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


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There’s also this shot from Los Angeles.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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3 responses to “Hallmark Review: Love on the Sidelines (2016, dir. Terry Ingram)

  1. Pingback: Hallmark Review: Hearts of Spring (2016, dir. Marita Grabiak) | Through the Shattered Lens

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