It Was Always You

Good Hair!

Elizabeth is engaged to a fellow dentist, safe boring George, a childhood friend. They go to their old island neighborhood to throw a party for George’s mother and to prepare for their upcoming wedding. George’s brother David with whom she has had a stormy relationship with is also there. When George is stranded on the mainland, Elizabeth and David are thrown together planning the party.

I did not like the relationship between Tyler Hynes (David) and Erin Krakow who played Elizabeth. Tyler Hynes was his usual rough around the edges attractive self. I really usually like him. But his character in this one was irritating. He was out of line about things that were none of his business. The whole relationship bordered on the inappropriate and stalkerish. She was engaged to his brother and he needed to lay off and leave her alone.

And why did the fiance brother not just get a boat over to the island when the bridge was under repair? Ridiculous.

I disagree with the apparent majority opinion about Erin’s hair. I liked the different cut from the way her fans are used to seeing her on When Calls the Heart, which I’ve never seen, (with the inauthentic modern flowing locks in 19th century Canada). It gave her an edge that improved her usual placidly wholesome look.

I did like the end. I’m a real fan of the “One year later” endings. I like that Erin followed her dreams of travel. Tyler’s childhood note to Erin was really sweet and romantic. And I liked that the stick-in-the-mud brother had finally loosened up with the right woman.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

March 2, 2021

An Unexpected Christmas

Unexpectedly Overwrought

Jamie and Emily have broken up their long-term relationship. Jamie has headed home for Christmas in small-town Fulton, Illinois. Coincidentally, Emily is also heading there for work. They arrive at the terminal at the same time and Jamie’s family, who love Emily and haven’t been told of the break-up, are thrilled that Jamie has brought Emily home to spend Christmas. Emily needs a place to stay and Neither wants to ruin the family’s Christmas so they continue the deception that they are still together.

There were some good things and not-so-good things with this one.

The Good:
Bethany Joy Lenz and Tyler Hynes performances and their chemistry together. Bethany was very funny in the comedy parts and very touching in the emotional parts. Tyler Hynes performance made an essentially weak and troubling character tolerable.

The script had some unusual aspects and was witty.

The banter between Jamie and Emily was good.

Tyler’s new hairstyle.

The cameo walk-through blink and you might miss it of Bethany’s frequent co-star, Andrew Walker.

I like the scope big families provide in Hallmarks and this one had one.

The Bad:
That big family? They were so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o energetic, loud, and overbearing that it became exhausting.

Jamie’s character. He dumped Emily because she was more successful than him and he didn’t want to hold her back. OK. But his self-esteem problem was rooted in his need to be perfect in everything and vice versa. Even though we are told that his Grandfather also was a perfectionist, He grew up in a happy, stable, and supportive family. This debilitating complex did not seem to be founded on much. It also causes him to be afraid of being honest with his family about his break-up and why. BTW he never does get the backbone to be forthright about it. And he’s a liar.

Jamie’s struggles with writing the governor’s speech. He was unable to write a word. His paralysis (again, it had to be perfect) was like a big depressing specter over the whole movie.

The plot was all over the place. The Christmas play his sister directed was needless and was a distraction. Bethany’s project came to nothing. The lightening-bolt like lesson of the newlyweds’ rocks in the fountain was not used in the governor’s speech, or Emily’s theme for her project (what it was-I am unclear) the speech itself was short and lame. All that angst over THAT?

Some of the happenings were too silly. The Christmas play and the scene in the restaurant with the waiter. I don’t mind silly sometimes, but silliness is not comedy.

A lot of negatives were outweighed by the acting and appeal of the two leads, and strong production values. I did not approve of Jamie’s actions or inactions, but it did lend some depth and complexity to his character. I’m just not sure I want all those problems in a Hallmark hero.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

November 28, 2021

On the 12th Date of Christmas

Well Done! A Cut Above.

At first, our heroine, played by Audrey Hepburn lookalike, Mallory Jensen, got on my nerves with her lack of gumption, and too-sweet personality. At first I thought she was miscast as a girl with a mousy personality when she was so gorgeous. I guess she was, really, but the actress did somewhat overcome it with a nice performance. Then, to make it worse, Tyler Hynes, a favorite of mind, also got on my nerves. He was closed off, anti-social, and not a team-player. Even though he wanted a promotion to a position that necessitates the opposite of those personality traits! Oblivious. He, on the other hand, was cast perfectly, as he usually brings a gruff edge to his roles.

I stuck with it though and I’m glad I did. As Aiden and Jennifer started to work through their differences, and he learned to work with her, appreciating her talent, their opposite personalities added to their chemistry. Quite early on, Jennifer started to be more assertive, so it did not descend into never-ending frustration for me.

This was well written with an interesting sub-plot of Aiden’s family home needing repairs he couldn’t afford, and a very clever scavenger hunt through Chicago that the two were working on together. Definitely well above average.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

November 8, 2020

Roadhouse Romance

Lauren and Lockheart

This was very enjoyable thanks to the charisma and southern charm of Lauren Alaina and her chemistry with Tyler Hynes. The plot wasn’t much, but I do love a fish out of water story and two loves being from different worlds. Lauren is back home from her stint in the army and is upset to find that things haven’t stayed the same as when she left her small southern town of Lockheart, Tennessee. Her boyfriend has found someone else, and her family’s charming barbecue roadhouse is on the verge of failure. If that weren’t enough, her dead grandfather’s barbecue sauce recipe has been lost and they now use store-bought (!!!) Because it’s Hallmark, only a festival can save them, but ticket sales have been slow. Enter Tyler Hynes as a Hollywood TV director who gets stuck in town while driving his girlfriend’s birthday present to her in Nashville. Tyler’s gradual thawing to the ways of a small southern town, and coming to appreciate Lauren, was involving. The shallow girlfriend threatening from the background kept up the tension and suspense.

