Hallmark Review: A Christmas Detour (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)


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I see nothing wrong there.

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Or there.

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Or there either. Nothing wrong at all.

I think I said the last time I reviewed a movie that had a plot based on rules for finding the perfect man that I would rather have hernia surgery again capped off with a catheter put in me again. While this does have Candace Cameron Bure in it, it’s still way better than Just The Way You Are. I guess this movie falls in between that one and Dater’s Handbook.

I finally got to it, Michelle! I certainly won’t be able to tear into this film the way she did, but I may have seen some of the same things.

Hmm…have no idea why that came to mind.

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The movie begins as Paige Summerlind (Candace Cameron Bure) is arriving at LAX to fly out to New York to be with her fiancee. But first we find out that Paige writes for Radiant Bride magazine.

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I was so convinced that shot was from Before You Say ‘I Do’, but looking at promo pics and the film itself turned up no results. I’m sorry.

Anyways, you see those hands? Those belong to a very smart lady. You see, Paige spotted her magazine being held by this lady, and immediately tried to push it on her. She even gave her the money to pay for the magazine.

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The lady put the magazine back and pocketed the money. I love her!

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Now we are introduced to Frank (David Lewis) and Maxine (Sarah Strange). You know it never fails. No matter how many screenshots I take throughout the movie, I will always end up with the worst possible shot, but it will be the one I need. Oh, and on this film, I took 2,738 screenshots.

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Next we are introduced to Dylan played by Paul Greene who I’ve seen play a nurse, event planner, and now a bartender. Well, he might own the bar. I’m not sure. He looks as jazzed to see A Christmas Melody as he is flying home to New York after a four year absence. According to his friend, “the statute of limitations for licking the wounds of a broken heart expired a long time ago.” So he’s off to LAX.

Now Paige makes a bit of a scene at the check-in counter. She thought she was going to have an aisle seat, but she’s going to get stuck with a window seat. Also, she can only bring two things aboard the plane. She checks one of her bags because she must bring her “vision board” onto the plane with her.

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So her dream wedding is the current cover of her magazine, and there’s her boyfriend Jack played by…

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who is preparing for his role as the wrong guy named Reed in Appetite For Love.

We now cut to Doctor Zhivago 3D…

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before cutting inside to meet Jack, then it’s back to the plane all these people are on.

Jack and Paige have to sit next to each other cause Hallmark. He nearly doubles over laughing about her magazine. She defends her “100 proven ways to find your perfect mate.”

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Sometimes you do get the right screenshot. I would now put the screenshot of the ridiculous looking eye mask they put her in for the following shots, but let’s move on.

Of course a storm front forces the plane to set down in Buffalo, New York. Now they wait outside for a shuttle.

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I’m pretty sure what they did here was tint it blue and CGI in foreground snow. The shuttle takes them to the Buffalo Airport Hotel, which from the exterior made me think of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining (1980). They end up with adjoining rooms again because Hallmark.

Now dialog that left me scratching my head happens. I’ll just say I nearly looked like this when I heard it.

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After that, we cut back to house to see that this shot was probably done by a different person.

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I think you know how it plays out for Paige and Dylan at this point. They spend more time together. Paige keeps calling Jack. We get another shot of a different house.

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They kiss under a sign that says Mistletoe Junction. They wind up at the O Tannenbaum Inn. We see that they simply expanded the black region in the middle of the cellphone screen to cutoff the provider, which in turn cutoff Decline and Accept under those buttons.

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She ends up running away from Dylan to Jack. She finds out she doesn’t want to marry Jack. Dylan reunites with his family. They end up together. Blah, blah, blah. Nothing you haven’t seen before, and nothing interesting either.

I want to call special attention to the other plot line running while this is going on. Remember Maxine and Frank? They are the best part of this movie in my opinion. Although, it was a little weird at first. I thought they were just a lovable bickering married couple, but by the time we got to the inn, I realized they were having trouble.

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They weren’t even supposed to be sleeping in the same room. Even when they do, they push themselves to the opposite sides of the bed. However, they eventually come around in the end. There’s nothing fancy or overly dramatic about it. They just acknowledge that neither of them are very happy pretending to be bitter at each other. The charade is over, and they go into a house together holding hands having arrived at their destination plotwise and completing their character arcs.

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So why did we even need the whole Paige and Dylan storyline? I’m not a big fan of Candace Cameron Bure. She’s okay in the Aurora Teagarden movies cause it’s fun to watch her run around like a crazy person in those films. I do kind of like what I’ve seen Paul Greene do so far. However, I’ve seen Hallmark do the mature couple story, and do it well. I’m thinking Lead With Your Heart here. I think David Lewis and Sarah Strange could have carried this film all by themselves as a seemingly lovable bickering couple who are actually in trouble, but discover they seemed lovable because they do still love each other. If they had fleshed that out to a complete film, then I could have enjoyed this a lot more. As it is, don’t bother.

