Take 3: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part Review (Hallmark Mysteries Double Feature Part 1)

Because I haven’t reviewed a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film since January, I thought writing about the newest Aurora Teagarden movie was a good idea! I also watched the latest mystery film, To Catch a Spy. Therefore, I decided to make my reviews a double feature! First though, we need to talk about Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part! While weddings have been shown in Hallmark’s mystery films, this is the first time one of the protagonists has gotten married within their respective series. Having Aurora finally walk down the aisle makes sense, especially since the Aurora Teagarden series has been on the air the longest. However, it’s still nice to see Aurora and her fiancé, Nick, reach this milestone in the lives. Speaking of miles and stones, let’s hop, skip, and jump through this review of Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part!

Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Things I liked about the film:

Omitting the “planning-a-wedding-in-an-unrealistic-time-period” cliché: Anyone who has read my list of The Top 10 Worst Cliches from Hallmark Movies would know I am not a fan of the “planning-a-wedding-in-an-unrealistic-time-period” cliché. Because this is the first time Aurora and Nick have gotten married, let alone planned a wedding, it would have been easy for the series’ creative team to include this cliché in the script. Instead, part of the story revolved around Aurora and Nick finalizing wedding plans days before their big celebration. I like how the creative team took a different approach when it came to the subject of weddings. It also helps that the wedding itself didn’t dominate the story, like in some wedding movies. Showing a wedding’s planning process in a realistic fashion is quite refreshing. At one point in the film, Nick and Aurora seriously consider postponing their wedding, a conversation that felt mature and considerate. It was nice to see soon-to-be newlyweds take the planning process seriously instead of a) relying on the “power of love” to make everything fall into place or b) become so attached to a physical location, that they do anything it takes just to get married there.

A cold case mystery: Hallmark’s mystery series have sometimes featured cold cases. But these types of cases are not featured as often as cases that take place in an immediate time frame. This is especially true when it comes to the Aurora Teagarden series. The mystery in Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part first took place over twenty years ago. Not only that, but it also relied on dialogue as clues more than physical objects. This kind of story-telling is rarely seen in Hallmark mystery films. It gives the audience a reason to stay invested in the movie, as it forces them to pay attention to what the characters are saying and doing. I also applaud Aurora Teagarden’s creative team for choosing a different kind of mystery for this story. It keeps the overall series fresh and exciting!

Aurora’s wardrobe: An underrated strength in the Aurora Teagarden series is Aurora’s wardrobe! The outfits found in this film not only appeared stylish and modest, but they also complimented Candace Cameron Bure. In a scene where Nick brings Aurora donuts for breakfast, Aurora’s outfit consisted of a simple green skirt and a gray sweater with a green, yellow, and purple plaid pattern. When a piece of clothing features a pattern, you should pair it with a plain colored piece. This is the reason why Aurora’s outfit worked. Another memorable outfit was the one Aurora wore to her rehearsal dinner. The pink, short-sleeved dress was complimented by simple gold and silver jewelry. When Aurora went outside, she wore a navy-blue coat that boasted a light and dark pink plaid pattern. Because the coat featured the same color of pink as the dress, both pieces paired well together!

Wedding couple image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-wedding-invitation-with-happy-couple_1259848.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding”>Wedding vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A limited amount of humor: In Hallmark’s mystery series, including the Aurora Teagarden series, a certain amount of humor is incorporated into each story. This element prevents the film from becoming too dark. But Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part didn’t feature as much humor as other movies in the series. One reason for this was the absence of Miranda Frigon, who has portrayed Lynn since the series’ beginning. Her dry humor and criticism of Aurora’s involvement in each case has served as comic relief. Without Lynn, a percentage of the series’ humor is gone. Even though, there were two scenes that made me laugh out loud, this movie was one of the more serious stories in the series.

The mystery’s weak connection to the wedding: While I did like the film’s cold case mystery and how the wedding didn’t dominate the story, the mystery itself didn’t connect to the wedding. As I mentioned in this review, the mystery took place over twenty years ago. But as I watched the movie, I felt it could have been placed in its own story. I found myself wondering, “Do we really need a wedding to break up the darkness of this case”? If the series’ creative team really wanted Nick and Aurora’s wedding to remain an important part of the story, the mystery could have been something along the lines of a cold case being connected to the wedding reception venue or a florist being kidnapped.

The dynamic of Charles and Aida’s relationship: Aurora’s father, Charles, attends Aurora and Nick’s wedding. Because Charles and Aida, Aurora’s mother, divorced when Aurora was in college, this is the first time Aurora’s parents have interacted in years. If this had happened in real life, there would be a certain amount of awkwardness and discomfort between both parties. But for Aida and Charles, it seemed like they picked up where they left off. I can see the film’s creative team wanted to showcase cordial, co-parenting exes, similar to the Hallmark Channel movie, Love to the Rescue. What made that concept work in the 2019 film is how Nikki DeLoach’s character and her ex were currently raising a school-aged child. Therefore, both parents needed to co-parent. In the newest Aurora Teagarden chapter, Aurora is an adult. At this point in Aurora’s life, Aida and Charles no longer need to co-parent, let alone be on the same page when it comes to their daughter.

