Hallmark Review: Anything For Love (2016, dir. Terry Ingram)


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“And I would do anything for love. I’d run right into hell and back. I would do anything for love. I’ll never lie to you, and that’s a fact. But I’ll never forget the way you feel right now. Oh, no. No way. And I would do anything for love. But I won’t do that. No I won’t do that. Anything for love. Oh, I would do anything for love. I would do anything for love. But I won’t do that. No I won’t do that.”
-I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) performed by Meatloaf and written by David Steinman

Okay, as much as that song fits the tile, they really couldn’t open a romantic comedy with such a serious operatic song. Instead, we dip into another 1970’s artist’s repertoire for a song. Well, 1970s when she was solo. That being Linda Ronstadt singing When Will I Be Loved.

The movie begins and we are introduced to Katherine Benson (Erika Christensen) and Jack Cooper (Paul Greene) as they both get ready for work. She’s a president of a real estate firm and he is a nurse. I have to admit that while I recognized Linda’s voice, I wasn’t sure who it was till I looked it up later. Also, it didn’t help that the movie cuts to Jack in bed during the song and his Great Dane is named Roxy. Of course that made me think of Roxy Music and their song More Than This.

However, while Bill Murray was in Lost In Translation, sang the song, it was directed by Sofia Coppola, and Paul Greene was in her film Somewhere (2010), there is a more appropriate Roxy Music song for a later scene.

As soon as Katherine arrives at work we meet her secretary named Debbie.

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I’m really not sure if we are meant to look down on Debbie for dating so many men or not. I get the feeling that we aren’t. She is supposed to stand in contrast to Katherine as someone who may be just an executive assistant, but seems to be a whole lot happier because she puts herself out there. Katherine seems wound pretty tight and isolated even if she is rich and powerful.

Despite her tough exterior and what she soon says to her father, I’d say Katherine wants to know what love is (I Want To Know What Love Is by Foreigner).

Hey! If Hallmark can start whipping out Billy Joel, REO Speedwagon, and Linda Ronstadt, then I can add some great music to my reviews too.

We now meet Katherine’s father named Edward Benson (Tom Butler). He walks right in and tells us her it’s about time she gets serious with her boyfriend named Charles (Antonio Cupo). She’s worried that he might just want to get his hands on her company. That’s when Dad pulls out the big guns.

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That’s right! A picture of her on a pony. He reminds her of how scared she was to get on it till he got her on it and walked with her the whole way. He says he would walk “a million circles before I’d ever let any harm come to you”. That may be true, but she deserves a man who would walk 500 miles just to fall down at her door (I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)).

I kind of feel bad if the movie is going to make this so easy for me. Nevertheless, since he did whip out the pony and they did start with Ronstadt, I simply can’t let it slide. Here is The Stone Poneys’ Different Drum. Even if it is getting a little ahead of myself.

Now we go to work with Jack at the hospital. There is a little subplot here, but I’m gonna be blunt. That subplot is really just there for one reason. So that we can at least see Jack do some nursing. He just basically tries to help the kid from shutting himself out from the world and only living in fear of his upcoming surgery. He sort of takes away his gaming device to give him a book. I thought it was a bit ridiculous since studies have shown that gaming really helps patients in hospitals. However, honestly, it isn’t helping this particular kid. It still comes across as a bit of pandering to a fear of technology and modern culture, but I’m okay with it here.

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This is as good a time as any to mention that any weirdness about male nurses in this movie is kind of stupid. I mean if this were the pre-ER days, then sure. But it isn’t. That show had plenty of male nurses and was extremely popular. It just seemed dumb to me. Luckily, our man Jack basically feels the same way even if his unhelpful friend here is making him a bit of a jealous guy when they are looking at ladies throwing themselves at the doctors. I’m going with the Roxy Music cover version here since I promised at least one more their songs (Jealous Guy by Roxy Music).

Now we go out with Katherine and her boyfriend Charles. Charles does the standard low key I’m not the right guy Hallmark thing. He also proposes. Well, sort of.

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He seems to want to pin her and go steady. I’d cue up Neil Sedaka, but that would imply this is them going steady again. I’d say he’s thinking more When In Rome’s The Promise…

while she’s feeling more like Real Life’s Send Me An Angel rather than sticking me with Charles.

