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This made for TV movie had the potential to much better than it turned out as it was based on Santa Cruise By Carol & Mary Higgins Clark. Unfortunately, the film suffers from everything.
The acting is mediocre at best, irksome at the worst. Since there are some credible and experienced actors in the cast I have to deduce it comes down to the director's decision and vision of the movie. Even the leading ladies aren't ... from this, there are some times when Gail O'Grady actually looks lost and confused. A lot of the actors were wasted on this production; and I would have loved to have seen Larry Miller, who always brings joy to every one of his characters, actually have a different role than that of a stumbling, bumbling, lovable husband, father, or uncle - he has this style of role down pat, it'd be nice to see him in a darker and meatier character.
Not having read the novel I cannot fairly criticise the adaptation though, for the most part, the story works. I think part of the trouble is in the title because it deceives the viewer into believing this is a whodunnit. Though what the audience gets is no mystery at all. Though the two "lady sleuths" - one a real detective, the other a mystery whodunnit genius - are guests aboard a murder mystery cruise when it becomes evident that a real murder might be committed and the duo set out to stop the killer before she can kill. That's right I said she but this isn't a spoiler as we are shown this right from the start. This is a story which shows the viewer how the killer is caught. Unfortunately, with this type of story, you need good direction and acting to keep the audience involved, which as I stated previously isn't here.
As for the direction itself, I would put this at below standard even for TV movie. A lot of the shots are lazy and unimaginative, though there are quite a few scenes where these could have been improved. There were also times when lighting and music could have helped with building atmosphere, for example, the cruise is set in old west times and the guests are in costumes, it would've been nice to have a piano player on board and they could have gone the whole hog and used lanterns - this could just be me going to far, but if you watch the film you'll see it needs something. Then you have the pace of the film, which is just a little too slow and feels as though the story is crawling.
This isn't the worst movie ever made it is pretty average though, but if you're off sick and it's wet outside and this is the only thing on TV that you've not seen then you can give it a go. It'll pass an hour and a half.
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