Okay, let’s get them out of the way right up front. If you felt burned by Chance at Romance, then take a chance on Love by Chance. That’s the first joke that came to mind when I heard the title of this movie. Lucky for me, it turned out to be accurate. This is one of the best Hallmark movies I’ve seen so far. I am up to 168 at the time of writing this. The other thing is this opening piece of stock footage.
They cut to that right after a shot of the space needle, which told us this is supposed to be Seattle. There’s no way someone realistically would notice this while watching the movie, but I did when I went over my screenshots to write this review. Look at the street signs. I’m pretty sure this is stock footage from China. Either that, or it’s a Chinatown somewhere. Those street signs have Chinese characters on them and the Romanized version of those characters. I looked where they got their stock footage for this film and couldn’t find it.
Now let’s talk about the movie.
The movie opens up by reminding us that pastries exist before teasing long time Hallmark fans as to whether they can figure out if the bakery is using the same set as the kitchen from the Murder, She Baked series. It isn’t. This one is much larger whereas the kitchen in that series always felt surprisingly claustrophobic in its size. During this we are introduced to our secondary lady of the film named Claire Michaels played by Beau Garrett.
That’s right! I said secondary. This isn’t really her movie and how she ends up with Eric Carlton played by Benjamin Ayres. Hallmark knew this. It’s Brenda Strong that they interviewed on Home & Family to plug this movie, not Beau Garrett. I don’t watch the show, but this always pops up during the credits of these movies. They tease a talk with the star of the movie that you just watched.
Brenda Strong plays the mom named Helen Michaels. Despite her being in a lot of stuff over the years people probably still remember her best from the couple of episodes of Seinfeld she was is in back in the 90s as Sue Ellen Mischke. Since I don’t have that particular season of Seinfeld, you are stuck being reminded that she was in the lousy film The Leisure Class last year.
The Leisure Class (2015, dir. Jason Mann)
Or I’m sure if Lisa could, then she would have me insert a Degrassi animated GIF to describe just how much she disliked that movie.
By the way, along with Bridget Regan who was in The Magic Stocking, that makes two actors from The Leisure Class who were also in Hallmark movies in the past year.
The other main actor in this film is Brenda Strong’s husband Sam Michaels played by actor Garwin Sanford.
You have no idea how much it bothered me trying to remember where I knew this guy from. I sometimes wish Hallmark would popup a thing on the screen that would say, “Here’s where you might know such and such actor from.” In his case, he played Narim on Stargate SG-1.
He was kind of the humans go between guy with one of the very advanced races the team encountered along with the Tokra, The Nox, and The Asgard. The difference was that the Tollan were incredibly arrogant, isolationist, and thought their superior technology meant they were automatically safe from any threat. They were practically offended at the idea that someone would say they might be in trouble. In the end, their race was brutally wiped out.
With Garwin Sanford showing up in this movie, that makes at least two major/very memorable side characters who have shown up in Hallmark movies from Stargate SG-1 in the past month with Michael Shanks being in Hearts of Spring. I especially bring up Sanford’s role on that show because if you do remember him from that series, then know that he plays the husband in a similar fashion. In Stargate SG-1 he was level-headed, kind, charming, had a bit of a child-like wonder about things, and a great deal of maturity about him and the way he spoke. That’s him in this movie to Brenda Strong’s nutty matchmaking mother. Whereas in that he was that to Amanda Tapping who incidentally was named Samantha, but was always called Sam. I’m sure that’s not a coincidence on Hallmark’s part that his name in this movie is Sam.
The parents are so much the center of attention of the movie here that I am going to kind of treat this like a Godfrey Ho movie. If you already have heard me explain what that means in another review, then you feel free to skip over this explanation. Ho was a director in Asia who popularized the cut and paste technique of filmmaking. He would take old or unreleased films from the region, shoot some footage with caucasian actors, then clumsily spliced them together. In reviewing his films, it’s common practice to review each set of footage separately, while occasionally mentioning how the two unrelated plots are connected. Sometimes you will even find the caucasian footage on YouTube edited out of the other original film. That’s how I’m going to review this movie. I’m mainly just going to tell the story as if the whole thing plays on the parents side with some minor connections to the other story since that’s really how it is.
The film opens up and meet Mom walking outside with a confidence as if she is going to break into the theme song from That Girl before coming into her daughter’s bakery
She really tries to set up her daughter. She even just gave out her phone number to a guy. She is holding a party at her daughter’s bakery so that she can attempt to set her up again while also trying to help out her business.
At the party Mom is trying to explain to her daughter who this man is that she called out of the blue. This is also when we find out Mom and Dad are about to go globetrotting. At least that’s the plan. Enter Dad!
A little side thing to mention. The actor on the right in the picture below, named John Cassini, is excellent in this.
He’s one of those quality characters actors that can make a big difference in a movie. His character’s name is Marco and is the daughter’s close friend at the bakery.
The attempt at matchmaking continues from the party into the kitchen. After complimenting her on her smile and sealing the deal on her going on a date with a guy, she gives a smile herself that either says, “that’s my daughter!” or, “I’m going to kill you in your sleep.”
I love Brenda Strong in this.
I gotta give it to this first guy she goes out with. He’s kind enough to realize that she is going to need a lot of wine to get through his boring story.
At home, Mom and Dad are having a conversation about their daughter finding love. While Mom is preoccupied with finding her daughter a lover, he is wondering what ever happened to them spending their retirement together. That will be the main part of this story. The Mom becoming so obsessed that the Dad all but up and quits the idea of going to Italy. If he were an idiot he would have even thought she was cheating on him at one point.
Now Mom goes too far and signs up her daughter on a dating website. I know it’s a Hallmark cliche, but this may be the first Hallmark movie since The Color of Rain that I’ve seen what I am quite sure is Linux showing up in a Hallmark movie.
Who cares that the URL isn’t quite right because it’s Brenda Strong using Linux! That’s awesome.
We also have the return of the use of IMDb publicity photos within the movie.
Mom actually sets up a date with this guy. No, I don’t mean that she tells her daughter to meet with this guy. I mean that she actually meets with the guy at a bar and tries to sell him on her idea of meeting her daughter. I love when he asks her if she’s done this before. You’d expect an answer like, “No, but I’m desperate to find her someone.” Nope! She just casually mentions that she has done it twice already before continuing with her pitch as if there is nothing unusual going on. Luckily, the fact that the camera keeps cutting behind these things…
doesn’t prevent the guy on the right from jumping in. That’s Dr. Eric Carlton (Benjamin Aryes). He’s actually there waiting for someone, but she’s called away on the grounds that this is a Hallmark movie as soon as she shows up. After telling him that “Doctor Gorgeous” isn’t for him, she gives him his card and actor Benjamin Ayres gives us a great look on his face.
He tries to pass this off to “Doctor Gorgeous” as her just being a real estate agent. Ha! Mom isn’t going to be dissuaded by any of this.
Mom shows up the next day at his practice, it turns out the secretary/nurse knows her, and she immediately uses that to coerce him into going to get coffee with her. Cue Benjamin’s face!
Just as he’s leaving, a colleague of his says out loud, “Why can’t I ever meet older, married women?”
This is when Mom goes into full real estate agent/matchmaker mode. She actually convinces him here, and this sales pitch continues outside.
It’s about here where we find out that at least part of this movie was filmed in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. I think that’s a new one on me for a Hallmark movie.
Mom has invited him to a fundraising gig to meet her daughter. The fundraiser is being held at a gallery that is actually at 3045 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6H 3J6, Canada.
After Mom tries to pry her daughter for some details, Mom and him meet again to talk.
Turns out he likes the daughter, but has a little problem. That problem being her mother. Think that’s gonna stop her?