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My overall impression:

The Aurora Teagarden series is Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ longest running series. Since 2015, fans have watched Aurora solve multiple murders, navigate her love life, and lead the Real Murders Club. With Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part, Aurora, as well as Nick, reach a new chapter in their lives. At the same time, our favorite librarian does what she does best: solve a mystery. This new film contains elements that serve as the series’ strengths; such as showing a type of mystery that isn’t always featured on the network and utilizing different ways to present clues. However, the film is one of the more serious titles in the series. Miranda Frigon’s absence was seen and felt. Because some of the series’ humor comes from her character, most of Aurora Teagarden’s comedy was not there. While Marilu Henner and Andrew Airlie, who portray Aida and Charles Teagarden, have good on-chemistry, I didn’t think the dynamic of their characters’ relationship was well executed. For this flaw, the fault lies in the screenwriting. I’m looking forward to the next installment in the series, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder! Since Hallmark hasn’t created any programs about a honeymoon before, it’ll be interesting to see how the overall story will play out.

Overall score: 7.5-7.6 out of 10

Have you seen Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part? Are you looking forward to Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have fun at the wedding!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2020

While I saw more good movies than bad this year, I wasn’t able to avoid some stinkers. Now that I’ve published my best movies of the year list, I can now discuss which movies were the worst ones I saw in 2020! I watch movies in the hopes of them being good. However, some stories turn out better than others. As I have stated before on my blog, my worst films of the year lists are not meant to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are just ways for me express my opinion in an honest and informed way. Similar to my best movies of 2020 list, I will start this post with my dishonorable mentions and then move on to the official list!

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Dishonorable Mentions

Working Miracles, Her Deadly Reflections, The Cabin, Thicker Than Water, Touched by Romance, The Wrong Wedding Planner, Murder in the Vineyard, Jane Doe: Yes, I Remember It Well, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift, Is There a Killer on my Street?, and Stolen in Plain Sight

10. Angel on My Shoulder

When choosing which movie would end up in the tenth spot, it was between The Cabin and Angel on My Shoulder. Because I had higher expectations for the 1946 movie, that’s the one that was placed on this list. The overall film is painfully average, as I said in my review. Even though there is a clear conflict, it takes quite some time for that to be resolved. The personal journey of the protagonist, Eddie, is stunted. This is due to the character spending most of the story as an unchanged man. After watching Angel on My Shoulder, it makes me thankful that a story about a dog going to heaven was executed so well.

Take 3: Angel on My Shoulder Review

9. Jane Doe: Vanishing Act

In 2020, I watched most of the movies from Hallmark’s Jane Doe series. Within the nine-film collection, the first chapter is certainly the worst. What makes a good mystery movie is a strong sense of excitement. This is a quality that Jane Doe: Vanishing Act was, sadly, devoid of. Everyone involved with this project looked like their hearts were not fully invested in what they doing. It was as if they wanted to get the film done and over with just to move on to something else. While I continued on with the series, it was in the hopes that the next film would be better than the introduction. If you plan on creating a series, this is not the way you get an audience invested in it.

8. My Husband’s Deadly Past

There are two kinds of Lifetime movies; those that are surprisingly good and those that are predictably unenjoyable. My Husband’s Deadly Past perfectly fits into the latter category. Even though I found the inclusion of psychology/hypnosis to be interesting, the story’s focus on ripping off the 1993 movie, The Fugitive, overshadows any of the film’s strengths. The protagonist in My Husband’s Deadly Past is the type of character that makes one poor decision after another. It also doesn’t help that the movie contains a few romantic moments that feel out of place within the overall tone. Two other films on this list make the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did. But, to avoid spoilers, I’ll talk about them more later.

7. Out of the Woods

I can honestly say Out of the Woods is one of the most meandering films I’ve ever seen. It takes so long for the story to get to its intended point, that story points are either completely ignored or are not fully developed. One example is how a white wolf continuously crosses paths with the protagonist. No explanation is given as to what the purpose of this wolf was or whether it was real. Another disappointment is how Native American culture is glossed over. Native American stories are rarely found in Hallmark’s library, so it is a letdown when a film containing Native American culture doesn’t work out. If you want to watch an Ed Asner led Hallmark movie with similar ideas and themes, I’d recommend the 2008 movie, Generation Gap. It does a better job at telling a story of two people trying to understand each other.

6. Mystery Woman: At First Sight

Before there was Hailey Dean, there was Samantha Kinsey from Hallmark’s Mystery Woman series. This early collection from the network is one where I’ve seen most of its installments. Out of the movies I have watched, Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the one I disliked the most. Both of the overarching mysteries in this story are poorly written. They are also overshadowed by the drama within the plot. Mystery Woman: At First Sight is the seventh movie in this series, which is a shame because its previous chapters created an enjoyable cinematic run. I’m not sure how much directorial experience Kellie Martin had prior to working on this project. Even though I think it would be interesting to see her direct a Hailey Dean Mysteries movie, her effort on Mystery Woman: At First Sight was not her strongest.

Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama poster created by Dune Films, Norwegian Pirates, Storm Films, Storm Productions, and Ketchup Entertainment. Image found at https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/captain_sabertooth_and_the_treasure_of_lama_rama.
5. Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama

It breaks my heart how this movie disappointed me so much. In fact, Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama is the most disappointing movie I saw in 2020. It copied Pirates of the Caribbean’s homework without trying to understand what made that trilogy of films work. Also, for a movie called Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, Captain Sabertooth himself sat on the sidelines of his own story. Pinky was a likable character, but making him the protagonist made the title seem misleading. I just hope this film doesn’t dissuade other studios from creating their own pirate narratives.

