Joy for Christmas

The Mystery of the Lost Plot. Or Was it Kidnapped?

This movie began by ticking me off. Cindy Busby plays a publicist whose boss screws up a booking with their client leading to great embarrassment for her. Then he turns around and throws her under the bus when it was his fault. And apparently, it is not the first time. Now, most “Hallmark” heroines would suck it up and take one for the team, but not Cindy. She ups and quits on the spot! Her boss is horrified because she is his star employee. So as quickly as it made me angry, it immediately redeemed itself.

At a loss as to her next career move, the family business beckons. Her sister is a top executive with the family firm and she tells her that they need her desperately. All of the money meant to fund their big charity of the year has been swindled. Cindy left the firm after her father, under the apparent influence of his second wife and her son, had gotten away from the charity, community, and people-focused ethos begun by her dead mother and is now solely focused on profits. So it’s the two sisters, “the Silver Belles” against the rest of the family. This is shaping up nicely into an interesting story involving more than a hint of family skullduggery with a dose of wicked stepmother and an equally wicked half-brother. And maybe even some justice served, groveling, and redemption on the horizon.

To save the charitable event she recruits a fellow victim of the charity swindler, Sam Page, a famous ex-baseball player. It isn’t easy because he eschews social events and is a famous Scrooge. It seems like a high-cost and low-probability of benefit scheme, and it’s boring. But with only the support of her sister, she finally succeeds in getting his help. Romance proceeds but they fail in attracting enough donations to benefit the needy children. And disappointingly for the intrigue and plot, the stepmother turns nice and helpful all of a sudden.

Cindy and Sam have fallen in love and shared intimate confidences. At the end of the failed event, her still wicked stepbrother spitefully twists her words about Sam to him which results in hurt, confusion, and a breakup.

Ok, it’s all shaping up as usual and I was all set for the misunderstanding to be cleared up, the charity saved at the last minute, and best of all for the bad stepbrother to get his comeuppance. Then the story just falls apart at the seams. I don’t know what happened but either the writers either lost the plot or the powers that be in charge of family values at GAC tampered with the script. Without warning or explanation, the stepbrother’s firmly established conniving bad-guy persona gets abandoned and he’s suddenly all about goodness, family values, rainbows, and unicorns. The charity and the romance are rescued in a non-related plot development and the bad guy is as happy as the rest of the family. It was downright insulting. So this was an 8, got demoted to a 6 or 7 during the middle, and ended up a 1. I’ll be nice and up it to a 3 out of respect for Cindy Busby and Sam Page who were great together.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

December 29, 2021

One Summer

Hallmark Blues

This one is a throwback to those old time very earnest Hallmark Hall of Fame-type productions that play sometimes on Hallmark Drama. Thus it makes sense that they showed it on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries rather than the main Hallmark Channel. Because Hallmark Drama just shows reruns and this one doesn’t fit with regular Hallmark’s mission statement. Apparently.

It is about a man who lost his wife while he himself was dying from a mysterious disease he got while deployed in Afghanistan. When his wife was getting him medicine she dies in a car crash, leaving him, his 15-year-old daughter, and his younger son bereft. He “wills” himself well from this unknown but fatal disease. It’s a miracle.

He takes his kids to the little (North?) Carolina Island where his wife grew up so they can heal from all of this sad trauma. He becomes friendly with a nice café owner and his daughter becomes infatuated with her son. The dead wife starts to appear to Sam Page, the Dad, to guide him through his grief.

This is not a real light-hearted cheerful movie. The actors do a fine job. Sam Page, who usually plays such conservative buttoned-up-looking characters with the straightest hair part in Hallmark-land, really lets his freak flag fly with longish tousled hair and a scruffy beard. I liked it. Amanda Shull as the ghostly wife and Sarah Drew as the alive love interest do a fine job as usual. Madeline Grace Popovich who plays the typical teenage girl, that is, unreasonable, obnoxious, and whiny, makes you really dislike her. Almost as much as you dislike the annoying and controlling mother of the dead wife. But the young actor who plays the sad anxious little son is fantastic, and really tugs at your heart.

This drama is not about romance. What there is between the parents and their teens is only to cast a hopeful rosy glow on the final scene of the movie. Do not question or think it through. Things cannot proceed with the two single parents until the kids are out of the house because that would be more than just awkward. Enough said.

I like the direction that Hallmark seems to be going with some of their features. Whether they can keep it up throughout the upcoming rampage of Christmas Movies remains to be seen.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

October 8, 2021

Touched by Romance

Uninvolving Characters

Famous author Norma (Doris Roberts) is dying of cancer. Her Nurse attempts to influence her decisions as far as treatment and her estrangement from her son. I found the Doris Roberts character too unpleasant and unlikable to be much moved by her plight. Maybe I missed something, but I did not understand her broken relationship with her son or why her diagnosis had to be kept from him. I liked Emma and how she stood up to her, but she also was kind of boring. As was the romance.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

June 2, 2020

The Perfect Christmas Present

Why Can’t They All be this Good?

This one was really good. The two leads were very likable and I liked their gradual falling in love. The fact that the hero made a living picking out the perfect gift for his clients to give their loved ones was very problematic in many ways, but I just suspended my disbelief for that aspect. Sam Page was very effective in the role, and his female lead was very lovable. This story revolves around a former fraternity brother hiring our hero to pick out a gift for his girlfriend that will “smooth over” some rockiness in their relationship. He was clueless to the max and kind of scary and creepy in his pursuit of his girlfriend. On the one hand, he was worried that she is drifting away from him, but he continues to neglect her, while badgering our hero to hurry up with the perfect gift. Just didn’t make much sense. Of course she finds out that all of our hero’s interest in her was only research, so her hurt and anger are totally understandable. He did fall in love with her and his interest was sincere, so all is resolved at the end with the presentation of his perfect Christmas Gift. That part was really good, and the last few scenes were amusing as we wrapped up the loose ends with our main couple’s former love interests.**8 stars out of 10**

November 14, 2017