Oh, and Hallmark, please give Ron Oliver a budget next time. This house thing was ridiculous.

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Not to mention the CGI’d in Christmas decorations at the beginning of the film, and other things.

Here’s the songs since they did include them in the credits:

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Hallmark Review: I Do, I Do, I Do (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)


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I didn’t want to see another movie starring Autumn Reeser right now. I didn’t want to see another movie written by Nancey Silvers right now. However, I haven’t done a Ron Oliver movie in awhile, and he has been nice to me in the past. So let’s talk about I Do, I Do, I Do.

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The movie opens up and we meet Jaclyn Palmer (Autumn Reeser) on the right, her sister Kate (Ali Liebert), and Kate’s camera. This time Hallmark is more subtle with the camera. No obvious Nikon camera strap. Also, it’s a Canon camera anyways. Just thought I would point that out for long time Hallmark fans who remember the Nikon product placement scenes from movies like For The Love Of Grace. Oh, and you can easily miss that Kate is her sister. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t tell you till later. Up till then my Dad and I thought they were just old friends. Even the credits of this movie don’t tell you.

Then probably the weirdest way I’ve seen the wrong guy introduced in a Hallmark movie happens. Jaclyn and Kate are in front of a hospital. An ambulance pulls up, someone is wheeled out of the back of it. Then up springs Dr. Peter Lorenzo (Antonio Cupo) from the gurney.

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He comes over and proposes to Jaclyn while someone films them. I’m quite sure he arranged to have someone film it. At the very least it winds up on sort of YouTube.

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That’s a lot of views! Obviously Dr. Peter Lorenzo is the PewDewPie of doctors. It goes without saying that she accepts his proposal. Now she’s off to some hotel in the woods next to a lake that’s probably in other Hallmark movies. After Autumn does her best shocked look as she pulls up to see a big sign that says “Jaclyn & Peter Forever”, she is greeted by his parents. It’s always a good sign when your mother-in-law to be says this to you.

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Jaclyn is introduced to more craziness such as the “Bridal Cabin” and the wedding dress her soon to be Mom wants her to wear. Seeing as Jaclyn doesn’t like her wedding dress and she arrived in a car, she of course proceeds to get on a bike to ride through the woods to get to town.

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You got me! My only guess is that since her husband is crazy about health and forces that on Jaclyn too, that she felt she had to use a bike instead of a car. Why she has to go through the woods, I have no idea. Regardless, as she is traveling through the woods she runs into Peter’s brother Max played by Shawn Roberts.

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You know, Dexter Durant from Recipe For Love, or Dean if you are a fan of Degrassi: TNG. Since Jaclyn’s sister mentioned earlier that she wishes the two of them could throw caution to the wind like when they were younger, Max jumps off a ledge into the water. You can think of Max as basically the complete opposite of his brother. Oh, and they kiss for reasons. It kind of comes out of nowhere. Let’s move this along now by leaping over some scenes to get to the good stuff.

The next big thing that happens is that Jaclyn wakes up the next day. That day happens to be Valentine’s Day when her wedding is because who gets married on Groundhog Day? Yes, this is one of those movies. People burst into her room to make her up for Peter’s mother’s dream wedding. I think this shot sums up how Jaclyn feels about this.

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You may notice that there is a wipe transition in progress in that shot. Director Ron Oliver uses them a bunch in this movie to good effect. George Lucas used them in Star Wars. It’s a good way to maintain a quick pace by giving you no time to mourn the loss of what was onscreen. It just picks you up from one scene and throws you into the next one. He also matches this with how he progressively shortens the days. Groundhog Day (1993) and the Groundhog Day episode of Stargate-SG1 did this too.

The marriage happens, but it’s a little rocky including wine getting spilled on her. That’s when back at the Bridal Cabin, Jaclyn wishes for a do-over, and her proposal video rolls over to 1,000,000 views.

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Poor Ron Oliver! His video in upper right hand corner only has 567,983 views. At first I thought they would repeat that the way the clock would turn over in Groundhog Day, but it doesn’t. The equivalent here is the phone next to her bed, which rings with a wake up call.

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This time she shows up with heavy eyeshadow and blush. I guess she is trying to maybe get him to not want to marry her. No such luck.

On the next repeat she starts to flip out. I love that they even bring up the possibility that she’s on drugs.

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The doctor thinks she might have cold feet. She keeps telling him she’s living the same day over and over. So of course the doctor says he is going to get her tested for drugs. To get away from crazy town, Jaclyn flees with Max to the main set of the movie.