Unfortunately, the conclusion left a lot of loose ends and questions. Bad girlfriend agreed to give the festival a social media push in exchange for Tyler directing her movie. She holds up her end, but he welshes on the deal! Not Good. Another thing that bothered me was the dissonance between the plot and the theme. The moral of the story seemed to be that change brings good opportunities as well as sadness and disappointment. Yet instead of developing her own recipe for BBQ sauce, which would have symbolized moving forward and a fresh outlook, she just finally finds her grandfather’s. And finally, how are Tyler and Lauren going to make their relationship work when they live in different worlds? Will Lauren leave her small town to develop a singing career? Or will Tyler give up his successful profession to hang around Lockheart Tennessee? Neither option was given any time at all. Like Lauren’s own BBQ sauce, and Tyler’s lack of integrity,  it was left dying on the back burner.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

September 15, 2021

Falling for You

Taylor is Actually Quite Likable in This

I was never a fan of Taylor Cole, but in this one, playing against type, I quite liked her. For one thing, and I realize this sounds very shallow, her hair has gone out and got itself a makeover. It used to be thin and lank to the point it was quite distracting. At least the style she chose made it seem that way. In this one, it has some body and natural flow and her beauty is undiminished by her “crowning glory.” Tyler Hynes has always been a favorite and the two have quite a bit of chemistry.

Unfortunately the bake sale plot is a bore. An extra star for having the heroine move out of the small town she loves to pursue her career dream. What a concept usually foreign to the usual Hallmark ethos!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

September 21, 2020

The Mechanics of Love

Dude, Run for the Hills!

I’m used to dumb stuff to choose to overlook when I am looking at Hallmark or Hallmark-style movies. But this one takes the cake for the most petulant, stupidest, most incompetent bride ever. With about a week to go before her wedding, Emily Tennant plays the bride who hasn’t done her seating arrangements, hired a caterer, purchased flowers, decided on a cake, or chosen her colors yet. All she does is sit around and whine about how her wedding is “out of control” as far as complications, guest list, and expense. All things she has complete control over. Oh and she’s an artist, so it’s not like she has an inflexible 48 hour a week time-suck of a career.

She viciously turns on her sweet fiance who had the utter gall to give her a fun jokey gift of muffin tins for a surprise extra gift for getting their marriage license. She sulks for days over this and almost cancels the wedding. She is petulant and unreasonable over everything. She selfishly and thoughtlessly disappears on her wedding day throwing her family and her fiance into a panic just so she can sulk some more.

Luckily, the engaged couple was not the main couple. The main lead, her sister, Shenae Grimes, arrives to save the day and while she is back home, dump her bad boyfriend, quit her engineering career as the head of design to become an auto-mechanic, and find a new boyfriend. Tyler Hines is as reliable and attractive as the new guy who has loved her since middle school.

The only thing I loved about this disaster was the bride’s headdress which was gorgeous and very unusual. Yes, unfortunately for the groom, the wedding took place.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

June 28, 2020

Wedding March 5: My Boyfriend’s Back

For the Love of All that’s Holy! Will Someone Please Help Josie?!

Although the plot is tired and the writing unoriginal, this one was worth looking at due to the principal love interests. Cindy Busby has been a favorite for quite a while. Tyler Hynes caught my interest as soon as he appeared in a Hallmark last year. He has now become a big favorite. I will give any Hallmark a chance if they have one of these two actors.

On the other hand, poor Josie Bissett’s hair situation has become a concern. She is a lovely woman who has aged gracefully and plays women of her own age. The pairing with Jack Wagner works. I am not sure what is going on with her health or her hair, but there are plenty of attractive wig options out there for those who are in need of some extra assistance. If she has been wearing wigs, they are frightful: stiff and cottony looking. If that’s her real hair, please buy some conditioner or go back to the darling pixie haircut she was once famous for. Sorry, but this is something is totally fixable. I am being cruel to be kind.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

June 9, 2019

Flip that Romance

Too much Fighting!

Yeah, maybe it was the mood I was in, but I got very tired very quickly of the constant bickering and over-competitiveness of the two principals. It was particularly egregious on the part of the woman, who let her emotions run away with her and bid more than she could afford and over the maximum she agreed on with her partner. Just to get one over her ex-boyfriend. She was too hostile for me. I was really frosted by the immaturity and foolishness. Julie Gonzalo was okay as the female lead, but I loved Tyler Hynes as her love interest. He’s responsible for most of the stars I gave this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

March 17, 2019

Sweet Carolina

Hallmark Takes a Daring Step Forward

It’s not often Hallmark actresses get to portray anguish on camera. Luckily they have a real pro and bona fide actress in Lacey Chabert, who did a very credible job. I can think of very few in the stable of regulars who could have pulled off the scene where she learns her beloved sister and brother-in-law have been killed. I cried. The whole ensemble handled the story very well. You can tell they pulled out the “big guns” to meet the challenge of a script that actually called for a range of emotion: Gregory Harrison and Teryl Rothery as the parents, good ole Peter Benson as the city boyfriend who gets dumped for the small-town coach, who was played by the always welcome Tyler Hynes. I appreciated that they got a normal-looking kid who could act to play the introverted son.

There were very real problems and conflicts that had to be resolved. The father was a good guy, but too controlling. Gregory Harrison managed to keep him likable. I groaned when they were setting up for the customary Hallmark food fight ( or snowball fight if it’s winter) but it was actually funny, thanks to the performances.

It was good to see Hallmark break out of its own box a little bit. Fear not, most of the usual templates were still in place, but baby steps! Kudos.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

May 17, 2021

P. S. I just noticed that Lacey Chabert was actually one of the writers. You go, girl! **8 stars out of 10**