. A grumpy**6**.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

A Picture of Her


Oh, Goody! Another Hallmark romance based on lies! How many is that this month? Three? Four? This one had a bit of promise since it stars Tyler Hines who usually brings an edgy cool masculinity to his roles. He is also very popular so Hallmark usually gives him better-than-average scripts. The script did have words in it, but they forgot the plot.

Tyler Plays Jake, a once idealistic photographer full of dreams of people buying his photos for their art. However, when he published a book of arty scenic photos, he only sold 5 copies, 3 of them to his mother. He is still a photographer but now makes his living as a jaded paparazzo with an occasional gig doing legit photo spreads for a weekly Los Angeles magazine. This state of affairs has made him sad and tired which is right in Tyler’s wheelhouse, acting-wise. While on one of his respectable assignments, he takes a picture of a lovely girl sniffing a rose and it goes viral. It is a very pretty picture of very pretty and sweet-faced Beth played by very pretty Rhiannon Fish. He is quite taken with her and coincidentally meets her at a dog park and they go out on a date. Or at least half a date, because he leaves right in the middle of it to take a picture of a celebrity shoplifter. He is partners with a girl who looks out for celebs doing embarrassing things and whenever she sees one, she calls Jake who hops on his motorcycle to get to the scene of the crime to take pictures of the unsuspecting famous person doing the bad thing. Why she just doesn’t whip her cell phone out, and keep all the money for herself I don’t know. Maybe her button-pressing finger is broken.

The next day, Beth and Jake meet up again and she takes him to have dinner with her Aunt Dody. Beth is just visiting her from her small seaside town where she is first mate on her dad’s fishing boat. I think that profession is a first for Hallmark. As soon as Aunt Dody and Jake are alone, Aunt Dody pounces on him and asks what his intentions are in a very aggressive and threatening manner. Sweet and vulnerable Beth has been lied to and hurt before and he better not break her heart or act dishonorably in any way. Oops. Too late. He has already lied to her that he is not “one of those fellows who hides in the bushes and takes pictures of famous people.” Plus, Jeez Aunt D. they’ve only been on half a date. Back off.

And that’s about it. Beth tries to find the mysterious photographer who invaded her privacy by taking her picture without permission, and gets an agent because now companies want to hire her to be in commercials. So she’s mad, but not really. They go on more dates but when Jake has the opportunity to come clean about the picture and his profession, he lies again. This guy. On Beth’s first commercial shoot, they put so much makeup on her that she gets scared and disgusted. (Too much makeup? On a Hallmark?) While running from the set, she meets Jake and finds out that he is the low-down sneak that took her picture! She is betrayed and heartbroken and goes back home to the fishing boat. Tyler is even sadder and tireder than he was before.

Even the news that Daniel Bacon, who usually plays small-town mayors in Hallmarkland, but in this one is the head of the weekly mag that he does occasional work for, wants to dedicate a whole issue to his arty photos doesn’t perk him up. His dream has come true, but he just blows him off to chase after Beth with that old book of his. That book thing is very mysterious. Earlier in the day he got a call from Aunt Dody because an unknown person sent her Jake’s book. She calls Jake because she thinks he did it. He didn’t and denies it. She decides that Jake’s a nice “boy” after all and asks him to personally deliver his book to Beth up in Washington for some reason. So he does, apologizes to Beth, and finds out that it was Beth herself who found a copy and sent it anonymously to Aunt Dody. Why? Don’t know. Anyway, she has it back again and they make it up and all is well in the romance department. Can’t say the same about the job department because Mayor Daniel is still waiting on his offer to rejuvenate Jake’s career as a respectable photographer at last. I hope he is patient because the happy couple is too busy riding off into the sunset on Jake’s motorcycle. This is one of those “Happy for Now” endings.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

The Christmas Retreat

Rhiannon Fish Moves up the Likability Scale

This one was OK. The first time I really liked Rhiannon Fish in a role was in the recent Hallmark Mystery, Nicky and Nora: Sister Sleuths. So I went into this one giving her the benefit of the doubt and she really came through, showing some good acting and comic timing. She is very very pretty, which is not always a plus.

