Hallmark Review: Dater’s Handbook (2016, dir. James Head)


Gotta admit, I was looking forward to another Hallmark movie based on rules for finding the perfect man again after Just The Way You Are about as much as having another hernia surgery that finishes with a catheter hanging out of me. However, while not that great, it’s far better than Just The Way You Are. At least after hearing this movie use REO Speedwagon’s song Keep On Loving You, I can still enjoy it. Also, it helps that it doesn’t have Candace Cameron Bure in it. I recently saw her on The View say she doesn’t want to integrate the Scouts because it will take something away from girls. This after I saw them play footage of a girl saying she liked working together in a single unified Scouts. I guess forced inequality and training men and women to treat each other as unequal is what she doesn’t want taken away from girls? I swear the young black lady on the panel and Whoopi must have been biting their tongues to keep from pointing out to her that what she was saying holds as much water as having separate schools for blacks and whites. Sorry, but it’s stuff like this that you start to notice more when you are transgender even if you only catch a segment on The View in passing.

Onto the film!

The movie opens up with shots of what are probably mountains in Canada behind her and her dog, but are perfect stand-ins for the mountains of Colorado for someone like myself who lives in the Bay Area. Hmmm…I already did it and this movie does use a great REO Speedwagon song, so I might as well use some music throughout this review. Let’s try this opening again.

The movie opens up with our leading lady named Cass played by Meghan Markle against Rocky Mountain High!

Then we go home and on the news is Teryl Rothery who apparently didn’t die on Stargate SG-1, but survived and has now written a book called The Dater’s Handbook under the name of Dr. Susie.


She says, “The problem is not the men in your life,” but that it’s your relationship with Jesus. Oh, wait. That’s the Hallmark movie Your Love Never Fails/A Valentine’s Date. She says it’s that you’re choosing the wrong man. You can’t be picking “the rebel guy” or “the fun guy”. You need to pick someone that is “responsible” and “dependable”. Of course she immediately tells her dog Duke that describes him.

Then we cut to the workplace to find out that Cass is in advertising. The songs will probably just keep coming to me, and I know she was not in advertising, but here’s Carly Simon anyways (Let The River Run by Carly Simon).

However, while I will have a problem with our lead always feeling a little standoffish, she is no evil boss like Sigourney Weaver’s masterful performance in Working Girl (1988). We now cut to a bar where we meet Cass’ sister who is complaining about the wedding of Cass’ secretary/assistant/right hand lady type person. She’s going to be Mrs. Dana Schmointz. Cass’ sister is complaining that she isn’t going to hyphenate her last name. I’m of the opinion that you either take one name or keep your own. I grew up with someone that had their name hyphenated and they hated it. Dropped it as soon as they could. Maybe I’m just biased because of personal experience and…

That could have been Jack Gillis instead of Jack White if he hadn’t taken Meg’s last name. I don’t even want to think of about that.


And I don’t want to think about this guy either. He is Cass’ current boyfriend because the script says so. I know I say that a lot sarcastically, but I really mean it this time. It makes no sense that she’s with this guy. Yet, she will refer back to him on several occasions in a manner that is just ridiculous. Pretend he doesn’t exist.

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At the wedding she meets Mr. Right named Robert (Kristoffer Polaha). Not much to this scene except to hit the audience with a brick to the head to tell us he’s the guy.

Now we have a sit down with Mom and Sis. Sis loves this dating handbook thing. The Mom absolutely hates it. I am not even exaggerating when I say she always seemed to be on the brink of wiping her butt with it. She hates it that much. It’s pretty funny. Luckily, while the Sis acts all gung ho about the book and the Mom just shakes her head, Cass pretty much keeps a cool head through it all.


Next we meet George played by Jonathan Scarfe who I guess went into the insurance business after Love On The Air. A nice thing about this movie is that neither one is a bad guy. They are both good guys. One just makes her happy while the other doesn’t. It’s that simple. She just goes through the Spin Doctors song Two Princes for awhile.

Now we just kick the current boyfriend aside. Do you care? The movie sure didn’t. Then nutty Sis takes Cass to see Rothery set herself up to look like a hypocrite at the end of the movie when she has a new book for people getting a divorce. No matter. Cass now runs into Mr. Right in a park.


Yep, still the right guy, but why does it look like he has washers on his gloves? Not sure what that’s about. Her perky blonde friend who got married tries to tell her that Mr. Right and her looked good together as well. Cass now goes on a date with Mr. Right and…


a T-Rex at a miniature golf course. They also play pool before going back to her place. The T-Rex should have told them what to do, but…

it’s a Hallmark movie so we have to string this out longer (Get It On (Bang A Gong)).

