Cooking with Love (2018 Hallmark Channel)

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Cooking with Love

Stars: Ali Liebert & Brett Dalton

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Hardworking and optimistic television producer, Kelly, doesn’t have time for love. Along with her mentor Amanda, Kelly dives into another season of The Little Gourmet, a kids cooking show, when hot-headed Chef Stephen drops into Kelly’s life as a last-minute replacement host. As the two struggle to make peace and a successful show, they realize they have a lot more in common than they thought—a love of food, the kids they encounter, and each other.

 

Thoughts

Kelly is a reality show producer (we know this because she wears airport headphones) with a heart of gold. Oxymoron much? She is a people-pleaser and just the nicest person. I mean she works with kids on a kid cooking show, The Little Gourmet. When Chef Betty slips a disk in her back the production team is tasked with a finding a replacement. Instead of going with the sweet red-headed Canadian chef, they go with hot-headed Stephen Harris. Stephen throws spaghetti on a food critic at his restaurant, but he would be good for social media engagement!  

Stephen’s manager, Adam, comes to the restaurant to convince him to do the kids’ cooking show. It will improve his image because his book tour has been cancelled and restaurant is less popular than ever. This is his opportunity to show the world he isn’t such a bad guy!

On set, Stephen and Kelly don’t hit it off. He is a total diva and refuses to wear the chef Boyardee hat (A Toque!), only cooks with copper pans, and won’t talk with the kids off camera. Since things aren’t going so well, Kelly is assigned to babysit Stephen by Amanda, her lady boss (who is moving on to an executive position and this will be her last season on The Little Gourmet). It is also revealed that Jeremy, the new guy, is up for the lady boss’s job, superseding Kelly’s rank/experience.

At a farmers market, Stephen tries convince Kelly to elevate the menu with things like radicchio. She tells him he needs to connect with the kids, because they are chefs… just like him! So they make hamburgers and sloppy joes! He gets what he wants and radicchio is added to the show! Too bad, his personality isn’t. Kelly tells him to try smiling, but it is terrifying. He won’t even let the kids make mistakes (it is a reality show); he just takes over for them.

Stephen is creeply listening to Kelly as she talks to a kid contestant and then later reads her idea notebook. He tries to talk her into pitching an idea. Later, In a production meeting, Kelly pitches the dea of doing Hometowns… just like The Bachelor. Basically, they would film on location with the kid’s families. Jeremy doesn’t like it (he is a hater), but Amanda does and greenlights the idea!

On set at the firehouse, Kelly is HEAVILY being flirted with by a fireman (Rick) while Stephen jealously, watches on. Right before filming the big chili cook off, Cody (one of the kid contestants) decides he wants to quit the show. He is worried he will let his dad down. Stephen talks him down by sharing a personal story about the time her cooked a burnt turkey for his dad. Kelly is impressed and maybe even falling in love??? After a successful day of filming they call a truce.

Out of the kindness of his own heart, Stephen takes Kelly to the kitchen to cook. She admits she doesn’t really cook, I mean she DOES make a “mean tray of ice.” They cook a sexy pizza together, somehow without getting into a flour fight! While they’re cooking, we learn that Stephen was an army brat who moved around a lot growing up. Jeremy totally interrupts just as things are getting hot and heavy (and by hot and heavy I mean Stephen touches Kelly’s face). Then Jeremy steals Kelly’s idea notebook!!!!!!!!

In case you forgot, this is a Valentine’s Day movie. Stephen and Kelly both realize they don’t have plans and awkwardly agree to meet at Stephen’s restaurant on Valentine’s Day. It is not a date though, it is a work thing. Kelly’s co-worker helps her get ready, she was going to wear jeans and a sweater!!! (We do NOT get a getting ready montage, so that was disappointing.)

At Stephen’s restaurant, Kelly is in red dress. (I’d say it was sexy, but it was pretty conservative.) Over dinner, Stephen and Kelly share more about each other. We learn that Kelly’s mom passed away four years ago and worked with kids too. That is why Kelly is so good with kids, but she wants to do more—make a real difference. Later, on a stroll through the city, they eat chocolates that the kids made, Stephen buys her flowers (Yellow for friendship…), and they talk about relationships and love finding you when your ready for it. Stephen walks Kelly to her door and tells her that he is glad he is working with her on the show—instead of kissing her.     

Kelly makes a home cooked meal! (Spaghetti with meatballs and chocolate chip cookies.) This time we get a montage. Kelly calls Stephen to tell him the good news. They have witty banter and after hanging up Stephen receives a call from his manager. Chef Betty is back and Chef Stephen is out.

Kelly immediately goes to the restaurant to invite Stephen to the taping of the grand finale, but he is flying out to LA for a new show he got to cross promote his new cookbook. He thanks her for everything because none of these new opportunities would be happening if it wasn’t for her.

