Val’s Movie Roundup #2: Hallmark Edition

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love (2015) – Despite what people say elsewhere online, you can’t come into this film without having seen any of the other Signed, Sealed, Delivered TV Movies/Episodes. I know this because I tried and it doesn’t work. The movie is about four people (conveniently picked so we know that they should pair off) who get dead letters and track down who should have received them. Sounds like it should be a procedural, but it’s not. This series seems to set up a tiny little bit of a plot, then spends the whole time having the characters develop through conversation. The reason this film will lose people who are brand new is because it reaches all the way back through everything to the first episode of the show to bring Oliver’s (Eric Mabius) wife into his life again. The wife is played by Poppy Montgomery in a role far better than in Tammy and the T-Rex. Yeah, I’m going to work that movie into as many reviews as possible. There are also flashbacks. You really need to come to this as the culmination of all the previous stuff. As a result, my experience with this film was not good. It felt inert. Kind of like passing away slowly, but painlessly. I know that sounds brutal, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas

Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas (2014) – This Signed, Sealed, Delivered is a different beast. It’s still the same characters and once again a dead letter has shown up. This time it’s a letter for God. You’d think it’s for Santa considering Christmas is in the title, but this is less a Christmas movie as it is a Christian movie. Unlike From Paris With Love, you can come into this without knowing anything. That’s a real plus! Again, it’s not about plot, but character development. And subtle slow development at that. I wonder how long Hallmark is planning to keep this show going. It can feel like being teased at times. Like near the end when Norman (Geoff Gustafson) reaches up to gently touch Rita’s (Crystal Lowe) face. You know she should just grab him in her arms, but it never happens. Instead, he walks away while she is lit up like a Christmas tree. If you have to choose between the two TV Movie episodes of this show to start with, then please start with this one. You’ll have a far better time, and most likely will enjoy From Paris With Love much more than I did.

Surprised By Love

Surprised By Love (2015) – When the cake gets destroyed, just make a new one from Twinkies! There’s nothing really to be surprised about here. You have a driven girl with the wrong guy. You have one of those guys who achieved some sort of nirvana by wandering from place to place. He’s kind of like the magic negro or magic eccentric type character that turns around other people’s lives simply by coming in contact with them. And finally, you have her boyfriend who is stuffy and clearly doesn’t belong with her. Our heroine runs into the magic man who is selling driftwood. Yeah, and his car runs on vegetable oil. I’m not making that up. What happens is that her boyfriend thinks it will be really clever if she brings home the magic man, whom she knows from high school, to be an embarrassment so he looks wonderful. Guess what happens? At least the grandpa who pretends to have dementia so he doesn’t have to talk to anybody is kind of funny. This one’s harmless.


Nearlyweds (2013) – Yeah, that’s easily the best scene in the movie. A phone call comes in with a job offer and while the person is leaving a message, the dog pees on the phone and it shorts out. But let me back up. This movie is about three girlfriends who all got married around the same time by the same guy. Problem though, he dies before he can sign the paperwork. That means, technically, legally, they’re not actually married. Typical, but could be humorous. Except it’s not. One of the big problems is that the husbands don’t find out about this until 48 minutes into the movie. At that point there are 39 minutes left. I don’t know why it takes so long. Everything prior seems like filler, then the secret is out, and still next to nothing happens. I know it’s Hallmark and a TV Movie in general, but they really should have done more with this. It’s not a concept that’s necessarily doomed from the start. Too bad.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #130: Double Daddy (dir by Lee Friedlander)

Why was I tired enough to tweet that?  Because late last night, after a very long day of work and dance, I rewatched the Lifetime original movie Double Daddy.

Double Daddy

Why Was I Watching It?

I’m still in the process of trying to clear up space on my DVR.  So, last night, as I battled my need for sleep, I forced myself to rewatch a Lifetime film from June so that I could review it and erase it.  I didn’t care much for Double Daddy the first time that I watched it and the second time, I cared for it even less.

And, of course, because I stayed up to watch it a second time, I was exhausted for most of today.  Bleh.

What Was It About?


Okay, I guess that doesn’t tell you much.  Connor (Cameron Palatas) is a high school jock who, at the start of the film, is drunkenly stumbling around the most boring high school party ever.  New girl Heather (Brittany Curran) ends up having a one night stand with him.  As a result, Heather gets pregnant.  At the same time, Connor’s girlfriend, Amanda (Mollee Gray), discovers that she’s pregnant as well!

That’s right — Connor’s about to be a double daddy!

Of course, since this is a Lifetime film, Heather is also a psycho who carries a knife and starts to plot Amanda’s death…

It all probably sounds more interesting than it actually is.

What Worked?

I was tempted to say that nothing worked about Double Daddy but that’s not quite true.  Brittany Curran was memorably demented in the role of Heather.  In fact, she gave such a good performance that I found myself rooting for Heather, regardless of how much of a murderous psycho she eventually turned out to be.  Heather may have been crazy but at least she wasn’t boring.

What Did Not Work?

I’m just going to say it: of the many Lifetime films that I’ve watched over the years, Double Daddy is one of my least favorite.  No, it’s not as bad as The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story but then again, what is?  With the exception of Brittany Curran, the performances are dull and the actors get no help from a script that is both heavy-handed and simple-minded.

Perhaps worst of all, there’s a nasty strain of slut shaming that runs through Double Daddy.  Amanda and Heather are held to different standards while Connor is held to no standard at all.  Judgmental and bland Amanda is presented as being saintly, largely because she only has sex with a serious boyfriend and presumably only after finishing her homework.  Heather, on the other hand, becomes pregnant as the result of a drunken one night stand and, perhaps not surprisingly, is also portrayed as being a complete psycho who eventually tries to murder Amanda.  While we’re obviously meant to feel sorry for Amanda, the film allows absolutely no sympathy for Heather.  Completely absolved of any responsibility is Connor, who we are actually supposed to feel sorry for because crazy Heather is keeping him from being with Amanda, the same girl that he previously cheated on!  BLEH!

As well, let’s consider the fact that saintly Amanda and victimized Connor both come from typical upper class Lifetime families while Heather is the only character to come from a lower class background.

Seriously, exploring the subtext of Double Daddy is not a pleasant activity.

What makes all this especially upsetting is that Double Daddy was directed by Lee Friedlander, who previously directed the brilliant Babysitter’s Black Book.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Heather, I always used school field trips as an excuse to go off on my own.  I never pulled a knife on anyone though.

Lessons Learned

We live in a twisted and hypocritical world.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Seventh Seal, Persona, Scenes From A Marriage, Fanny And Alexander

Happy birthday, Ingmar Bergman.

4 Shots From 4 Films


The Seventh Seal (1957, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

The Seventh Seal (1957, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

Persona (1966, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

Persona (1966, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

Scenes From A Marriage (1973, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

Scenes From A Marriage (1973, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

Fanny and Alexander (1982, directed by Ingmar Bergman)

Fanny and Alexander (1982, directed by Ingmar Bergman)


Forget The Gallows


The new horror film The Gallows is pretty dire.  It’s boring, it’s forgettable, and – worst of all – it’s not really scary.  And yet, I would argue that The Gallows is actually providing a fairly valuable service for horror films lovers.

The Gallows is a found footage horror movie and sometimes, it’s easy to forget just how bad found footage horror movies can be.  Every once and a while, a film will be released that actually makes good use of the whole found footage gimmick.  Movies like The Last Exorcism, Devil’s Due, Apollo 18, and Unfriended are all good horror films but, at the same time, it’s important to remember that they are the exception to the rule.  The Gallows may be a total crapfest but it’s a necessary evil because it serves to remind us of why so many horror films have gone to hate found footage films.

As for The Gallows itself, it tells a story that will be familiar to anyone who has seen a horror film.  20 years ago, during a high school production of a play called The Gallows, a student named Charlie was accidentally hanged.  Now, in the present, the school is commemorating the anniversary by putting on another production of The Gallows and…

Excuse me?

Yes, I know that makes no sense.  What can I tell you?  This is a crappy film.

Anyway, Charlie’s role is being played by a kid named Reese but Reese doesn’t really want to be in the play. He’s just doing it because he has a crush on his co-star, Pfieffer.  So, Reese’s obnoxious jock friend, Ryan, suggests that they should break into the school at night and trash the set.  That way, the play will be canceled and Reese can comfort Pfieffer.  Reese agrees and…

What was that you asked?

Yes, the film really is that stupid.

So, Reese, Ryan, and Ryan’s girlfriend Cassidy break into the school and trash the set.  However, before they can really get into destroying stuff, Pfieffer shows up and demands to know what they’re doing.  And then suddenly the doors slam shut and everyone’s trapped in the school and hey, there’s the evil spirit of Charlie and he wants to hang everyone…

But guess what!

Charlie’s not just a random evil spirit, seeking out anyone foolish enough to break into the school at night.  If that was the case, he might actually be scary.  No, Charlie actually has a backstory and a much more complicated motive for wanting to kill everyone.  And I’m not going to spoil the film for anyone who wants to see it so I’ll just say this.

Charlie’s motives?  They’re really, really stupid.

And, of course, the whole film is found footage!  So, once again, we get the whole shaky cam thing and people saying stuff like, “Are you filming?” and all the rest.  And, of course, all of the characters share the same first name as their actors because … well, I’m not sure what the point of that is exactly.  It’s not like we’re going to be fooled into thinking that we’re watching an actual event.  There have been way too many crappy found footage films released recently for anyone to fall for that.

Admittedly, I did jump once or twice while watching The Gallows.  But any horror film can get me to jump once or twice.  The Gallows is a boring and listless film but, at the very least, it does serve as a warning.

Beware found footage horror films.  They promise much yet rarely do they deliver.