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Remember the whole learning how to play the piano thing from Groundhog Day? That’s the kind of things that start to happen as the repeats get shorter and shorter. The first thing is to overcome her fear of the water. She didn’t used to be afraid of the water, but Peter kind of got her scared of taking any risks. Apparently, this included going into the water for her. So over the course of several loops Max takes her further and further into the water.

Once that is done, the next thing on the roster is to finally learning how to dance. Again, this repeats over several days. I have to give credit to whoever was responsible for the continuity on this film for these scenes. Take a look.

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Those are from two loops that follow each other. Note that his outfit doesn’t change. It wouldn’t because since he isn’t aware of the time loop, he would be always wearing the same thing. However, since she is aware of the time loop, she wears something different. It’s a nice little detail that also helps to make sure we know another loop has gone by without having to cutaway from the beach.

With that done, learning Italian is next for Jaclyn. The reason for this is that earlier a member of Peter’s family came up to her and just assumed that Max and her were together. However, the whole conversation was in Italian and they lie to her about what she said. She spends several loops learning Italian.

Next is picking out a wedding dress she likes. She even has the wedding she seems to like, but of course Max isn’t convinced. Obviously Max is lord of time because she wakes up once again.

After spending more time with Max, we get the sort of YouTube thing at the start of another time loop.

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I guess we know which one of the producers on this movie was the most important seeing as Kevin Leeson’s Seagull video has 996,876 views over Dan Paulson’s 36,995 views. Although, the production coordinator Alison Stephen tops them all with her 2.9 million views.

Anyways, this is when Jaclyn finally decides to stop the loop by saying that she doesn’t want to marry him. Just like in Bridal Wave, it turns out getting married wasn’t really something either of them wanted to do. She seemed to have been swept off her feet and he was kind of under pressure from his Mom. Even Dad chimes in to tell Mom to sit down here. When somebody tells you to sit down with these eyes…

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then you sit down.

She and Max fall asleep at the beach. The time loop breaks, and they wake up together. After jumping in the water, they go and get married.

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My final thought on this one is that it comes in third out of the four Groundhog Day movies/TV episodes I’ve seen. The first two are Groundhog Day and the Stargate SG-1 episode. However, number four, called Pete’s Christmas, is a huge drop off from this one. I really didn’t like that film. So check out the Stargate SG-1 episode called Window of Opportunity, and this one too. I recommend it.

Here are the songs from the credits:

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Horror Film Review: Prom Night III: The Last Kiss (1990, dir. Ron Oliver & Peter R. Simpson)


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Prom Night III opens on a cemetery where we quickly settle on a gravestone for Mary Lou Maloney. Apparently, she was born in 1940 and died in 1957. Knowing the end of this movie, that really should say 1938-1955.

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Then we cut to A Chorus Line (1985) if it were filmed by David Lynch. I’m so glad that they say this is supposed to be Hell at the end of the film cause not having seen the previous Prom Night films, I honestly wasn’t sure what I was looking at. Luckily, the only thing keeping you in Hell is a foot brace. Once Mary Lou gets that off she begins to terrorize a school with her ability to POV around the halls at night. That’s when we meet Jack Roswell (Terry Doyle). A simple man who just wants to mop floors and keep his alcohol chilled in the slop bucket. This was two years before it became the “it” thing to keep doughnuts in there.

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Now since all horror films of this era had bad things happen in boiler rooms, he goes down into the boiler room. And what’s this? That’s a jukebox! Maybe if he’s lucky there’ll be some Foreigner or Tears For Fears on it. And that’s the cue for Sherilyn Fenn…I mean Courtney Taylor as Mary Lou Maloney to make her entrance. They knew each other and that’s not a good thing.

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Standing in the boiler room, with his head hung low
Had no way out, his time was up
Heard the generic 1950s tunes, he could picture the scene
Turned around and saw Mary Lou, then like a distant scream
He heard “been a long time Jacky boy, did you miss me?”
He had lightning in his chest, and the very next day

He was found dead

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Cut to a school assembly and we meet Alex Grey (Tim Conlon) playing La Bamba! That was common in films of this era. I mean Surf Ninjas (1993) used Barbara Ann, but at least here it makes sense since the film makes constant references to the 1950s for a reason. That’s when the principle reopens the gym by slicing off his finger with the giant ribbon cutting scissors. I’d say something must be going on here, but after what he just said before doing it, he probably just screwed up. I really don’t think Mary Lou had anything to do with this. He does seem that stupid.

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Then his friend, who by the way is totally not supposed to be gay, tries to lure him into a summer reenacting On The Road while his girlfriend wants to lure him into a Hallmark movie on a ranch. Now Alex must go see the guidance counselor who has one of those penis cactuses on her desk that keeps getting in the way of the camera. Seeing as Alex is an idiot and can’t take her hints, he won’t be going to medical school anytime soon. I’m glad this scene was here so we know that he has the sexual imagination of someone who makes movies like Bikini Spring Break (2012). It’s important so that we actually believe that Mary Lou can use sex as a way to control him.