After a short conversation between Mom, Dad, and their daughter we discover something.
That’s right! While this film is going on,…
I Do, I Do, I Do (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)
Autumn Reeser is about to enter her own version of Groundhog Day and…
Hearts of Spring (2016, dir. Marita Grabiak)
Lisa Whelchel is about to enter the Mommy Blogger’s Convention.
This building is clearly the romantic nexus of Hallmark films.
Now Dad is starting to get really confused about what happened to them enjoying their retirement.
Mom meets with Eric again and tells him that it has to be her to tell the daughter she set this up. Mom now tries to find a way to tell her daughter by setting up a shopping trip with her. Dad is getting more fed up with all of this.
On this trip, the daughter drops into the conversation that one of the things she loves about her new relationship is that “somehow we found each other.” She says it’s just “like you and Dad.” Of course, it will turn out that it was no chance Mom met Dad either. Another great look from Brenda Strong that sums up her character at this point quite nicely.
Now Mom and Dad have a conversation over a map of Italy. This is probably the most adult and realistic conversation you’ll hear in a Hallmark movie.
While Brenda Strong has the majority of the scenes in this movie, Garwin Sanford plays every single one of his scenes perfectly.
Mom has a heart to heart with Eric, but this is where things go really wrong…sort of. The Uncle (Peter Graham-Gaudreau) of the family sees Mom and Eric on a bridge talking, snaps a photo, and goes to Dad with it. Dad is preoccupied at first with a fountain that looked smaller online, but then he hears the Uncle out. To which we get this.
He immediately goes to the computer and finds out that his wife set up their daughter on a dating website. How it was all just sitting there instantly waiting to be discovered or why she was looking at dating profiles for a guy named George who is using location manager Braden Jennings’ picture or Producer, Cinematographer, and owner of Bass Tracks films Stefan Berrill going under the name of Neal, we are never told. Dad goes and has a long talk with Mom. She confesses that she kind of setup their meeting up too. It’s sweet and all, but he knows that their daughter might not see what she did so nicely the way he does concerning their meeting. However, at the end of the day they still are a long married couple that loves each other so the real outcome of their talk is that the both agree the fountain really is big.
Mom and Dad now make a full confession to the daughter. I love that one of the daughter’s responses is “Ok, so he witnessed your insanity and he still thought it was a good idea to meet your daughter?”
We now discover where the bakery is in real life.
It’s Mc Burney Coffee & Tea House at 20504 Fraser Hwy, Langley, BC V3A 4G3, Canada. Hallmark really likes shooting in Langley. If you are curious, the restaurant from Appetite For Love is just a little east along Fraser Highway from this place.
Mom has a talk with Eric, then a nice talk with Dad. They are okay, and Mom agrees to back off.
In the end, the young couple forgives all of these issues and kisses.
Meanwhile! Yes, the daughter has had her own plot this whole time. While Mom, Dad, and Eric were doing their thing and having a few scenes with the daughter, Claire and her friend Marco have been trying to prepare for a restaurant critic named The Wandering Gourmet. They mistake several people for this critic. They fuss about it. Of course that works out too.
If you’re coming to this movie to see yet another young love film with the parents played by quality actors pushed into the background, then go elsewhere. The movie is a story about a woman who is going to be leaving to go to Italy with her husband, but feels this unbearable feeling that she can’t leave without knowing her daughter has found love. In the end, she lets go of it. Of course the love thing has to work out cause it’s Hallmark, but it could have just as easily ended without that part. I think I’ve mentioned just about everyone here, but you might be wondering how Beau Garrett’s performance is here. She’s perfectly fine. There’s just not much for her to do so it’s not a performance to really judge her on. You are watching this movie for Brenda Strong, Garwin Sanford, Benjamin Ayres, and John Cassini in a good supporting role. It’s their film.
I highly recommend it.
Here are the songs: