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Green Card (1990)
A Commentary on Marriage
What's so great about this movie? Most people dismiss Green Card as just another "romantic chick-flick comedy", but it's FAR more than that. While not a "message movie", it's actually a light commentary on the institution of marriage, and what makes it work.
It starts with a premise that everyone can recognize: two people who can barely stand each other must put aside their differences for a greater good. The actual wedding (and its attendant emotions) is carefully avoided, only to drop us into the lives of our protagonists as they are suddenly forced to make their marriage of convenience appear real. Only when they do the hard work to make it real, does it actually become real: the emotions experienced are the result of the commitment, not the motivation for the commitment. In other words, if "luck is the residue of design", then love is the residue of commitment.
This is not to imply that the movie is perfect, but it does hold up very well after all these years. Yes, the clothes are very much of their time and there are a few "groanable moments", but for the most part I see no reason why people not born when the movie was written and filmed shouldn't be able to relate to the story and understand what the producers were "getting at".
With beautiful scenery and an outstanding cast, this movie was also very nearly prophetic in anticipating all the "singles in the city" movies and TV shows of the 1990s (of which Friends is the most famous example). Which is not to say that Green Card was the only movie of its time with those qualities, but merely IMHO the most exemplary. Would there be a Hallmark Channel today without movies like Green Card?
In My Dreams (2014)
Hallmark Twilight Zone bliss!
I was not looking for this movie, but only stumbled across it by accident. Once I figured out the premise, I was hooked. It's a magical fantasy, almost like a modern-day episode of Twilight Zone, yet without any of that show's morbidity. In My Dreams doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's clear that everyone involved had fun with the production.
I found all of the characters down-to-earth and sympathetic, even those who are only there to provide obstacles to the protagonists finally meeting. For instance, almost any other movie would have portrayed the two other women Nick spends time with as evil/psychotic, but this movie avoids that cliché. They're simply "the wrong person", not bad people.
In My Dreams has no heavy message, and it ends with a wide-open horizon of future possibilities. In other words, the screenwriters allow the viewers to decide for themselves just what they've witnessed and what the future might hold. The performers were all perfect for their roles. The only thing that could have made this movie better would have been a soundtrack by The Blue Nile. So to everyone involved in its creation and broadcast: Thank you for something different!
Ms. Matched (2016)
Really, really, really good!
While cynics will say Alexa PenaVega will do anything to make people forget her Spy Kids days, she has nothing to be ashamed of playing vivacious wedding planner Libby Boland in Ms. Matched. It's easy to see the whole cast had a great time making this movie, and it's a lot of fun for the viewer as well. The characters are likable, the dialogue is witty, the details are (mostly) paid attention to, and the plot is not so far-fetched that one is left rolling their eyes.
Interestingly, the writers of Ms. Matched go out of their way to address "serious" wedding issues. The viewer is continuously asked to grapple with the pros and cons of Libby's "spare-no-expense-storybook-dreams-come true" wedding style vs. Ben's "don't-end-up-in-debt-when-starting-your-marriage" values. This story's "secondary" couple, Alex and Annie, end up eloping when the groom gets cold feet about being in the wedding "spotlight". The only thing I would have changed was Ben's motivation for writing his book. We're told he survived a bad marriage that began with a huge financial debt, and this introduces some sadness into an otherwise upbeat movie. Yes, I know "it happens", yet I would have preferred him not to be a victim but rather a "concerned bystander" who wants to prevent people from making a serious financial mistake.
The "surprise" ending is really cute, but one wonders when did they have time to visit their local recorder/registrar/county clerk office to obtain a license. And where did the bridesmaids, groom's men, and their wedding guests come from? Oh, that's right, it's just a movie, and Hallmark can be forgiven for skipping over the mundane details. Also, how long does the Bridal Expo where most of this movie takes place last? Taking into account all the wardrobe changes and necessary plot details, it seems like they are there for weeks! But this is all just silly nit-picking - I really enjoyed this movie and want to say "thank you" to everyone involved! I would even put this among my favorite Hallmark Channel movies ever! P.S.: Best line: Michelle's "Girl, you've got it bad!" P.P.S.: The song that opens and closes the movie is Five for Fighting's "This Dance".
A Dash of Love (2017)
I really enjoyed A Dash of Love, but there were a few things that slightly interfered with the obligatory "Hallmark Channel suspension-of-disbelief". Jen Lilley was really beautiful (and those HUGE eyes!) in the role of Nikki, but for a hard-working chef, she was almost too glamorous. There are a number of scenes where she's over a stove with full make-up, her hair down, manicured nails, and wearing high heels. I'm not in the food service industry, but does this seem right? Even when she's outside of the kitchen, she was always fully made-up and seemingly wore 15 different shades of lipstick throughout the movie. While Lilley did a good job of making the character sympathetic for the audience, this might have been a better opportunity for someone a little more "plain Jane".
And about this "pop-up" restaurant idea. Is it really that easy to procure permits and insurance for just a few days? This may actually be possible, taking into account the number of food trucks out there, but I don't know for sure.
Also, would 100% of their reservations really cancel based on one bad review? In spite of these things, I still enjoyed the movie. What will make it unforgettable for me is the usage of Sinatra's version of "The Way You Look Tonight". Priceless!