Hallmark Review: Midnight Masquerade (2014, dir. Graeme Campbell)


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Midnight Masquerade my ass! It should have been called Gender Swap Cinderella and the Unnecessary and Confusing Domain Registration Story. Let’s do the first part, then the second part.

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That’s our Cinderella on the left named Rob Carelli (Christopher Russell). He works at a law firm run by a guy and his two sons. In other words, the father is the stepmother and they’re the stepsisters. The guy on the right is one of the stepsisters.

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That’s our prince named Elyse Samford (Autumn Reeser). She has recently been given control of a candy company by her father. There’s a trademark infringement issue and the law firm representing her company is the one that Carelli works at.

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Yes, there is a young girl who is attached at the hip to Carelli, but in a refreshing turn she isn’t a daughter from a former marriage. Carelli is simply a cool uncle who likes to go bowling with his niece named Ruby (Helen Colliander).

Samford is going to hold a Halloween ball and she invites everyone at the law firm to attend. Of course some work gets dropped on Cinderella and he has to sneak out to attend the party while masked. Cinderella goes dressed as a prince since she is going dressed as a prom queen apparently.

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Oh, and they make sure you know his prince costume is custom made because his sister insists on making it and we see her measure him several times. Yet, that will not be the way Cinderella is identified at the end. I actually prefer the way they figure out it was him, but then why making sure we know this thing is custom made?

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This happens, but he has to get back to the firm before midnight or he’ll be caught as having snuck out. Since she doesn’t know who Cinderella is, one of the stepsisters takes credit, but he acts like a douchebag when they go out so she has her doubts.

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Ultimately, she figures out who the person was dressed as a prince and Cinderella marries his prince in a bowling alley and in bowling shoes since she also likes to bowl.

Thought it was a little confusing that I kept using he for she and visa versa? That was on purpose. That was to give you a little taste of the second part of this story, which is the domain registration story. I’m still confused about it, but I will try to lay it out for you. Maybe you can figure it out. Let’s run this back to the start of the film.

The reason she came to the firm that represents her company called Samford Candy is because of a trademark infringement. Another company has changed it’s name to Sanford Candy and is selling candy in a similar packaging.

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That part makes sense, but the rest doesn’t quite add up. Now Cinderella chimes in that Sanford Candy is cybersquatting. As far as I can tell cybersquatting is something companies made up and got put into law because they didn’t like that anyone can register any domain they want including your company’s name. It probably dates back at least as far as the bickering between MTV and Adam Curry over the domain name mtv.com. Anyways, that would mean that Sanford Candy has registered the domain name samfordcandy.com. At least you’d think that, but Cinderella says that no one has registered samfordcandy.com. If that’s true then Sanford Candy isn’t cybersquatting at all. At best, they are typosquatting as it’s called in the hopes that people will accidentally type sanfordcandy.com when they meant to type in samfordcandy.com. Except that can’t be true either as we will find out.

Later in the film the father yells at one of the sons for having registered sanfordcandy.com by accident. But it gets worse because during that scene the father says this to his son.

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That means Sanford Candy didn’t have either sanfordcandy.com or samfordcandy.com registered before and thus were not cybersquatting. However, this scene now tells us that Sanford Candy now has the domain name samfordcandy.com. At least you’d think that was the case, but then the next scene happens.

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Cinderella explains to the son that the son registered sandfordcandy.com instead of samfordcandy.com. Fine, but then he says that Sanford Candy can still buy the domain Samford Candy needs. It’s a little unclear here whether he actually means that Sanford Candy can still buy the domain or he is explaining that by registering sanfordcandy.com, it means that it left it open for Sanford Candy to register samfordcandy.com. Either way, this apparently leaves Cinderella with the job of filing a motion to set aside, which is the movie’s reason to keep him from going to the ball.

Later on a deal from Sanford Candy comes in to buy Samford Candy. The father tries to encourage the Prince to buy it. She of course doesn’t want to do that. As Cinderella investigates, he finds out that the father is buying up stock in Samford Candy in order to make a killing if a buyout occurs. Okay, except the non-existent cybersquatting that was supposedly going on at the beginning of the movie is brought up again during the finale.

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She points out that she had to find out Sanford was cybersquatting from Cinderella. Okay, then that means the father knew about the cybersquatting? So why was he mad at his son for registering the wrong name? I mean other than the movie needed some excuse for Cinderella to have to sneak out to the ball. It also means that the movie really did mean that Sanford Candy had already registered samfordcandy.com at the beginning of the story.

None of this quite adds up for me. Luckily, there is an easy way to figure this all out. I did a whois lookup for the domain names sanfordcandy.com and samfordcandy.com and they were both registered by Deborah Marks, who is an executive producer of this movie. There, she’s the real villain of the film.

That whole domain name thing is unnecessary and confusing. It gets in the way of what is otherwise an okay gender swapped Cinderella.

Of course there are a few fun things to point out.

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First, this movie came out in 2014, but her receipt is dated October 17th, 2015. Second, that’s a bill for hosting, not for registering a domain. Those two things are not the same thing. Finding this bill is also a reason why she believes Cinderella’s story about the father trying to get her company bought out. So again, why the scene with the son over registering the domain name sandordcandy.com? And if this was some secret, why was she billed for it by the law firm?

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When Cinderella tries breaking into the father’s computer, he tries three different passwords: Dottsandcrossis, EmmettandAndrew, and 150%. Except only the last password has the number of characters that correspond to the password typed in on the screen. The one above is what we are shown for Dottsandcrossis.

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When Cinderella does get into the computer he launches the standard Mac mail program called Mail to look for anything with the name Sanford in it. Except he never does a search for it. He just quickly browses over several emails, then leaves. That said, I love that they actually tried to come up with emails that look real. Look at the one with the subject line “Ball” about a “LARGE Sucker Spider”. There is another email later on that has some joke about a brunette and a redhead trying to break out of jail.

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Does that chart make sense to you?

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Kudos on this screen. Even if SAM is the stock symbol for Samuel Adams beer, and NOK is Nokia.

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And finally, when they are trying to find out how that father is involved in the buyout, they look up individual investors. I’m sure Mister Rogers probably pooled money from everyone in the neighborhood to buy stock in the company. I actually love that they stuck that name in there.

All in all, if you can block out the domain registration thing and just focus on the Cinderella story, then you’ll be fine watching this.

5 responses to “Hallmark Review: Midnight Masquerade (2014, dir. Graeme Campbell)

  1. Pingback: Hallmark Review: Hitched For The Holidays (2012, dir. Michael Scott) | Through the Shattered Lens

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