Hallmark Review: Hearts of Spring (2016, dir. Marita Grabiak)


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Let me address the mystery first. Just like with Valentine Ever After, there is something of that nature to discuss. Hearts of Spring premiered on April 9th. I didn’t get around to watching it till April 17th. Even by then, Comcast had already marked it as not available for mobile viewing. I thought that was weird. It also bothered me because it meant that I might not be able to provide you with screenshots. Obviously based on the one above, I found a way. As far as I can tell, Hallmark re-aired the movie a couple of times after the original premiere, but have no showings of it as far out as two weeks at the time of writing this. That’s not normal. I first watched the version on my DVR, which is the version they originally aired. I then dug up a copy to give you screenshots. Luckily, the person must have recorded one of the re-airs so I was able to compare the two. They have a good reason. It has nothing to do with censorship of content in the film. It has nothing to do with people like myself who use screenshots in reviewing their films. I have every reason to believe the movie will reappear on the network. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Let’s talk about the movie now.

The movie opens up and we meet Carly played by Lisa Whelchel.

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We meet her during a montage of her daughter growing up that is supposed to establish her credentials for being able to write a blog about raising children. We are also introduced to her daughter played by Whelchel’s real life daughter Clancy Cauble. Her big worry is that her kid is planning for college. That will be her main problem with her kid. She also has a close friend because this film is all about balancing characters on her end with the same characters on his end. Mom tells her that she can go to a movie without question. Just that she needs to be home by 11.

Now we cut Daniel Jackson played by Michael Shanks. Yes, he’s called Dr. Andy Sommers in this movie. Do you care? He’s Daniel Jackson to me.

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He’s here so we can have his son enter the room looking for money because he has blown through his allowance. His dad says no because the kid needs manage his money more responsibly. He sulks off sarcastically saying he learned an important lesson. I sure did. It means that Jackson wants his kid to learn how to manage his money responsibly before going to college, which he gives us no reason to believe he is doing since he mentions parties as a reason for needing more money. What does this mean?

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He immediately goes out to the waiting room and gets money from his “fun aunt.” You see that kind of thing in a lot of movies. It lets the main family members teach good parenting lessons, but allows the kids to have a bit of a safety net in relatives who occasionally will slip in to soften the blow.

Now that we have established the kind of parents they are, we need to see that she really does enjoy blogging, but has probably only been doing it for a short time.

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She has nothing but kind comments left on her blog. We also find out her blog is called “Parenting From the Soul”. She writes the blog as “Bestie Mom”.

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That’s why I am officially announcing that I am no longer writing my blog entries as Valerie Troutman. I am now called The Cinema Friend. She likes that having connections online means she’s not alone. I know how she feels. I have numerous chronic illnesses which leave me all but entirely house bound. Even writing that short sarcastic review I did yesterday took a toll on me, which I won’t mention explicitly otherwise I get anonymous hate in the form of thumbs down for daring to mention that kind of a film during a Hallmark review. Go check out my review of Love On The Sidelines to see when that happened to me. Then go read my review of Angel. It took a couple of days and drained every last bit of energy or health I was clinging too at the time. I’m just saying, I get her love of reaching out to people on the Internet and why she will react the way she does later in the film. I’m also saying Hallmark needs to make more of these movies cause some of their audience doesn’t seem to understand courtesy online. I’ve had numerous people ask me questions on my Hallmark reviews, but have only really had one person actually say thank you for me bending over backwards to help them out. Check out my review of Valentine Ever After and scroll down to the comments section for that person. I won’t bring up the black hole ones. But getting back to the movie.

We see her daughter get home. They have a little mother daughter talk. By that I mean Carly tries talking to her but beeping sound sounds come out of her daughter’s cellphone meaning she needs to leave the room immediately. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. Someone probably just sent her a picture of Logan’s Hacking Screen from Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent, which is why she laughs. I still can’t thank whoever let that slip into the movie enough (no sarcasm intended).

Now we learn the truly dark side of blogging.

