Yes, I know I haven’t written a Word on the Street story since June. This is because I either wasn’t able to find a movie news story that interested me or I didn’t get around to discussing movie news. However, I did find some Hallmark related news that I had to write about. The first story features Hallmark favorite, Jen Lilley. In an article from soaps.com, Amy Mistretta reports how Jen revealed the plot of her new movie, which will likely air during the Christmas season. The article states that the film will revolve around a reporter who goes on a Tiger Cruise with members of the United States Navy. Amy explains that “the Navy puts on the special event once a year where their families can come on the ship for Christmas”. From what I can recall, the only film about Tiger Cruises that is known is the 2004 Disney Channel movie, Tiger Cruise. However, that film revolved around the events of 9/11. This news about Jen’s movie is interesting because it fills a creative void that hasn’t been revisited in sixteen years. Also, Hallmark can make a good military related film when they put their mind to it.
These next two stories come from the Twitter account, Hotline to Hallmark! In a tweet that was retweeted by Hotline to Hallmark, Rochelle S. Aytes, the star of the upcoming film, A Christmas Tree Grows in Brooklyn, announced that her movie has wrapped production! While the film’s synopsis is not known at this time, the movie will apparently feature horses, as Rochelle mentions petting a horse in her tweet. Another retweeted tweet from Hotline to Hallmark reveals that Will Kemp will co-star alongside Lacey Chabert in the Hallmark Christmas movie, Christmas Waltz! Denise Petski, from Deadline, shares that “Christmas Waltz reunites Kemp and Chabert, who starred in last year’s Valentine-themed Hallmark Channel movie Love, Romance & Chocolate.” As someone who liked the aforementioned Valentine’s film, it’s nice to see actors who had good on-screen chemistry work together again! I’m hoping Will and Lacey’s Christmas project is just as enjoyable to watch as their previous creative endeavor!
For the It’s a Young World: Teen Movie Blogathon, I didn’t want to talk about a typical “teen movie”. I have nothing against these types of films. But whenever I participate in a blogathon, I try to think outside the box while following the theme. So that’s why I decided to review Lean on Pete. In my Book Adaptation Tag post, I mentioned that when I saw All the Money in the World, Charlie Plummer’s acting performance impressed me. As I read reviews for this movie, some people mentioned a film called Lean on Pete when referencing Charlie’s acting credits. When I looked for reviews of this movie, however, I found very few of them. In fact, on WordPress alone, I was only able to find four Lean on Pete reviews. This was one of the reasons why I chose this movie for the blogathon. My other reason for choosing this movie was because Charlie Plummer was the lead actor in this production. Since he gave a great performance in All the Money in the World, I had a feeling that he would give a good acting performance in Lean on Pete. After I chose this movie to review, an interesting coincidence that I noticed was Charlie’s birthday just so happens to take place in the weekend after this blogathon! So, it seemed like the stars aligned in this review’s favor. But did it really though? Or did the stars fly right past this review, completely leaving it in the dust? The only way to find out is by reading my review of Lean on Pete!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Though Lean on Pete had a smaller cast, every member of it did a good job portraying their characters! All of the actors and actresses displayed a sense of realism in their performance, making the movie feel like an engaging “slice of life” story. Every interaction between the characters had a good amount of on-screen chemistry. This added to the realism of their performances. But, just like All the Money in the World, Charlie Plummer stole the show! Charlie brings an emotional sincerity to his character, which is something that isn’t often found in cinema. This helped me, as an audience member, stay invested in what was happening to Charlie’s character in the movie.
The incorporation of scenery: What’s interesting about Lean on Pete is how scenery is incorporated into the film. Toward the beginning of the movie, Charlie is jogging throughout the neighborhood. Without the use of dialogue, this scene introduces the audience to the setting, as well as the scenery, where the story will begin. I’ve got to say that Lean on Pete is one of the most well-shot films I have ever seen! Some of the natural landscapes featured in this story were so beautiful, that the color palettes were shone really well on film! The scenery was appealing to the eye and presented an interesting element to the story.
