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

 

Christmas in Mississippi (2017 Lifetime)

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Christmas in Mississippi

Listen to the Lifetime Uncorked Podcast! 

Stars: Jana Kramer & Wes Brown

Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Photographer Holly returns to her hometown of Gulfport, Mississippi for Christmas. The town is resurrecting their traditional holiday light show for the first time since a terrible hurricane struck five years earlier. Holly volunteers to pitch in, but soon has second thoughts when she discovers the festival is run by her high school sweetheart, Mike. Now Holly must spend the next few days with the man who broke her heart. With the help of Caroline (Faith Ford, her match-making mother and Mr. Kriss, the kind man who will play Santa in the town’s celebration, Holly begins to fall in love with her hometown, and Mike, all over again.

Thoughts

Holly is home for the holidays! It is just her and her Mom this year, since her father died? It isn’t clear really. Anyway while running errands and snapping photographs around town Holly runs into Her ex-boyfriend, Mike, who is running the Christmas festival (The first since the hurricane, 5 years ago) and she is not happy to see him. Apparently he broke her heart back in the day. (We even get a flashback!)

Since the festival is the first in 5 years, it is bigger and better than ever. Holly agrees to help Mike and is tasked with building a concession stand. When a little know it all kid helps her, she is amused. She asks him how he learned all about building and he says his Dad taught him. She then sees him go running over to Mike, could Mike be his Dad? She then sees Mike spinning around Betty at the festival, could she be his girlfriend?

Holly makes a lot of assumptions and and totally misreads the situation. She thinks Mike has a wife and child. She also thinks he is would be the type of guy to ask her on a date despite those things. She realizes her mistake when Betty tells her that the kid is Mike’s nephew and Mike is as single as the come. (This all could have been solved with some light social media stalking, Holly!)

There is a B storyline with the Mom and Mr. McGuire (Al from Home Improvement). Holly gives her approval for her Mom to date again, if she want to.

There is a C storyline with Betty and Benny who are getting married and have hired Holly to do the wedding photos.

Mike asks Holly on a date, but it turns out to be just hanging out with his nephew at his house. We find out that Jack’s Dad isn’t coming home from base in time for Christmas. Holly and Mike keep Jack entertained with trips to the city and wishing upon a star.

Later on a proper date, Mike and Holly get all dressed up and go out on the town. They stroll around town and drink milkshakes and even dance together to some country music. They almost end the date with a kiss, but are interrupted by Mom.

In the end, the festival is a hit. It is a very special moment because the town came together and face adversity to celebrate Christmas together! Then we get a light show! (Which is never as cool as in person…) Holly tells Mike she turned down her job offer (what job tho? IDK) and she will be staying in Gulfport with Mike! They almost kiss but are interrupted by Santa. (Who turns out to be Jack’s Dad back from war, all arranged by THE REAL SANTA!!!) Then, they kiss.

Side Note

My friend, Karen Murphy’s Mom was an extra in this movie.

This movie was low key America, not in your face patriotic like Hallmark’s Christmas Homecoming. The difference is this movie deals with an American town ravished by a hurricane and rebuilt by its citizens. There is also the whole fighting for our country angel that we see with Jack’s Dad. AND the fact that this film was filmed in the good old USA. (Gulfport, Mississippi.)

Overall rating

🎄 🎄🎄  (3 Christmas Trees)

🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2017 Lifetime

 

Christmas Homecoming (2017 Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

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Christmas Homecoming

Listen to the Podcast Episode about this movie! 

Stars: Julie Benz, Michael Shanks

Synopsis (via Hallmark)

A military widow, whose faith in Christmas has lapsed, rents an apartment to a handsome Army Captain, recovering from an injury in battle, and whose faith in Christmas is inspirational. As they team up to save the town’s military museum with a Christmas fundraising event, these two ‘wounded birds’ find themselves falling in love — and being healed by the magic of Christmas.

Thoughts

Amanda is an over-thinker and a museum curator! She plans the army base’s Christmas Tree lighting, enlists her whole family to help, and even brings home soldiers for the holidays as a surprise. While planning the veterans wing, Tom, the manager tells Amanda she is going to have to cut back on her hours. All work and no play make Amanda a dull girl.

While at home, listening to old voicemail from her deceased husband, a handsome stranger arrives for the room to rent. Jim is in a cast but loves Christmas, just like Tiny Tim! When Craig raises concerns about a strange man living in the guest house (and also his frustration for being placed in the friendzone), Amanda asks for more time and understanding, will she ever get over Rick? (Her husband who passed away two years ago.)

Tom, the manager finally breaks the news to Amanda that the veterans museums is not making a profit and will need to close. Amanda has an idea for a Christmas Benefit to save her job and the heritage center and museum!

Back at the house with the mysterious stranger, Amanda is awoken in the middle of the night by Jim’s one-legged hobbling around. She goes out to bring him some hot chocolate. She reveals her plans to save the museum and Jim is onboard to help her out. Jim believes in the magic of Christmas to mend a broken heart, and he wants Amanda to believe as well.

Amanda is inspired and has a plan. PROMOTIONAL! EMAIL!

After a presentation of Purple Hearts to wounded soldiers, Amanda and Jim go on a lunch date. They talk about their military families and personal struggles. Jim starts to help Amanda with the Christmas Benefit. He really comes through. Gift baskets, catering, and an accapella quartet are ALL provided by Jim. (He gets a three second hug and an invite to family dinner.) Not to be outdone, friendzone Craig’s firm will be sponsoring a cocktail reception. (He gets a measly hug.) To be clear, Amanda has done… nothing! Nothing except catch feelings for Jim.

Amanda is back listening to her dead husband’s voicemail and attempting to clean out her closet with her pushy sister. Amanda can’t even get rid of one of her husband’s shirts. To counterbalance this drama we get Jim looking for fun and a montage of snowman building, which lead to snowball fights and even a post decoration kiss. Then it is back to the drama! We are taken to the fallen soldiers funeral.

Attempting to not overthink things, Amanda and Jim fix her dead husband’s bike and decorate the Christmas Tree with (Balsam Hill Ornaments) and the house. Amanda is starting to believe again.

Back in fighting shape, Jim is given a bonus if he decides to redeploy. He must make a choice to serve his country or stay with Amanda. She asks him not to make a decision just for her.

We are finally at the night of the benefit. There is a Santa’s sleigh and photo booth, and auction led by Amanda in the slowest auction I’ve ever seen. Having failed to raise enough money, Amanda decides to auction off Rick’s bike, which goes VERY slowly. When Craig and Jim get into a bidding war things start to heat up. Jim bids $15,000 and saves the museum! Where did he get the money though? He has reenlisted and wants Amanda to wait for him, but she isn’t sure if she can.

After learning friendzone Craig was planning on proposing (this man cannot take a hint), Amanda decides she CAN love Jim and runs home to tell him. She finds a goodbye letter instead. She hurries to the deployment bus and finds Jim. She loves him and he loves her. They have the magic of Christmas and passionate kisses. Jim gets on the bus and Amanda gets SNOW.

Flash forward one year later. Jim is stuck in transport and not able to come home for Christmas. He then surprises Amanda with carolers (lips not synced), riding in on her dead husband’s bike, wearing her scarf she gave him at the bus station.

“A Christmas Homecoming.” Amanda Gasps as Jim embraces her and then proposes.

They kiss AGAIN (Fourth time in this movie!!!) and are happily engaged. The end!

Side Note

Julie Benz is a very likable actress.

POC Alert: Dr. Baxter and the lady who donated the catering whose solder-son died. (I can’t remember her name.)

So many passionate kisses in this one AND a refusal of a kiss because she wasn’t in the right mind space. (Because a woman has a right to say no!) Hallmark Movies and Mysteries is getting XXX!   

Overall rating

🎄 🎄🎄(3 Christmas Trees)

🍷🍷🍷(3 glasses of wine required)

 

*Photo Credit: © 2017 Crown Media United States, LLC