Back at work, Kelly walks into a meeting where Jeremy is successfully pitching her ideas from the idea notebook. Kelly confronts Jeremy in the hallway; he denies everything and tells her that if she had the same ideas that she should have shared them sooner. Defeated and alone, Kelly receives a thank you card (A Hallmark Card, of course) from Tommy the first winner of The Little Gourmet.

At the grand finale, Stephen stops by (I thought he had a flight to LA??) to tell Kelly that he is offering an apprenticeship at his restaurant to the winner. While filming the LIVE episode, Chef Betty throws her back out picking up some peppers. (Seriously!) Kelly chases after Stephen to get him to host the show. Chef Becca wins! (Rightly so, because she shared her chocolate with Cody, who forgot to grab his.)

Jeremy’s sneaky notebook stealing gets found out and Kelly gets the rightful credit and the promotion! Kelly tells Stephen about her promotion and he tells her that he is turning down the LA gig to stay in town. He could say goodbye to New York, but not Kelly. He gives her a single rose and they kiss.

Side Note

Ali Liebert’s first starring Hallmark role was A Gift to Remember. (She has played the best friend role in MANY MANY TV Movies.)

Cooking Fact? “A julienne cut is ⅛ inch cut no more, no less!”

I didn’t hate the kids in this one, I guess child actors are better when they aren’t obsessed with Santa and snow.

First Hallmark movie I’ve seen where the girl gets the guy, promotion, AND he changes HIS plans to fit into her life.

Overall rating

❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️  (4 Hearts)

🍷🍷 (2 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

Very, Very, Valentine (2018 Hallmark Channel)

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Very, Very, Valentine

Stars: Danica McKellar, Cameron Mathison, and Damon Runyan

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

When Helen, a kind-hearted and shy florist, meets the perfect man at a Valentine’s Masquerade Ball she enlists the help of her best friend Henry to track him down only to find that her perfect man may already be right in front of her.

Thoughts

Helen loves to creepily watch weddings she’s arranged flowers for. She works in a flower shop (All in Bloom) with her pushy Aunt Carol, whose first line is, “Any eligible handsome young groomsmen?” We aren’t even two minutes into the movie and we get a flower arranging montage to the tune of a generic pop song about what a beautiful day it is.

Henry Heart (handsome friend, who likes to nag her) stops by the flower shop to let Helen know he has entered her into the super bowl of flower breeding, the International Flower Competition. (Apparently, she breeds hybrid roses? The mystery rose.) Helen calls it “The Mystery Rose” because she hasn’t thought of a name for it yet.

Helen meets up with Henry for coffee and he invites her to the Annual Black & White Gala at the New York Botanical Gardens. It is a masquerade too! Helen declines his offer because she couldn’t possibly get ready for a gala the night of. Henry gives her the invitation anyway—in case she changes her mind. Pushy Aunt Carol and Beth, the new hire at the flower shop, won’t let Helen not go to the gala. They pull some strings to get her a dress and all ready for the ball. (No fairy godmother needed!) Helen wears her mother’s necklace to make the ensemble extra special. (Her mom is dead, of course. Died when she was 10.)

Backstory on Helen and Henry, they never dated and are just friends. They met in college in the botany program, and they were reunited by a flower shop mix up near Valentine’s Day. Helen accidentally delivered a “It’s A Boy” flower arrangement to Henry’s first day of work. They still laugh about it to this day.   

At the gala, Hallmark really puts the recycled Christmas lights to use and even splurged to throw in a few red candelabras. (Because it’s Valentine’s Day, people!) Helen starts babbling to a man who she assumes in Henry but isn’t; it’s hard to tell since Hallmark only hires white extras. Eventually they find each other and marvel at the spectacle of it all. They have “romantic,” but not really, banter. Then they put on their masks and hit the dance floor. Later, Helen is checking out the silent auction and runs into the white guy in a mask again who encourages her to bid on a painting that she is eyeing. (It is a painting of mother and daughter in a flower field.) Just as the stranger is about to introduce himself, Helen cuts him off to talk about the mystery rose he is wearing in his lapel. As they walk through the garden, Helen overshares her life story. Her mom was an artist, and  her father passed away before she was born and was in the Navy. She also talks about flowers having a language all their own. Yellow roses mean friendship, white flowers means purity or sympathy, and lavender represent love at first sight.

Later, Helen and the mystery man dance, but only for a moment before he has to leave suddenly, leaving behind his mystery rose boutonniere. Henry shows up just as the mystery man is leaving and Helen tells him all about her evening and how magical it was. If only she knew what his name was… Henry walks her home (to her door even) and they just say goodnight, like they aren’t going to get together in the end.

The next day, Beth comes up with the bright idea to look through the week’s receipts to see who would have purchased a mystery rose from the store. They narrow it down to Charles Bradfield. Helen goes on a delivery and then stops by to see if Henry can help her find the mystery man. Helen’s strategy is to chase down handsome men, shouting “Charles? Charles?!” Henry’s strategy is to Google it.

