Take 3: Sea Change Review

Have you ever read a film synopsis that sounded so “bonkers”, you just had to check the movie out for yourself? That’s what happened when I stumbled across the 2017 Lifetime film, Sea Change. This is a movie I had never heard of until this year. It’s also a fantasy story, a genre Lifetime rarely creates projects for. Based on the film’s synopsis sounding so “outside of the box” for Lifetime, I not only had to seek the movie out, I had to review it as well. Whenever I’ve talked about Hallmark productions, there have been times when I wished the network would take a break from the typical rom-com or drama. The same can be said for Lifetime. In recent years, that network has relied on mystery thrillers and true crime stories, with the occasional drama. But how does Sea Change fare as a fish out of Lifetime’s waters? Let’s dive in and find out!

Sea Change poster created by Piller Squared/The Segen Company and Lifetime Television

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching Sea Change, I discovered Siobhan Williams starred in the film. Knowing that name sounded familiar, I looked through my movie reviews to see if I had reviewed any of her movies. Sure enough, I had not only written about Flicka: Country Pride, I had also talked about her character from that movie! Similar to Flicka: Country Pride, Siobhan portrayed a popular “mean girl” named Ginny. But in the 2017 Lifetime production, Ginny was a lot less annoying. Siobhan’s expressions were fluid, allowing her character to experience a variety of emotions. When a local lawyer questions Ginny about her cousin’s whereabouts, Ginny responds in a nonchalant way, an unconcerned look on her face and a tone of voice that lacks urgency. But when a family tragedy occurs, shock is stamped on Ginny’s face. Her eyes appear to stare out into the distance and paired with a frown.

While I haven’t reviewed any of Keenan Tracey’s projects, I have seen some of his Hallmark programs, including When Calls the Heart. In Sea Change, Keenan portrayed TJ, a young man who was staying on the island for the summer. During the story, Keenan consistently maintained a laid-back, easy-going personality. This consistency made his performance appear effortless! I also liked seeing Emily Rudd’s portrayal of the protagonist, Miranda! Similar to Siobhan’s performance, Emily portrayed her character with a variety of emotions. One of her best scenes took place toward the beginning of the movie. In this scene, Miranda is recalling a memory of her late father. Her mother reveals some information that goes against this memory. As soon as she receives this information, shock trickles down Miranda’s face. Her eyes become really wide and her lip quivers ever so slightly.

The scenery: In Sea Change’s opening credits, it was mentioned the movie was filmed in Nova Scotia. This Canadian locale presented a very convincing Maine! While Miranda went jogging, she traveled near the edge of a grassy cliff, which overlooked the ocean. The bright orange and yellow hues of the sunset paired beautifully with the dark blue ocean waters. This same ocean was captured magnificently at night-time! While on her jog, Miranda visits the ocean’s shore in the evening. A color palette of deep blue, black, and even purple created an environment that was beautiful in a dreamlike way. The scenery definitely stole the show and felt like a character itself!

A mystery subplot: As I said in the introduction, Sea Change is a fantasy story. But within this story, a mystery was included as a subplot. At the beginning of the movie, a murder takes place on the beach. The island’s law enforcement and a local lawyer attempt to solve the case. The audience learns early on who the culprit is. But what kept me invested is seeing how this information would be discovered by the lawyer and law enforcement team. With the gathering of clues, the mystery provided an element of suspense to the overall story. It was a familiar thread Lifetime wove in a newer way!

Paper Boats in the Sea image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/background-of-paper-boats-with-hand-drawn-waves_1189898.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Poor audio: I’m well aware a typical made-for-tv production works with a smaller budget. With that said, part of the budget should be reserved for quality audio equipment. In Sea Change, the characters’ dialogue was so quiet, it sounded like they were mumbling. This forced me to turn up the volume on my television, as it was difficult to hear what the characters were saying.

Questions left unanswered: According to Sea Change’s synopsis, Miranda “makes a startling discovery about her connection to the Seawalkers”. Throughout this one hour and twenty-one-minute film, this connection was never revealed. Leo, one of the Seawalkers, tells his sister how Miranda will save them. The question of how Miranda will save the Seawalkers was never answered either. These are just two examples of questions that were not resolved. This is especially an issue toward the end of the movie, when the story is left open-ended. I’m not sure if this was done as a weak attempt at setting up a sequel or leaving room for the audience to interpret what might happen. But by the end of the story, you’re left with more loose ends than necessary.