Take 3: Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama Review

4. Anniversary Nightmare

Remember when I said there were two films that made the same major mistake My Husband’s Deadly Past did? Well, Anniversary Nightmare is one of them. Like My Husband’s Deadly Past, Anniversary Nightmare rips off The Fugitive. But this Lifetime title is so bad, it is, at times, laughable. Both the acting and writing are poor. All of the movie’s flashback scenes are terribly filmed, captured through heavy “shaky cam” and covered in a red film. These two factors made it difficult to see what was happening on screen when a flashback arrived. I haven’t seen a Lifetime movie this bad in quite some time. If you’re interested in participating in Taking Up Room’s So Bad It’s Good Blogathon, Anniversary Nightmare might be an option.

3. I’m Not Ready for Christmas

I didn’t see as many Christmas movies this year as I did in 2019. But I can confidently say that 2015’s I’m Not Ready for Christmas is the worst Christmas film I saw in 2020. While it doesn’t rip off The Fugitive, the movie does place more emphasis on being a pointless, Christmas remake of Liar Liar, a well-known title from the ‘90s. Therefore, I’m Not Ready for Christmas also makes the same mistake A Cheerful Christmas did last year. There were parts of this story that didn’t make sense. Even the title, I’m Not Ready for Christmas, had nothing to do with the events in the plot. When you look past the typical Christmas aesthetic Hallmark can’t get enough of, you realize the story itself isn’t Christmas-y. If the creative team behind this project knew their script wasn’t exclusive to the Christmas season, they should have focused on the messages and themes of the holiday, like If You Believe did sixteen years prior. For their New Year’s Resolution, maybe Hallmark and Lifetime should move away from famous ‘90s films as their source of inspiration.

Take 3: I’m Not Ready for Christmas Review

2. Marriage on the Rocks

This movie was so bad, it honestly made me feel uncomfortable. That was because the film’s overarching view on marriage and divorce was so one-sided and skewed. I’ve been told Marriage on the Rocks was originally intended to be a satire. Sadly, that’s not the movie I ended up seeing. What I got instead was a comedy that I didn’t find very funny. The “comedy of errors” direction the screenwriter took just made the character’s situations more complicated, as most of the errors do not receive a satisfying resolution. It’s also a film that feels longer than its designated run-time. If you have never seen any of Frank Sinatra’s, Dean Martin’s, or Deborah Kerr’s movies before, please don’t let Marriage on the Rocks be your starting point.

Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

1. Twentieth Century

For most of 2020, I thought Marriage on the Rocks would be the worst movie I saw this year. That was until Twentieth Century came along and proved me wrong. Where Marriage on the Rocks made me uncomfortable, Twentieth Century made me appalled. The fact Lily and Oscar’s relationship was so abusive in a movie classified as a “romantic comedy” serves as one example. Last time I checked, unhealthy relationships were not funny or romantic. To Marriage on the Rocks’ credit, the story featured characters that didn’t support the film’s narrative. Even though, more often than not, they were looked down upon, they always stood up for what they believed in and tried to help the main characters see the fault in their ways. With Twentieth Century, however, there were no “voices of reason”. None of the characters faced accountability whenever they did something wrong or made any attempt to change their ways. When I reflect on this movie, I question what the creative team was trying to tell its audience. But based on my reaction to the final product, maybe I don’t want to know.

Take 3: Twentieth Century Review

Twentieth Century poster created by Columbia Pictures.

Have fun in 2021!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Teenage Rebel Review (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Double Feature Part 1)

I haven’t seen many films from Ginger Rogers’ and Fred Astaire’s filmography. Despite this, I joined the third Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Blogathon, in the hopes of expanding my cinematic horizons! Because I figured other participants would cover Ginger’s musicals, I chose one of her movies that wasn’t a part of the musical genre. As the title says, I’ll be reviewing Teenage Rebel! The aftermath of a divorce/custody battle is rarely explored in film. This is what made me take notice of this particular title. What I also thought was interesting was how this story discussed the subject of divorce during a time when the concept was not as talked about as it is today. While I have reviewed the 1939 movie, In Name Only, that film revolved around the divorce itself and what led up to it. Now, let us begin part one of my Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Double Feature!

Teenage Rebel poster created by 20th Century Fox.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Ginger Rogers is an actress from what would be considered the “Golden Era” of Hollywood. This particular period in time is often depicted with a sense of glamour. Because of this, Ginger carried herself in Teenage Rebel with that same sense of glamour I just brought up. Not only that, her emotionality really shined through in her role as Nancy Fallon! Some of her best scenes featured her interacting with Dorothy/Dodie. Both actresses go toe-to-toe with each other, acting-wise, and make their characters feel believable and genuine. Out of context, Dorothy/Dodie could be written off as a spoiled brat. But Betty Lou Keim’s performance, plus the aftermath of the divorce, makes the audience feel bad for Dorothy/Dodie. While Betty’s portrayal is consistent, she is given enough flexibility to add emotion. This highlights the idea that Dorothy/Dodie is simply human, with thoughts and feelings that need to be expressed. Warren Berlinger portrays Dick, one of the Fallon’s next-door neighbors. What I liked about his performance is how animated it is. This animation livened Warren’s portrayal without coming across as over-the-top. Instead, it gave him a wide range of emotions to work with. His conversation with his family about his long distance girlfriend is a perfect example of this.

The use of symbolism: One night, as a literal storm is brewing in the neighborhood, Nancy finds Dorothy/Dodie sitting outside by herself. The wind outside is strong and doesn’t have any plans to calm down. During their conversation, the sound of cracking lightening can be heard in the background. When Dorothy/Dodie and Nancy return to the house, rain starts to fall. These elements represented the personal turmoil taking place between mother and daughter.