Just as Helen is about to give up on the whole thing and admit that she loves Henry, Henry finds Charles! Turns out Charles was looking for her, too. Charles is a world-traveling lawyer, rides horses, and speaks three languages. (Four if you count the language of flowers!) In order to pay back Henry for doing her a solid, Helen agrees to complete the submission for the competition and name her mystery rose.

Meanwhile, Henry is losing his job because the New York Botanical Garden is losing its funding and closing. He bumps into Charles and pull a Cyrano de Bergerac and helps him plan the perfect date with Helen. On the date, Henry shows up to give Helen a pep talk??? She gushes to Henry about how perfect the date setting is and how weird it is that Henry had been talking about wanting to go there. Charles eventually shows up and Henry leaves.  

Inspired by her new love Helen comes up with a name. Cupid Rose? Heartbeat Rose? Red Rose? Nope. She names it after a place she and Henry went in college, Crystal Quarry, where they took a leap of faith into a quarry… Crystal Valentine Rose is the stupid name.

Back to the Cyrano de Bergerac thing. Henry gives Charles advice for talking points for a family dinner that Helen is planning. Henry even gives him a first edition of Emily Dickinson poems, to give to Helen as a gift. Charles is kind of like, this is weird but… thanks bro!

At Helen’s dinner, Charles is being introduced to Beth and Aunt Carol. Things get awkward when everyone realizes that Helen has been changing herself to be more appealing to Charles. She pretends to like poker and carrot cake. Thankfully, they all just drink more wine. At the end of the night, Charles gives Helen the gift. She is touched and he totally lies and says he found it in a bookstore and thought of her (and reiterates that it is a first edition).

Beth mentions that she might be interested in Henry and then has chat with him in a coffee shop. She realizes that Henry loves Helen and tells him he is a good guy for putting Helen’s happiness before his own.

Turns out Charles works for the company that is closing down the Botanical Gardens. (He is building evil condos.) When Helen finds out she runs to Henry to see if he is okay. Henry tells her it is true and that he will be moving to Arizona for a new job in less than a week. Helen storms off into the flowers and he chases after her, with hot chocolate to make her not mad!

We get a Grey’s Anatomy emotional montage where Henry is packing and Helen is arranging flowers sullenly. I guess it is signifying the week passing? It is very random.

After saying goodbye, Helen is sad and looking for a sign that she made the right choice. She gets that sign immediately, when she receives the mother/daughter painting as a gift. Helen assumes that it was Charles and thanks him for it. He is all like “Ummm you’re welcome?”

Helen then learns that a big investor is at the wedding she is doing the flowers for and speaks the language of flowers to him and convinces him to save to the Botanical Gardens. Screw Charles and his condo development! He takes it in side and is maybe the right choice if he can forgive her for ruining his big deal. Helen calls Henry and realizes that he is the one that got her painting and that he is the one! She asks him to say, but he is like “nawwww, I’m getting on the plane.”

After crying to Aunt Carol in the flower shop, Helen receives one last Valentine’s Day bouquet to deliver to the botanical gardens. When she arrives it is empty, except for a single candelabra and HENRY! Who proposes! They take the leap together.

Side Note

“A flower takes time to bloom.” Aunt Carol wisdom.

Stop and smell the roses was actually said in this movie.

Overall rating

❤️ (1 Heart)

🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷(5 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

Her Stolen Past (2018 Lifetime Movie Network)

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Her Stolen Past

Stars: Shanice Banton, Darlene Cooke, Barbara Eve Harris

Synopsis (via Lifetime)

When Sonya Daniels finds the birth certificate of a kidnapped baby, hidden in her late mother’s home, she’s shocked. What was her parents’ connection to the missing little girl and could her mother’s murder somehow be connected? Sonya hires attractive detective Brandon Hayes to help her investigate. But someone will stop at nothing to prevent them from uncovering the truth. Determined to unravel the mystery, Sonya doesn’t realize how deadly the answers she’s looking for will be.

Thoughts

The movie begins with an elderly woman putting a mysterious envelope in a drawer and then later walking alone in a parking garage. She hears someone following her and start running to her car looking back. No, this isn’t an episode of Golden Girls, It’s LMN so the elderly lady is promptly shot and killed. (She does manage to get a sold left hook in though). At her funeral we discover that the elderly lady was Sonya Daniels mother. We also learn that Sonya has an Auntie who loves her, a white friend, and that she is being watched by a mouth breather.

Sonya is back in her mother’s home, reliving memories and sorting through her things. (Again with her white friend, while the mouth breather watched from a parked car outside the house.) Sonya is studying to be a doctor at John Hopkins and will be selling the home. The police don’t have any information on who killed her mom, but there have been a few break ins in the neighborhood.

