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A Wish Come True (2015)
Lazy and Weak
Very sub-par entry in the Hallmark romance line-up. Nothing to recommend it except Ben Hollingsworth and his performance. Very lazy production. I liked Megan Park's looks (not your typical ex-beauty queen thing going on...thank-you for sparing me that at least), but her character was boring and charmless. The whole story consists of her getting all of her childhood wishes. Utterly predictable "Be careful what you wish for" scenario. All of these Hallmances are predictable but the better ones have some good conflict, maybe a little suspense, an evil nemesis to hiss and boo at, a nice learning curve, some good humor, nice performances, great chemistry or,golly, something to entertain and keep your interest. This one had none of these in addition to an incredibly annoying father and ex-boyfriend. The rival for her hand was a nonentity. The scene at the end where the doggie put a mysterious note in the trashcan was bewildering.
Love by the Book (2014)
Strong cast supporting the hopeless hapless heroine.
Not one of the better Hallmarks, made even worse by Leah Renee who plays the heroine, Emma Graham, the totally clueless bookstore owner. This Kate Upton lookalike talks in a little girl breathy mincing way which actually kinda fits with her character who is so dumb she does not even know her business is failing, has zero business sense, and does not even know what the internet is for. She seems to regard her bookstore as a fun cute way to indulge her romantic fantasies instead of a business that the community and her employees might find valuable to their lives and livelihoods. When the son of her major investor (what...why?) sent to save her business offers a 20 % discount on the book she is reading to the kiddies during story hour, she is horrified. Imagine! A retailer having the crassness to actually try to (gasp!) sell something! Why is she in retail? Please tell me. She just should have been a librarian. One little tidbit that I found quite amusing was all the fake book titles used in creating this bookstore romance.
Of course she hates the guy who is pointing out all of her obviously stupid business decisions (excuse me, scratch the word "business") about her store and falls for an over-fed smarmy cornball who checks all of the boxes of her "Prince Charming". Halfway through she finally gets hit with a cluestick and climbs out of her ivory tower and starts to see some sense in business and in romance. Kristopher Turner who plays Eric the smarty whose business it is to save failing businesses was a doll and I enjoyed the character and his performance. He was very cute and kind of nerdy (that's a good thing). He managed to bump this treacle up at least 2 stars. Stephanie Powers is in this playing an employee of the bookstore and she looks amazing. Why they have her married to an overweight old goat who looks like he has one foot in the grave is beyond me. They should have hooked her up with getting better and better with age John Schneider who plays the rich investor. As with many Hallmarks, there is a secondary romance with Emma's sister and her fiancé which was more interesting than the primary romance. The capable actress who played her sister, looked like a slightly less stunning Scarlett Johannson. I wish the two actresses would have changed roles. That would have bumped it up another two stars. Though the script pretty much locked her in too being an idiot in business and love, it was Leah Renee's delivery which made her eyerollingly infantile and weak. Cherilyn Wilson who played her sister Jane seemed much more suitable to the lead role
Bridal Wave (2015)
Dynamic Duo Star in new Hallmark Valentines Romance
Spoiler alert to follow the letter of the law only. Come on, this is Hallmark: We all know how this is going to go down.
Arielle Kebbel and Andrew Walker team up again for another Hallmark Romance after 2012's highly rated (for a Hallmark!) "A Bride for Christmas." I didn't think I'd like this at first because the heroine was too gorgeous and the story was crazy predictable. The characters were even more so. Stodgy but successful workaholic fiancé? Check. Snobby disapproving future mother-in-law? check. Cute rebel outside the lines rival for her hand? Check. Nice middle-class family of the bride worried that their oldest daughter is going to become an "Old Maid"? Check. Arielle, however, proved to be down-to-earth, irreverent, and funny. The script served her well. She was surprisingly relatable despite her beauty. The hero was very attractive with a lot of charm. Jaclyn Smyth added nothing. Still beautiful, she obviously has had some work done, but still looks fairly natural. She should have been more evil to get that tension and suspense ratcheted up a bit . Nice "One Year Later" epilogue: Very Sweet with some amusing little touches.