The messages and themes: In films where younger characters are the center of the story, there is always a place for meaningful messages and themes. This is certainly the case for Teenage Rebel. One of the notable themes of this movie is having compassion for others. No matter how closed-off Dorothy/Dodie was, Nancy never gave up on her daughter. Even though Nancy does express feelings of frustration and stress, she always tried her best to make Dorothy/Dodie feel welcome and loved. Even Dick and his sister, Jane, show compassion for Dorothy/Dodie. They invite her to teenage functions like dances and a local car race. Because of the time they spend with her, Dorothy/Dodie allows herself to open her heart to others. The reason why Dorothy/Dodie distances herself from people is because she has lost her trust in them due to the divorce. As the story progresses, Dorothy/Dodie changes her life around. In one scene, Nancy gives her daughter a lecture about how she needs to stop living in isolation.  That speech and the overall message of opening your heart comes across in this story as genuine.

The Third Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A very misleading title: This film is called Teenage Rebel. Paired with the quotes on the movie’s quote, the film is advertised as a cautionary tale about teenagers going “over the edge”. However, none of the teens in this story rebel or misbehave. Even when there is a car race, the event itself appears to be well organized and legal. While Dorothy/Dodie has a bad attitude and runs away from home, she does these things to 1.) put on a brave face to protect her true feelings and 2.) find some alone time to get away from the tension between her and her mother. The title and marketing built this movie up to be something it wasn’t.

The character of Larry: Larry Fallon, portrayed by Rusty Swope, is Nancy and Jay’s son. He had some funny lines in this movie, such as when he said “a man” after Dorothy/Dodie asks him what he wants to be when he grows up. However, after a while, Larry kind of overstays his welcome. I don’t fault Rusty for this, as there was only so much he could do for an actor of his age. This specific flaw is the result of the screenwriting. Larry doesn’t have much to do in the overall story. In fact, he has little to no significance within the main plot. Prior to watching Teenage Rebel, I was expecting to see an interesting dynamic between half-siblings who didn’t grow up together. But, in reality, Dorothy/Dodie and Larry only interacted once. Either Rusty needed more material to work with or the character should have been written out of the movie completely.

An abrupt transformation: When Dorothy/Dodie is introduced in the film, she carries herself with a chip on her shoulder. It gets to the point where she and her mother have an emotionally fueled, tension filled conversation. As I mentioned earlier, Dorothy/Dodie’s attitude was caused by an ugly divorce with an even uglier custody battle. After the aforementioned conversation between Dorothy/Dodie and Nancy, Dorothy/Dodie runs away, where Dick finds her and takes her to a local soda shop. When she returns home, she acts nice toward her mother, like their previous conversation never happened. Similar to what I said about Larry, this flaw was the result of the screenwriting. This change in character should have been a consistent progression throughout the film as a whole.

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My overall impression:

Teenage Rebel is an ok film. However, its dishonest title and poster doesn’t help its case. In a time when teen centered films were on the rise, the studio wanted to capitalize on that. While a significant part of this story focused on a teenage perspective, it was marketed as something different than what it honestly was. Instead of selling the movie as a meaningful drama exploring the aftermath of divorce, they decided to make the film sound like it was about misbehaving youngsters, despite never being found in the story. Even though it seems like the creative team had their hearts in the right place, I was not a fan of how the story was more “slice of life” than I had wanted. I don’t find these types of stories intriguing, but I appreciate Teenage Rebel’s incorporation of its messages and themes. If you want to watch a teen movie with similar ideas, I’d recommend The Boy Who Could Fly. Not only does it emphasize showing compassion to others, but it’s a much stronger film.

Overall score: 6.3 out of 10

Have you seen Ginger Rogers’ movies? Which film about divorce would you recommend? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Rich Kids Review (Youth-Led Film Double Feature Part 1)

Welcome to the first part of my Youth-Led Film Double Feature! This review will contain spoilers and here is the link to the double feature’s introduction:

Introducing My Youth-Led Film Double Feature!

Rich Kids poster
Rich Kids poster created by Lion’s Gate Films and United Artists. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rich_Kids_(film).jpg

1. In your double feature’s introduction, you mentioned the fact both Rich Kids and Over the Edge were released in 1979. Is there anything from this time period that could have influenced these films?

The film, Rich Kids, explores how wealth does not make an individual or a family invincible, as well as how money does not solve every problem. These morals can also be found within the Getty kidnapping case, which was showcased in the movie, All the Money in the World. Wealth could not prevent John Paul Getty III’s parents from divorcing or experiencing personal conflicts. Money doesn’t take away the trauma John Paul Getty III likely dealt with as a result of the kidnapping incident. Because this situation took place on July 10th, 1973, six years before the premiere of Rich Kids, I would guess the creative team behind Rich Kids absorbed these messages, contemplated on their importance, and wove a fictional, dramatic story around them.

 

2. In this introduction, you also mentioned how you originally thought Rich Kids “was a documentary style film about a group of rich kids growing up over a period of time”. Despite being different than what you expected, were you able to find some enjoyment in this film?

Rich Kids is a character-driven character study. When a film’s creative team decides to adopt this kind of story-telling, it’s important they create a cast of characters that the audience wants to spend their time with. Because these characters were well acted and written, it encouraged me to stay invested in their stories and journeys. In my opinion, I think it’s better that Rich Kids wasn’t the story I was expecting. Since this group of characters was smaller, it allowed the audience to not only become familiar with them, but to also truly know them. Had this film been about a group of children over the course of several years, it might have felt like they were competing against each other for attention.