What follows really is Cass going out with Mr. Wrong and finding it unsatisfying while also seeing Mr. Right and finding him to be pretty cool. All the while her sister and mother have stupid conversations that cause Cass to go through stupid motions instead of just following her heart.

Oh, and this happens to this guy. No, they’re not referring to him as a walking advertisement. They are talking as if he is not there.


I could go with Incense and Peppermint, but let’s do The Kinks here instead cause why not (Dedicated Follower Of Fashion by The Kinks).

Now Cass and Mr. Right meet at the gym and share headphones to listen to music while they run on a treadmill, but he falls and destroys the iPod. It only happens so that we can see him give her a new one which is supposed to show that he was paying attention and knew the right thing to give her.

And he does this too.


Mom’s a big REO Speedwagon fan.

Okay, I’ve reached that point in the review. You have gotten the gist of how the rest of this plays out. Cass had the best time at the golf course so to decide between the two guys, she takes George there. George doesn’t pass the test. After seeing that Dr. Susie is getting divorced and throwing that awful book in the trash, she goes to a Chinese New Year party Mr. Right is helping out at and they kiss.


Great song, but I’m sure how well it really fits this film anymore than me using The Kinks’ Dedicated Follower Of Fashion. As much as I hated Just The Way You Are, the song made sense there. Oh, well.

I really am sick of romance movies that base their plot on supposed rules for dating or finding the perfect mate. Especially when many of the scenes in this, which include explicitly rating the guys, would probably have women crying bloody murder if the genders were reversed. Let’s agree it’s just tired and stupid at this point.

They do a decent job here. My only real problem with the movie is the main character. Even at her most tender moments, it still never felt like she was letting her defense down. That bothered me and made it difficult for me to warm up to her. A perfectly average one that’s fine to watch once, but not worth a repeat.

I learned many years back when to know to stop something you are working on and just put it out. I was up really late debugging an assembly language program and found myself singing Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs. That just started playing so it’s time to proofread and let this review out. Many more movies to go.

Is “Victorie City” A Winner?

Trash Film Guru


It’s been awhile since the artistic collective known as 44Flood put out a new comic via their publishing deal with IDW, and while I admit that the last effort to go out under their label, Ben Templesmith’s dystopian sci-fi nightmare TheSquidder is certainly a tough act to follow, if the first issue of the new four-parter Victorie City is anything to go by, it should be more than up to the task — even though I’ll be the first to admit that, perhaps more than any other comic out there on the stands right now, this one’s going to divide people on a purely aesthetic level almost instantly.

First, though, a few words about the story — writer Keith Carmack appears to be constructing a deceptively standard-issue hard-boiled noir here, with our ostensible “hero,” police detective Hektor Ness, playing the role of one good cop in a…

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Here’s What Won At The SAG Awards

Howdy, y’all!  The SAG Awards were given out tonight but I did not see it because I was busy down at City Limits Texas, watching Joey Green and Luke Wade and gettin’ my country on!  (Boots and denim, y’all!)  So, I missed the show but I can still post the winners!  Spotlight won the SAG equivalent of Best Picture so it looks like right now, the best picture race is pretty much between that film and the PGA winner, The Big Short.  But what if George Miller or Alejandro Inarritu ends up winnin’ at the DGA?  This Oscar race is gettin’ as unpredictable as a cow chewin’ magic mushrooms.  Yee haw!

ANYWAY, here’s the winners!

BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FEMALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES – Viola Davis in “How to Get Away with Murder”

(By the way, y’all, I love you all…)

Hallmark Review: Love on the Sidelines (2016, dir. Terry Ingram)


I was going to start off this review one way, but I have to mention this instead. I literally just reviewed a Late Night Cable movie called Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills where, while the film wasn’t very good, I spent most of the time pointing out that actress Jacqui Holland is too good for those movies. So of course the next movie I go to review, which couldn’t be on the further end of the TV movie spectrum, has a main character with the same last name: Holland. Oh, and on top of that, I also find out a guy I’ve been talking to online since last Fall is Dutch today. Cause of course this kind of thing happens to me.

Now for the way I intended to start this review. I didn’t see any of the advertising for this so I don’t know whether this is a film where I should be calling Operation Crossbow (1965). That’s a movie that was billed as a Sophia Loren film to draw in audiences even though she was in one scene and it was really an action movie starring Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) George Peppard. Regardless, you should know that while Joe Theismann is in the movie, it’s for just a very small handful of minutes. It’s a cameo appearance at best. Just know that going into the film.

The movie opens up at a sports bar where we meet our leading lady named Laurel Welk played by Emily Kinney of The Walking Dead fame.


This thing about how she feels about weddings is that she believes they are sacred. This comes up in a conversation with a friend of hers about how she is going to make some money seeing as her design career isn’t going anywhere. I believe this is supposed to hint at a possible plan about doing the My Fake Fiancee (2009) thing. However, I remember her mentioning it a couple of more times during the movie. It’s kind of weird. I’m not sure who it’s there for. I’m not a religious person, but even if I were I think I would still find this weird.

Anyways, we also meet a guy who I’m pretty sure is her boyfriend and is a big fan of football while she isn’t. I say I’m pretty sure because he is in so little of this movie and has absolutely no importance to the film. Might as well not be here. At the bar they see football player Danny Holland (John Reardon) get injured. If you haven’t seen it already, don’t go and look at the footage of when Joe Theismann got seriously injured for real. I’ll sum it up for you: Legs aren’t supposed to bend that way.


It will turn out that his condition isn’t career ending at all. It just means he’s out 6-8 weeks. I know in sports terms that can feel like a lifetime though. During this scene we see his agent with his face buried in a cellphone tweeting about his condition. The movie will sorta play this as a negative in that he is out of touch with his client, but actually I would think getting an official word out there as fast as possible would be something you would want. Better than giving the rumor mill even one more second to just wildly speculate, which they will.

Doesn’t matter, because this stock footage shot of San Francisco they show us next tells us where the movie is supposed to take place and we move on with the story.


That shot is used to indicate San Francisco so much in movies, TV, and other places that I’m positive I even came across that exact neighborhood replicated in the game GTA: San Andreas. However, while the film is listed on IMDb as being of Canadian origin, and I have no doubt of that, they did insert this shot from Santa Montica, California too.


There’s also this shot from Los Angeles.


Now we learn that in order to find out about becoming a personal assistant…I mean in order to make ends meet, Laurel takes on a roommate who does introduce her to the personal assistant business. After a successful interview, and we find out that Danny has a book coming out along with a Wheaties box, she is hired. Hired not because she’s right for the job though. Turns out Danny always likes male assistants. Obviously the man didn’t know he was in a Hallmark movie which is why he was injured in the game in the first place. The same thing happened to Jeff Sinclair who probably just thought he was injured on the job without knowing he was in the Hallmark movie Second Chances.

Anyways, she shows up and they clash a bit. One of his complaints is just BS. No one in the locker room is going to care that his assistant is a woman any more than if the genders were reversed. He also says something about what if he wants to walk around in his underwear. Having said equipment myself, and knowing that he does like her, this actual could present a problem, but it’s solved the same way the previously mentioned one is: keep that area reigned in. Then he actually does raise a completely 100% valid point that I didn’t see coming. He likes to have male assistants for things like spotting him “150 pounds” while he works out. You can argue about that one, but I really can give him that considering the woman we are talking about here. None of this really matters though. I just thought it was kind of interesting that an actual valid point was brought up in his argument. It just comes down to whether she cries easily. She assures him that it’s only when she watches The Notebook (2004). She’s hired!

We then cut to a scene where he is signing a book he wrote about football for kids. In that one cut from introduction scene to that scene we can already see he’s smitten with her.

Then we apparently need to introduce a pre-existing girlfriend for him about as much as we needed to have one for her. Now that I have written that sentence, I do mean that both ways you can read it. Both of them of having any partners is needless in this film.


Probably wondering where Joe Theismann is and how he fits into this about now, aren’t yeah?


There he is! This, and a couple more short scenes are all you get. He plays Danny’s father. I know why he couldn’t take care of his son while he is recovering. They chose to make this a romance Hallmark movie as opposed to a movie like Chasing A Dream. Still, you got Joe Theismann. Peter Bogdanovich ended up creating one of his best films by finding a creative way to use the few days left on Boris Karloff’s contract. They could have just had him be the wiseman stereotype who shows up here and there to nudge the two main characters in the right directions. Maybe there were restrictions behind the scenes that made that impossible. I don’t know. It was just disappointing.


Now we meet Danny’s really beautiful Great Dane named Knute. As all big dogs are, he is a handful to walk. That is one serious benefit to having a small dog like I do now. Of course Mandy does have a habit of just standing and staring into nothingness until you feel like bashing your head in with a brick so…it doesn’t matter cause the dog loves her. Dogs are like that. People sometimes have a little friction to get past. He has some of that. However, let me make it clear that he really is a good customer to her throughout this. I bring that up because of a little ridiculous scene later.

To be able to do her job better, she reads up on football. That includes his book. Also, so we don’t think she is just going to disappear into his shadow, she puts her design background to use in order to feminize a football jersey. That will come around in the film…sort of.


Then we meet one of Danny’s teammates. He’s a red herring. I know, it’s not a mystery movie, but he’s a red herring for the Danny character. This introduction, and another scene, make Danny think he has a thing for Laurel, but in actuality he is falling for Danny’s sister during the rest of the film. It’s not a spoiler. The only thing that could be considered a spoiler, I will mention because it is something I give the film credit for doing and it wouldn’t be right of me to leave it out.

After Laurel has some girl talk with Danny’s mother and sister, she goes to pick up Danny at the stadium. That’s when he discovers she has a classic car, which he’s always had a thing for.

Then we get a scene that really is just there for anyone who has owned a big dog in their life. It really doesn’t serve much of a purpose.


She carries one of those big dog food bags into the house since Danny could barely stand when his girlfriend leaned against him earlier for a photo shoot. Everyone who has owned a big dog knows the pain of lifting one of those. Not only are they heavy to begin with, but they always manage to be as awkward to hold as possible. Luckily, she does it just in time for it to cut to stock footage of San Francisco at night.

A stupid scene now ensues. Laurel was working around the house when Danny and who cares shows up. Laurel hides in a room. She also listens at the door. Is this supposed to show she has interest in their relationship? Is she looking for an opportunity to sneak out like she says later? The dog of course knows she’s there and keeps going to the door Laurel is behind. Brainless takes this as a reason to leave.


That’s the room she is in. It sure looks like a bathroom to me. Was it too hard to just flush the toilet, leave the room, notice them, say I’m on my way out, and then leave? It would have solved that whole problem. However, the film needed an excuse to have both of them with their defenses down so they can have some dialog to draw them closer to each other.

Now he discovers her passion for design because of a book she has. Then she finds a copy of a book written by Kafka under the couch. Blah, blah, blah.

This is when I stop giving you the blow by blow. The next important thing is when Laurel gets called away from a wedding she was at for a supposed emergency Danny is having. Maybe this is why they had her say she thinks weddings are scared, but it still doesn’t work quite right. She just blows up at him in a ridiculous fashion. It’s not I’m going to embed the trailer for My Baby Is Black! again over the top, but it doesn’t quite jive with everything we’ve seen. He really has been good to her. He volunteers to help kids. He writes books for children. He takes playing football serious enough that he insists on showing up for the games even though he can’t play because he needs to support the team. He just doesn’t deserve the lines they have her launch at him. It doesn’t matter though, because it leads to them kissing.

Now the film quickly winds down. He kicks the useless girlfriend aside, I don’t even recall what happened to the guy she was with, he toasts his parents at a party, then tracks her down, and they kiss.


What’s nice about this ending is that he doesn’t give up playing football. It had me thinking it was going to go that route, and I would have been upset if it had. She finds a bit of an inroad into design with her jerseys and he continues to do what he loves. They just decide to continue to do this together. I liked that.

What did I think of the film as a whole? It’s one of those that is perfectly fine, but dull. No, not as dull as The 12 Gifts Of Christmas dull. I just kept feeling throughout the movie like there should be more. Even just expanding Theismann’s role in the movie might have done it for me. If it’s on, sure, sit down and watch. But this isn’t one I would return to for any reason. It’s difficult to really give closing thoughts on a movie like this because it’s like in a film where someone hands in a story and is told it’s just fine, but that fine isn’t going to cut it. This is right on the border between it’s just fine and it’ll cut it.

Marlowe at the Movies Pt 3: THE LONG GOODBYE (United Artists 1973)

cracked rear viewer


Elliott Gould was a hot Hollywood commodity in the early 1970’s. The former Mr. Barbra Streisand broke through in the 1969 sex farce BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE, earning an Oscar nomination for supporting actor. He was marketed as a counter-culture rebel, quickly appearing in MOVE, GETTING STRAIGHT, LITTLE MURDERS, and Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H. But his flame dimmed just as fast, and his erratic onset behavior and rumored drug abuse caused him to become unemployable. When Altman decided to make the neo-noir THE LONG GOODBYE, he insisted on casting Gould as Philip Marlowe. The film put Gould back on the map, and though critics of the era weren’t crazy about it, THE LONG GOODBYE stands up well as an artifact of its era and a loving homage to Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled hero.


Philip Marlowe is clearly an anachronism is 70’s LA, with his ever-present cigarette, cheap suit, beat-up ’48 Lincoln…

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Late Night Cable Horror: Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills (2015, dir. Dean McKendrick)


I’ve said it several times about him, but now I have found the female equivalent of Frankie Cullen. I watched and reviewed Bikini Model Mayhem, and while this isn’t as good a movie, Jacqui Holland still shows that she is too good for these movies. I’ve seen her in a few other things, but it’s these two films that show her acting ability. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that she has numerous B-Movie horror films lined up. I’m obviously not the only one that has taken notice.

Anyways, let’s talk about Erotic Vampires of Beverly Hills.


The movie opens up on what I would swear was stock footage from Roger Corman’s The Raven (1963). Inside the castle we meet Vlad (Daniel Hunter) and he’s brought a woman back to the castle so the movie can open up with a sex scene, but oh no!


Guess that’s a vampire cum shot. Oh, and he bites her, thus turning her into a vampire. Stupid Vlad, he wasn’t supposed to be feeding on people anymore. I mean the show True Blood exists so that means they have synthetic blood in the kitchen. Morticia (Adriana Chechik) isn’t happy with him.


Just as they are talking, Sarah Hunter playing Alexa bursts into the castle and kills the new vampire with holy water.


Yes, yes, yes, I’m aware, so here it is.

Since Alexa is on their trail it means it’s off to their summer home in Beverly Hills.


You know you have been watching some interesting movies when you look at that shot and remember the last time you saw it in a movie there was a pterodactyl flying nearby.

Now we meet Bob (Brandon Ruckdashel) and Jane (Jacqui Holland). Bob is a lawyer cause I guess those sets are cheaper than if he was a surgeon. Jane is a philanthropist of sorts. She’s upset that Bob has forgotten about her fundraising group for the next day. Her charity is The Society to Help the Itinerant Transients. Go ahead and say it, Bob.


Cue Holland and one of her comical facial expressions.


After Bob gets hit on by his secretary, we see Jane notice that some people are moving in nearby during the middle of the night. Of course it’s Vlad and Tish. Vlad puts his face in her crotch and is thankful this isn’t the 1970s. Tish jumps up and down on Vlad’s lap. Then they do what the movie Black Love (1971) taught me is called “dog fashion.” It’s important to get the technical terms correct here.

Bob comes home to find Jane is a little shaken up. I would find it a little odd too, but Bob raises some good points such as that burglars don’t normally turn on lights so everyone knows they are there. Then he tries to make up for missing their romantic dinner. And by that I mean he makes a face that looks really painful out of context.


Not sure what Jane is doing down there, but I’m sure Bob is now free of all the lint in his belly button.

The next morning Bob’s secretary (Jazy Berlin) pays Jane a visit and it turns out the fundraiser was going to do well. I mean she got a band to play called The Winking Vaginas and everything. However, as soon as she sent out an email blast about it, people kind of bailed on her. Bob’s secretary sees the obvious problem.


The girls go and snoop on the house a bit but find nothing of interest. Back at Bob’s office he and the secretary pretend they actually have anything to do with the plot before they do something…make faces…and who really cares. Back to Jane. After reminding Bob that there is nothing wrong with the actor down the street who jogs in the nude, Jane says that she is going to go over and introduce herself to the new neighbors.


Jane quickly discovers something isn’t right when they don’t reflect in her compact, and makes a quick exit. She immediately goes to a bar. That way Alexa can show up to remind us she was once in this movie.


She’s also there so she can stumble into Jane. The two of them talk and now Alexa knows where the vampires are and Jane knows she’s not crazy. Of course she goes home drunk.


Hey Bob! You’re married to a human being, not Winnie the Pooh having a nightmare. The next day Jane and Alexa go an snoop around the vampire’s home. They even find empty coffins. Empty coffins can mean only one thing. It means the two of them go back to Jane’s place and have sex. I love how much trouble it appears that Holland has getting her awfully tight green dress off here.


After the scene that’s there to remind us that most female porn stars have a no bare feet clause in their contract, we get Vlad and Tish discovering someone has been in their home. Then Vlad leaves to have a snack. Who really cares. It’s time for Jane to go and face down these vampires.


One minute you are trying to stop a vampire with a cross, a vampire killer comes in equipped with weapons, but with a little magic you are suddenly in the middle of a threesome. Happens to the best of us. I like the part of this scene where it appears Holland is really trying to stay near the bottom of the frame as she moves into a different position so that she doesn’t completely obscure the camera.

The film now comes to an end by making sure we know that Jane and Bob are still together and that the seductive secretary is out of the picture. That’s because she’s a vampire now.


Overall, this isn’t that good. McKendrick and Holland have done better. If you are looking for a better showcase of Jacqui Holland’s talents, then watch Bikini Model Mayhem. It’s a better film all the way around.