Aloha With Love

Lots of Crying

This one was pretty good with some problems. I liked the actress who played the female lead. Tiffany Smith had unusual strong features that went beyond typically pretty. She reminded me of Jamie Gertz. However, I usually do not appreciate the ubiquitous Trevor Donovan, an often used actor for Hallmark and its clones. This one was on UPtv. He is just so BLOND. His acting is no more than competent and brings nothing special to roles, except a very muscular chest which is shirtlessly shown off to great effect here. He is very popular though, apparently. It’s a me problem.

Gemma is a star architect who works with her boyfriend of 4 years, a realtor, who also works at their firm. She presents a top-notch brilliant proposal for a condominium to a developer. He is crass and insulting to her, presumably because she is a woman. And even though she answers all the questions with which he had hoped to trip her up, he turns the firm down and rudely walks out using the excuse that there are 66 units rather than the 76 he had asked for. Her boyfriend blames her and behaves like a jackass. So right away you hate the guy and are rooting for her to break-up with him. And she does! So now I’m a fan even though she cries about losing him for some reason.

She gets word that her beloved aunt has passed away(more crying) in Hawai’i and has left her valuable property, and a not-so-valuable house to her and her sister to sell or keep as they wish. The one condition is that they have to restore and renovate the tumbledown house first and use Trevor as the contractor who (shocker!) happens to be Gemma’s ex. Obviously we have a “matchmaking from the grave” situation.

All precedes very predictably with the two clashing over the job at first. She just wants a “refresh” so she can get back to her career in L.A. quickly, and he wants the complete renovation the house deserves. They learn to work together, and romance boringly ensues. But Uh oh. Here comes the old boyfriend all contrite because now she’s rich. And he wants her to sell the property to creepy condominium developer and she actually agrees to it. So now I am not such a fan.

We have a very long mawkish sappy scene with Gemma’s father crying about his sister, and a nothing short of miraculous transformation of a shack to house beautiful in 48 hours. Seeing the house as it was meant to be causes Gemma to rethink the sale (just as Trevor predicted). She is still unsure but thanks to her jackass ex publicly and suspiciously  proposing marriage right there on the lawn and arrogant condominium guy stupidly insulting her again (!) (he just can’t help himself) she comes to her senses.

So lots of crying (bad) spectacular scenery (good), male costar I don’t like (bad), new fresh female lead (good), strong supporting characters (good). Impossibly speedy home renovation (complete with Art)-(bad), and impossibly stupid bad guys (bad). Also it was tremendously risky of Trevor to renovate a house, spending dozens of thousands of dollars when chances were it would be demolished in a week or two (bad). It’s a Hallmark 6.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

May 8, 2022

Two for the Win

Nicely Done

Trevor Donovan plays a world champion skier who has been injured and struggling to return to form. His coach does not think he is ready yet, so he goes back home to the ski lodge his parents own. there he meets old friend Kayla who has dreams of becoming a premier coach and who is willing to coach him for the Winter Classic. It’s a win-win!

This sounds a little boring but excellent acting, a good script, and perfect casting make this well worth watching. I loved Kayla played by Charlotte Sullivan. She had the beauty queen look, which I usually don’t like, but her personality and acting rose above it. Trevor Donovan is not usually a fave but as a jock, he is perfectly cast. Hallmark went out of their box with the big smooch a little over halfway through instead of the last minute. They declared their love for each other with 45 minutes to go. There was no misunderstanding to be cleared up in the 4th act. The girl was upfront about pursuing her dream and leaving him and he was supportive. It all worked out, of course with her doing that and a happy love-ending. Well done Hallmark. Please keep listening to your loyal viewers by continuing to break out of the tired formula. Also great ski scenes and scenery.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

January 17, 2021


Good Casting

A good actress, Lindy Booth, and good casting saves this. I’m not a huge fan of Trevor Donovan, but he was right for this part of a star quarterback. He was tall and athletic at least. Lindy Booth is a talented actress. I liked her in this. I also enjoyed the casting of Joe Theisman as a sports agent and Ed Marinaro as Lindy’s dad and a retired coach.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

September 21, 2020

Nostalgic Christmas

Stupid Toy Store

Brooke d’Orsay. She is a real charmer and I don’t think I’ve seen her in anything in which she wasn’t the shining star. Everything else was mediocre. The Father and his store got my back up right away with the declaration that if it wasn’t made of wood, it wasn’t a real toy. Absolutely ridiculous. There are thousands of old-fashioned homey nostalgic toys that are made of plastic and don’t plug in or have a battery. Old fashioned board games, watercolors, crayons, etch-a-sketch, rubber balls, but no. Wood or nothing. And his store maybe had 5 toys in it! Then Dad kept passively-aggressively pressuring her and trying to guilt her into giving up a successful toy career she loved in New York City to take over his stupid store that couldn’t have cleared $20 a day in profit. On top of all that, they gave away for free Brooke’s hand-carved Santas that could have retailed for $100.00 each easy. My free enterprise and capitalistic soul was crying out in pain. Obviously, most of these Hallmark writers have never had to earn an honest day’s wage in a retail environment.

But Brooke d’Orsay has saved worse than this unworthy effort.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

November 28, 2019

Marry Me at Christmas

Pretty Bad. But I did enjoy Trevor Donovan.

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**

Rating: 2 out of 5.

November 4, 2017