As the sun will soon set on the season of Summer, the sun is setting on this year’s Aurora Teagarden Month. Since I’ve reviewed the previous two films, it only makes sense to talk about the last movie, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play. In my review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For, I said that I wasn’t going to get my hopes up about something I saw in the trailer for the next film. That “something” was a murder mystery play. Because I was disappointed by the murder mystery party in the aforementioned film, I figured that the murder mystery play was only going to make a brief appearance in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play. Like I do with every film I see and/or review, I watched the movie with an open mind and low expectations, hoping that I would be proven wrong. Was I pleasantly surprised or proven right? Check out my review as Aurora Teagarden Month prepares to take its curtain call!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Once again, the cast in this installment of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries was top-notch! It was great to see returning characters interact with new characters. Ever since Dylan Sloane joined the series in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: The Disappearing Game, his character, Phillip, has become a key member in this overarching story. Through his acting talents, Dylan has become unforgettable in the community of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The amount of believability and versatility he brought to his role in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play helped me stay invested in his story as well as raise the stakes in this movie. Matthew James Dowden had such a pleasant on-screen presence in this latest film! He portrayed a new character named Robert Brown. With a healthy dose of likability, Matthew made his character favorable enough to not be too obvious in who he is or what he’s doing. What works in his favor is that he appeared in a Hallmark mystery film prior to being cast in this particular movie.
A new location: Because Aurora and her friends and family attended a Mystery & Crime Convention, the whole movie took place in an out-of-town hotel, as well as the surrounding area. From what I remember, this is the first time the Aurora Teagraden series had a film take place outside the typical small hometown and/or usual settings. Since Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play took place outside of Lawrenceton, it gave the story and mystery a new perspective. Even though Aurora always takes matters into her owns hands when it comes to solving the crime, she is compelled even more to find justice when a member of her family is falsely accused of the crime. This is also caused by the police force being different from the one in Aurora’s hometown. Because she doesn’t have connections with the police in this mystery, this forces Aurora to be even more resourceful than in previous films. What’s so great about Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play is that, with the new location, it gives this series a breath of fresh air. Even after four years and over ten films, the Aurora Teagarden series always find a way to be creative and engaging!
A sense of teamwork: In previous Aurora Teagarden films, audience members have seen various characters help Aurora solve the film’s mystery. But, as I just mentioned, all of the key characters were in a new setting. This means that they lacked some of the usual resources that they use in the series. It was harder for some more than others, especially Lynn. Instead of seeing it as a disadvantage, the characters used their surroundings to their advantage by working as a team and making the best of their situation. What helped them was having a group of people with unique talents and insight. For example, Nick Miller is a psychology professor, allowing him to think of possible motives for each suspect. Meanwhile, Arthur and Lynn are police officers, so they were able to give their perspective on the case. Seeing the camaraderie of the characters was entertaining, even when it came to characters who usually don’t get along very well. I feel that a story element like this could have only worked for an already established series.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A slower pace: It seems like in this year’s Aurora Teagarden Month, the pace has been a constant issue. It has made the movies feel slower than they should. In Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play, the pace caused the film to feel a little bit drawn out. One example is the part of the story where Phillip is being threatened with an arrest. Hopefully, next year’s Aurora Teagarden Month can resolve this flaw.
Some scenes being shorter than others: What I noticed while watching Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play is how some scenes ended up being shorter than others. An example of this is when Sally and Robert attend the victim’s funeral. Just when they were about to make a big discovery or say something important, the movie would quickly move on to the next scene. While I understand the intent for having some of these scenes be short, it felt a bit choppy within the film’s overall flow.
The “building condos” cliché: This part of the movie didn’t bother me as much as the first two points did. However, I felt that this cliché needed to be addressed. The more Hallmark movies I watch, the more I notice that whenever there’s a character who’s a contractor, architect, builder, or businessperson, they are almost always planning on putting condos into a particular neighborhood. This idea is usually met with disdain and objection. In this recent Aurora Teagarden film, one of the suspects’ plans was to purchase a piece of land in an effort to build condos on it. I’ve never understood why this cliché is incorporated into films so much. Sure, it can provide a conflict to the plot. But, in a film like Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play, this cliché was unnecessary.
My overall impression:
Out of all the films that premiered during Aurora Teagarden Month, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Very Foul Play was the best one! There were a number of things that made this film good. An overarching example was having the story and mystery take place in a new location. It provided a new perspective and a breath of fresh air. The murder mystery play that I mentioned in the introduction made a satisfying appearance in the film! When it comes to the first Aurora Teagarden Month, however, I’d say that it was just fine. The first movie, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: A Game of Cat and Mouse was decent, while Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: An Inheritance to Die For ended up being ok. On the bright side, there were no films in this line-up that were bad. The Aurora Teagarden series is now the longest running mystery movie series on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries! With the series turning five years old next year, the creative team behind the Aurora Teagarden movies will have to step up their game if they want Aurora Teagarden Month to be an even bigger success. At this point, I think that everyone involved at Hallmark’s second network knows what they’re doing.
Overall score: 7.9 out of 10
What are your thoughts on Aurora Teagarden Month? Would you like to see this television event return next year? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!