Val’s Movie Roundup #22: Hallmark Edition


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Ordinary Miracles (2005) – This movie begins with a judge hearing a case of two foster parents who want to give up their foster daughter back into the system because she is too much for them. What they tell the judge she has done is pretty minor and if they are foster parents then they should have been able to handle it. Anyways, the judge grants their wish, but unfortunately is stuck because she has no where else to put her but into juvenile prison.

With that over with, some blonde shows up to plead her case as the judge is leaving for a vacation of sorts. This lady was obviously hired because of her angelic appearance, but she’s just plain annoying. I say this because she harasses the judge about helping the girl. She says she cares deeply about what happens to her. She didn’t care enough to show up to the case under the guise that her department is too busy. Fine, but if you care so much about her, then instead of bothering the judge, do something about it yourself! Instead, she guilts the judge into taking the girl out of holding to try and foster the girl herself.

The rest is pretty typical. There’s the boyfriend who’s the bad influence. The judge tries to do research into her past to find her missing parents. And the girl goes through some adjustment issues. There’s also a minor subplot with the judge’s parents as well. Nothing particularly interesting or great. It’s just decent.

The only thing that bothered me, other than the blonde, was the supposed visit from the ghost of the daughter’s dead mother. It’s almost like they were planning to do more with it, but didn’t. She has a nightmare near the beginning of the film that we are told was actually her talking to someone. Later we actually see the ghost of her mother talk to her. I don’t really know what the point of that was. It doesn’t add anything and feels out of place.

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Ice Dreams (2010) – There are quite a few characters here so I’m going to try and give you the gist. You have an ice rink that isn’t doing well financially and looks run down. It’s run by two guys. One who is there for comic relief and a couple of speeches. The other is the male romantic interest who really runs the place. Then you have a girl who used to skate and is allowed to skate at the rink after hours. She is having financial difficulties. Another lady is trying to help her daughter get into skating. Then you have the mother of the girl who skates at night trying to come back into her life.

The romantic interest helps to setup the after hours skater as a coach for the young girl. He and her become an item. The skating rink is brought up to snuff. The mother comes back into the life of her daughter. Everything raps up nicely.

This one is definitely a straight average Hallmark movie. The only thing is that it is cluttered with a few too many characters. However, that kind of helps to give a reason for the film to keep going without feeling padded out.

This one’s okay.

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The Last Cowboy (2003) – This is one of those movies where there really isn’t anything to talk about except it’s problems and little noteworthy things. The plot is that the patriarch of the family has died and the inheritance is a bit of a mess for the family. Basically it’s all an excuse just to have Jennie Garth and Lance Henrikson bash heads till they find a way to keep the Texas ranch and be family again.

Okay, now the other stuff. First, this actually has Bradley Cooper in it. Well before he did The Hangover. He is barely in the movie, but you can tell he had talent even here. And yes, he looks even more boyish.

Second, the movie takes place in Texas. However, it was clearly filmed in California. Maybe if you don’t know the open spaces of California that well then it might not be as obvious, but I am familiar with the big parks in the Bay Area. Every time they try to say they are in Texas it’s like this shot from Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes! (1978).

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There’s even a scene where we see a Texas license plate and it’s like when a foreign film puts an American flag in the scene so we totally believe they are Americans. Like this shot from the Argentinian porno spoof of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

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There is a great scene near the end of the movie when the barn burns. Lance Henrikson goes in and comes out with his arm on fire. He just walks over to the two other people nonchalantly. In fact, he begins to just stand there like he doesn’t even care before one of the other actors puts it out with his hat. That’s badass!

The only other thing is a weird censorship issue. I remember when they muted the word “butt” in Mystery Woman: Game Time (2005). In this they mute two uses of the word “ass” and one use of the word “jackass”. It’s in the movie because you can hear them say the words around it and mouth “ass” and “jackass”, but it falls silent on those words. Makes me wonder if maybe Hallmark has become more conservative then they were when they first switched from an explicitly religious station to what they are now. However, later in the film someone says the word “jackass” and it isn’t censored. Figure that one out cause I don’t know what happened.

This one is okay if you can keep yourself from saying, “It’s fucking California!,” every time they show “Texas”. I know I did.

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Uncorked (2009) – I usually don’t mention the directors of these Hallmark movies, but this one was done by David S. Cass Sr. who has done many of the ones I have reviewed so far. Notably, he did Class (2010) and Keeping Up With The Randalls (2011). Both of those movies had miscast leads. This one has one obvious miscast that almost ruins the movie. There’s something else in addition to it that truly ruins it, but let me summarize first.

This is yet another movie about how a woman with a successful job in the city who isn’t happy and avoids an unhappy relationship to end up in the country with another man. This time it’s wine country. The guy has a kid so that means he was once married. I really wonder what screenwriters would do if they didn’t have cancer and drunk drivers to kill off spouses and parents in movies. In this case, it’s cancer. She is in town for a convention and ends up spending some time with him since he is a bit of a local celebrity. She loses out on one business opportunity, gets another, but leaves it to go back to him and put her business skills to use to help his winery.

Sounds fine when I summarize it like that, but it has two big problems. The first is the casting of the male lead. Just take a look at him.

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This guy should be playing a serial killer like a murderous lumberjack, not a romantic lead. At least not with that facial hair and his sizable build. In fact, he made me think of Eric Freeman in the now infamous Garbage Day scene from Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987).

The second problem comes when you reach these two lines:
Girl: “I’ve only know you for four days.”
Boy: “It seems like so much more.”

No, no it doesn’t. It seems like you spent even less than four days together. I kept pausing it to look at the running time because I was wondering how this film was going to make us believe they should be together with so little time spent together. It was a real problem for me.

Also, we never get as convinced that she should be unhappy with where she is in life as we do in other Hallmark movies. Usually it’s kind of obvious, but here you wonder why she couldn’t have made that part of her life work rather than making a sea change.

I wouldn’t recommend this one.