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Now cut to what Alex believes is a romantic candle lit dinner. It’s about here where I realized that Tim Conlon reminds me of Bruce Campbell. So, since Alex needs to pick up a book at school, he goes inside and finds Mary Lou. He falls down where she proceeds to have sex with him on the American flag that he tore off the wall while the United States national anthem plays.

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Just like Canadian teenagers are known to do. Waking up the next morning, Alex finds himself still at school, but during the day. Luckily he makes it to the bathroom.

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Just like Italian Batman.

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After Alex talks on a phone to voices from Fighting Street on the TubroGrafx-16 CD, we hear an announcement that the chess club tournament has been canceled. They are to report to the library to play with themselves. I guess even the guidance counselor has standards. Anyways, now Alex and his right ear ring rule friend look up an old newspaper about how Mary Lou died. Apparently, it was during a fire. Explains the burns on her face in a few scenes in the movie. Then Mary Lou gives him a hand job. We only hear the zipper, but before you know it, the test he was taking is over.

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Then there’s a quick announcement for the girls weight lifting team. There’s a mandatory clinic on facial hair removal. I’m sure there’s also going to be a mandatory clinic for the boys ballet team on tucking. Especially on dealing with those pesky testicles by popping them back inside. But we don’t hear that part cause it’s football time!

After Mary Lou helps Alex out on the football field, we find out that Alex didn’t do so well on that test of his. The teacher was going to give him an F. No way that’s going to happen. The only F Alex is going to get is from May Lou. That’s when Mary Lou appears in the back of the classroom having made it look like a 1950s diner. I see nothing weird here. Slaughterhouse Rock did the same thing with an apartment two years prior to this movie. But there, someone was having sex on the other end of the wall pictured below.

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Can Mary Lou top that? Mary Lou?

“How bout some of this. So tasty and hard and firm. And it just melts in your mouth.”

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She’s got the lines, but it’s no scene of somebody getting killed with a porcelain penis like in A Clockwork Orange (1971). She then shoves a blender in his mouth and through his head. It’s a good scene, but I would have preferred if she had said this before putting a hole in his head:

“Bow down before the one you serve
You’re going to get what you deserve”

This is when Alex discovers the price of having a hot girl from Hell helping him out in more ways than one. He’s going to have to hide the body of his teacher. And look!

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More American flags! Mary Lou truly is an American girl! Yankee Doodle Dandy even plays! Since Alex isn’t ready to tell Mary Lou to not come around here no more, he proceeds to hide the body in one of the cabinets. Now Alex’s friend pops up to remind us that the Cold War was going on in the 1950s and that the Soviet Union was still around in 1990.

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Alex goes back to his home on Degrassi St. to find his girlfriend and family are throwing a little celebration for the perfect score he got from Mary Lou’s hand…I mean his on his test. Time to go back to the school at night and bury that body, but first we get a little reminder that sex ain’t coming his way from his girlfriend. Luckily, that’s what Mary Lou is for!

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Of course Alex ultimately buried the body on the football field which causes a problem when he spots the teacher’s hand popping up through the field. Alex really needs to be more careful. I mean the camera crew is watching his every move from the bottom of the frame.

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This is when the overall grades come out and the guidance counselor finds out that Alex is number one now. Since she once knew a student named David who figured out the password was “pencil”, she figures Alex must have broken into the computer system. Of course Mary Lou isn’t going to let this go anywhere.

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Mary Lou drags the counselor into a dark classroom and makes her all wet. By that I mean she drenches her in battery acid. What did you think I meant? Mary Lou is a 1950s girl! After several of the best lines Ron Oliver wrote for this movie are said, Alex and Mary Lou have sex again. Then his parents reward him again for his good grades with a Harley Davidson. And they make sure we know that thing is from the good old USA!

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I’m surprised they brought a Harley Davidson onto the set. Those things can be dangerous, which is why, according to the credits on this movie, they had a Harley Wrangler by the name of Jake “Live To Ride” Fry. After a reference to Cool Jazz, Alex dons his leather jacket and shades then gets a lecture from his dad on sexual frustration. Time to bury that body! Unfortunately, a football jerk shows up to give him a hard time. Mary Lou shows up to throw a perfect spiral.

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This really is the funniest death scene in this movie. Anyways, now Alex thinks she has gone too far. Since Alex doesn’t decide to get creative in dealing with her, he simply tells her off. This leads to her throwing a supernatural hissy fit and disappearing. Now Mary Lou won’t leave him alone. Not even when the teacher is trying to show a sex ed film called Social Disease.

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The police also show up and we know they are detectives because a short clip of the Dragnet theme plays. After having a nightmare about the bodies of the people Mary Lou killed rising from the dead, Alex’s sister and the boom mic wake him up.