 

3. Do the socio-economics of each film’s world affect the characters or the story?

While there was wealth being flaunted within this film, it didn’t happen as often as I thought it would. Rich Kids’ creative team places the wealth in the story to simply show it exists. But their primary focus is to present their characters as human, flawed, and inexperienced in life. When Franny visits Jamie at his father’s apartment for the first time, she is entranced by the magnificence of its existence. Even though she questions the cost of everything within that environment, her initial reaction is representative of how most people would react when entering a fantastical looking space. In reality, the characters influence the wealth, not the other way around.

 

4. Do you agree or disagree with Siskel and/or Ebert’s views on these films? Why?

In their review of Rich Kids, both Siskel and Ebert agree that the overall film should have kept its focus on the children. I second these opinions, as I found Franny and Jamie’s story to be more interesting than those of the adults. Because the divorce of Franny’s parents was inevitable and because Jamie’s parents were already divorced, there was no sense of intrigue from that part of the script. However, I do disagree with Siskel and Ebert on their views of the adults in this film. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “boobs” (Gene’s words, not mine), but I would say they are uninvolved in the lives of their children. They are so caught up in their own problems and stress, that they easily and quickly lose sight of what is really important.

 

5. When it comes to both films, Siskel and Ebert agreed on their views of the adult characters in each story. Did these characters have any significance within their respective movie?

As I said in answer number four, these adults were so caught up in their own issues, that they lost focus on their most important priorities. This part of the story highlighted the importance of young people having a parent, guardian, or mentor that maintains a healthy amount of involvement in their lives. Because these adults weren’t involved in the lives of their children, both Franny and Jamie lacked the guidance that they desperately needed. They ended up finding guidance and life lessons elsewhere.

101994-OM0XMB-226
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6. Besides having young actors as the leads, do these films share any similarities?

I haven’t seen Over the Edge yet, but based on Siskel and Ebert’s review of that movie, I can confidently say that one similarity between these films is the frustration the young protagonists feel about not being heard or understood by the adults. In one conversation, Franny tells Jamie how they have few rights because of their young ages. This statement makes them feel powerless and limited in their abilities and resources. Both Franny and Jamie are twelve years old, an age when most adolescents want to be seen less as children and hope to achieve a little more independence. Through their behavior and choices, these aspects of growing up are incorporated in Franny and Jamie’s story, as they are trying to form their own identities.

 

7. Did you develop any thoughts and/or questions while watching this film?

I don’t have any questions, but I did come up with two thoughts while watching Rich Kids. The first is how I loved the set design of Jamie’s dad’s apartment! From the tropical inspired oasis which is the first room characters encounter to the eccentric and eye-catching media room, these sets were both imaginative and impressively caught on film. My second thought revolves around the psychological well-being of the children. During one conversation, Franny confesses to Jamie that she named her dog after an imaginary world she created in her mind. The more she visits Jamie at his dad’s apartment, the more she uses that space to materialize her imaginary world. Later in the film, Franny shares with Jamie that prior to the start of their friendship, she lost her sister due to medical issues. I wish this script would have left some room to talk about how divorce and even a death in the family can affect a child’s psychological state, especially since Jamie’s stepdad was a psychologist. But I guess there’s only so much you can do in an hour and thirty-six minutes.

 

8. Is there anything about this movie that you liked or didn’t like?

Like I said in answer number two, I thought the characters were well acted and written. Because of these components, it felt like the audience took a glimpse into the lives of real-life people. This script also gave these characters a chance to come across as relatable. As Ebert said in the Rich Kids review, the conversations of the children “have a ring of truth to them”. I feel this way not just with Franny and Jamie’s conversations, but with every person in this project. The characters and their journeys were one of the strongest parts of this film!

 

As for what I didn’t like about this movie, I was not a fan of how Franny’s parents didn’t explore other options before deciding to get a divorce. At one moment in the film, Franny’s father’s lawyer suggests that Franny’s parents attend marriage counseling. They don’t even bother thinking that idea over and choose to treat divorce as the “end all, be all” of their problems. Like I’ve said on more than one occasion, I feel that ending a romantic relationship is a decision that shouldn’t be chosen lightly, especially if children or those who are dependent on the couple are involved. While this story is about how children deal with divorce, I think Franny’s parents should have discussed other options first.

 

9. Is there any aspect of either film that could be seen as relevant today?

An overarching theme that I noticed in this movie was the idea of knowing you’re not alone when dealing with a serious issue. Throughout their relationship, Jamie helps Franny deal with her parents’ inevitable divorce. Because his parents divorced prior to the start of their friendship, Jamie is able to use his experiences to show Franny that she is not the only one who has traveled down that road. They both become a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear for each other. This idea is definitely just as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1979.

