Reindeer Games Homecoming

Good Show.


Most of the aging TV romance actresses should take a page from Sarah Drew’s book. Sarah is 42 years old but looks 10 years younger. It might be genetics, but in my opinion, it was the minimalistic lowkey way in which she was made up. Of course, that gorgeous red hair doesn’t hurt either. I love that tomboyish girl next door look. As the hero says about her character, “She is a breath of fresh air.”

Mackenzie “Mac” is a high school science teacher in her old hometown school. A former classmate who is now a famous movie action star comes to town to help his pregnant sister, whose husband is deployed. He goes to the school to visit his nephew in the middle of class. There must have been a good reason for this, but I don’t remember what it is. It turns out that Mac had a crush on Chase back in the day, and Chase started to return her feelings when they were on a field trip together to a science fair in New York City. But when they got back home, he dumped the school brainy nerd to hang with his usual popular kids’ group.

Mac is still devastated by the grief of losing her beloved father a few years before and can’t move forward. We learn later that she completed medical school but quit her residency when her father died. She is torn about going back. She would make a great doctor but loves her community and teaching. “Big grief puts things in perspective,” she says.

Chase’s career has taken a downward turn and he wants to branch out to more serious movies. While competing together in the “Reindeer Games” for charity they renew their acquaintance. They help each other, start to flirt, and ultimately fall in love. I think they might even have gone to bed together off-screen. There are a few subtle hints. Chase is even thinking of not going back to Hollywood as he has fallen for Mac and the joys of small-town life. Mac still doesn’t entirely trust Chase because of his history of getting swept up in the moment but moving on when he comes down to earth. He begs her for a second chance to show he can go the distance. He encourages her to read the last Christmas Eve letter from her dead father, and she is inspired to complete her residency and become a doctor. At this critical juncture, his agent shows up with the 3 picture deal of his dreams which will revitalize his career and probably win him an Oscar. But he has to go to Munich and will be away for months making these movies. This is trouble. She breaks up with him (before he can break up with her) so they can both pursue their career dreams on opposite sides of the universe. Don’t worry, love triumphs in the end. I won’t say how but it involves a crossword puzzle. They both will pursue their dreams and their relationship deciding they will just “figure it out” somehow. I liked that.

This was one of the usual plots, but it was good. It had plenty of humor, including both situational and funny one-liners, but it also had some sadness and heartbreak too. It was well-balanced and well-rounded with no silliness. Her grief for her father was a little over the top, but it was well-acted. Justin Breuning who played Chase was good too and he and Sarah Drew were good together. Mac’s gay friend was overdone and got on my nerves. I explained Mac’s whole story up front, but in the movie, it is slowly revealed. I liked wondering what was up with her and Chase and why a girl who was nicknamed “Pre-Med” in high school wasn’t a doctor, but a teacher. Good show.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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 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 teen age 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: 4 out of 5.

October 8, 2021

Christmas Pen Pals

Great Casting and Acting Count for a Lot

Despite the female lead (Sarah Drew) being extremely unlikable and annoying at the beginning, this turned out to be one of the best of the Christmas entries in the Hallmark sweepstakes this year. Probably because it’s not really a Hallmark, but on Lifetime. They use the same actors and writers and probably directors, but they always seem to be just a cut above the Hallmark movies.

The plot had a lot of holes and had some questionable elements. Almost the whole town agrees to be matched up to a pen pal by one woman postmaster? What are her qualifications? How does she go about this? How does she handle last-minute entries? Do they just get the dregs? How will Hannah and Sam work out the logistics of their coming marriage? How will she incorporate and sell people on the idea of writing letters before meeting face to face per her failing app/ social media company? Will Sam ever follow Hannah’s advice and get WiFi for his coffee shop? These burning questions and probably more go unanswered.

This movie ended up high on my special Hallmark rating scale because of good acting and appealing actors and actresses. Especially the male lead and Hallmark veteran, Niall Matter. My, was he appealing and had great chemistry with Sarah Drew. Michael Gross of Tremors and Family Ties added his veteran acting chops. The cast of secondary characters was exceptional. A special shout out to Latonya Williams who lit up the screen with her smile.

By the end, there were 6 match-ups that had some potential. Great job, Santy Claus… uh…Madam Post Master!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

December 16,2018