A realistic look at equine sports: When it comes to the presentation of equine sports in film, it is, more often than not, shown through a glamorized, appealing, and an almost glorified lens. In Lean on Pete, the maintenance and preparation of horse racing is given a larger emphasis than the sport itself. This aspect of the story focuses on the employees associated with the sport, including how Charlie reacts to certain situations. It also highlights some of the heavier topics relating to the sport, such as the mistreatment of employees and the fate of race horses. Because this side of equine sports is rarely shown in movies, I found this creative choice to be very interesting.
What I didn’t like about the film:
More scenery focused scenes than character focused scenes: While the scenery in this film was great to look at, it felt like this movie focused more on showcasing the background than the characters in the forefront. In fact, there were less scenes featuring dialogue than there were featuring scenery. There are many parts to a film, so primarily relying on just one aspect of it could cause the movie’s story-telling abilities to be ineffective. This imbalance of character and scenery focused scenes felt like there was more to be desired from the story.
A limited amount of character development: Because more scenes focused on the scenery than the characters, it seems like the character development was sacrificed. In Lean on Pete, there were interesting characters with interesting dynamics and stories. However, there was enough character development to keep the story going, but not enough to satisfy the audience. Whenever the character development seemed to be reaching an intriguing point in the story, the moment would get cut short with a scenery focused scene. This left me wanting more from this narrative.
The night-time scenes: Throughout Lean on Pete, there were a few scenes that took place during the night-time. Within these scenes, very little lighting was used. Because of this, it was difficult to see what was happening on-screen. Emotional situations took place in these scenes. But, since there was little lighting, I couldn’t really see the emotions and expressions of the characters in these moments. This seemed to undermine the emotional intensity contained within these scenes.
My overall impression:
Lean on Pete made me feel the exact same way that Queen of the Damned did: it was a decent film that I liked for what it was, but it could have been a stronger film. This movie had merits that made the story interesting. But it also had flaws that held the movie back from being better than what it was. When I think about Lean on Pete, the biggest take-away for me is how you never really know someone unless you take the time to know and understand them. Throughout this story, Charlie’s character deals with several hardships. Because of how this narrative was presented, the audience is given an opportunity to get a glimpse into this character’s life. Another take-away from this movie is how kindness can make a difference. Even if the impact of that kind act only lasts 24 hours, it could still impact someone’s day and maybe even their life. These lessons are relatable to anyone who chooses to watch Lean on Pete.
Overall score: 7 out of 10
Have you seen Lean on Pete? What’s your favorite horse related movie? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
As the sun sets for December, as well as 2018, lots of movie bloggers have participated in creating the lists of movies that they have liked and disliked. What I’ve noticed about these lists is that they’re filled with movies that are newly released films. While I have also decided to partake in making end-of-year movie lists, my lists will be slightly different from the rest. This difference is any movie that I saw within the year of 2018 is fair game. Like I said in my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time post, both of my end-of-year movie lists are not only based on my opinion, but also based on movies that I have personally seen. Before I talk about the list itself, I just wanted to mention that both of my movie lists were not created to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. These lists are simply a way for me to be honest about the films that I liked and disliked within 2018. Now, as the title suggests, this is the list where I will share the Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2018. I’ve been very grateful to have had a really good year in terms of movie-viewing. I’m not going to lie, this list was not easy to create. There were a good amount of films I saw, and sometimes reviewed, this year that I really liked. However, with the nature of any Top 10 list, there are bound to be movies that don’t make the cut. Speaking of which, let’s begin with this short list of 2018’s Honorable Mentions:
Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Christmas Everlasting, The Dark Knight, Love, Of Course, Christmas at Pemberley Manor, Darrow & Darrow: In the Key of Murder, Escape to Witch Mountain, Return from Witch Mountain, Shoelaces for Christmas, Flicka: Country Pride, Strangers on a Train, Hailey Dean Mysteries: A Will to Kill, Pearl in Paradise, The Bad Seed (2018), Christmas on the Coast, Love, Once and Always, and Runaway Romance
Now, the moment has come to start the official list! Let’s start with number 10:
10. Wedding of Dreams
Like I mentioned in my review for Wedding of Dreams, I said that, in 2016, I would have debated about why For Love and Honor was more deserving of a sequel than Summer of Dreams. However, Wedding of Dreams was not only a good movie individually, but also a great continuation to this particular story! One of my least favorite clichés that Hallmark has ever incorporated into their films is the “planning-a-wedding-in-an-unrealistic-time-period” cliché. While this cliché does appear in Wedding of Dreams, it was written in a way that actually makes sense for that specific story. What also helped this movie is not having this cliché be the primary focus. Instead, it serves as an interconnecting subplot that works together with another subplot. To me, this was the best wedding themed movie that Hallmark released in 2018!