Sonya finds a box with her name on it in her mom’s closet. Inside the box is a designer bag with a birth certificate for Heather Bradley. (Whose parents are Dawn & Olivia Bradley, one of the richest woman in town.) After a quick Illuminate (Fake Google) search, Sonya and her white friend (who we learn is a nurse!) discover that Heather Bradley was kidnapped from Church. The white friend (Seriously, why has no one said her name yet?) has a friend from tennis class who is a former police officer and is now a private detective. Sonya goes to meet Brandon Hayes (A handsome, casually dressed detective.) He tells her to go to the police because it is evidence in a missing persons care, but than quickly changes his mind and decides to help her??? (But he will need her birth certificate….)

After a break in, Brandon comes to check on Sonya and offers to take her to her white friend (Missy, she’s got a name now.) for the night. Missy tells Sonya that Brandon is single and recently divorced for some reason. Brandon comes over the next morning with news, there is no record of Sonya’s mother ever giving birth and he thinks that Sonya’s birth certificate is probably a fake. Sonya insists on going to see the Bradleys. She WILL get to the bottom of this, with or without Brandon. (Who she is paying to do this job, but she is very involved.)

At the Bradley’s house (Which is very big and has a statue.) Mr. Bradley recognizes his wife’s bag and introduces them to his son, Grayson. Grayson thinks Sonya is just another gold digger and is very rude to her. Then Olivia comes home from the gym and she looks a lot like, Sonya. (Just saying!) Olivia is very controlled by her husband, who also manages the business she inherited from her father. He force feeds her antidepressants and tells her she is acting crazy.

Sonya continues to do even more detective work. (Without Brandon, who is busy sitting at his desk?) She discovers via her Auntie that she is adopted and it was a closed adoption (So no records to check.) and she gets security footage from her Auntie’s new security camera to see who broke into the house. She also goes to the church and learns that her mother was in the church choir until the kidnapping happened. (But she still doesn’t think her mom is responsible.)

Brandon shows up again, after hours, and Sonya starts making out with him. Then cock blocker Auntie comes over and interrupts to tell them that Sonya’s mom was getting upsetting phone calls. Then she leaves!?? You came over just for that, Auntie?

While sleuthing some more, Brandon and Sonya find a dead body! (Rebecca Gold, the babysitter who lost Heather at the church.) Brandon vows to work with the police now that things are getting real. The police station a office outside of Sonya’s house to make sure she is safe. (That always works!) Brandon also stays over with Sonya and they eat Chinese and have a heart to heart. The next morning the police are back and they have the DNA results. Sonya is Heather Bradley. (We all knew that from the beginning though, right?)

On their way to tell Mr. Bradley, Sonya and Brandon are shot at in the parking lot. Brandon gets shot, but it isn’t a big deal. They tell Mr. Bradley who isn’t wanting to tell his wife, because she is too fragile. (Or he is behind keeping it all covered up….)

Then ANOTHER body shows up, it is the personal trainer of Grayson Bradley… Lifetime is working hard to misdirect. Brandon then learns that Olive has a history of violence and mental instability. Could she be the murder? I hope not because she is at Sonya’s house!!!

Turns out it wasn’t Ms. Bradley it was MR. BRADLEY! But why? He arranged to have Sonya/Heather stolen because she is not his daughter. Olivia had an affair, so he had the man killed and paid the babysitter to get rid of Sonya/Heather. It is a lot of backstory to get out in the last 5 mins. I honestly don’t think I fully understand the motives of Mr. Bradley. He tried to kill them but then Olivia shoots her husband to save Sonya/Heather.

With the horror behind her, Sonya/Heather moves into her mother’s house and transfers to a local doctor school to be close to her new family, and Brandon.

Side Note

Based on Lynette Eason‘s Harlequin Love Inspired – Suspense novel Her Stolen Past.

Every transition shot in this movie is an aerial shot of a random small town. EVERY SCENE TRANSITION!

Overall rating

🔪 🔪 (2 Knives)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Lifetime, LLC

My Secret Valentine (2018 Hallmark Channel)

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My Secret Valentine

Stars: Lacey Chabert & Andrew Walker

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Chloe is upset her dad might sell their winery and “stress snacks” with a cute guy who turns out to be Seth, the wine rep. They spar until she goes to the cabin, rundown since her mom died. There she finds a note offering help from Handyman and she thanks him, signing In Need of Repairs. Meanwhile, Seth tries to win her over, but it’s Handyman she’s crushing on, so she asks that they meet. Walking into the Tavern together, Seth and Chloe have no clue they’re meeting each other until he figures it out, keeping her entertained when Handyman fails to show. The day of the festival, Chloe and Seth win a contest and seal their victory with a kiss. But their joy is short-lived when her dad admits he’s decided to sell. Racing to the cabin to talk to Handyman, Chloe sees the torn contract and realizes Seth was her secret crush all along.