 

10. After watching Rich Kids, is there anything you can take away from your movie viewing experience?

The biggest takeaway for me is how everyone experiences hardship, no matter who you are or what your economic status is. But as Rafiki from 1994’s The Lion King said, “you can either run from it, or learn from it”. In Rich Kids, Franny and Jamie try to handle their problems the best they realistically can. They do this by relying on one another and providing insight when necessary. Because of this, they are able to temporarily escape their issues and build a lasting friendship.

exploding heart 0912
Breaking heart image created by Kjpargeter at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/broken-heart-valentine-background_1041991.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: In Name Only Review

One of the reasons why I love participating in blogathons is because it gives me the opportunity to watch films I might have never seen otherwise. In Name Only is a fantastic example! Before signing up for The Carole Lombard Memorial Blogathon, I had no idea that this film existed. After searching Carole’s filmography on IMDB and discovering the ability to rent the movie, I felt that In Name Only was a good choice for this review. Even though I had heard of Carole Lombard before, I had never seen any of her films. My participation in this particular blogathon gave me the opportunity to finally check out her acting work! Another surprise I discovered was that the film is based on a book! The source material for the project is Memory of Love by Bessie Breuer. Similar to my discovery of the film, I was not aware of this book’s existence before I watched the movie. Maybe in the future, I’ll check this story out! But, for now, let’s check out this review of In Name Only!

In Name Only poster
In Name Only poster created by RKO Radio Pictures. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:In_Name_Only.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Like I said in the introduction, this is the first film from Carole’s filmography I’ve ever seen. Despite this, I was impressed with her performance in this film! Her portrayal of Julie Eden showcased an on-screen personality that appeared down-to-earth. Whenever her character was frustrated by the divorce process, her performance became heart-breaking. Carole’s sad demeanor created the opportunity for audience members to sympathize with Julie. Prior to watching In Name Only, the only film from Cary Grant’s filmography I’d seen was The Philadelphia Story. Because that movie was a romantic-comedy, it gave me the chance to see Cary take on a more dramatic role in this picture. Throughout the story, Cary’s character, Alec Walker, embodied the serious and charming nature of a gentlemen. For more sad and heart-breaking moments, his performance was very captivating to watch. A great example is when Alec is staying at the hospital. Since his health is deteriorating, his mental health is also affected. This is portrayed very well by Cary, as he adopts a distant stare and disjointed speech pattern that reflect his character’s state.

 

The on-screen chemistry: I enjoyed watching the on-screen performances of Carole Lombard and Cary Grant! One reason is their on-screen chemistry. Every time they appeared in a scene together, there was always a sense of genuine sweetness between them. This allowed their characters to appear like they truly loved one another. It also makes viewers want to see this on-screen couple resolve their issues. For me, the quality of Carole and Cary’s on-screen chemistry helped me stay invested in their characters and their relationship!

 

How the topic of divorce was handled: In my review of Marriage on the Rocks, I talked about how the movie’s view on divorce made me feel uncomfortable. This was because of the one-sided perspective the movie presented. When it comes to In Name Only, the topic of divorce was handled with maturity and reverence to all the parties involved in the film’s story. While there was an antagonist, this creative choice was meant to show the audience that divorce can sometimes become messy and complicated. Unlike Marriage on the Rocks, In Name Only treats divorce as a realistic yet difficult situation. I’ve never read the book this movie is based on. However, I’m hoping the book handled the subject of divorce as well as the film did.

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When I saw this postcard, I knew it had to make an appearance in this review! Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
What I didn’t like about the film:

A drawn-out conflict: I understand the divorce process can be very time-consuming. But within the context of the film’s story, this conflict was drawn-out for the majority of the run-time. It got to the point where I could see audience members becoming just as frustrated as the protagonists were. Now, I’m not sure if this shared frustration was intentional on the screenwriter’s or author’s part. However, I do know that because of this creative choice, it didn’t leave a lot of room for a pay-off.

 

Under-utilized characters: As I was watching this film, I came across some under-utilized characters. Maida’s friend, Suzanne, is just one example. The actress who portrayed this character, Helen Vinson, did a really good job with the role she was given. But her character wasn’t able to do much in the story. This caused Helen to have very little material to work with.

 

Run-time that was a little too long: IMDB says that In Name Only is an hour and thirty-four minutes. However, I feel some minutes could have been shaved off. Had this movie’s run-time been an hour and fifteen or twenty minutes, certain events in the movie could have happened sooner. It also could have gotten rid of scenes that felt like time-wasters. One of these scenes, to give you an example, was when Maida was talking to her in-laws during a car-ride.

Carole Lombard Blogathon banner
The Carole Lombard Memorial Blogathon banner created by Crystal from In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood and Vincent from Carole & Co. Image found at https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/announcing-the-carole-lombard-memorial-blogathon/

My overall impression:

Even though In Name Only is the first film of Carole Lombard’s I have seen, it is a film that I did like! There are aspects of the movie that could have made the overall project stronger. However, its merits overshadow them. The biggest highlight is how the story handles the subject of divorce. Throughout the story, I could sense the creative team knew exactly what they were doing. The screenwriting provided a sense of realism to the narrative, giving the characters thoughts and feelings that might emerge from a situation like this. The divorce itself was also taken very seriously. If you’re interested in watching a film about this topic, please pick In Name Only over something like Marriage on the Rocks. As I’ve said before, I feel that starting or ending a romantic relationship is not something that should be taken lightly. In Name Only not only recognizes that, but highlights that through the interactions of the characters.

 

Overall score: 7.4 out of 10

 

Have you ever seen Carole Lombard’s movies? If so, which one is your favorite? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

When Maddy, from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, announced her 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon, I was eager to participate! I had reviewed Edward, My Son last February, so I was familiar with who Deborah is as an actress. Originally, I was going to review Black Narcissus. But due to technical difficulties with my DVR, I chose to write about Marriage on the Rocks instead. The idea of a struggling couple working through their problems in Mexico sounded like an interesting concept for a comedy. I was curious to see what effect this particular location would have on the aforementioned couple and how they would be transformed along the way. Also, I haven’t reviewed a comedy in a little while, so I thought it would be a good idea to expand the cinematic horizons of 18 Cinema Lane. Since this is my first blogathon in 2020, let the review for Marriage on the Rocks begin!

