Hallmark Review: Love’s Complicated (2016, dir. Jerry Ciccoritti)


Last night at the Oscars we had a comedy bit where black actors were inserted into movies that were nominated for awards. They took somewhat humorous shots at The Martian and Joy. Then The Danish Girl came up. I haven’t seen it yet and I’ve heard it’s god awful. None of that matters. They inserted comedic actor Tracy Morgan into the movie, put him in a dress, then told us to laugh at him because he was a man in a dress who was being the black version of the trans woman from the film. Then for more shits and giggles, they actually had him eat a danish. That was vile and despicable. I have been laughed at for something as simple as wearing tights. I can’t possibly imagine walking outside in a dress right now, and have even less courage to do so after last night’s display of kicking an even smaller minority to the curb while supposedly trying to send a message about having another minority appear more often in films. While I seriously doubt she would have done it, having Laverne Cox of Orange Is The New Black fame, who is both black and trans, do that might have actually sent a positive message. Thank you very much Oscars for making it clear that not only was it worth dragging on the blacks in film thing so long that it started to feel like a joke itself, but for giving all trans women a punch in the face. Much appreciated.

That right there is an example of the central theme of this movie. Not avoiding conflict. That can be for a number of reasons. Not letting other people make decisions that should be yours since it is your life. Not being paralyzed by a fear of conflict when facing it could lead to a much needed reconciliation. Not letting other people treat you like trash, but standing up for yourself instead. It can also be something as simple as saying, “No, you have no right to do that. I want the refund I’m owed.” The book this movie is based on is even called My Life As A Doormat. So how the hell did this movie end up being called Love’s Complicated? I’m guessing Hallmark has a quota to meet of movies with “love” in the title. Honestly, love barely is a part of the movie.

The movie begins by quickly showing us Leah (Holly Marie Combs), who is a writer, at home before cutting to a radio station to introduce us to Cinco (Ben Bass). He isn’t a shock jock or a woman hating radio personality. I think the best way to describe him is as a debater. He is someone who isn’t afraid to express his opinion, but we will get to his fear of conflict issue later. During this opening credit sequence it cuts back and forth between them. We find out one useful piece of information here, and that is that Leah isn’t a big fan of his. We’ll find out later that he didn’t give a favorable review to her last book. And segue!


We are now with Leah and Catherine Disher from The Good Witch. Hmm…I think there’s an in-joke here. She is told her book needs serious work. Basically spice things up by adding some conflict. The very thing that is the Source of the problems in her life.


I love that Leah has one of those keyboards similar to the old IBM keyboards. Those things are very satisfying to type on. It makes sense that a writer would have one. I could mention the roommate here, but she’s a minor character. She’s what I call a nudger character in Hallmark movies. A character who isn’t unimportant, but is really there to show up occasionally to nudge the main character in the right direction.


Now we meet Leah’s boyfriend Edward (Randal Edwards). As you can see, it looks like Leah just wishes she could freeze him in place so she could get up without having to confront him. Anyways, the two of them soon go off to a party where she insists on wearing a red dress that he isn’t so happy with. Now for plot I guess, here’s Cinco just hanging out in the flowers to run into Leah at the party.


He actually tells her to throw the wine in his face because of his bad review of her book. Of course her being non-confrontational means she doesn’t. Although, I bet she would have liked to make him explode if she could. She’ll come around eventually.

Phew! Three references to Charmed should be enough.

Next for reasons that are beyond me, Leah’s boyfriend gives her a coupon to a conflict management course. I’d say just for plot, but Edward is really odd in this so I buy that he gives this to her, and then doesn’t show up because he meant it to be just for her.


She goes, and of course for again reasons, Cinco is there. There also are a few other people there including a married couple named Robert (Brad Borbridge) and Glenda (Precious Chong). Sorry, I wasn’t able to avoid that witch reference. It’s in the movie after all. Although, I’m still not sure why Catherine Disher’s character is named J.R. I’m really not sure what a reference to Dallas is doing here, but okay.

Believe it or not, that’s all the setup that’s necessary for this movie. She keeps going back to the group and never tells them Edward is a boyfriend till the end of the film. She does learn to not be afraid of conflict, which was systemic in her case. She helps Cinco in turn to take a chance and visit his father who he hasn’t spoken to in awhile. Instead of fearing a confrontation, he just gives him a hug. In his case it works. At the end of the film, he and his father, who both love to argue, are having a lively debate on the radio. The other people in the class come around too. In the end, she breaks it off with Edward, writes a book called My Life As A Doormat, and winds up with Cinco.


As I hope you can tell, the love part is incidental to the story of overcoming a fear of conflict. I like that the film was clearly done on the cheap, but they told a story that didn’t require more money in order to tell. I appreciate it when a film molds itself to the production constraints rather than feeling like it’s running into money walls. That said, there are several times when it feels like the movie thinks we have spent more time with the characters than we actual have. I would give it a marginal recommendation.

Now since I feel better than when I wrote my last Hallmark review, here are the normal things you’ve come accustomed to seeing in my reviews.


I actually like this fake computer screen. It’s cartoony sure, but it has the right elements.


This shot tells us that at least this part was done in Sudbury, Ontario. I believe this is the first Hallmark movie I’ve seen shot there.


This shot though, is from Minnesota.

However, the movie either doesn’t mention it at all, or makes very little fuss about where it’s supposed to take place. It’s not like so many Hallmark movies that really try to convince you it’s the US when it’s Canada.

Random Musings on Last Night’s Oscars

cracked rear viewer


Well, the 88th Academy Awards are over. It was a strange show, to be sure…not necessarily good, but strange. I’ve just got a few thoughts in my head I need to get out:

*THE RED CARPET: Overlong and vapid. Seriously, this was just ridiculous. I’m no fashionista, so I don’t care what Miss Anna Rexic is wearing this evening. I know many people do though, so we’ve gotta have the “Pre-Game” show to sell the sponsor’s products, right? Yeah. I just think the time would be better spent on showing something like Gena Rowlands, Debbie Reynolds, and Spike Lee receiving their honorary Oscars.

*CHRIS ROCK: Dude, I thought your opening monologue was hysterical! But there’s an old saying, “Quit beating a dead horse”. The race jokes kept getting lamer and lamer. And that interview with movie patrons on the street sure didn’t help your cause. Oh, and the Girl Scout cookie…

View original post 169 more words

Artist Profile: Harry Schaare (1922 — 2008)

Born in Jamaica, New York, Harry Schaare was a prolific illustrator who worked for practically every major paperback publisher in New York City.  He also did countless illustrations for different magazines and even painted the design that was used for a Star Wars bedspread.  Schaare attended the New York School of Architecture and the Pratt Institute.  He served as an artist for the U.S. Air Force and over twenty-five of his works are currently included in the United States Air Force collection.

You can see more of his work at http://www.harryschaare.com/

A Gem of a MurderDames. Danger, Deathdead wrongHigh SierraLusty Wind For CarolinaMurder On Their MindsStrange Affairvice trapYou'll Get Yoursz -- honeyz -- honey2