You’re Gonna Make It After All: RIP Mary Tyler Moore


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She was America’s TV sweetheart in the 60’s and 70’s. Beautiful and talented Mary Tyler Moore has passed away at age 80, her smile no longer brightening this world. Mary was Laura Petrie, the perky and perfect suburban housewife on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, then broke new ground as single career girl Mary Richards on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, both seminal sitcoms from television’s Golden Age of Comedy.

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Born in Brooklyn Heights in 1936, Mary became a dancer as a teen, and got her first show business break as ‘Happy Hotpoint’, a tiny dancing elf in TV commercials for Hotpoint stoves. Her next break got her noticed, playing the sexy secretary on RICHARD DIAMOND PRIVATE DETECTIVE, which starred David Janssen. Mary never fully appeared on the show, only her smoky voice and dancer’s legs, and viewers were left to speculate on the rest of the package.

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Then came THE…

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Val’s Movie Roundup #14: Hallmark Edition


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Love Is a Four Letter Word (2007) – This was really disappointing. I could say something like shit is also a four letter word, but disappointing is really a better word for this movie. The movie is about three couples. The first are newlyweds. The second are an older couple who are getting divorced. The third are the two divorce attorneys handling each end of the older couples divorce. What’s so disappointing is that the beginning of this movie has some of the sweetest, affectionate, and genuine moments between two lovers I have seen in a Hallmark movie. However, it then just degenerates into a pitiful attempt at a 1940’s screwball comedy while trying to keep the emotions of the beginning of the film alive on top of cutting between the three couples to tell their stories in parallel. It doesn’t work! Why couldn’t the movie have stuck with the couple we met at the beginning and just tell a nice simple love story. Is it a sin to follow the principle of KISS when making a movie? That being Keep It Simple Stupid! There’s no reason to waste your time on this movie.

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Jack’s Family Adventure (2010) – This movie is okay, but that’s the problem. It’s so okay that it’s not really worth watching. A guy played by Peter Graves dies and leaves a cabin to his son played by Jonathan Silverman. No! I’m not going to make that joke.

Jack decides to take his family to said cabin because we all know that getting away from city life brings families together. While they are adjusting, a guy called Wild Bill (Peter Strauss) shows up. They all have a good time and the family emerges closer than when they arrived. That’s it! Like I said, it’s just so okay that boredom sets in pretty quickly. Not worth seeking out, but you’ll survive if you end up seeing it.

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Dear Prudence (2008) – Was Jane Seymour always this annoying? I think I have only seen her in Live And Let Die (1973). She is like the living embodiment of the wig from Lies Between Friends. Awful! Well, Seymour plays some TV show host who basically shows you life hack type stuff. She gets sent to a special place in Wyoming. It doesn’t take long for her to stumble upon a crime. I didn’t even know this was going to be a murder mystery going into it. I mean it doesn’t have “murder” or “mystery” in the title to tell me. Sadly, that is so common with Hallmark that I was honestly surprised when she came across blood on a carpet. However, I wasn’t surprised to quickly figure out this was actually shot in Canada. Little tip for Canadian productions trying to pretend they are in the U.S.: Don’t have your Canadian actors say the word “about”.

So in between fantasies of Jason showing up to cut off Seymour’s head, a murder mystery unravels. It’s not an interesting mystery by any means, but Seymour and her trusty side kick giving out all these stupid household remedies for everything will suck any fun you might derive from it right out of it. Skip!

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Murder 101: College Can Be Murder (2007) – This is easily the best entry in the Murder 101 series. Despite “murder” being in the title of the movie, it is actually all about Dick Van Dyke trying to get his bike back after it is stolen. It’s an old bike that has a lot of sentimental value. He of course hires his friend played by his son Barry Van Dyke to help him track it down. It’s so funny! Dick keeps seeing people on campus riding his bike around and tries to chase them down. He never catches them. He goes to the gym to try and get in shape in the futile hope that it will help him catch the thief. Barry keeps going around questioning people all about this bike. Posters are put up all around campus. There’s even a scene where Dick is in class and has what I can only describe as a spidey sense that his bike is nearby. He runs out into the hall to find the thief waiting for him on his bike. A hilarious chase ensues.