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That awkward moment when you spend a bunch of time looking for the appropriate song for a scene, go with Send Me An Angel, then come to the next scene only to remember that one of the minor characters is named Angel. These girls are just here to setup what both Katherine and Jack are going to do for love. We find out from Jack’s friend that he should lie about his job to get girls. In his case it’s upscaling to a doctor. In the next scene, it’s Debbie convincing Katherine that she should downscale to an executive assistant like herself in order to get men. This leads both to put up fake profiles on a dating website. It also means I get to post Lies by The Knickerbockers.

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Yes, you are reading the title of the website right. So here you go with The Go-Go’s Head Over Heels.

And yes, Debbie is signing Katherine up as if she is her. I love that her favorite food is “Black Coffee”. That, and is that a fake pharmaceutical type ad at the bottom of the dating website?

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I guess that’s a yes. You can see that Jack is being honest. Sadly, his friend is in the room. While Jack steps out of the room, he changes Jack’s occupation to a doctor and submits the profile causing Jack to not know he hasn’t been truthful.

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The funny thing is, that’s a real dating website run in the UK.

Now we get something that I just plain don’t get.

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The sign behind the lady. There’s no drugs on the premises? What? This is a hospital. Wouldn’t drugs be all over the place. Please if you have an explanation for this then tell me cause it makes no sense to me. However, I think it’s a mistake cause the sign is covered over later in the movie.

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Now they start dating which begins with bowling. I’m sorry, but we’ll just have to imagine they left the skinheads at home cause Camper Van Beethoven has the only bowling song I know (Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven).

I like the sweet scene that follows. Katherine walks into her office to find two sets of flowers. One is from Charles and the other is for Debbie, as Katherine tells her father. However, they are for Katherine and she treasures them. It’s a nice scene.

So there’s your setup. You have Jack who believes he is dating a woman named Debbie who is an executive assistant that thinks he is a doctor. You have Katherine who is playing along, but only in that she is named Debbie and an executive assistant. Not in her feelings for him. Jack does figure it out though, but decides to play along that he is a doctor.

Ultimately, they are going to end up together after a minor speed bump. Yes, the whole he’s not a doctor thing of course, and Charles is behind the reveal. We have stuck with largely 1980s songs so let’s go with what Charles does to get information on Jack. Sing it, Hall & Oates!

She actually breaks it off with Jack and nearly ends up with Charles, but after saying things that are important to a relationship, she throws him a curve ball. He asks him if he would want her if she had Debbie’s job. This is not the face you want to give anyone you want to believe that you are never gonna give up.

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And yes, that means Rick Astley.

Didn’t think you were going to get away without him, did you?

The movie has a cute scene where Katherine goes to the hospital and pages Jack. Jack hears it then pages her. They briefly talk, then kiss.

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The movie doesn’t explicitly say it really, but it’s very much implied that this is one step away from marriage. In other words, together forever, which of course were the words I used so that I could include Rick Astley again.

Oh, and of course the kid goes off to surgery okay. The book did help him to stop ruminating, calm down, and go forward with what he needed to do.

What are my final thoughts? It’s just a little above average I would say. It avoids some of the typical cliches and doesn’t feel cheap. Case in point, when they are on the roof of a building, they are actually outside. Sadly, that is not a given in Hallmark movies. Don’t seek it out, but if it’s on, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you like Hallmark romance movies.

If you’ve put up with all my musical references, then I end this with probably the most bizarre music video for a love song I’ve ever seen: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness.

Hallmark Review: Love in Paradise (2016, dir. Sean McNamara)


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I have to admit I was scared going into this. Based on the plot summary it sounded like it was going to be Strawberry Summer Retread: A Country Wedding, Part II. Strawberry Summer was the epic disaster that I can’t possibly summarize and A Country Wedding was about 90 minutes of snide, stupid, ignorant, and redneck dialogue that made both of the characters look like hicks. Also, this movie was directed by the man who keeps bringing us Baby Geniuses sequels and directed 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain (1998). So you can imagine my trepidation going into this movie. But how bad could it be? I mean I like Luke Perry. Well, it turned to out to reasonably good. It has it’s problems, but it’s not bad at all.

First things first though. With this movie, and Jesse Stone: Lost In Paradise, Luke Perry is yet another of the Beverly Hills, 90210 crowd to make their way to Hallmark:

James Eckhouse in Second Chances
Jason Priestley in Expecting A Miracle
Jennie Garth in The Last Cowboy
Shannon Doherty in Growing The Big One
Tori Spelling in Family Plan

Those are just the ones I have reviewed. However, I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen Gabrielle Carteris, Joe E. Tata, Carol Potter, or Brian Austin Green yet. Ian Ziering is busy fighting sharks. And yes, I am aware that Tiffani Thiessen was in Northpole, but I haven’t seen it so it doesn’t count. Same goes for those other Luke Perry Hallmark movies as well.

But back to this movie. It opens up with Luke in front of a green screen, then we get the title card, before it cuts back to this.

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I know his character’s name is Avery Ford, but I don’t care. He is Dylan McKay to me now and always. So Dylan here is an aging star of westerns called Aim To Please. And look! They were made by the same people who worked on this film.

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Notice that includes Luke Perry himself as a producer. Dylan isn’t a happy man. He doesn’t like hocking beans. Now we meet Heather (Emmanuelle Vaugier) and her father Casey (Tom Butler).

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Turns out Casey is a fan of Dylan’s work as a western star. Also, it turns out the hotel/ranch is in Montana. And by Montana, they mean Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada. Well, at least for these shots.

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I have to assume the main set is also in the area, but I couldn’t pin it down. They also do a reasonably good job with the license plates too. I think all the major cars in the movie have Montana plates on them.

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So, how is Dylan going to end up in the country you ask? Nearly the same way as in Strawberry Summer. The hotel is in trouble and she figures since her father is a bit of a celebrity cowboy it might be mutually beneficial for her and Dylan if he pays a PR visit. But unlike Strawberry Summer, the first words out of Dylan’s mouth are that she could be a crazy person like Kathy Bates in Misery.

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I don’t care that he goes anyways. I am just grateful this movie acknowledged that fact. Strawberry Summer just glosses over that she is an obsessed fan who uses her personal connections to lure a celebrity to her small town because she believes she can fix him. Thank you Luke Perry, Tippi Dobrofsky, and Neal Dobrofsky for writing that into this film.

After landing, Dylan buys some boots because you know, he’s just an actor, not a real cowboy. That’s where a problem with this film is. Also, it’s a little wishy washy about it. She kind of acts like the girl in A Country Wedding even commenting on his obviously new and not really his boots. In her case though, it’s not that she’s being a jackass and more that for some reason she doesn’t know what acting is. If Anthony Hopkins had shown up in town, then would she have been expecting him to be a cannibal? The wishy washy part is that basically nobody else thinks that way. Certainly not the father who makes it very clear he knew he wasn’t a real cowboy. He’s an actor who plays one in movies. Movies that happen to make him happy when he watches them.

Well, they go through the standard city slicker in the country bit. Yes, that includes this nonsense.

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But what’s nice is that this tapers off within the first 30 minutes or so of the movie. The rest of the time is Dylan, Heather, and Casey just getting to know each other and themselves better. Dylan already knew he wasn’t super happy with where he was in his life, but it won’t mean that he just up and stops acting. That’s one of the really nice things about this movie. He finishes the film with a much more moderate and realistic response to his time with Heather and Casey. Heather gets to know Dylan and generally begins to appreciate what her father sees in him. Up till then she didn’t watch his movies. They don’t take that as far as I would have liked, but it’s quite implied that she understands his acting has brought her dad happiness. As for the dad, it’s a win win situation for him. He gets to hang out with his favorite actor and his daughter is happy as she grows closer to Dylan. At least as close as most Hallmark romances do before just having them end up together.

There is a little subplot with a guy who wants to do something by buying her place, but I really don’t know why they even bothered with it. It barely comes into play.

However, there are two things to notice in this movie.

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In that scene the guy who wants to buy up the place shows up to harass Heather. Luke Perry goes right into classic Dylan McKay for that moment. You know, those scenes when he would walk right over and tell someone to back off if they were bothering one of his friends. It’s suddenly Beverly Hills, 90210 for that moment and she might as well be Kelly.

The other thing.

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That is Matt Frewer as the local doctor, and that scene is a major missed opportunity. Do you see it? Let me change the line: Name is Marion, but people call me Max. Boom! A John Wayne reference, which was done that way in One Starry Christmas, plus a reference to Matt Frewer as Max Headroom. Too bad.

Ultimately what do you have with Love in Paradise? You have Strawberry Summer and A Country Wedding put into a blender and mixed by screenwriters who knew what they were doing. It works. There are cliches they could have left out, and moments they could have shot for something more meaningful, but it’s Hallmark. I will gladly praise the ones that really rise above, but I’m not going to come down on this one hard for it’s flaws. I recommend it.