Marriage on the Rocks poster
Marriage on the Rocks poster created by A-C Productions, Sinatra Enterprises, and Warner Bros. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24787/Marriage-on-the-Rocks/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This is the second acting performance of Deborah Kerr’s I have seen (the first was from the movie, Edward, My Son). What I’ve noticed about both performances is how much effort she puts into her roles. Even if the movie itself doesn’t hold up, Deborah still puts every piece of acting talent she has into each of her characters. In her role as Valerie Edwards, she was very expressive with her facial expressions and actions. This added to the memorability of her performance! Marriage on the Rocks is the first movie of Frank Sinatra’s I’ve ever seen. While I am familiar with Frank as a singer, I had never seen any of his acting performances before. The most notable aspect of Frank’s portrayal of Dan Edwards was how at ease he was in this role. His performing experiences related to stage presentations and programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as prior movie experience, seemed to work in his favor when it came to his performance in Marriage on the Rocks! The aforementioned film is also the first time I have seen Caesar Romero act in a movie. I liked his performance because of how lively and energetic it was. It was also consistent throughout the movie, just like the performances from the rest of the cast!

 

Ernie Brewer’s house: The house of Ernie Brewer, portrayed by Dean Martin, was featured in the film on several occasions. Despite the living room being the only shown part of the house, I really liked the architecture within this space! When characters enter the house, they and viewers are greeted by walls and columns of exposed stone. As characters walk into the living room, they will come face-to-face with the room’s most prominent feature: the fire pit in the center of the room. Another fantastic element of this space is the wrap-around deck. While the deck itself is featured in only one scene, it serves the purpose of giving characters and viewers a perfect view of the ocean. Whether this location is a real-life home or a pre-constructed set, it definitely could make almost anyone want those elements as part of their own living space!

 

The opening credits: Sometimes, creative teams will come up with interesting ways to present their film’s opening credits. Marriage on the Rocks is a perfect example of this. Throughout this segment of the movie, stick figure cartoons can be seen next to people’s names and roles within the project. These stick figures were not only given to the cast, but also to the crew. When the director was introduced in the credits, he was given his own stick figure, which presented him sitting in a director’s chair. I found this to be a cute and creative way to grab the audience’s attention before the official start of the film!

2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner
The 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Image found at https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/announcing-the-2nd-deborah-kerr-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Comedy that was barely funny: On IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is classified as a comedy. However, as I was watching this film, I found myself laughing only four times. Like I’ve said before, comedy is subjective. But, for me, I don’t find dysfunctionality to be hilarious. Also, the jokes themselves go on for too long. It feels like the screenwriter was having difficulty finding the punchline. There are also no breaks from the comedy, which made these jokes seem like run-on sentences. Personally, I found this aspect of the film to be an unenjoyable part to my movie-viewing experience.

 

The movie’s view on marriage and divorce: I watch movies to be entertained. While I appreciate a good message/lesson within a cinematic story, that’s not what compels me to watch any particular film. In Marriage on the Rocks, however, the overarching view on marriage and divorce made me feel uncomfortable. I personally feel that starting or ending a romantic relationship should not be taken lightly. This movie would say otherwise, portraying these two aforementioned concepts like they are effortless. Even the way most of the characters talk about marriage and divorce is concerning. One example is how David Edwards sees divorce as a way to manipulate his parents into giving him anything he wants. There were a few characters in this movie whose views were different from the overarching ones the film itself adopts. But, for most of the film, these characters are looked down upon. All the things I talked about made the views of the movie seem one-sided and skewed.

 

Problems that almost never get resolved: While watching Marriage on the Rocks, I could tell the screenwriter was trying to adopt a “comedy of errors” kind of story. But if any screenwriter is going to write a script with this kind of comedy, they need to remember that the errors have to reach a resolution. In this film, the majority of these errors don’t achieve a satisfying solution. In the rare case when one does, other problems arise because of it. The Hallmark movie, Holiday Date, is a great example of how this type of story can be executed well. In the 2019 release, the male and female protagonist experience a series of mishaps while visiting her family for Christmas. Despite this, they always found a solution that made everyone happy. Unfortunately, this never happens in Marriage on the Rocks. If anything, it made the characters’ situations even more complicated.

 

A drawn-out story: According to IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is an hour and forty-nine minutes. To me, though, it felt like the movie was three hours. The problem here is how drawn-out the story is. This script takes a simple sounding concept and makes a bigger deal out of it than necessary. The narrative of this film could have been either a mini-series or a short film. This would have allowed the necessary plot points to be reached sooner and the script to be tighter. When I look back on it, there were things that happened in this movie just to satisfy the film’s run-time. The ongoing “second honeymoon” joke is a good example of what I’m talking about.

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Colorful travel suitcase image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/beautiful-illustration-of-travel_2686674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When I chose to review Marriage on the Rocks, I thought this would be a comedic version of Expecting a Miracle. While I haven’t seen the 2009 released Hallmark film, I’m aware of what the story is about. Unfortunately, Marriage on the Rocks was not even close to what I expected. Yes, there were things about it that I liked. Ernie Brewer’s house is just one example. But, for me, this movie contained more negatives than positives. As I said in my review, the movie’s view on marriage and divorce is one of the biggest missteps this project took. I didn’t find it to be funny or entertaining, just one-sided and out of touch. Later this month, I’ll be reviewing another Frank Sinatra picture called High Society. Hopefully that one will be more enjoyable than Marriage on the Rocks was. Despite the fact it’s only the beginning of the year, I think I found a contender for worst film of 2020.