I would have totally loved this movie if that was what it was actually about. In reality, the stolen bike is just a subplot. I made up some of that stuff, but he does keep chasing after the bike, goes to the gym to gain speed, and Dick does put up posters. Why couldn’t the movie be one long joke about that bike? Instead, some college professor gets killed by eating an orange. At first it’s natural causes, but after Barry does some dumpster diving to retrieve the orange (how the hell did he do that?) they discover he was poisoned. It all winds up revolving around the saying of “publish or perish”. It’s a decent entry in the Murder 101 series, but I really wanted that bike movie instead.

Val’s Movie Roundup #13: Hallmark Edition


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Cupid, Inc. (2012) – Okay, who would have thought that Jamie Kennedy would actually be decent as Cupid? This is the guy who taught us how to survive a horror movie and was in Son Of The Mask (2005). But yep, he plays Cupid and does a good job. But he really isn’t a big part of the film all things considered. That falls to Joely Fisher. The deal is that she has to get a new couple together by Valentine’s Day, then she will find her true love. If Jamie Kennedy showed up and told me that, then I would probably ask him if I should see Dinotopia: Quest for the Ruby Sunstone (2005), but she takes him up on his offer. The rest can be boiled down to four words: It’s a Hallmark movie. Believe it or not, this is my first Valentine’s Day Hallmark movie, so I guess it’s the best one I have seen. I’ll tell you this, it’s much better than Gabe the Cupid Dog (2012).

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Fixing Pete (2011) – This one is kind of like Recipe For Love, but not as good. This has dark haired Brooke Burns who is tasked with making over a frat boy looking guy for his upcoming book tour. People often complain about female stereotypes, but this one has the male stereotypes in spades when we are introduced to Pete (Dylan Bruno). Luckily, that doesn’t last long and the two move closer and closer to each other. It’s nice, but if you can find Recipe For Love, then watch that instead.

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Murder 101: New Age (2008) – Once again it’s time for the Van Dykes to solve a murder. This time there are four of them. We’ve got Dick, Barry, Shane, and Carey. As the title suggests, the New Age movement plays a part here. Apparently, after The Nanny, Charles Shaughnessy joined the New Age movement. Basically there’s a room with him dead and gun in his hand while the only other people there are in a really deep meditation. So who killed him? It goes from there. I can’t believe it took till my third Murder 101 movie to realize that Barry Van Dyke’s character is not a cop, but a PI. Not sure then why the Van Dykes seem to just take over the investigation, but who cares. All that matters is that there is a scene where you get to see Dick Van Dyke play tennis on the Wii. When I saw that, I knew my life was complete. Actually, there are several humorous lines surrounding technology. Better than the mystery movies you get from Hallmark nowadays.

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Dad’s Home (2010) – Been awhile since I watched Mr. Mom (1983), but I think it’s probably quite similar. Except kill off the Mom and set it during this generation’s Great Depression. Really, that’s it. We watch him as he settles into his new role as a stay at home dad while looking for work. Before he had a nanny that took care of his kids, but she’s let go after he’s let go from his job. Not sure why she was let go though since he somehow is able to keep this very expensive home and cause of the ending where I swear he decides to not work again. Of course, there has to be a romance thrown in. The hot and nice blonde teacher takes a liking to him and things progress. The only thing that was memorable was when dad interviews for a job at a tech company. The head of the company actually refers to Social Network Accounts as SNAs. I couldn’t even find that in Urban Dictionary. He asks him if he podcasts. I also swear he asked him if he was on Orkut. That’s the social network that was really popular in Brazil. He also asks if he “does Twitter”. What? Was this intentional to show that the guy was actually clueless about the industry he was in or did the writers not know what they were talking about. Or were they trying some feeble attempt to make fun of tech companies. I think it’s the feeble attempt one since they mention a company acupuncturist. Grow up! These are jokes I would expect from a standup comedian. You can skip this one.

