Hallmark Review: The Wishing Well (2009, dir. David Jackson)


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It’s not often that I review two movies from two relatively different sources that are both by the same director, but that’s the case this time. David Jackson is also the director who brought the Halloweentown series to an end with Return To Halloweentown. This time he took on something much easier than ripping off Harry Potter with a miscast lead. It’s about a wishing well! Sort of.

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The movie begins before the title card appears, and we meet Abby Jansen played by Jadin Gould. She will be your smiling one-dimensional little girl for the movie. I mean your Hallmark Bailee Madison stand-in for the movie. Then we cut to stock footage of New York City before we meet our leading lady named Cynthia Tamerline played by Jordan Ladd.

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She works for Celeb magazine where not only is Charles Shaughnessy her boss, but her secretary is Lurch with a nose ring.

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Obviously this movie needs to find an excuse to get Cynthia out with the country folk now. That’s why Shaughnessy calls her in and tells her either publish, perish, or become a nanny for my kids. He suggests that she write a story for one of his other magazines called Great Housekeeping. It’s for people who think Good Housekeeping just isn’t good enough. I thought she chose to write about a woman named Angela and her charity to save the vampire flies, but somehow that will cause her to end up in Slow Creek, Illinois to find a celebrity who may have visited their wishing well. But before that, she looks up Angela’s push to save the vampire fly on CelebrityCauses.us. No affiliation with CelebrityCauses.org. This one has Darcy from A Gift Of Miracles writing for it too.

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This time she ripped off numerous encyclopedia entries about flies, but it is a little odd that she copied from the United Church Of God’s magazine Vertical Thought.

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Anyways, she’s off to Slow Creek, Illinois, which is the “Home of the Wishing Well.” Not just any wishing well, but the Wishing Well. That is till the 2011 Canadian film Wishing Well came out to give them some stiff competition for that title.

She arrives at the hotel where she is going to stay and finds that Ernest Borgnine runs the place. Cynthia is in town for a story that she can take back to Celeb magazine…I thought. Regardless, this is where I am obligated to say that these townsfolk are probably hiding a terrible secret about a Muslim American solider who died overseas and whose father was murdered in the town. I mean the movie has Borgnine, it’s a small town, and Cynthia’s last name is Tamerline which is close enough to Cass Timberlane played by Spencer Tracy in the movie of the same name. That meant while watching this movie, I immediately thought of the film Bad Day At Black Rock (1955) which had Tracy and Borgnine in it. Great movie by the way that I simply updated to a modern context. Here’s the trailer.

But onward with this movie now.

Annoying little girl tells us that wishes come true if you believe and make the right wish. Then we find out that not only is the hotel run by someone Retired and Extremely Dangerous, but that the diner is run by ‘Hot Lips’ O’Houlihan (Sally Kellerman).

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Now Cynthia visits the local paper and finds out that it’s run by the little girl’s dad played by Jason London.

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So this is what happened to Eric Camden’s associate pastor’s twin brother.

Cynthia starts to look into this wishing well of theirs. Turns out it was once a hot attraction, but then this happened.

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Don’t you just hate it when your ex shows up and your wish doesn’t come true, but your ex’s does. Now writer Enid Jones had it out for the well.

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But this isn’t enough for her so she goes to dig in the archives. Long story short, Ronald Reagan once visited their well back in the 1960’s.

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That and a UFO was seen on a farm in Slow Creek. Interesting! What else is interesting is that they didn’t pull this Reagan and a wishing well thing completely out of their ass. Reagan actually did visit a wishing well in Dublin, Ireland back in the 1980s. Hmmm…I guess that means I need to listen to some Irish music while I finish writing this review. Well, Dropkick Murphys (Flannigan’s Ball) is Irish enough for someone who is a quarter Irish and from the Bay Area.

Oh, and since Reagan was mentioned. I guess I need to break out Genesis’ Land Of Confusion as well.

More annoying girl, and then Cynthia wakes up the next day to find out that she is now in the Twilight Zone. She is just somebody who has been hired as a local reporter. She calls up people back in New York City, but they don’t know who she is. She doesn’t try to tell them anything personal that only she would know, but just keeps calling.

This is when you can say the film goes on autopilot. Cynthia becomes more of a fixture in the town and discovers just how important this paper is to its residents. The paper is in trouble and might be bought out soon. The little girl is still annoying. A guy dies and she writes his obituary. Another guy sets his house on fire trying to beat his record for how many of his collectible lighters he can have going at once. I’m not making that up. During the scene where he explains his little game and current record I said to my dad that he didn’t mention this is the third house he’s gone through playing this game. Then she is waking up in bed to a phone call telling her his place is burning down. Of course! She writes an article that moves people about the fire. Finally, the townsfolk watch a meteor storm.

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Then this big city guy’s mustache shows up to buy the paper. It’s okay though because it turns out the guy who died left a huge amount of money to the paper in his will. I guess that’s better than the huge wad of cash in a can from Christmas Land.

Now just in case you thought you were finally getting this Twilight Zone like story, she wakes up on a plane back to New York City to receive praise for the story she wrote for the magazine. Yep, makes as much sense as you think it does. By that, I mean very little. She leaves her job at Celeb magazine and goes back to Slow Creek where smiley and her dad know who she is. Then it just ends abruptly.

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That’s it! It’s quite lousy. Even my Dad said this was a stinker and he’s usually easy to please with these movies. No reason to waste your time with this. Go watch Bad Day At Black Rock instead.

Since I happened to catch her this way. I’m really sorry Jordan.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to throw a coin in a wishing well because I’m shipping up to Boston to find my wooden leg and I can use all the luck I can get.

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