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At this point, the bodies have been found. Also, Mary Lou now visits his friend in the form of Alex’s sister. I can’t say I thought I would see another scene like this that had a giraffe in it after watching An Erotic Tale Of Ms. Dracula recently.

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She tears out his heart literally. Now Alex is going to take things really seriously. He gets a shotgun, come Coke, and Stay-Ups, which I’m sure work much better than Sta-Ups from Nightmare On Elm Street 2. This is when some rap that samples The Guess Who’s American Woman kicks in. Then the cops show up and I must say it was nice of Blood Simple (1984) to make a guest appearance.

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The police capture Alex. Then the boom mic pops down again just to toy with us by making us think Dolemite might show up to save Alex. Instead, Mary Lou shows up as a guard and basically lets Alex out of prison. I mean the movie has to have it’s climax at the prom. It’s in the title!

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Ah, movies from this era truly had hideous school dance dresses, but I’d collect them if I could. After killing off George McFly…

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Mary Lou, Alex, and the girlfriend go to Hell. Not a whole lot to this part other than that the girlfriend does have some sweet flamethrower action.

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Luckily, there is a car in Hell. And after driving it through Mary Lou…

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her body sends the 1.21 gigawatts into the flux capacitor to send them back to 1957. No seriously, they do this whole part like it’s straight out of one of the Back To The Future movies. So, girlfriend dies and Alex is stranded in the 1950s with Mary Lou.

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Then the rap kicks in again over the credits. It’s stupid and campy, but kind of fun. And this has been another edition of Valerie talks way too much about a movie.

Hallmark Review: Perfect Match (2015, dir. Ron Oliver)


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This Hallmark movies cuts any setup out of it and goes immediately to the couple meeting. The second shot in the movie is of our boy and girl reaching to press the same elevator button. Our boy is Adam (Paul Greene). Our girl is Jessica (Danica McKellar). You know, Winnie Cooper! Last time I saw Danica McKellar it was in an episode of that short lived Fred Savage sitcom Working. I probably could have entitled this Hallmark Horror Review because it’s horrifying that she has been reduced from doing something like The Wonder Years to this. It’s also horrifying that this movie was penned by Patricia Resnick who co-wrote 3 Women (1977), A Wedding (1978), and Quintet (1979) for Robert Altman and co-wrote the screenplay for Nine To 5 (1980). Then again, she also co-wrote the screenplay for Second Sight (1989).

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Our leads decide to take the stairs to the big event room. This is when we find out what they do and why they are going to clash. She’s a wedding planner. Now prepare yourself for this because what he does is so incredibly different. I mean I was just shocked! Ready? Here it comes. He’s an event planner. Yep, did my build up seem like a bunch of BS? Good, because that is what any and all of the conflict between the two characters in this movie is. This may be the lamest excuse for the boy and the girl to dislike each other I have seen in a Hallmark movie. They both want the same space for their own events. But it gets better when we find out the excuse for why they are going to have to spend time together.

After the two of them have a little argument about who gets the space for her wedding and his event, we meet Jessica’s kid (Graham Verchere). He’s a classic movie fan. He brought home a copy of Kansas City Confidential (1952). But the kid is watching it stretched to widescreen.

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Poor kid probably didn’t have a choice. That’s what happens when you buy knockoff OSHIB televisions. Anyways, this is one of those Hallmark movies where the kid is actually a kid. He’s not a cardboard cutout, nor just a plot device. In fact, he’s the most likable character in the whole movie.

Jessica now goes to meet a client. She basically tells the bride everything that sounds good to her, but it’s freaking him out. And I would to if I were him. I can handle a pink themed wedding, but a groom wearing a pink cummerbund and bow tie seems a bit ridiculous to me. But luckily he has a member of the family he wants to bring in to help plan the wedding. Guess who?

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He throws out some ideas that are so stupid I’m surprised the actor could keep a straight face. However, I am curious what his and hers dart boards look like. Jessica leaves, but after being called back by the groom’s mom, Adam and Jessica set out to plan the wedding together.

What follows are the two of them clashing less and less as they begin to like each other more while planning the young couple’s wedding. The only other thing to note is that on his birthday he throws a dart at a map of the world and then takes a trip there. She doesn’t have any adventure in her life because of her kid, but that kid makes it clear to her that she needs to have more in her life cause he’s doing just fine.

You know how the rest plays out. There are more sleepwalking formulaic Hallmark romances out there, but this one is so forced that it hurts. I really can’t recommend it.

A couple things to look for if you do.

It really seemed like they were in front of a green screen for this scene to me.

It really seemed like they were in front of a green screen for this scene to me.

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The license plate says it’s the “Coastal State”, which doesn’t exist.

We see him take the photograph in portrait.

