The Lead Actress and Her Character are Lame in what is Otherwise a Top-Notch Hallmark
This one had a great setting (The Plaza in New York) and an interesting premise to hang the romance on. Jessica is at the iconic hotel to put together a history of “Christmas at the Plaza” and finds a theme in the fact that the Christmas tree every year at the Plaza has a different custom made tree topper. She is missing a year, mysteriously, and her quest is to solve the mystery, and hopefully produce the long lost topper. The love-interest, the wonderful Ryan Paevey is this year’s hotel decorator. This also featured a last-minute secondary romance, which was touching. As a secondary character, Julia Duffy is a joy. We need to see more of her. She added humor and quirkiness to her lines, that a lesser actress would have done little to nothing with.
The one weak link was Elizabeth Henstridge, whose delivery was very blah, and gave the impression of low-energy and coldness. It wasn’t helped by her character’s tolerance of her boyfriend who was rude and thoughtless and obtuse. Even when the charismatic and attractive Ryan (can you tell I’m a fan?) shows interest in her, she just can’t be bothered to break up her two year relationship until her hand is forced. The character’s first reaction, when faced with the challenge of having to actually figure out her presentation on her own without it being handed to her on a silver platter, was to quit. Maybe another actress could have made her relatable and likable but Miss Henstridge, though very pretty, is not much of an actress. At All.
November 28, 2019
A Familiar Trope, but Hallmark Mixes it Up a Bit (!)
I am amazed by the poor reviews this one has gotten so far! I thought this was one of the better Hallmarks. The lead actress, though not super-great was more than adequate. And Ryan Paevey is a big favorite with me. This also had some surprising elements to it that moved it out of the usual very predictable Hallmark template. First of all the rival of our heroine, Jess, who is set to marry Jess’ best friend, Ted, was a high school mean-girl. As any Hallmark aficionado will predict, she will show her true colors, and prove herself to be the fiancé from hell. Our heroine will rescue her buddy from her evil clutches at the last minute and win his love for herself. But no! She has actually changed and is now really nice, if a little suspicious of Jess. Her instincts were correct. Jess has decided she is in love with Ted. We are teased a few times that mean Kimberley is going to emerge from her clever phony façade. But No! It is actually Jess’s stupid antics and non-stop lying to herself and others, that show Kimberley in a favorable and sympathetic light. It was getting to be the last 15 minutes of the movie, and I was cudgeling my brain as to how the writer was going to resolve this. It was shaping up to be another My Best Friend’s Wedding, which I knew was impossible because, come on, Its HALLMARK! They managed it thanks to Kimberley, who, in a faster that the speed of light last minute epiphany realized that she was just marrying Ted to prove that she wasn’t a mean girl anymore, and Ted realized that he wanted to marry Kimberley to prove he wasn’t the fat nerd anymore. It was actually pretty neatly done. The other things I liked were the voice over narration at the beginning and the end, Ted’s granny, Jess’ elderly adviser, and the rest of the secondary characters. So Kudos, Hallmark: try to step outside the box more often!
May 27, 2019
I think I enjoyed this one more than the first one, Unleashing Mr. Darcy. Loved the 2 leads, although Ryan Peavy’s role in this sequel was just to be loving and supportive. The acting of Cindy Busby and Frances Fisher was superb and took center stage here. Cindy really made you feel how torn Elizabeth was between people-pleasing and asserting her own dream of the wedding she wanted. You were with her every step of the way as frustration with Aunt Violet and the way she was subtly taking over the wedding plans built and built. On the other hand, Frances’ acting was such that one felt a little empathy for her point of view as well. You couldn’t really hate her too much. She wasn’t painted as the evil aunt like she was in the first one. You understood how much she loved Donovan Darcy and his sister, and knew that she meant well. And this was due to Fisher’s acting. Another actress might have made her the stock wicked witch character. I loved it when Elizabeth finally rebels during the choosing of the reception details and asserts her own authority. I loved Aunt Violet’s state of shock, and her appreciative “Well Done!” as Elizabeth storms off. The relationship of Jenna and her “Bingley,” Henry Robson, added a nice layer to the principal romance. They were down to earth and clear-eyed. They reminded me of the Carrie Fisher/ Bruno Kirby characters in When Harry Met Sally. The romance took second place to the drama of Elizabeth becoming acquainted with the realities of Donovan’s life and his responsibilities, her inner conflict and the outward drama of Aunt Violet’s influence. And that was more than fine.**9 out of 10 stars**
June 4, 2018
Nothing to Offer except Ryan Paevey
Nothing. Happens. Move on, Nothing to see here unless you are a Ryan Paevey fan, which on the strength of his charming performance in Unleashing Mr. Darcy, I am. Jen Lilley, the actress who plays the female lead is very pretty with huge eyes. Huge. Unfortunately, her performance is distracting to the max. I might attribute this to the vapid script, but she has a smile plastered on her face throughout the movie, usually accompanied by an irritating titter. Someone should do a spread sheet on how often she completes a sentence by tittering. I doubt it was scripted. I understand her embarrassment, but she made a bad movie worse. Add to this, instead of real scenery we get fake back drops that look like they have been painted on velvet by Thomas Kinkade. I gave it a 4 due entirely to Ryan Paevey’s futile efforts. Choose better next time, Dude. My patience will not last forever. **4 stars out of 10**
October 7, 2017
Good Show. A Cut Above the Usual
I am a sucker for Jane Austen re-imaginings. It may explain why I liked this movie so much even in face of the terrible reviews. There were definitely some weaknesses in plot. (Why didn’t Elizabeth immediately go to the principal when the father of the failing athlete tried to bribe her?) Oooh, he was really evil! I also didn’t understand the hostility of Elizabeth towards Donovan Darcy throughout most of the story. He was so adorable and nice! The main appeal of the movie for me were the two lead actors: Cindy Busby and Ryan Paevy. They were both really appealing and attractive with some great chemistry. Frances Fisher, who played the Catherine de Bourgh character was very hiss-worthy, which always adds to the enjoyment. I did enjoy the secondary characters, the Jane and Bingley type romance, and the dogs as well.**8 stars out of 10**
September 27, 2017