Thoughts

Lacey Chabert (Chloe, but really it’s just Lacey at Valentine’s Day.) gets a mysterious phone call from her dad, he wants her come home. Lacey (Chloe) doesn’t seem too concerned. She get offered a job to manage a new restaurant that her POC boss is starting. She has to think about it, because she wants to start her own restaurant and can’t be a restaurant manager forever.

Next we meet Seth (Andrew Walker) who works for a wine company. His POC boss is trying to a upgrade their image to be more respectable beverage company and want Grange Family Wine to be that for them. Seth volunteers to be the sales rep for the company and go out to the winery, if he nails the deal he could be up for a promotion to VP!

At the winery, we realize that Lacey’s (Chloe) family owns Grange Family Winery and is back in town for the Valentine’s Day Winefest! Her redheaded Canadian best friend fills Lacey (Chloe) in on the things happening in the town and reveals that she has taken over managing the winery. We learn that Lacey’s (Chloe) mom died and her favorite cabin is available for rent as a perk of the winery. Before she leaves, Lacey (Chloe) writes a message on a chalkboard, welcoming the guest and apologizing for the repairs that still need to be done.

In honor of Lacey’s (Chloe) homecoming, her dad hosts a dinner and promptly announces that he will be retiring from the winery business and he has taken a meeting with Stratosphere (the big company). Lacey won’t have it, and insists on being at the meetings.

At the store, Lacey (Chloe) meets a handsome stranger. (He helps her get something off the top shelf, because he is so dreamy and tall.) They both love snacking! She stress snacks and he hungry snacks. The store rudely closes, by turning off the lights on them while they are in the store. Later, at the meeting Lacey (Chloe) realizes that “snack guy” is the sales rep from Stratosphere, Seth. She tells him what is what and is pretty sassy about not wanting to sell the winery. Angry and upset, Lacey (Chloe) goes to the cabin and sees that the current guest has left her a note on the chalkboard. Out of boredom, he fixed the repairs and signed the chalkboard, “Handyman :)” Lacey (Chloe) gets him some tools and leave him another note. (In pretty cursive!) “You’re my hero handyman.” Turns out Seth is handyman and he is staying at the cabin.

Seth makes his sale pitch to Lacey (Chloe) and her Redheaded Canadian friend. Lacey (Chloe) isn’t having it. Then Seth gets a call from his POC boss, who is on her work elliptical, who is angry that he hasn’t closed the deal yet… it’s been less than 24 hours. In an effort to win over Lacey (Chloe), Seth starts to learn about the business from the ground up. He works in the vineyard picking grapes (they are sour and he eats them, Lacey is amused), he stacks boxes, and even drives a tractor with Lacey’s (Chloe) dad. It has the opposite effect and Lacey (Chloe) is more annoyed than ever!

There is a leak in the cabin, so Lacey (Chloe) goes to let the repair man in. Another note is on the chalkboard.

“There is something comforting about a creaky house, it’s like you’re never alone.” Lacey is thrilled and exclaims. “It’s like you’re in my head!” Before she leaves she writes another message…

“Any chance you know how to make a sentimental coo coo clock, coo coo again.” (Very Random, but okay.)

The next day, Seth and Lacey (Chloe) go on deliveries together. (In a weird looking truck.) Seth pretends to be french and then later country to charm the customers. It works and Seth’s southern charm sell TWO CASES for the winery with a upscale restaurant in town. None of this whole section really makes any sense. It is just an opportunity to see Andrew Walker be adorable. To celebrate they go to the waterfront (?) and eat cheese and hate on boxed wine (I will fight you, Hallmark. Back off trash talking boxed wine.) We also learn that Seth’s Dad died when he was 15 and he became a “city boy” after that. As the sun sets, they talk about what fulfillment is to each of them.

Next we get a little montage of Chalkboard writing.

Him: “Your bill is racking up.”

Her: “Does your handyman experience cover advice for dealing with a jerk at work?”

Him: “ I find the best Jerk repellent is doing the unexpected instead of fighting back smile 🙂 A jerk is only a jerk if you let them get to you!

Her “ I smiled until my cheeks hurt”

Lacey (Chloe) admits to her redheaded Canadian friend that she has a crush on her Handyman and asks if she knows the name. (She doesn’t.) Then they start sleuthing! Looking at the online booking site for the cabin, they don’t find out much. Lacey (Chloe) is no Nancy Drew and invites her handyman to meet IRL. When Seth and Lacey (Chloe) both arrive at the same restaurant they are confused. Seth figure it out before Lacey does and he sits with her and messes with her. He is her wingman and makes her feel better about “being stood up” by her handyman. It is a pretty cute scene, but how will Seth make things right once she finds out he was lying.

Seth gets another call from his POC boss. (She is off the elliptical now.) She is angry because it has been two days and he hasn’t closed the deal. Lacey (Chloe) also gets a call from her boss, she has reconsidered her offer and wants to promote her to restaurant partner instead of manager.

Finally, it is the Valentine’s Day Winefest! (With sooooo many heart decorations.)  There is a wine tasting competition, and of course Lacey (Chloe) and Seth enter. They feed each other blindfolded and drink wine. (Sounds kind of sexy, but it wasn’t depicted that way at all.) They, of course, win. Lacey (Chloe) goes to tell her dad that she wants to run the winery. She is too late though, her dad signed the contracts. Seth landed the deal and Lacey (Chloe) is so upset that she cries and runs off.

Instead of Seth comforting her or chasing after her, Lacey (Chloe) is comforted by her dad. He tells her that finding what makes you happy isn’t always easy.” She goes to the cabin to recollect herself and accidentally spills wine on the TORN CONTRACT! She realizes that Handyman is Seth and chases after him. He tells her that she should run the winery because it knows it better than anyone else. She tells him that she was secretly hoping it was him all along. They kiss, while the redheaded Canadian friend looks on awkwardly in the background.

Side Note

If this town was only an afternoon drive away, WHY DID SHE NOT VISIT SOONER?!?

Andrew Walker is soooo dreamy. His is my ideal man.

For a movie about wine, they sure didn’t drink enough of it.

Overall rating

❤️ ❤️ ❤️  (3 Hearts)

🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷(5 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

Simone Biles: Courage to Soar (2018 Lifetime)

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Simone Biles: Courage to Soar

Stars: Jeanté Godlock, Tisha Campbell-Martin, and Julius Tennon

Listen to the Podcast Episode about this movie! 

Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Based on her book, Courage To Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance, the biopic follows Simone Biles through her sacrifices and hard work that lead her to win 19 Olympic and World Championship medals and cemented her stake as one of the greatest gymnasts of all-time. Biles’ journey from foster care to the Olympic podium is full of life experiences that serve as an inspiration for every little girl with a dream.

 

Thoughts

It’s 2000, and Simone is in foster care because her drunk mom could not take care of her and her siblings. They are sent to go live with her step grandmother (who is rich RICH!). They have a trampoline in the backyard and a big beautiful house. They are a happy family with in their new surroundings when the drunk mom comes back after being rehabilitated. Simone’s siblings want to go back home, Simone wants to stay with her step grandparents. After some back and forth between foster care, their mom’s house, and their step grandparents’ house, the grandparents are legally named as  Simone’s guardians.

On a whim, Simone’s brother takes her to the gym and she is a natural. Quickly advancing to higher levels and on to the junior olympic track. Simone’s step grandfather takes her to practices and gets some-patronizing advice from the other gymnastic moms, until they realize that she is the girl who is killing it on all the skills.

Next, we get a montage of the real Simone Biles in competition. It is amazing to see how small she was and the crazy gymnastics moves.

Flashforward to teen Simone. She is getting bullied for having muscles by the kids at her private school. Her life is completely consumed by gymnastics, and she isn’t doing well in school. So Nellie (the step grandmother) goes to the coach to see if Simone can get to the next level or should they look for another coach. Her coach commits to get Simone to be her best in front of Marta Karoly and to the olympics.

Cue the training montage!  

It works and Simone gets into the USA Gymnastics Camp. She is thrilled to be there and trains with Marta Karoly, the music here is ominous to show their seriousness of the new head coach. This whole scene is very strange with the recent scandal with the camp, and Marta’s involvement.

At nationals, Simone failed to make the junior nation team by one spot and Marta decided to not invite Simone back for another year because she lacked focus.

We then see high school Simone who wants a normal life with a boyfriend and school dances. She comes off as bratty and spends the next few scenes complaining and yelling at her step grandparents. Eventually she decides to go with home schooling and kind of commit to gymnastics. She makes the junior nation team!

In practices, Simone is all attitude and rudeness to her coach. She is pissed that she gave up high school to train and resentful to everyone. She has a heart-to-heart with Nellie who encourages her to not worry about what other people are doing and focus on herself.

We get another montage of real Simone in competition intercut with the movie family in the stands cheering her on. She stumbles, falls, and injures her ankle. Marta come to the locker room and tells her to be 100% committed and do it for herself, not others. Simone decides to make it fun again, while her coaches up the difficulty of her routines.

Cue another training montage (this time with her family helping her at home too)!

Training pays off when Simone wins the women’s all around at worlds—when her coach Amy suddenly walks out and quits. Nellie isn’t having it and meets with Amy to convince her to come back. She even starts to build her own a gymnasium, so Simone can train.

Lifetime then touches on the family dealing the racist tweets that Simone received after winning worlds from a salty Italian gymnast.

We get even MORE training montages (This time to “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten). Simone injured her shoulder and had to rehabilitate herself to win worlds two more times, making her a THREE TIME WORLD CHAMPION. (Which is insane!!!) We had a HUGE time jump here in the movie and skipped over the rest of her high school. She now has to choose between going college or going pro for sponsorships. She complains about having to make a choice and cries, but decides to go pro.

 

On track for Rio, Simone automatically qualifies for the olympics! The gym is finally open too. Simone’s mom calls to check in and they have a strained conversation, where Simone calls her by her name (Sharon). She then thanks Nellie for being her actual mom.

At the olympics, Simone and the other girls decided to call themselves the Final Five. They are the final five girls that Marta will have coached.

We finally get some actual olympic footage intercut with Jeanté Godlock’s face close ups. We all know how the olympics turn out! USA takes the gold! We then see that Simone is gearing up for 2020. (And then a two title card about the scandal, like so short I could barely read it.)

Side Note

Lifetime certainly was hoping to capitalize on the excitement leading up to the 2018 olympic games. However, the timing of this movie seems off with the US gymnastics abuse scandal. (Of which Simone Biles herself was a victim of.) Larry Nasser was recently sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison. 

Lifetime biopics are always hit or miss. This one had the benefit of Simone Biles herself involved in production. That said, the movie had no POV, except Simone Biles is good at gymnastics and her grandparents were cool/supportive.

Julius Tennon made this movie! He was hilarious.

Overall rating

🇺🇸 🇺🇸 (USA Flags)

🍷🍷 (2 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Lifetime

 

February TV Movie Guide (Hallmark & Lifetime)

Get ready for THREE Valentine’s Day offerings from Hallmark this year. Plus Lifetime is offering up a Simon Biles bio pic, just in time for the Olympics!

We will be covering them all in Season 2 of the podcast! (Starting Feb 8th.)

My Secret Valentine (Hallmark Channel)

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Premieres: Saturday, February 3 9/8c (on Hallmark Channel)

Stars: Lacey Chabert and Andrew Walker

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

A young woman takes advice from the chalkboard notes that her mysterious house rental tenant leaves when a slick sales rep arrives with plans to buy her family’s prized winery!

Thoughts

Two of my FAVORITE Hallmark actors together in one movie?!?! Also, they are in a winery?!?!?  “Pour it Up”

 


Simone Biles: Courage to Soar (Lifetime)

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Premieres: Saturday, February 3 8/7c (on Lifetime)

Stars: Jeanté Godlock, Tisha Campbell-Martin, and Julius Tennon

Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Based on her book, Courage To Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance, the biopic follows Simone Biles through her sacrifices and hard work that lead her to win 19 Olympic and World Championship medals and cemented her stake as one of the greatest gymnasts of all-time. Biles’ journey from foster care to the Olympic podium is full of life experiences that serve as an inspiration for every little girl with a dream.

Thoughts

I was extremely excited for a gymnastics Lifetime Movie, especially if it is about Olympic GOLD medalist, Simone Biles. (Who is currently training for Tokyo 2020.)  However, with the Larry Nasser scandal I’m not sure Lifetime will handle the topic with tact or even at all. “Let it Breathe”


Very, Very, Valentine (Hallmark Channel)

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Premieres: Saturday, February 10 9/8c (on Hallmark Channel)

Stars: Danica McKellar, Cameron Mathison, and Damon Runyan

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

When Helen, a kind hearted and shy florist, meets the perfect man at a Valentine’s Masquerade Ball she enlists the help of her best friend Henry to track him down only to find that her perfect man may already be right in front of her.

Thoughts

So, this is reverse Cinderella? I’m here for that! That candelabra in this picture is gaudy as hell! (And is that repurposed Christmas decorations? No, Hallmark!) I’m going to have to “Put a cork in it.”


Cooking with Love (Hallmark Channel)

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 9.41.55 AM.pngPremieres: Sunday February 11 9/8c (on Hallmark Channel)

Stars: Ali Liebert & Brett Dalton

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Optimistic and cheerful TV producer, Kelly, doesn’t have time for love. Bad boy celebrity chef, Stephen, doesn’t have time for anything besides cooking. Fun with a side of love ensues as Kelly and Stephen are paired on a children’s cooking show.

Thoughts

I liked Ali Liebert in A Gift to Remember. Will I like her is she is not playing the Sandra Bullock role in While You Were Sleeping? “Let it Breathe”


*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Lifetime

Morning Show Mystery: Mortal Mishaps (2018 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

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Morning Show Mystery: Mortal Mishaps

Stars: Holly Robinson Peete & Rick Fox

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

Billie Blessings has gone from beloved chef, restaurant owner, and morning show segment host to #1 suspect in a murder case when one of the executives at the network dies from poisoning. When the head chef at Billie’s restaurant is arrested and held as a suspect, Billie takes matters into her own hands by digging deeper into a mystery that could incriminate people close to her while risking her own life in the process

Thoughts

I’m not familiar with this genre of TV movie, I’m not sure how Hallmark will pull of a G-rated murder mystery. I’m basically only watching this because HRP is their first black actor in a leading role… ever? So, here we go!  

As the opening credits role we see a mystery person in a gas mask baking a rat poison cake. Then cut to Billie Blessings (HRP) who is a TV chef who is filling in for Wake Up, West Coast TV morning show anchor. (Laney, who recently died from a hazelnut allergy.)  There is so much exposition it is hard to keep up. Lance is the male co-host, Rudy is a producer who wanted Billie to be the co-anchor and is fighting with his ex/boss (Gretchen), there is a assistant, and a camera guy. Everyone wants to eat the cake (Which is poison, but no one know it.)

Then we also meet, Aunt Kassandra, who wants Billie to start focusing on dating and make her restaurant a priority. Maurice, the head chef of Billie’s restaurant.

Producer Rudy is at his apartment, when he receives a cake from Blessings (Billie’s restaurant) that says “congratulations.” When he goes to his wine cellar to get some afternoon wine, he sees “RIP” scrawled in red on his wine fridge. Rudy arrives at the big TV network dinner disoriented and ill looking. As he makes the big announcement of who the new co-host will be he dies! The restaurant is immediately closed because the paramedics on scene determines it is cyanide poisoning. Cue the police on scene to investigate the murder. Lucky for Billie it is her old high school boyfriend, Ian, AND they are both newly single.

The next morning at the TV show, the new co-host is there. It’s Tiffany Moon, a girl with no experience and crippling stage fright. (Perfect choice, Rudy.) Billie talks to her and gives her advice like:

“If your asked a question you don’t know the answer to, repeat the question to buy yourself more time.”

Even mediocre advice can’t keep Billie on set, Gretchen (who is now the new producer) fires her. Back at the restaurant Maurice is taken into custody because he sent the cake to Rudy. Later, at the precinct Maurice admits to finding cyanide in the restaurant and hiding it in his car. (He didn’t want Billie to get in trouble.)

Billie, Aunt Cassandra, Assistant girl (Kiki), camera guy (Phil), and waiter man (Juan, of course.) all get together over coffee and pie (This is Hallmark, after all.) to figure out who done it. They create a list and star system for people with motives. Billie is on the case and goes to the investigate. She bumps into Ian and they compare notes, I was hoping in a flirty way but it turns out to be pretty tense and confrontational

While retrieving Maurice’s dog from his building, Billie takes cyanide from under his sink and hides it in her purse. When she gets home she finds “Stay out of this” written on a mirror with red lipstick (?) Billie doesn’t heed the warning and meets with Tiffany Mood to see if her and Rudy were dating. They weren’t but Tiffany is convinced that she is next to be murdered.

In between murder investigation and saving her restaurant, Billie and Ian share a romantic dinner. They catch up on what they’ve missed in each others lives and what could have been. Only to be interrupted by Maurice, who is now out of jail! Maurice learns that Billie is now the number one suspect.

Billie turns the tables on the situation and goes on air to confront Tiffany. She gets her to admit that she is being harrassed and then she tells everyone that Laney might not have had an allergic reaction, she was poisoned too. The police double down on Billie as suspect numero uno.

Things get crazy at this point. The Camera Guy (Evan) gets hit over the head and almost exploded in his house, thankfully Billie saves him. (Don’t worry, she is still a suspect.) Tiffany leaves a note that she is leaving town. Because, live TV is too stressful… not all the MURDERING?!?! Billie and assistant Kiki, track Tiffany down and take her to Rudy’s apartment to get the evidence to convict her for murder. Before they can, Billie and Tiffany are locked in the wine cellar and Kiki is “attacked.” Ian (Maybe the worst cop ever?) comes to save them but Billie ask for two more hours to solve the case.

Billie is convinced a recording has the evidence to prove who murdered Rudy and Laney. At the TV station, Billie is trying to log into Rudy’s computer when (Spoiler) the assistant pulls a gun on her. She had access to all of Billies passwords and keys, and she has the motive of wanting to be a co-house of West Coast TV. Kiki is apprehended by Ian and all is good. Billie and Ian summarize all this in a romantic chat on the terrace. Setting up successful (but predictable) new franchise for Hallmark.

Side Note

I didn’t hate this movie! HRP and Rick Fox has great chemistry. I also LOVED LOVED Aunt Cassandra. (Karen Robinson)

This is the first starring role for HRP in a Hallmark movie. She was previously the token black friend in “Angel of Christmas” in 2015 and “Christmas in Evergreen” in 2017.

Rick Fox is a fox.

Al Roker made a cameo. He apparently co-wrote the novel this movie is based on.

Random Note: I’m not too familiar with any of the mystery series on Hallmark, but apparently Lacey Chabert is set to star in “The Crossword Mystery,” about a brilliant crossword puzzle editor who helps a police detective (Brennan Elliott) solve crimes? By using crossword puzzles? Please explain this to me.

 

Overall rating

🔎 🔎 🔎  (3 Magnifying Glasses)

🍷🍷🍷🍷 (4 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2018 Crown Media United States, LLC