Val’s Movie Roundup #12: Hallmark Edition


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Finding A Family (2011) – This movie is about a kid named Alex (Jared Abrahamson) whose mother has serious mental problems. She has a great degree, but her mental problems absolutely cripple her. As you can guess, they create major issues for her son who has to live with her day after day. Ultimately, Alex has himself emancipated. He wants to go to Harvard and works hard in school to make this work while not forgetting his mother. Then he decides that he really does want a family and starts writing to people asking them to take him in. It’s a nice story that really only had one issue and a minor personal complaint.

The issue is that I have some experience in this area and the depth to which his mother’s mental problems should affect him, don’t. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like The Blind Side (2009) where they gutted and flattened two amazing people, but it’s noticeable. The other thing is a minor complaint. In the old days you did receive a letter from colleges you applied to telling you whether you were accepted or not. However, I applied in 2006 and we was never sent a letter. You checked their website to find out whether you were accepted or not. This film was made in 2011. I know it’s more dramatic and familiar to go with the letter thing, but it’s time to move on.

You’ve seen it all before, but if you want to see again, then check this one out.

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Generation Gap (2008) – There really isn’t much to talk about here. You’ve seen this plot a million times before. We meet Dylan (Alex Black) who is just too much for his mother because of a few scenes of rebellion. His Mom, played by Catherine Mary Stewart, calls up her father played by Ed Asner and dumps Dylan on him. After a few scenes of Asner acting like a dick, which he seems to think he is entitled to do because he’s old, both him and the kid calm down. The film does three things: 1. Asner and the kid come to realize that despite being different ages, they both occupy the same time and place on Earth, 2. Asner hooks up with Rue McClanahan who sounds weird without her Southern accent, 3. The kid also gains a romantic interest.

The only other noteworthy things are that they age Asner by about 10 years to have his character able to have been in WWII. The other is that the kid walks in on Asner and three other guys playing Halo. Pretty funny. Remember that scene in The Wizard (1989) where Beau Bridges is supposedly playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but we now know thanks to AVGN that he was probably playing Winter Games for the NES? Well, they actually show that Halo is what is being played and I wouldn’t be surprised if Asner and the others were actually playing.

This one is cliched, but okay.

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Expecting A Miracle (2009) – This is a weird movie. It seems to be nice and have it’s heart in the right place, but there are some odd bits. It introduces us to a couple played by Jason Priestley and Teri Polo who have been trying to get pregnant. It seems that the couple has tried IVF several times, but there doesn’t seem to be any mention of sex whatsoever. Did they try that?

To try and calm down, they take a vacation and wind up in a small Mexican town that seems to consist only of a courtyard. Cheech Marin is here along with some other characters who conveniently speak English. There is a kid who has something wrong with his leg and is convinced that a special ceremony is going to fix it. This is the kind of place populated with people who are like the magic negro/eccentric characters that turn your life around simply by coming into contact with them.

Polo is told a line that basically says God decides whether you will have kids or not. Okay, but does that mean God also controls the adoption process which is brought up numerous times during this film. Maybe it’s the film’s way of saying that God sometimes is trying to tell you that it’s not necessary to pass on your genetic material, but instead to save a poor kid who needs a family and people who will love them.

The rest is harmless and kind of nice, but then comes the ending. The kid in the village is miraculously cured of a condition with his leg during a ceremony. The couple talk about adopting him. At the very end, they are at home working through the adoption process, talking about how much paperwork there is to adopt a kid. The wife goes to the bathroom and takes a pregnancy test. She’s pregnant! Then there are the credits. Did they have sex? Was it IVF again? Did they still follow through and adopt the kid? No answers.