Few appearances from the Seawalkers: When I reviewed the 2012 Hallmark movie, Chasing Leprechauns, I mentioned how the titular leprechauns could be heard and not seen. This made that film’s title seem somewhat misleading. Sea Change contains a similar flaw. While the characters talk about the existence of Seawalkers and while the movie’s synopsis brings them up, the Seawalkers themselves are rarely shown as Seawalkers. More often than not, they are presented in human form. From the perspective of an audience member, I speculated this creative decision was likely made as a result of the production’s limited budget.

Magnifying fingerprints image created by Balintseby at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/glass”>Glass vector created by Balintseby – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/fingerprint-investigation_789253.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Fantasy is a genre Lifetime rarely delves into. After seeing Sea Change, though, I think I know why the fantasy genre doesn’t often appear on Lifetime. Based on its synopsis, I thought Sea Change was going to be a “bonkers” picture. I even believed this could be my “so bad it’s good” movie. The movie itself is an average, weak imitation of Twilight. If you’ve seen or read that story, or any story similar to Twilight, you’ve already seen Sea Change. While there were aspects of the film I liked, I, honestly, can’t recommend it. One reason why is how so many questions are left unanswered. As I said in my review, the film’s ending is left open-ended. Since Sea Change seems to be a stand-alone story, this fact will only leave viewers frustrated. What made this movie disappointing, for me, was how unmemorable it was. Because Lifetime rarely creates projects in the fantasy genre, it’s a shame Sea Change didn’t stand out, for better or worse.

Overall score: 5.5 out of 10

Have you seen Sea Change? Did you ever come across a film synopsis that sounded so “bonkers”, you felt you had to check out the movie? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2022

As the sun begins to set on 2022, it’s time to publish my best and worst movies of the year lists! Last year, every film on my best list had been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane. But that’s not the case this time around. For this list, only two movies were not reviewed, while another movie served as an editorial subject. Any film I covered on my blog will have a link included in this post. I’m thankful another year was filled with more good movies than bad. I’ll even have more titles in my Honorable Mentions! While these lists have become great traditions on their own, the variety of this collection of films has become another tradition. So, without any delay, let’s begin the list of the best movies I saw in 2022!

Honorable Mentions

Cut, Color, Murder, Sailor Moon S: The Movie, Cyrano de Bergerac (1950), Children of a Lesser God, Sweet Revenge: A Hannah Swensen Mystery, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Honeymoon, Honeymurder, The Princess and the Pirate, Dirty Little Secret, Singin in the Rain, McBride: Tune in for Murder, McBride: Dogged, McBride: Requiem, Hugo, Akeelah and the Bee, The Shoplifting Pact, and Secrets at the Inn

<a href=”http://<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by malikadesign – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type=”URL” data-id=”<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by malikadesign – http://www.freepik.com2022 Sparkler image created by malikadesign at freepik.com

10. Fiddler on the Roof

When I reviewed the 1971 musical back in February, I said it was too early to say whether it would be one of the best movies I saw this year. But Fiddler on the Roof captivated me so much, the film ended up on my annual top ten list! I described the movie as a well-made quilt, with each of the film’s strengths representing a different quilt piece. The inclusion of Jewish faith/culture also gave the project a unique identity by asking questions and discussing topics that aren’t often found in musicals. Looking back on this movie, Fiddler on the Roof was three hours well spent. It’s a special project in both the world of musicals and cinema. I hope to check out more Jewish cinematic stories in 2023!

Take 3: Fiddler on the Roof Review

9. The Lost Empire/The Monkey King

Out of all the movies on my best list for 2022, The Lost Empire/The Monkey King is the most unique one! A fantasy film based on Chinese folklore, this was an imaginative production I enjoyed watching. The story was sometimes thought-provoking and even somewhat educational, as it included literature related discussions. Strong acting performances brought to life characters who seemed believable. The set designs boasted a realistic and fantastical setting, which effectively presented the illusion of an immersive world. I wish Hallmark created more movies like The Lost Empire/The Monkey King, where the stories and ideas are more creative. With the network prioritizing rom-coms and dramas, though, I don’t know what their decisions will be in the new year.

Take 3: The Lost Empire/The Monkey King Review

8. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Haunted by Murder

Talking about this movie is bittersweet, as it is the last film in the Aurora Teagarden series. I’ve thought about all the moments the fans will never get to see, such as Aurora and Nick’s first Christmas, Phillip’s college graduation, and Sally falling in love. But if this is where the story must end, at least it ended on a strong note. The realistic and supernatural elements of the story complimented each other nicely. Supernatural elements being incorporated at all gave this chapter a more creative approach to the series. It was nice to spend time with Lawrenceton’s favorite residents; the acting performances and on-screen camaraderie remaining consistent. Even though I would have loved to see the Aurora Teagarden series continue for many more years, I know nothing lasts forever. But as the saying goes “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”.

7. Redwood Curtain

There are very few movies I found better than their source material. Redwood Curtain just so happens to be one of them! The creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation took advantage of the expansive nature of film by providing the story with more locations. Allowing characters like Julia and Laird to appear in the movie showcase the Riordan family dynamic not present in the play. I found Geri more likable as a character in the movie. Lea’s performance paired with the screenwriting gave Geri an empathetic and understanding personality. Redwood Curtain is a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation I wish was re-released on DVD.

‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen

6. The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum was one of the biggest pleasant surprises of 2022! Despite the film not being my first choice for its respective blogathon, I thought it was engaging and entertaining. Vincent’s performance didn’t disappoint, as his portrayal of Nicholas was versatile and fueled on emotion. The mystery not only started right away, but it also allowed the audience to experience the journey alongside Francis, the main character. The Pit and the Pendulum is, to me, one of the more effective horror movies, like 1962’s Cape Fear. While this film would be a perfect choice to watch on Halloween, I’m glad I had the opportunity to see it around Vincent’s birthday!

Take 3: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) Review

Redwood Curtain poster created by Chris/Rose Productions, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, American Broadcasting Company (ABC), and Republic Pictures (II)

5. The Song of Bernadette

And another film of Vincent’s joins my list! Faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. The Song of Bernadette falls into the latter category, as it revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. What I like about the 1943 film is how different perspectives relating to the phenomena are explored, highlighting how various members of the town view the events unfolding. The story doesn’t choose sides on the main topic, allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about what is taking place in the movie. Even though The Song of Bernadette was released during the Breen Code era, the film is a good representation of the quality from that period in cinema. As I said in my review, Easter would be an appropriate time to watch the movie!

Take 3: The Song of Bernadette Review

4. Heaven Is for Real

Heaven Is for Real shares a major similarity with The Song of Bernadette. The 2014 film also revolves around religious phenomena affecting a small town. But what Heaven Is for Real does differently is encourage the audience to have a conversation about their beliefs on Heaven. Like I previously stated, faith based films come in two forms; those that emphasize a message and those that emphasize a story. However, I’ve rarely seen a movie of this nature start a discussion about one of their themes. This creative decision brings something new to the table and gives Heaven Is for Real a unique identity.

3. Words on Bathroom Walls

It seems like I’ve been talking about this title for as long as my blog has been around. But I’m glad I finally got the chance to see Words on Bathroom Walls this year, as it was such a good adaptation! There were changes between text and film. Despite that, the adaptation was, for the most part, respectful to its source material. The visual presentation of the story gave the audience a glimpse inside Adam’s mind. Interactions between the characters were believable, thanks to the actors’ performances and screenwriting. As I mentioned in my review a month ago, the adaptation for Words on Bathroom Walls seems more underrated. Based on the response my review received, my statement may be wrong.

Take 3: Words on Bathroom Walls Review

2. Top Gun: Maverick

I’m going to be honest; I had low expectations for Top Gun: Maverick. That’s because sequels released over ten years after their predecessor can be hit or miss. Top Gun: Maverick ended up surpassing my expectations, making it in the top three of my best of the year list! From what I know about Top Gun, the sequel respected what came before it. At the same time, new elements were added to the story, like focusing on an overarching mission. In a cinematic landscape where a film receiving over a billion dollars has become a rarity, Top Gun: Maverick achieved what some studios only dream of. As the 2020s move forward, maybe more filmmakers will turn to this film as an example of what can be cinematically possible.

Take 3: Top Gun: Maverick Review + 450 Follower Thank You

1. A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love

When it comes to “Godwink” stories, I prefer those that focus on a conflict. While that is the case for A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love, I found the overall production impressive! The interactions among the characters, as well as each volunteer’s talent being showcased, provided a nice amount of character development. Christmas activities were incorporated in more unique ways, such as the Romero family’s gift exchange. The inclusion of Advent was a newer approach to the Christmas movie genre. I don’t know what’s in store for the Godwink series. But I’d love to see more adaptations of these stories!

Take 3: A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love Review

A Godwink Christmas: Miracle of Love poster created by Crown Media Productions and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

Have fun in 2023!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: The Christmas Thief Review

Merry Christmas to all my readers and followers! For the last movie of the season, I wanted to review something different. That’s because the Christmas movies I reviewed this year have been Hallmark productions. So, I chose to write about the Ion Television film, The Christmas Thief! This review marks two firsts for 18 Cinema Lane. The Christmas Thief is the first Ion movie I’ve ever written about, as I don’t often watch Christmas films from that network. Up until Christmas 2022, I have never reviewed a Christmas themed mystery movie. However, I know how popular the mystery genre is on my blog. With all that said, here is my gift to you; a sweet treat called The Christmas Thief!

The Christmas Thief poster created by Thriller Films, Scripps Networks, GPS, and Organic Media Group

Things I liked about the film:

Stand-out performances: While watching The Christmas Thief, there were some acting performances that stood out for the right reasons! One of them came from Jarrid Masse! Portraying a detective named Nick, Jarrid carried his character with a strong sense of charm. At the same time, Jarrid maintained the professionalism you’d expect from a detective. Even though I’ve only seen pieces of Top Gun, Jarrid’s performance reminded me of Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Iceman. I really liked seeing Nick’s interactions with his detective partner, Marie. Portrayed by Rachel Cerda, Marie had an easy-going personality. This not only complimented Nick’s personality, it helped create good on-screen camaraderie between Marie and Nick. I wish Rachel and Jarrid shared more scenes, as these two actors appeared to work well together! Bryson JonSteele portrayed Lana’s nephew, Henry. I enjoyed watching his performance, as it came across as believable! When he interacted with Lana, the film’s protagonist, Henry would sometimes adopt an accent that would be heard in a noir film. Because he looks up to his aunt as a role model, Henry has a child’s belief that he has to behave this way in order to be a good private investigator.

Henry’s subplot: As I just mentioned, Henry looks up to his aunt as a role model. He finds her private investigator dreams appealing, which inspires him to solve a mystery of his own. Shortly after Lana arrives home for Christmas, Henry asks for her help. He’s attempting to figure out if the neighborhood Santa is the real one or just a volunteer in a costume. When younger characters are incorporated in a Christmas movie, they are either there for the sake of being there or they have a minor role in the story. Henry’s subplot allowed him to have a bigger role than some younger characters in Christmas films. Having Henry’s subplot connected to the main plot also helps. With everything considered, I found this part of the story adorable!

The mystery: More often than not, I have enjoyed watching Hallmark’s mystery films. But I’ll be one of the first movie bloggers to admit the murder mystery storyline can sometimes feel repetitive. With The Christmas Thief, the mystery was a theft, which prevented the movie’s tone from becoming too dark. I also think the mystery itself was executed well! With clues sprinkled throughout the story, the audience could participate in solving the mystery alongside Lana and Nick. The creative team’s decision to make the mystery a top priority kept viewers invested in the movie. Lana’s interest in private investigation gave her a strong reason for getting involved in the case. All these pieces came together to deliver a more creative Christmas story!

Group of Christmas figures image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/hand-drawn-cute-christmas-character_3188970.htm’>Designed by Pikisuperstar</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Poor audio: In some outdoor scenes, the audio’s quality was poor. When characters spoke to one another, it sounded like they were trying to communicate underwater. While watching The Christmas Thief, I, at first, thought there was something wrong with my television’s sound system. But the more this occurred, I realized it was an issue with the movie itself. It seems like the film’s creative team forgot to add ADR (automated dialog replacement) in post-production.

Inconsistent parts of the story: When it came to The Christmas Thief’s script, there were inconsistencies. It didn’t happen frequently, like in A Boyfriend for Christmas, but it was still a story-related issue. One example involves Lana. Through a voice-over at the beginning of the movie, Lana reveals how she has never believed in Santa, even when she was a child. Yet, during a stakeout with Nick, she claims the neighborhood Santa is real. There’s nothing wrong with showing a character change their perspective over time. In Lana’s case, however, that journey from point A to B was never shown. So, Lana’s change in belief came across as sudden.

A message’s weak delivery: Lana has always dreamed of becoming a private investigator. But her career prospects don’t seem as bright as she originally thought. Through a heart-to-heart conversation with her mother, Lana and the audience receive one of the film’s important messages: Sometimes, a dream not coming true can be a good thing, as your skills and talents can lead you in a better direction. I have rarely seen this message incorporated in entertainment media, so I was glad to see it addressed in The Christmas Thief. However, without spoiling the movie, Lana’s career decision backtracked on this message. I was disappointed by this, as the message could have had a better execution.

Magnifying glass image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/magnifying-glass-with-fingerprint-in-flat-style_2034684.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/flat”>Flat vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

Christmas mystery films are, in my opinion, far and few between. Sure, there have been Christmas projects containing elements of mystery. But the only Christmas mystery movie I can think of is Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery. This is why I appreciate the story of The Christmas Thief, as Ion seems eager to think outside the box. Though the film does contain its strengths, it’s not without its flaws. The poor audio was noticeable to the point where I, honestly, thought my television’s sound system was experiencing technical issues. There were even inconsistencies in the script, but not as bad as A Boyfriend for Christmas. At the end of the day, Ion’s efforts to try something different should be recognized. With the network’s recent desire to create more Christmas mystery films, it makes me wonder if Ion will eventually become a mystery exclusive channel?

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen The Christmas Thief? Are there any Christmas mystery films you can think of? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun during Christmas!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: A Boyfriend for Christmas Review

This month’s Genre Grandeur theme is ‘Films With Santa Claus or Santa Claus impersonators’. With that in mind, I knew I’d find at least one Hallmark movie starring jolly old St. Nick. While reflecting on various titles, I remembered one film I had never seen in its entirety. That film is 2004’s A Boyfriend for Christmas. Over the eighteen years since its release, this movie has garnered a reputation among the Hallmark fan community. A Boyfriend for Christmas has been labeled a “classic”, as well as, more often than not, securing a place in Hallmark’s annual Christmas line-ups. When it comes to Hallmark Christmas movies with notoriety, I try to check them out in an attempt to discover if their “hype” is deserved. This is why I reviewed The Christmas Card and The Nine Lives of Christmas in the past. So, has A Boyfriend for Christmas earned its reputation? Keep reading my review while you’re waiting for Santa’s arrival!

A Boyfriend for Christmas poster created by Hallmark Entertainment,  MAT IV,  Alpine Medien Productions, Larry Levinson Productions, Gaiam Entertainment, and Hallmark Channel 

Things I liked about the film:

The parallels between Holly and Ryan: When the audience meets the film’s protagonists, Holly and Ryan, in “present day”, they see these two characters are at odds with each other. On the surface, Ryan and Holly are as different as night and day. But in one specific scene, it is shown they have more in common than they realize. In this scene, Holly and Ryan come home after a long day. The choices they make in their respective home are presented in parallels, alternating between the two characters. For example, Holly turns on the radio at her house, while Ryan turns on his television at his apartment. Toward the end of this scene, Holly and Ryan look out their window to observe their landscape. Ryan is greeted to a lighted city skyline and Holly sees her neighbor’s outdoor Christmas decorations, as well as the moon. Through these visuals and without the use of dialogue, the idea of Ryan and Holly sharing more similarities was effectively showcased!

Holly’s figure skating past:  When Ryan shares dinner with Holly’s family, he and the audience learn about Holly’s figure skating talents. Not only did she place second in a state final (when she was younger), she also has the trophies to prove her dedication and athleticism. As indicated in the dialogue, Holly retired from the world of figure skating. However, she performs an impromptu skating solo at a local outdoor rink. This was the most interesting part of Holly’s story! I wanted to learn more about her relationship with the sport. It’s too bad this side of Holly was only brought up in passing, as it could have lent itself to a fascinating subplot.

Ice skating pair photo created by fxquadro at freepik.com. Image by fxquadro on Freepik

What I didn’t like about the film:

Inconsistent writing: Throughout A Boyfriend for Christmas, there were several instances of inconsistent writing. Holly’s interactions with Ryan are a perfect example. Toward the beginning of the story, it is revealed she and Ryan are working on the same pro bono case. This scene’s dialogue gives the impression Holly has met Ryan before. While leaving the court house, she crosses paths with Ryan, hearing his voice and seeing his face. But when Holly and Ryan interact at a Christmas tree lot several hours later, it doesn’t seem to cross her mind that she’s recently heard his voice. Even when Ryan arrives at Holly’s house on Christmas Day, she acts like she’s never met him. Inconsistencies like this one made the story too unbelievable for my liking.

Lack of Christmas magic: When I reviewed Chasing Leprechauns last March, I said the film wanted to have its cake and eat it too. This was because the story included a magical element (leprechauns), yet prioritized the realistic aspects of the movie’s world. A Boyfriend for Christmas makes the exact same mistake. Santa appears several times in this story. Yet, he never utilizes any Christmas magic. Even when he’s giving Holly her titular boyfriend for Christmas, the execution of her wish was not magical or whimsical. It honestly makes me wonder why Santa was incorporated in the movie at all?

Holly’s subplot with Ted: Ted is Holly’s ex-boyfriend. His behaviors and actions clearly indicate how he’s “bad news”, providing one reason why he and Holly aren’t meant to be. I know his inclusion in the story was intended to present a conflict for the protagonists. However, it reminded me of Paul and his conflict from The Christmas Card. Ted’s personality, plus Holly’s lack of interest in getting back together with him, gives the audience the impression this relationship isn’t going anywhere. Because of that, this subplot felt like a waste of time.

The fast pace of Holly and Ryan’s relationship: In a typical Hallmark movie, the protagonists’ relationship progresses in a shorter amount of time. But in A Boyfriend for Christmas, Ryan and Holly’s relationship evolved too quickly. In fact, it felt very “insta-love”. Despite acting like she’s never met Ryan before, Holly almost immediately falls head over heels for him. She doesn’t even question why Ryan is suddenly interested in her. Because of how fast this on-screen relationship progressed, it was difficult to determine if Kelli Williams and Patrick Muldoon had any on-screen chemistry.

Santa stationary image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/creative-christmas-letter-and-envelope-template_3281562.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com. 

My overall impression:

There are some Hallmark Christmas movies that have gained notoriety. Some of this “hype” was earned, such as the case for The Nine Lives of Christmas. Other times, the “hype” felt more over-rated, like how I kind of feel about The Christmas Card. Sadly, A Boyfriend for Christmas falls into the latter category. This is not a movie I was impressed with. The script was one of the weakest I’ve ever witnessed in a film. Like I said in my Lake Effects review, if the script isn’t strong, there’s only so much a creative team can do to remedy the issue. Unfortunately, the other aspects of the movie didn’t make up for the script’s weaknesses. The acting ranged from wooden to serviceable. The set design didn’t leave a memorable impression. There was no charm, whimsy, or Christmas magic present in the story. If anything, A Boyfriend for Christmas was a huge letdown from what it could have been.

Overall score: 4.3 out of 10

Have you seen A Boyfriend for Christmas? What Hallmark Christmas movies do you think are surrounded in “hype”? Tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: When the Circus Came to Town Review

For many film fans, Christopher Plummer will best be remembered as Captain von Trapp, from The Sound of Music. A poised and serious man, Captain von Trapp is a leader who stood his ground, even if that meant leaving behind everything he and his family have ever known. In the 1981, made-for-TV movie, When the Circus Came to Town, Christopher portrays a character who is seen as a leader. But this time, the leadership role is much different. For The Charismatic Christopher Plummer Blogathon, I wanted to go off the beaten path when it came to Christopher’s filmography. If it wasn’t for this event, I never would have heard of this television film. When I read the synopsis for When the Circus Came to Town, the story sounded heart-felt and somewhat inspirational, as it revolves around a woman who joins a circus in order to seek a change in her life. But is my entry for the blogathon as “razzle-dazzle” as the circus appears to be? Keep reading the greatest review on earth in order to find out!

When the Circus Came to Town advisement created by Entheos Unlimited Productions, Meteor Films, and CBS 

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: While watching When the Circus Came to Town, I kept wondering if Christopher Plummer had ever been cast in a Western. That’s because his portrayal of Duke, the circus ringmaster, felt reminiscent of the cowboys who are unfazed by their lifestyle. When Duke and Mary, portrayed by Elizabeth Montgomery, meet for the first time, Christopher’s tone of voice and the way his character speaks to Mary are nonchalant and matter-of-fact. His whole demeanor exudes a “been there, done there” attitude, a man who has been on the road for far too long. But when Christopher needed to turn on the charm, he effectively brought showmanship to his character. The film’s very first scene is a perfect example of this, as Christopher carries his character with charm and confidence.