We see him take the photograph in portrait.

But later in the movie the photograph is in landscape.

But later in the movie the photograph is in landscape.

The only other thing is a sound goof right near the beginning of the movie. When the groom’s mom calls Jessica to come back and help plan the wedding, Jessica answers the call on her cellphone. They accidentally start the mom’s audio before they cut back to her. So, for a few seconds, it sounds like the mom is on a PA system since it’s the sound recorded for when we are supposed to be in the same room with her.

Val’s Movie Roundup #29: Hallmark Edition


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Bridal Fever (2008)

Unfortunately, there is no cowbell in this movie. Okay, this one is about a lady named Gwen Green (Andrea Roth). She works as an assistant editor. Delta Burke plays Dahlia Marchand who writes romance novels, but is going to pen an autobiography. Turning down more experienced editors, she picks Green to be her editor as soon as she sees her. I honestly had to watch this twice because the first time around I missed a few things so I was rather confused as to what Burke’s obsession with this woman was. Honestly, I thought she was a lesbian for a minute there and this shot near the end of the movie didn’t help.

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The movie begins with one of Green’s friends getting married. Then her friend catches the bridal fever and becomes obsessed with getting married. She drags Green into her nuttiness. So we go speed blind dating. I have seen this scene done in numerous movies, but I think it’s the first time I’ve seen this in one of these montages.

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Didn’t work for me no matter how much of a resemblance he might bare to Jeffrey Combs. Green doesn’t find her man here. Instead, she is passing by a bookstore and decides to go in and replace the window display with books by Dahlia Marchand. Sadly, this didn’t feel contrived because I can remember my Dad buying things from his business clients to support them. It doesn’t surprise me that now since she is editing one of Marchand’s books, she would do this. Of course a little slip and fall in the store, and she meets the guy she will end up with. He works at the store.

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Sorry, I really didn’t mean to catch him with his “you’re gonna die now” look on his face. The rest of the film plays out like this. Marchand is going to launch her book at his store. Marchand oddly avoids the store. Green works with this guy getting closer and closer. Since her friend has poisoned Green’s mind and since the guy didn’t propose to her on the spot, she gets engaged to the wrong guy. Then we find out that Marchand picked her because she wanted someone who wouldn’t do their job and thus wouldn’t ask her about gaps in her biography. The big gap being her years working at that bookstore. Turns out it’s the guy’s uncle who owns the store that once had a thing with her. It wraps up like you think.

This was okay. Very cliched and it’s one of those ones I like to say sleepwalks through the formulaic plot, but the actors were likable enough, including Delta Burke. I did like that they borrowed the comparing scars scene from Lethal Weapon 3.

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You can do worse, but you can also do better.

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Audrey’s Rain (2003) – Where the hell did this Hallmark movie come from? It’s got cursing, people who act like real people (kids included), suicide, a mentally challenged or at least mentally cracked in some fashion character, sexual references, direct reference to breasts as “buzzards”, making out, use of the word horny, the kid tries to say Audrey’s sandwiches taste like shit, fart jokes, a fart joke directed at a reverend who just asked Audrey to consider returning to the church, and more.

Seriously, is this the kind of movie Hallmark initially made? Cause this is a far far far cry from the kind of stuff they make today and have for many years. I actually thought I was watching a real movie here. The only things I saw in common with other Hallmark movies were that Larry Levinson was involved. Well, I guess I should talk a little bit about it.

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It starts off with Audrey (Jean Smart) trying to blow away a rodent with a rifle. Yay! That scene is the one time this film censors itself. Despite the word “bastard” showing up in the close captioning, the sound falls silent on that word. Funny they did that considering this follows shortly afterwards.

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Sure, the sister got her hand on his mouth before he got the full word out, but still. I’ve seen Hallmark censor the word “butt”.

So, you’ve got Audrey, two kids from a sister who killed herself, and another sister who has mental issues. I’m pretty sure she’s supposed to be mentally challenged, but I don’t remember there being enough details to tell you any more than that. And that’s where this film’s real issue is. While you really don’t care too much about this sister, the film does feel like it jumps over sections that were once there or should be there telling us more.

A man from Audrey’s past gets close to her and they do end up together. There’s a quirky friend. There are flashbacks. The kids have problems with the memories of their dead mother. There’s a pretty gut wrenching scene where we think the little girl might have hung herself like her mom did. It all works quite well, but it feels like it should have been a mini-series rather than just a movie. Maybe it was, and then was edited down.

At the end of the day, if you like Hallmark, see it. It’s like no other Hallmark movie out of the 106 I’ve seen so far. Just know that it will feel like it was chopped up.

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Love On The Air (2015) – I kind of felt bad watching this when it premiered cause some guy who claimed to have worked on the film tweeted me twice saying he was glad I was enjoying it. I felt bad because the majority of my tweets were complaints about the movie. I don’t think I even mentioned the problems with the actors. Oh, well.