It’s nice and everything, but I can’t honestly recommend it. Just a little too weird and relies on people’s assumptions about the nobility and happiness about simple rural communities.

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Murder 101: If Wishes Were Horses (2007) – Another Hallmark murder mystery, but just like Murder 101, this was good. As always, I’m terrible about following the plots of these movies. It all begins when a horse is kidnapped. Once again, Dick Van Dyke is brought in to help with the case. Barry Van Dyke is back again as well, but this time Shane Van Dyke joins in on the fun. This is your standard murder mystery movie in the vein of Diagnosis Murder, Murder, She Wrote, and Mystery Woman as opposed to recent movies like Wedding Planner Mystery and Garage Sale Mystery. This one’s fine.

Val’s Movie Roundup #11: Hallmark Edition


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Mystery Woman: In The Shadows (2007) – Once again, we join Kellie Martin and Clarence Williams III at the Mystery Woman Bookstore. This time the two are at a book signing when the author announces that his next book will name a KGB agent. I think this is the best of the three Mystery Woman movies I’ve seen so far (Oh Baby, Redemption, and In The Shadows). I like that fact that it involves international intrigue instead of just some local person murdered in Centerville, USA where a busybody takes it upon themselves to investigate. I also love that most of the movie Kellie Martin is in the hospital and out of commission. As much as I like her, it was really nice to see Williams shine. He knows about this secret world and it’s fun to watch him navigate it. I know there are other Mystery Woman films, but of the ones I have watched, this is the one I recommend most strongly.

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Garage Sale Mystery (2013) – This, on the other hand, is the typical Hallmark mystery fare these days. It’s not good. This one follows Lori Loughlin who runs a consignment store and hits garage sales for items to resell. When a friend is found dead and it might tie in with garage sales, then this woman who can’t mind her own business begins investigating. There is a cop on the case, but he seems pretty incompetent and worthless to the film. Loughlin just seems to sleepwalk through the whole thing. There just isn’t anything here worth watching. It’s better than some of these mystery movies on Hallmark, but that’s not saying a whole lot. I really wonder who thought it was a good idea to remove all edge, suspense, feeling, and reality from murder mysteries, then decided to make tons of them. At least there is a scene where her son has her play Minecraft to clear her mind. That was interesting even if we never actually see the game or her really play it.

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Garage Sale Mystery: All That Glitters (2014) – I guess since it wasn’t a total mound of caca doo doo, they thought it was ready for a full series. It still sucks. Again, one of her friends ends up dead. I guess being friends with Lori Loughlin’s character means you’re marked for death. At least Jessica Fletcher brought death to the places she visited. Loughlin’s just thinning out the population of her own town. This time the person killed is tied to a storage facility she won in an auction. Of course there are rare items and in short order a guy shows up wearing a sign that says I’m the bad guy. Luckily, he’s played by Kavan Smith of Eureka. He was a welcome sight even if by being well known it meant he was the bad guy. I’m not giving anything away here. It’s really really really obvious. Plus, I’m leaving the details out. At least this time people tell her she should mind her own business. She ignores it, but it’s nice to hear some voices of reason. Skip this one too. I wonder if the other two Garage Sale Mystery movies are any better. I doubt it.

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Murder 101 (2006) – This is how you do a murder mystery! Someone is murdered, so a cop brings a criminology professor in to help solve the case. Simple! The non-police officer actually has a reason to be there investigating. And the criminals aren’t a joke. Also, this isn’t some weird Stepford Wives world where everything exists in fantasy. It even has Dick Van Dyke and his son Barry who, by the way, looks like Michael Bay in this. It’s kind of funny. A business executive is killed in an explosion. Barry brings Dick into the investigation and an investigative reporter comes along since she was there. It’s nothing amazing, but far better than movies like Garage Sale Mystery, Murder, She Baked, Wedding Planner Mystery, Aurora Teagarden, etc. I wish Hallmark would go back to doing mystery movies like this and Mystery Woman again. They are so much more enjoyable and far better made in general.