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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