She starts off playing a real pill and a bit of a brat. And she does it well, starting with her first chance confrontation with the hero, from whom she steals a cab. She is on her way to getting engaged to her long-term boyfriend who ends up dumping her instead. And you can’t blame him a bit. She is all about her work and career, not even silencing her phone during what she expects to be a marriage proposal (Besides being 45 minutes late despite the Cab Caper).

Her mother sees the problem and insists she spends Christmas with her at a Christmas Retreat, which surprise surprise ends up being owned by the guy she just screwed (as in tricked out of the cab, of course). He has just resigned from his company because he was unjustly passed over for a promotion. Good for him.

As she spends time at the retreat with her mother and participates in the activities designed to help the guests regain their Christmas spirit, she finally starts to enjoy herself and own her issues. At first, her reluctance to give up her phone and her bad attitude towards participating lead to some comedy and funny banter with Mark, the hero. Most of the middle got a little on the boring side, and the end was marred by Mark’s behavior toward Rhiannon in the inevitable “big misunderstanding”, which was even more confounding than usual. Her ex-boyfriend shows up all contrite and wants her back, and Mark gets jealous, ignoring their established strong connection and her practically begging him to admit their love. For a nice guy, he acted like a stupid jerk.

Anyway, he regains his sanity and goes after her resulting in the happy ending. They both give up their careers for a more authentic and easy-going life in the woods, spreading Christmas cheer all year long.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

You’re Bacon Me Crazy


I don’t feel this couple was very well matched. Beside looking very much younger than Michael Rady, the character of Cleo acted like an immature and spoiled High School girl as opposed to Gabe, who responded to her antics in a mature level-headed way. She pulled a dirty trick on him by ordering all that food she didn’t need while she could see that he was being slammed. What a brat! And then, when he successfully delivered it, he didn’t even charge her for it. Did she even apologize? I don’t remember. And then, when he offered to drop out of the competition, she had a tantrum because he was being egotistical instead of taking it kindly the way it was meant. Was he being egotistical? Maybe. but so what? That was his problem.

I’ve always liked Michael Rady, but have been unimpressed by Natalie Hall. She is just another over made up pretty face, and brings nothing special to the table. The story was actually pretty interesting and I did like that there were no big misunderstandings. A nice epilogue at the end further justified the half-hearted “7” that I gave this effort.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

April 8, 2020

The 27 Hour Day



This was a very calm Hallmark with the usual shenanigans showing up only briefly. A highly successful A-type personality who is an efficiency expert has the rug yanked out from under her when she is not invited on a speaking tour with an Oprah Winfrey-like self-help guru. “Oprah” tells her that her life is efficient but meaningless. Lauren, played by Hallmark fave, Autumn Reeser, is annoying but thanks to Autumn’s charm and acting talent, not intolerably so. She goes on a prescribed retreat in Montana where she learns to calm down and sit still for a minute. She and the son of the family who owns the retreat share an attraction and become friendly. And that’s about it. He is having some easily solved financial problems and is sort of starting to regret his decision to give up veterinary school. There is a honey fest, a super-cute pig instead of a dog, and there is a group cooking scene where no food is thrown(!), but brownies are burnt. Also, there is a kiss between the two 30-somethings that is not interrupted by a rainstorm, a snowball, or a busybody but fades to black. Do we see them waking up together the next morning? No. But I think Hallmark was testing the waters here. If the “family-friendly” crowd doesn’t rise up in protest, this type of scenario may be in the offing at some point for two mature adults.

By the end, Autumn, her work-life balance back in balance visits her mother and turns down Oprah’s invitation because a speaking tour would throw things back out of balance. The retreat owner returns to veterinary school in upstate New York which is just a “short plane ride” from Autumn’s home base, New York City. There is only a vague hint and hope that their relationship may turn into something more significant. Another interesting take for Hallmark.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

August 8, 2021