Love On The Air begins with our two leads doing their radio shows on the same network. I don’t remember what the name of their shows were, if they had any, but a modern equivalent would be tweets with #NotAllMen attached for hers and #YesAllWomen for his. It’s that kind of stuff being slung at the beginning of this movie. The largely writing off the other gender based on bad experiences thing. Only it’s far tamer than the stuff you hear online and not as complex. Thank goodness. But it does have that isolationist/separatist rhetoric to it that people cry foul over when it’s skin color, but not as much with gender. She even says “be an island”. I honestly could have done without this as the setup seeing as it’s stuff like this that makes places like Twitter depressing, but that’s the setup.

Our leading lady is Sonia (Alison Sweeney). Our leading man is Nick (Jonathan Scarfe). The two of them end up going at it on the air for a few minutes and that leads to them doing it on a regular basis. You can guess where this goes.

A day for night shot, along with shots that were under lit or shot on cloudy days.

A day for night shot, along with shots that were under lit or shot on cloudy days.

Odd choices of things to focus on or I swear at times the camera just going out of focus.

Odd choices of things to focus on or I swear at times the camera just going out of focus.

This blinding light that keeps shining at you during this scene.

This blinding light that keeps shining at you during this scene.

And random obstructions in front of the camera for reasons beyond me.

And random obstructions in front of the camera for reasons beyond me.

What? You thought they were going to fall in love? Well, that happens too, which is another problem. They have both been burned by certain experiences in their past. Problem is, I think they needed to even out the two of them out a little more. He is noticeably easier to get along with than she is. I know it makes for a little more of a traditional romance of him winning her over, but it would have been nice for them to have dialed down Sonia a little bit. I also know that it begins with her engagement being called off so she’s fresh off a recent bad experience, but I still wanted them to be on more even ground.

However, if you can get past the odd cinematography and the characters starting out on uneven footing, I know I sure didn’t feel they had any chemistry together. Scarfe is kind of warm and a little likable. Sweeney not as much. I understand how spending time with each other reminds them that no matter how many or intensity of experiences you have with a section of the population, you can’t right the whole lot off. However, I didn’t really buy that they should end up together as anything but good friends who do a show together.

I guess this is the kind I say won’t kill ya!

A little personal side note. I think I have mentioned it before, but Sweeney also does a series called Murder, She Baked on Hallmark. I wish that had her killing people with her cooking. She really comes across to me as someone who could play a villain well. I never saw her on Days Of Our Lives so maybe she did there.

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All Of My Heart (2015) – This is another one of those Hallmark movies that borrows a screwball plot that you’d find in the 1940’s. It begins with Jenny Fintley (Lacey Chabert) and Brian Howell (Brennan Elliott), I kid you not, each inheriting half of the same house in the country. Being a cook, she sees it as business opportunity to open a bed and breakfast. Being a stockbroker, he sees it as an asset that needs to be liquidated. Hilarity ensues? Not really. This isn’t like Growing The Big One, which is a Hallmark movie and not one of those late night cable movies I’ve reviewed. I still don’t know how Hallmark lucked out on that name.

It’s just them falling in love by spending time with each other. She’s there cause she wants to open a business. He gets stranded there after his job slips out from underneath him. Oddly, the film teases that it’s going to do something humorous like Funny Farm (1988), but doesn’t follow through.

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That’s Ed Asner who you probably know as the guy who shoots people in the back on Hawaii Five-O. The other guy is Daniel Cudmore who is probably best known as Jaffa #1 from the Homecoming episode of Stargate SG-1. Asner sits on the bench in front of the General Store and makes humorous comments as well as some important ones at the end of the movie. Cudmore is the colossus who runs the store and is the local plumber. They are both funny in this movie. I wanted more quirky characters. Sure, hoping for the crazy mailman from Funny Farm would be asking too much, but I could have done with more of these two. I would have preferred Chabert and Elliott coming together dealing with the odd, but lovable town rather than just coming together because it’s Hallmark.

My only other complaint has to do with Lacey Chabert. I didn’t watch Party Of Five back when I was kid and have very limited exposure to her work. Largely just Hallmark, but I really want more personality out of her here. Along with looking like she’s wearing more makeup then I care for, she seems to act like she is a kid who just entered her first planetarium. He has some more personality, but I really wanted something like what Shannen Doherty and Kavan Smith had in Growing The Big One.

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So, which one of these does this poor dog from one of the commercials on Hallmark say you should see? Audrey’s Rain. Despite it’s problems, it’s so different. If you like Hallmark, you should see it. I’m a little biased though, cause I like Jean Smart.