9. Avengers: Infinity War
Despite the fact that I wasn’t a fan of this film’s ending and end-credit scene, I still found it to be an enjoyable film. All of the key components of Avengers: Infinity War looked and felt like they are handled with great care. Every detail, from the acting to Thanos himself, were put at the right place and time in order to create an entertaining cinematic experience! Besides the ending and end-credit scene, I was disappointed by the movie being more of a “set-up” film than I had expected. But, as I said in my spoiler-zone review of Avengers: Infinity War, I will take Dale Travers’ advice to “trust the timing” as I patiently wait for the arrival of Avengers: Endgame.
Yes, I know I just reviewed this movie recently. But, when I look back on all the movies that I’ve seen, and reviewed, in 2018, Oliver! just makes me smile. Honestly, this has quickly become one of my favorite movie musicals, with an engaging story and memorable songs. Even as I list these movies one by one, I still think of the song “Consider Yourself”. A great thing about movies is they can have the ability to find a special place in your heart. For me, this is exactly what Oliver! did, finding a special place in my heart in order to be carried and remembered as time goes on. As I mentioned in my review, this movie is one of the reasons why I’m thinking about reading Oliver Twist in 2019!
7. Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa
Out of all the Christmas movies that were released from Hallmark in 2017, Christmas in Evergreen was one of the last movies I would have expected to receive a sequel. However, this sequel pleasantly surprised me by how good of a film it was! What’s so great about Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa is that it adds something new to the story, as well as expand the world of Evergreen. It was nice to see two interesting, on-going mysteries in this film, with one of them leading to one of the best plot-twists in Hallmark movie history! Hallmark has proven that Evergreen is a truly special place, creating a likable environment filled with likable characters. I really hope Hallmark considers continuing the series, as I’m sure more stories can be found within this precious town.
6. Cowgirls ‘N Angels
This year, I was pleasantly surprised to find two horse themed movies that I really liked! One of these films was Cowgirls ‘N Angels, a movie that I had heard about, but never seen until 2018. The story within this movie was very sweet and emotional, keeping me invested throughout this cinematic journey. Bailee Madison’s performance was so great, it was actually one of her best acting performances that I’ve ever seen! Even though she was the youngest cast member in Cowgirls ‘N Angels, she still found a way to bring so much versatility and emotion to her character. It makes wish to see Bailee receive a dramatic role in a Hallmark movie. Yes, I know Bailee is an important member of the Good Witch television show. But, it’s been two or three years since we’ve seen Bailee star in a Hallmark movie that wasn’t Good Witch affiliated.
5. L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew
I have seen all of PBS’s Anne of Green Gables films starring Ella Ballentine, with the first movie being good and the second movie being just decent. However, I thought this third movie was the best one in this trilogy! Something that really impressed me about this story was the messages and themes that were found within the film’s narrative. These messages and themes, such as the importance of education, were not only worth promoting, but were also presented in a way that seemed very realistic. This made me feel good about what I was watching, like that time was well spent. I hope that PBS considers creating more movies for this series, as I would definitely like to see Anne’s story continue. For the most part, this particular Anne of Green Gables series has had a pretty good track record when it comes to quality. PBS has proven that they have what it takes to make entertaining and meaningful films.
4. Jurassic Park
I had such a great movie-going experience when I saw Jurassic Park at a Fathom Events screening. One of the reasons why is how great of a movie this was! For me, Jurassic Park has almost everything I could want in a movie, making the movie itself such a memorable masterpiece. I mentioned in my review that I saw Jurassic Park for the first time in 2018. Looking back on this film, I’m glad I chose to review this movie when I received 25 followers on my blog. Otherwise, I might have missed out on a truly spectacular film! I have not yet seen the other films within this series, so I might have to make time to see them in 2019.
3. Saving Mr. Banks
This is a film that I’m so glad to have finally seen! I said in my review of Saving Mr. Banks that I have wanted to see this film for a while. When I received five followers on 18 Cinema Lane, I decided to make the time to see this movie. I can only speak for myself, but I think I made a wise choice. There were several great things about this film that helped make it the gem that it is. Similar to what I said about Avengers: Infinity War, everything about Saving Mr. Banks seems like it has handled with such great care. Because of this, my experience with watching this film ended up being a great one!
2. Cooking with Love
This was the first movie to receive a perfect score (10 out of 10) out of all the movies I reviewed in 2018! Even after all these months later, I can still remember how excited I was to share my thoughts about Cooking with Love with all my readers and followers. This movie took something that I love (the Hallmark movie, This Magic Moment) and added even more creativity to it. There were so many great elements in this film, that it truly makes me smile just thinking about the film as a whole. While there were a few things that I didn’t like about the movie, these things were minor and didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the movie. I would definitely love to see Cooking with Love receive a sequel, especially since there are enough story elements within this narrative to naturally lend itself well to a second chapter.
1. Royally Ever After
While Cooking with Love was the first movie to receive a perfect score on 18 Cinema Lane, it was definitely not the last. Royally Ever After also received a score of 10 out of 10! There is no such thing as a “perfect” Hallmark movie. But, to me, this film was the first Hallmark movie I’ve seen in quite a while to be as close to “perfect” as possible. The best part of Royally Ever After is how the creative team behind this project went out of their way to use as few “Hallmark royal movie” clichés as possible. It felt like Hallmark had taken a concept that had been told so many times and give it a much welcomed “breath of fresh air”. Like Cooking with Love, Royally Ever After has enough story elements to naturally lend itself towards a sequel. Besides, as far as I know, Hallmark has never made a movie that featured a royal wedding. This would be a great way for this movie to, potentially, be the start of a new series!
What did you think of my list? What was the best movie you saw in 2018? Please let me know in the comment section!
Anyone who has read my Sunset Over Hope Valley re-cap posts would know that my favorite character on When Calls the Heart is Tom Thornton. And anyone who has read the Season 5 finale re-cap post would know how disappointed I was by Tom’s absence in that episode. As a fan, I have found a way to make up for the dissappointment. According to his IMDB Filmography, Max Lloyd-Jones (the actor who portrays Tom Thornton) starred in the film, Flicka: Country Pride. It just so happened that this movie was airing on television recently, making this movie reviewing experience too good to pass up. Before watching this movie, I:
Have never read My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara.
Have never watched the My Friend Flicka television show.
Have never seen any of the previous Flicka films.
Did not watch a trailer or read reviews for Flicka: Country Pride.
I had no idea what to expect from this film. This was the second straight-to-DVD and third/final film in the Flicka trilogy, so my expectations were set low. How did Flicka: Country Pride turn out to be? Keep reading to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: While the cast of Flicka: Country Pride was good, the three stand-out performers were Kacey Rohl, Teryl Rothery, and Max Lloyd-Jones! I had never seen any of Kacey’s acting performances before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect of her performance in this movie. However, Kacey’s performance in Flicka: Country Pride blew me away as she successfully helped carry this film alongside Clint Black and Lisa Hartman! I’ve seen Teryl perform in five Hallmark movies, as well as Cedar Cove, and she was a great addition to this film’s cast! Besides When Calls the Heart, I’ve seen Max in six movies and several episodes/video clips of Switched at Birth. What I’ve noticed after watching these projects, including Flicka: Country Pride, is that Max has always appeared to put in a 100% effort and all the talent he has into the roles he is given.