A Letter for Evie (1946)
Cyrano de Bergerac ala WWII
Why wasn't Marsha Hunt a bigger star? What a sweetie! And what a smile! Really well written take on the mistaken identity romantic comedy. The scene with the great Spring Byington where Johnny's identity was finally revealed went from laugh out loud funny to sad and touching. And the scene with Evie on the bed weeping her confusion when she finally learns the truth was equally well done: both by script writer and Marsha Hunt. Hume Cronyn was perfect. Who would have thought the actor so often cast as a weaselly villain could be such a romantic hero? I loved the last scene where Johnny heroically tries to "Tell her what she wants to hear" ends at last with the romantic resolution. By the way, that scene at the rest home with the friend of the dead soldier added a bit of depth not usually expected in such a generally frothy romance. Another example of how well this was written and played.
Surprised by Love (2015)
Slinkys and Twinkies
This Hallmark holiday romance has all of the prerequisite Hallmark clichés: Stuffy boyfriend, quirky true-love, visit to well off but mean parents, heroine caught in the wrong career, and troubled sister. It manages to overcome them all, thanks to the whimsical charm of Paul Campbell as Quigley, and Tim Conway as the grandfather pretending to have dementia so to escape being drawn into the various family dramas. The redemption of her parents is well done and accomplished with a slinky and a Twinkie cake. The secondary romance of the sister and her next door neighbor and son of the Mother's nemesis is a nice touch. The sister was tons more likable and interesting than the primary heroine, and actually is more compatible with her love interest, but would not have provided the necessary "opposites attract" dynamic and her eventual character arc where she has her epiphany regarding her love life and her career.
Along Came a Nanny (2014)
It's the script, stupid!
I watched this all the way through so that earns it at least 2 stars. but man oh man was this Manny, though cute, the dumbest detective ever? His whole methodology consisted of A) writing all the of the names of the people in the neighborhood and drawing arrows from one to another and then studying his drawing in bed night after night like it was Holy Writ. B) congregating on the sidewalk with the other Nannies and asking if they've seen anything unusual. And C) flirting with the pretty Nanny on walks while they are pretending to be sleuths. The perp was entirely obvious, though the motive for the robberies was so dumb, I kept saying to myself "No, It couldn't be...too lame." Plot holes a mile wide. The big clue is a pen with the burglars fingerprints on it, yet they just had to match the prints found at the crime scene with the suspects prints on file as he had a previous record. If you are watching this for the romance, forget that too. Not a bit of charm or chemistry. Lazy and lame, the scriptwriter should have been ashamed to take a paycheck for this dribble.
Stupid and Maddening
This Hallmark movie had no characters worth rooting for. All 3 of the husbands were class "A" stupid jerks. All of their better halves could have done so much better considering their beauty, overall niceness, and successful careers. But they still settled for their men with one (thank-God) exception with a minimum of grovelling on their part. Naomi Judd (why do women who aspire to be actresses freeze their faces?) is a truly evil pervert and her husband, oops, son, is so in her thrall and so weak and naive that words fail. She literally almost murders her daughter-in-law, a doctor, by the way, and all is forgiven after a not very believable apology. The solution to their little problem is that the couple pay her to move out of the house she should not have been in to begin with. Stupid girl #2 makes a fool out of herself longing for and stalking a husband who hires as his secretary his ex-high school sweetheart, "his first love," he tells her, who tortured and bullied his new (very cute) wife when they were teenagers. And he has the gall to leave her when she dares to call him on it. Our heroine #3, actually does not take her psychotically controlling male chauvinist future wife abuser back, even though he begs her (quite satisfyingly). She would have been OK had it not been for her devotion to her very irritating dog, causing a modicum of sympathy for the husband. It is hard to enjoy a movie when 5 out of 6 protagonists is worthy of nothing but contempt.
This is not a horror movie, but a thriller/suspense/mystery much like Disturbia. As such, it was very good. It really is not scary at all. The clues are all there to solve your way through. The last part of the puzzle (a.k.a. "the twist") might surprise some, but alert viewers will at least suspect what is coming. I like movies like this that don't kill all the good guys and evil triumphs. I also like movies that don't end ambiguously usually with the tease that the evil will be back and it's really not over. I hate that cliché. The movie does have lots of clichés duly noted by many other reviewers, but that's pretty much what you sign up for with one of these things. I prefer to think of these clichés as "homages"when I like a movie.