 

Overall score: 4.7 out of 10

 

Have you seen Marriage on the Rocks? Do you have a favorite film from Deborah Kerr’s filmography? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Phffft Review + 65 Follower Thank You

Earlier this week, I received 65 followers on 18 Cinema Lane! With my blog’s first anniversary coming up next Saturday, I found this recent gain in blog followers to be a pleasant surprise! As I’ve been doing before, I have chosen to review a film that was released 65 years ago (in 1954). While researching movies with 1954 release dates, one film in particular instantly stood out to me. The reason is because of the title alone. Phffft (yes, that is the real title of this film) is a movie that seemed like it was begging for me to watch and, eventually, review it. So, because of everything I’ve just said, I decided to pick Phffft as my movie of choice this time around. Was this film as funny as this title suggests? I’m glad you came to this review, as we’re about to find out!

Phffft poster
Phffft poster created by Columbia Pictures. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/86629/Phffft/#.

Things I liked about the film:

  • The acting: I thought the cast of Phffft was good! Judy Holliday shined the brightest with her portrayal of Nina. Her performance appeared very natural as well as believable. I also thought that Jack Lemmon did a good job with his portrayal of Robert. Everything that happened with Robert seemed so convincing because of how versatile Jack’s performance was. Even though this is a movie about a couple experiencing a divorce, Jack and Judy gave a good performance not only as individuals, but also as a pair. Whenever Robert and Nina were together, I always had the impression that Judy and Jack had good on-screen chemistry. In a scene where Nina and Robert unexpectedly become each other’s dancing partner, it looked like they truly enjoyed one another’s company.

 

  • What it means to be a “hero”: During a flashback scene that explains how Robert and Nina met, it was revealed that Robert was a military lawyer. In this scene, his self-esteem has fallen a little bit because he doesn’t see himself as a hero. I found this character choice of Robert being a military lawyer very interesting. In fact, it seems like we, the audience, don’t get many portrayals of military lawyers in film. Besides A Few Good Men, I can’t really think of many movies that feature the importance of military lawyers. Phffft does take the time to show how lawyers can play a significant role within the military. The film does this by having Nina remind Robert, as well as Robert reminding himself, that if he wasn’t keeping an eye on the military’s finances, the military would have lost a lot of money. This message of how a hero can mean different things to different people was a good addition to this film.

 

  • Showing both perspectives: As I’ve already mentioned, Phffft is about a couple who experiences a divorce. In movies where divorce can be found in the film’s narrative, the main perspective is usually given to just one person in that relationship. Also, in movies about divorce, there are times when one person in the relationship is portrayed as an antagonist and the other is portrayed as a protagonist. In Phffft, however, the story is told from both of the perspectives of Robert and Nina. Each side of the story is given an equal amount of time for the characters to grow as individuals and experience their own personal journeys. It also shows an unbiased view of what each character is going through. To me, I thought this was a good story-telling choice.

exploding heart 0912
Breaking heart image created by Kjpargeter at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/broken-heart-valentine-background_1041991.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

  • Lack of comedy: Despite the humorous title, I didn’t find Phffft to be very funny. While I did chuckle at some moments, there were no moments within the film that made me burst out laughing. I’m not sure if this movie just didn’t correlate with my sense of humor or if the comedic writing in this film was just that weak. But I, personally, found the lack of comedy in this movie to be very disappointing.

 

  • Too dialogue-heavy: In every movie, dialogue is a necessary component to the overall story. However, there is such a thing as too much dialogue. Phffft featured many scenes where characters were having conversations with one another. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough situations and conflicts happening in this movie to balance out the dialogue. Having too much dialogue in this film did not work its favor.

 

  • The premise being too basic: While Robert and Nina’s divorce was the main plot in Phffft, it was the only plot within this movie. Also, I found this plot to be so basic, that the scenarios Robert and Nina get themselves into feel like they were incorporated in the movie just for the sake of keeping the plot going. Like I just mentioned, Phffft didn’t have enough situations and conflicts to balance out the dialogue. To me, this movie needed, at least, one secondary plot in order to keep it interesting. Because of the lack of subplots, it caused the other characters in this movie to feel like they were just there because they knew either Robert or Nina.

ON40S80
Money plant image created by Dooder at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/infographic”>Infographic vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/watering-the-coin-plant_1076121.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

At the end of the day, Phffft was just ok. Because of how funny this title sounds, I was expecting the film to be just as funny. Unfortunately, this movie was somewhat disappointing for me. All of the comedy in Phffft felt weak, almost like it was poorly written. However, I would never say this is a bad film. There were things about it that I liked, such as Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon’s performances. But when it comes to comedies from the 1950s, I think there are movies out there that are better than Phffft. Now that this review is coming to an end, I just want to take the time to say thank you to each of my 65 followers. When I started this blog a year ago, I never expected to receive this many followers in such a short amount of time. It just makes me appreciate all the success this blog has achieved, including the increase in readers and followers.

 

Overall score: 6.1 out of 10

 

What are your thoughts about this review? Are you looking forward to the 70 follower thank you post? Please tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen