Val’s Movie Roundup #25: Hallmark Edition


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A Wish Come True (2015) – If Pete’s Christmas (2013) is Hallmark’s Groundhog Day (1993), then A Wish Come True is kind of their Big (1988). The movie is about a girl named Lindsay Corwin (Megan Park). For a a good chunk of the beginning of this film she looks like a teenager. The opening scene may even be of her as a teenager. I’m not sure because the next thing I knew, she was about to turn 30, but looked the same. And this picture later of her supposedly at 18 sure didn’t help.

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Each birthday she makes a wish, and each time it doesn’t come true. Until her thirtieth birthday, when they all come true at once. Just like Big, this catapults her far beyond where she is supposed to be at her age. Promotion, big house, etc. She even receives a toy house that I’m pretty sure Celine and Julie were once trapped in (pretentious cinema snob joke).

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As is almost always the case, there is a romantic interest. The movie is one of the average ones of this sort. You really can’t spoil it because of the nature of a Hallmark movie, but I will say it doesn’t quite end like Big. Same sort of result, but a little different. This one is worth seeing. Just remember she’s actually supposed to be 30 even during the scenes where she has glasses and her hair up. Trust me!

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Love By The Book (2014) – You see that picture of the girl (Leah Renee) in the poster. She doesn’t look like that in the movie. That poster makes her look like she could be believable as a smart, kind, business woman with a passion for books. This is closer to the way she looks in the movie.

Even that isn’t completely accurate. I apologize for the lack of a proper screenshot, but you’ll have to take my word for it. She’s the girl you cast for the stuck up high school cheerleading bitch. This is a David S. Cass Sr. movie and just like Class (2010), Keeping Up The Randalls (2011), and Uncorked (2009), one or two of the leads has been cast against type. In this case it’s the girl. The guy is fine in the role. Nothing amazing, but he fits. She does not. She looks like she belongs in Mean Girls (2004) with her squeaky voice and I don’t buy her being able to add, let alone run a business. Whoever keeps doing the casting for David S. Cass Sr. Hallmark movies should be fired. It isn’t fair to the actors and it ruins the movie. They aren’t good enough to play against type, so cast them appropriately so they can do their thing.

The movie itself is about a girl who owns a bookstore and has a business consultant thrust upon her by a big investor in her business. He tries to help her, she resists, she has a boyfriend who obviously doesn’t belong with her, and you know where it ends up.

It would be average, but Leah Renee is totally miscast and it nearly completely ruins the film. It’s not a total crash and burn though.

Oh, and kudos to the Art Department for bothering to setup an XAMPP LAMP stack to run their fake webpages on.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Truth Be Told (2015) – We are going really far back to my very first Hallmark movie roundup. I even received what I think is my one and only thumbs down so far. I assume because of my rather harsh review of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love (2015). I try to tell you what I thought having watched it. And having watched the most recent entry in the series, I stand behind it. This is one series on Hallmark where they really need to air at least from the Christmas episode up to whatever they are currently showing before the new entry airs. This isn’t one where you can just jump in anywhere like the Aurora Teagarden or Garage Sale Mystery movie series. Hallmark really seems to be carefully trying to craft something special that is notches above their usual material. It’s not fair to you and the series to just jump in at any point. At least not without then going back and watching the earlier ones. I still have to see the pilot/first movie myself.

So, the movie itself. We once again join the Postables as they call themselves at the dead letter office of the United States Postal Service. There is a letter that has been in a fire, but clever Norman (Geoff Gustafson) knows a way to bring the ink back to life from his time in the system as a kid. I really liked this short little procedural part. It honestly made me think of Dan Aykroyd’s character in Sneakers (1992) when he tells Robert Redford how to defeat a keypad lock form an old friend who was in Desert Storm. On the other side of the conflict. They give Redford what sounds like complex instructions, but it turns out it’s just kick the door in. I would love them to have Norman do more tricks like this in the future that he has picked up from his many childhood friends. I also want more procedural elements in general. I think I would enjoy the show more from seeing them work together rather than a personal backstory revealed through an encounter with something from one of their pasts.

This one does that though. This time poor Oliver (Eric Mabius) gets a visit from his father who he has no desire to see. Let me take a moment to say, can we please both give Oliver a break, and give him a marijuana brownie or something to let him loosen up for a bit. The poor guy is wound tighter than a drum. Also, I half expect him to open up a letter and find it has anthrax in it or something else horrible happen to him in the next film. In this one, his father has a bomb to drop on him (not literally).

While Oliver confronts his past, the letter leads Norman and Rita (Crystal Lowe) into the life of a young girl who’s Mom mysteriously disappeared in Afghanistan. It turns out the letter was written by someone else, not the mother. She hires them to find out who wrote it. At present, the mother is presumed to have worked with the enemy. The “Truth Be Told” of the tile is something that Oliver didn’t know about his father and the young girl finding out the truth about her mother. Although, I think we are going to find out even more about her in the next entry in the series.

The only other thing I can think to mention is that Rita has a romance novel she is writing. Apparently, there’s a scene in it where a woman is accidentally branded. I have no reason to believe otherwise, but I think she means branded like Cecil B. DeMille’s The Cheat (1915) branded. I want to hear more from this novel. She certainly seems to have more of a sexual imagination than the guy who directed Bikini Spring Break (2012) and Jailbait (2014).

I think you can come in to this without having seen the prior ones, but really, if you can, record it and hold on till you see the previous ones. I think you will be doing yourself a real favor.

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A Ring By Spring (2014) – This is paint by numbers Hallmark. You can tell from the title. Hell, that picture would probably have you thinking it’s offensive to women. It’s not.

The movie is about a business consultant played by Rachel Boston. She is called in to help a company that buys used college supplies, then resells them. She gets a reading that says she will have a ring by spring or she never will. Honestly, she doesn’t seem to take it very seriously, which is nice. It’s just kind of in the back of her mind. Of course, we know she is going to end up with the nice guy who runs the business rather than anyone else she might meet.

The two things that work are the ending and Boston herself. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s not a proposal. It’s a nice little, ah, I get it moment for Boston’s character followed by her ending up with the guy. While the stuff leading up to it didn’t work so great for me, the ending did.

The other thing that works is Boston’s facial expressions. I think it’s her big eyes, but she does some great shocked looks.

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Seriously, the movie is worth seeing just to watch her face.

Unfortunately, this movie is one of those that screws up computer screens. And again, it’s a stupid mistake that they for some reason beyond me decide to show in a lingering closeup. In this case, Boston is talking to a guy via her iPad, but we can clearly see it’s just video playing that she is talking to. It’s only made worse when in a following scene she is shown a video and we can clearly see it looks the same as her supposed chat.

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I really don’t understand why the closeup was necessary. Especially when in the same scene it’s fixed because presumedly the top of the video went away since they weren’t touching it or they touched it to make it go away. Probably they noticed it, touched it to make it go away, but didn’t reshoot the earlier scenes.

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I said the ending worked for me, but the real reason is to see Boston do her looks. She does the same sort of thing in A Gift Of Miracles (2015). I forgot to include screenshots that time, but I did describe the expression on her face like she just saw Chuck Norris eat a Cadillac. I haven’t enjoyed an actor almost solely on the basis of their facial expressions since Jim Carrey.

Swing and a Miss: Robert Mitchum and Faith Domergue in WHERE DANGER LIVES (RKO 1950)


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I have mixed feelings about WHERE DANGER LIVES. On the plus side, it features Robert Mitchum in a solid role as a young doctor trapped in beautiful Faith Domergue’s web. John Farrow’s direction is tight, the script by Charles Bennett is full of twists and turns, and Nicholas Musuraca turns in another atmospheric job as cinematographer. But there are two major flaws that make this film noir fall just short of classic status.

Dr. Jeff Cameron (Mitchum) is about to leave work for a date with his fiancée, nurse Julie (Maureen O’Sullivan, wife of director Farrow and mother of actress Mia) when an emergency arrives. A young woman (Domergue) has attempted suicide. Jeff saves her life, but the woman, calling herself ‘Margo’, is still despondent, stating she “has nothing to live for”. The next day, Jeff gets a telegram asking him to meet ‘Margo’ at a certain address. The address turns out to be a…

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