Val’s Movie Roundup #27: Hallmark Edition


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Lead With Your Heart (2015) – At this point, I have seen 98 Hallmark movies. I think this is the best one I have ever seen. Honestly, there isn’t a whole lot to say either. The movie is about a couple played by Billy Baldwin and Kari Matchett. Their children are leaving for college and she gets a temporary job out of town. As a result, the two spend more time apart then they probably have in close to 20 years or more. What follows is just a nice little story about how they adapt to their situation. It doesn’t go the easy way and have one of them cheat, or almost cheat, then reconcile. That’s what you would expect. That’s not to say that some people don’t show interest in them, but instead of being a true temptation, it acts as a signal to them about how they need to change to keep their relationship together into this new territory. I especially liked the ending because it involved real compromise and not some fairy tale giving up success for something humble.

You have no idea how refreshing this was to see. Especially considering Hallmark then aired a movie called Just The Way You Are, which I will talk about, that is basically the same, except terrible.

For a Hallmark movie, I can’t recommend it enough.

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Family Plan (2005) – This is more of the standard middle of the road Hallmark movie based off of a plot device that would have made for a screwball comedy in the 1940’s. In this case, Tori Spelling’s company is taken over and for no other purpose then to give this movie a reason to exist, she is advised to pretend she is married. Seriously, this other lady gives her a ring, she puts it on, then she can’t get it off. So, she has to pretend to her boss that she’s married. She hires an actor to play her husband. She also picks up a daughter from her friend. You know how the rest goes.

This kind of movie sinks or swims on the charm of the actors involved. They are no Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, or Katharine Hepburn, but they work well enough. Spelling has never been a great actress, but she does a certain kind of part well and this is one of them. The other actors are in the same boat.

It does get a little boring because it’s so by the book, but that just means it’s a little below average. Like I’ve said before, it won’t kill ya.

One funny goof. In the credits, they forgot to capitalize this guy’s last name.

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Just The Way You Are (2015) – This movie on the other hand can kill you. It will make you beg for another Aurora Teagarden mystery movie where you can just watch Candace Cameron Bure run around like she’s high on cocaine. Also, you won’t be able to listen to Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are for awhile. At least there’s still She’s Got A Way!

It’s basically the same thing as Lead With Your Heart. It even used a licensed song like Lead With Your Heart did. In this case, it’s the original. In Lead With Your Heart, it was a cover of Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong. A couple a ways into their marriage are getting stale in their relationship. Unfortunately, Candace Cameron Bure’s character works for a matchmaking company that uses stupid rules for making relationships work. Yep, it’s one of those movies.

Bure’s idea is for her and her husband to start blind dating while following the rules. It’s all a bunch of boring and stupid nonsense. I remember when that book The Rules came out in the 90’s. Why are we still doing this stuff 20 years later? It’s always the same thing. Yes, statistically certain things show up as significant, but of course following them blindly won’t work. Human beings are far more complex than any set of rules you can attempt to derive through study of them. This isn’t news, and we don’t need yet another movie to remind us of this fact.

Don’t watch this one.

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Perfect On Paper (2014) – I usually save the computer screen goofs for the end of the review, but I think this time they belong at the beginning.

Near the start of the movie, they do a decent job of faking a site called SomebodyDateMe.com.

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But later in the movie, they show a horribly faked website for a fictional school called The Horrock’s School.

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Look at that thing! First, no school would have a webpage that looks like that in 2014. Second, notice the URL is a local file. Third, notice the specific HTML document they are looking at is called “donovan2.html”. Finally, notice that the URL clearly shows they did, or tried, to setup an XAMPP LAMP stack, then either couldn’t figure it out, or just didn’t run it for some reason.

The whole movie is kind of like that. It feels slapped together. It’s about a book editor who is offered a glamorous position in Los Angeles. The whole thing is about her friends trying to reshape her into an LA power girl stereotype to keep their major client played by Morgan Fairchild. Of course, it’s Hallmark, so there’s also a guy.

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See that little bit of grey peeking out from behind that bush? That’s the guy. She throws the coffee over her shoulder and hits him. If you don’t pay close attention, then you won’t see what looks like shears drop from his hand and it’s not mentioned. In other words, you’ll likely think this guy was just behind that bush for no reason except to have coffee land on him and meet her.

He’s the opposite of the “Perfect On Paper” guy that her friends want her to be with for her job. Of course, she was never the glamorous type to begin with. Here, I have to give them some credit because they went with a girl who honestly isn’t glamorous. She’s not especially attractive. That was really nice to see and it fit her character.

You know how it all works out. The only thing to mention is that since they want you to clearly see the difference between the main character and the other girls, questionable trendy clothes show up. I hope they burned this thing after they shot the movie.

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This one is definitely below average. Like I said, it feels slapped together, people kind of stumble through it, and you just want it over with.

Lead With Your Heart is the one to go with here.

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.