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If you do it too much then text will appear next to you spelling out your thoughts. I’m only half kidding here. You do it enough and against your will, your mind will start doing this kind of thing. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve finished watching a movie and need to sleep, but can’t stop thinking of how I’m going to write the review. She makes a baseball analogy here so that Jackson can diss her on it later.

Cut to stock footage of a town to I guess show there is a church even though the church they go to is so not the church in the overhead shot.

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I couldn’t figure out where this church actually located. I would say it’s obviously in Canada, but after All Yours used an exterior shot taken in Denmark, all bets are off. Inside, Carly’s friend, whose name is Ryder (Miranda Frigon), says that she should attend a bloggers convention so that I can point out a reused set from another Hallmark movie. They also talk about her daughter having registered for classes at a community college so she will stay close to home. She then makes sure Carly knows that when Jackson comes into her life, she shouldn’t just brush him off. She also tells us that Carly’s husband walked out on her a long time ago. Carly tells her it’s not easy meeting new people. That’s not true. She’s got the creepy guy after her soon. We’ll get to him later because now we have to meet Daniel’s own creepy friend and her annoying kid who really is the cause of all this movies’ problems if you think about it.

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Fun Aunt, played by Anna Balvin who appears to not exist in IMDb yet, comes in to actually let this annoying lady and her more annoying kid know where Jackson likes to hang out. Thanks, Aunt!

Meanwhile, over at Carly’s Flower Shop,…

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which is not the flower shop from Flower Girl. I only mention that because I noticed someone tweeting Hallmark to ask them that question so I answered her myself. She thanked me, which I could have used on my review of 12 Gifts of Christmas when I went out of my way to help someone figure out the music from the film, but instead only found a thumbs down on the review the very next day. Anyways, I know nobody asked, but this is actually Tracycake’s Bakery Cafe at 21594 48 Ave in where else but Langley, British Columbia. Langley and Fort Langley really do seem to be the capital of Hallmark movie production. If I ever go to Canada, then I’ll have to swing by.

The scene inside the place exists to remind us this was made around Spring. It’s like the pink bunny cellphone case from All Yours. We also cut to Jackson’s office to see him going home. They both go home to find that their kids aren’t going to be there for dinner. They go to the park so we can get a humorous little scene where she notices that Jackson doesn’t know how to eat a taco.

Now we cut to-oh, no. Oh, no! Run, Daniel!

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After Daniel is done reminding Carly he exists, we cut to the dinner table to introduce the guy who is even weirder than creepy stalker lady with the nightmare child.

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Remember the foot fetish guy from Hitched For The Holidays?

Hitched For The Holidays (2012, dir. Michael Scott)

Hitched For The Holidays (2012, dir. Michael Scott)

I think this guy has him beat even though he doesn’t come with his own theme music like the foot fetish guy did. That actually was a thing in that movie. They are saying Amen so he starts to sing the word “Amen”. Then he starts hitting on her. Carly’s friend invited him to dinner because she must have had a brain fart. Everyone looks at him like “where the hell did this guy come from?” He also says he hopes she isn’t spending so much time writing her blog that she doesn’t neglect her real duties. What? Doesn’t amount to anything. Oh, but Henry, played by Andy Thompson, makes sure once again that she knows he’s creepy, in case she didn’t already know, by following her home. He sings too! Thank you, Andy! Thank you for selling this performance so well. He helps to provide the comic relief here.

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Meanwhile, Daniel is on a date with crazy lady who had brought her kid because otherwise the main plot of this movie might not have come into existence. They went to Porter’s Coffee & Tea House at 21611 48 Ave, Langley, BC. It’s actually just on the other side of the roundabout from where the flower shop is really located.

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The kid gives Daniel flashbacks to when the SG-1 team were replaced by robots. Then the mother tells him about Carly’s blog, which apparently advocates a hands-off approach to parenting. He asks for Daniel’s fries, then squirts mustard on him.

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After the annoying dinner that Daniel had to suffer through to advance the plot, he goes right home to find Carly’s blog. I disagree that she should change her name to Beastie Mom as he suggests, but I do love the user name he goes with.

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Forget what I said before, I am now officially JugglingCelluloid. He kind of vents about what happened at dinner because of a lady who needs to find a compromise between Carly and Daniel’s parenting styles in order to handle her child. By the way, that’s about the whole movie in one sentence. Of course Carly is new to the Internet so she actually tries picking a fight with Daniel instead of just deleting the comment. In fact, she’s quite satisfied with herself about it.

That’s enough plot for the moment cause we need more creepy.

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I think the preacher at the church is saying something, but who cares? The characters sure don’t. This is where we find out the daughter doesn’t want to go to college first, but just travel. She suggests going to Africa or Indonesia.

Carly’s friend now tells her that Daniel’s advice isn’t the worst in the world. Carly’s friend tries to tell her that if she doesn’t want her daughter to go away, then to put her foot down. She says she wants to stick to the way she has always done things. By that she means trying to be her daughter’s best friend. Hence her screen name.

You’ve got the plot now. Let’s hit the high points.

They obviously run into each other because we need them to bicker online while getting close in real life. Then we get a great split screen.

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I love this because they do it in a way that makes it look like they are sharing the same room going back and forth how to handle their kids like they’re a married couple. It was a nice touch. They continue to get closer including returning to the taco scene earlier, but she teaches him how to do it without the taco falling apart. Then daughter notices Daniel’s comment on her blog.

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Good advice. It’s a nice compromise. Now we just need to sell it to Carly and get Daniel to calm down when it comes to his son.

We go to the Mommy Blogger Convention being held at the beginning of I Do, I Do, I Do.

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I Do, I Do, I Do (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)

I Do, I Do, I Do (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)

Creepy guy!

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The rest is what you expect, so let’s jump to the almost end of nearly every Hallmark movie. At this point Carly and Daniel are at his place and she bumps his computer, which turns on, so she can discover JugglingDad is him.

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The way they get over the romantic speed bump this time is because Carly’s daughter gets sick for the sake of the plot. It really does come out of nowhere. Daniel also happens to be at the hospital so he is the one to treat her. They now both have a heart to heart with their kids. Their kids also finally stand up to them to tell their parents what they really need from them. Carly and Daniel both understand.

Creepy guy again!

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Now Daniel gives an apologetic speech about something and who cares? What really matters is that crazy mom and crazy guy have finally found each other.

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Daniel and Carly now walk out, and the credits roll.

Also, for people on Twitter, here’s the mint chocolate chip milkshake.

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For people who came looking for the songs, I’m sorry, but they didn’t include them in the credits. I refer you to my instructions for figuring this stuff out at the end of my review of Valentine Ever After.

For people who would like my final thoughts on the film. Yes, we have seen this plot a few times in past year from Hallmark (and as far back as The Shop Around The Corner (1940) in general). This is probably the one I enjoyed the most. Yeah, I’m a big fan of Michael Shanks’ work on Stargate SG-1. I’m a little biased. To my knowledge, there were other actors from it in here, but I didn’t notice them. I never watched The Facts of Life, but Lisa Whelchel was good here too. It’s simple, they balanced the characters well, the actors who played their kids did a good job, and I liked this version of the same plot better than the others. Catch it when it shows up again.

“i-Lived” Through This Movie — Barely


Trash Film Guru

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I was pleasantly surprised (enough, at any rate) by Franck Khalfoun’s remake/”re-imagining” of Maniac that he landed on my entirely unofficial and even more entirely unwritten “directors to watch” list, but here’s the thing — the fact that said “list” doesn’t actually exist means that it takes no more effort to scrub a name off it than it does to add one to it, and guess what? Khalfoun’s latest writing and directing “effort,” 2015’s i-Lived, more or less guarantees that’s exactly what I’ll be doing with his. Let the interminable bitching begin —

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I barely use apps for shit, but I guess the young folks do, so who knows? Maybe for them, the idea of a flick about one of them that’s kinda/sorta haunted will have greater resonance. And maybe they won’t think this film’s protagonist, a twenty-something nitwit named — groan! — Josh (portrayed in truly cringe-worthy style…

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Artist Profile: Emmett Watson (1893 — 1955)


From the Springville Museum of Art’s bio of Emmett Watson:

“Emmett St. Clair Watson, Jr., was born in Richmond, Virginia. At age thirteen, Watson began working full-time at a local engraving company that produced advertising. By 1910 he was a staff artist at the company.

Watson served as a cartographer in the U.S. Army during WWI. He was stationed in France, after which he moved to New York City to open his own art studio. His first published assignments were line drawings for advertising and interior story illustrations. While living in New York, he married Marguerite Elliot.

By 1928 Watson was painting covers for slick magazines. Following the stock market crash, Emmett Watson was reduced to lower-paying freelance assignments in the pulp magazines. However, his work for the pulps was masterful. His confident drawing style, bold compositions, and joyous color schemes were very influential.

As the economy grew stronger, Watson was able to leave the pulps behind and return to the higher-paying magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post and Progressive Farmer. He created several patriotic posters for WWII, and after the war he produced hunting and sporting illustrations for calendars, advertising, and magazines. Emmett Watson died of a heart attack at age sixty-two on May 7, 1955 in New Canaan, Connecticut.”

Here are a few examples of Watson’s work:

2 masksArgosyclue of the walking dogDetective Fiction Weeklydown in alabamfinger of doomhhhh2kill the umpireLifemurderroom 913

The Fabulous Forties #15: The Adventures of Tartu (dir by Harold S. Bucquet)


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The 15th film in Mill Creek’s Fabulous Forties box set was The Adventures of Tartu, a British film from 1943.

The Adventures of Tartu opens during the Blitz and follows Captain Terrence Stevenson (Robert Donat), a British explosives expert, as he defuses an unexploded German bomb in the ruins of London.  He does it without breaking a sweat or showing the least bit of hesitation.  With his clipped accent and his perfectly trimmed mustache, he’s a British hero through and through.  He’s so perfectly British that you expect him to start singing the entire score of H.M.S. Pinafore.  He’s the epitome of unflappable resilience.

And he’ll need all of that resilience to survive his next mission!  It turns out that, as British as he may seem, Captain Stevenson was originally born in Romania and is still fluent in both his native language and German.  Because of this, MI6 recruits him to parachute back into Romania, which is now under the control of the Nazis.  Stevenson will assume the identity of a recently assassinated Nazi chemist, Jan Tartu.  As Tartu, he will then make his way to Czechoslovakia where a member of the resistance will arrange for Stevenson to get a job at a secret Nazi chemical factory.  Stevenson will destroy the factory from within.

Unfortunately, Stevenson’s contact is arrested before he can arrange for job to be assigned to Stevenson.  When Stevenson (now pretending to be Tartu) arrives in Czechoslovakia, he is instead assigned to work in a munitions factory.  In order to eventually win assignment to the chemical factory, Stevenson now has to win the trust of the Nazis without losing the trust of the resistance.  That turns out to be more than a little difficult because, as Stevenson quickly discovers, he is now living in a world where no one can be trusted and everyone is paranoid.

(In one of the film’s best sequences, Stevenson is captured by a group of men and struggles to figure out whether he is now a prisoner of the resistance or a prisoner of the Gestapo.)

I’m not going to go into too many other details, beyond saying that The Adventures of Tartu is an effective and twist-filled work of wartime propaganda.  What’s interesting is that when the film starts, it almost feels a bit comedic.  Stevenson is so extremely British and the initial Nazis that he meets are so extremely buffoonish that it’s hard to take them seriously.  But, as the film progresses, it gets more and more serious.  In order to accomplish his mission, Stevenson is forced to make some difficult decisions and likable characters suffer as a result.  As Stevenson himself spends more time with the Nazis, both he and the viewer discover just how evil they truly are.  (Technically, the viewer should already know that the Nazis were evil but it must be remembered that The Adventures of Tartu was made during World War II, at a time when it was still difficult to get accurate information about what was happening in Nazi-occupied Europe.)  By the end of the movie, the Nazis are still buffoons but it’s impossible to laugh at them.

I imagine that wartime audiences left The Adventures of Tartu feeling even more committed to destroying the Nazi regime.  Meanwhile, modern audiences will watch The Adventures of Tartu and, once again, be reminded of how fortunate we are that the Allies won the war.

You can watch The Adventures of Tartu below!