The cinematography: For a straight-to-DVD film, and just as a film in general, there was good cinematography! Some of the best scenes in Flicka: Country Pride were the scenes that involved any of the characters riding horses. The camera angles and editing that was used for these scenes helped add a sense of excitement and intrigue.
The incorporation of grief: In most movies featuring a young, grieving protagonist, the focus on grief appears self-contained for the young protagonist. In Flicka: Country Pride, however, we get to see how grief affects the other characters surrounding the young protagonist. What’s also interesting is how grief influences the choices and ways of seeing the world for some of these characters in the film. I felt this was a great choice for the creative team behind this movie as this concept is not always explored in family/children’s films.
The on-screen chemistry: When I was watching Flicka: Country Pride, I felt that Max Lloyd-Jones and Kacey Rohl had good on-screen chemistry! Their relationship on-screen appeared so believable, that it looked and felt like they truly cared about each other. The friendship that both Max and Kacey displayed in this movie came across as very life-like, with both of them acting like they really got along with each other.
What I didn’t like about this film:
Some predictability: During my viewing of Flicka: Country Pride, I noticed there were some moments in the film that felt predictable. It wasn’t like a typical Hallmark Channel movie, where you, more often than not, know most of the movie before even watching it. However, there were some story points that I was able to correctly guess before it happened.
An insufferable bully: While Siobhan Williams did a really good job portraying the character of Kacey’s bully, I really did not like Siobhan’s character. Not only was she annoying, but she could easily get under someone’s skin. Also, I can’t believe Siobhan’s character was named Stephanie Meyers (I’m not making this up). Either that was pure coincidence or someone really didn’t like the Twilight series.
Lindy and Toby’s relationship: Clint Black and Lisa Hartman had good on-screen chemistry in Flicka: Country Pride, but I felt like their relationship was not highlighted to the level that it could have been. In the movie, Lindy and Toby try to pursue a romantic relationship. However, compared to the other storylines and subplots, this particular story element didn’t feel like it went anywhere. It seemed like it just got lost in the shuffle.
The ending: To me, the ending of Flicka: Country Pride was too much of a cliffhanger. Toby tells Lindy that he has a surprise for her, but we never get to find out what that surprise is. The fact that this movie is the last in the Flicka trilogy makes this ending even worse. Based on the ending, my guess is the creative team behind Flicka: Country Pride planned on making a fourth movie, but they never got around to it.
My overall impression:
Flicka: Country Pride is a good movie! In fact, this movie surpassed my expectations! What’s great about this movie is if you watch it without ever having seen the other Flicka films preceding it (like I did), you won’t have a difficult time following along with the story. I’m actually glad I saw Flicka: Country Pride because now it raises an interesting question: how come we, the Hearties, have never seen Tom Thornton ride a horse on When Calls the Heart? In all the seriousness I can give as a movie blogger, I think Tom being able to ride a horse would make a lot of sense. I feel this way because:
I would be willing to guess that Max Lloyd-Jones gained some horse riding experience while working on Flicka: Country Pride.
In Season 2, Tom did mention his family had a farm.
Not only have we seen Jack and Charlotte (Tom and Jack’s mom) Thornton ride a horse on When Calls the Heart, but Tom and Jack’s dad/Charlotte’s husband was a Mountie.
Hopefully, if Max Lloyd-Jones returns to When Calls the Heart to reprise his role as Tom Thornton, maybe we’ll see him finally ride a horse. As for Flicka: Country Pride, I would definitely recommend this film!
Overall score: 8 out of 10
So, what did you think of this review? Are you encouraged to give Flicka: Country Pride a chance? Let me know in the comment section!