As I mentioned in the introduction, When the Circus Came to Town revolves around Mary, a woman who joins a circus in order to seek a change in her life. Elizabeth portrayed this character, showcasing Mary’s transformation from a quiet woman who tried not make waves to a confident lady who was not afraid to take a leap of faith. At her father’s funeral, some of the attendants were asking Mary questions. Overwhelmed by the uncertainty of her future and frustrated by other people answering questions for her, she excuses herself from the conversation. But before she leaves, Mary answers every question given to her at the reception. The way she answers these questions is matter-of-fact, with a sharpness in her tone of voice. This scene seemed like foreshadowing, confidence ready to burst forth in Mary’s heart.

When Mary was interested in joining the circus, she met Louie, one of the circus’ clowns. Portrayed by Tommy Madden, Louie had a charismatic and easy-going personality. He even had a good sense of humor, allowing nothing to stand in his way. Louie was the kind of friend an audience member would wish they could have in their life, a one-in-a-million kind of person. Tommy’s on-screen chemistry with Elizabeth was pleasant! This made me look forward to Louie and Mary’s interactions, as these characters appeared to get along well with each other.

The dialogue: Dialogue in made-for-TV movies can be hit or miss. Sometimes, characters’ conversations sound like they came directly from real-life. Other times, the dialogue can make viewers think, “No one talks like that”. In When the Circus Came to Town, there were times when the dialogue was more profound than I expected. When Mary first meets Louie, she confesses how she ran away from home. After Louie jokingly asks her if she’s too old to run away, Mary says in a sad, serious tone, “I had to wait for everybody to die so I could do it”. Up until this point in the story, Mary has felt she hasn’t lived life on her own terms. She has either put the needs of others before her own or she, simply, went through life’s motions. This has made Mary question who she really is and what she truly wants out of life. Her aforementioned quote, to me, spoke volumes. It also showed how much thought went into the dialogue.

A peek behind the circus’ curtain: When any industry is prominently featured in a story, a film’s creative team has an opportunity to give the audience a chance to glimpse some of its realities. One of these realities is showing a behind the scenes look at what it takes to make that industry work. The titular circus in When the Circus Came to Town sometimes displays the practice, care, and determination it takes to make something like a circus appear effortless. Mary’s first job was cleaning the animals’ cages. While the job itself wasn’t showstopping, it was an important one. This also highlights how every role is a necessary one, especially since it takes so many people to put on a show.

The Charismatic Christopher Plummer Blogathon created by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews and Gabriela from Pale Writer

What I didn’t like about the film:

Christopher Plummer and Elizabeth Montgomery’s on-screen chemistry: Elizabeth and Christopher did a good job with the acting material they were given, as their individual performances were strong. Unfortunately, their on-screen chemistry was weak. The way Duke was written was part of this problem. The circus’ ringmaster was a womanizer who was a little too friendly with the alcohol. Duke was also a more static character, not displaying a strong desire to change his ways. This left me wondering why Mary would try to attract Duke’s attention, especially since Louie had the better personality?

No overarching plot: Like I said in the introduction, When the Circus Came to Town’s story revolved around Mary joining the circus. However, that part of the story is the hook, the part that encourages the audience to become interested in the film. What this movie was missing was an overarching plot, the part of the story that keeps the audience invested. Once Mary joined the circus, the script bounced around between Mary, Louie, Duke, and Jessy, the circus’ accountant. There was one part of the story that addressed the circus’ financial woes. Even though this could have served as an overarching conflict/plot, it was introduced in the last twenty-eight minutes of the movie. To me, this was a missed opportunity.

A limited distribution of character development: When the Circus Came to Town had the same flaw Top Gun: Maverick did: there was a limited supply of character development. In my point where I talked about no overarching plot, I said the story bounced around between Mary, Louie, Duke, and Jessy. These four characters received the most character development in the story. The other characters, especially those from the circus, either didn’t receive any character development or just enough for the audience to become familiar with them. When a film has a larger cast, I know it can be difficult to give each cast member and their character attention. Personally, I think there was not enough time to address all these characters and stories.

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My overall impression:

Ringmasters have, sometimes, referred to their circus as “the greatest show on earth”. This bold statement has signified the circus company’s confidence and satisfaction in their final product; the show itself. That aforementioned quote can’t be said about When the Circus Came to Town. This is not a bad film, as it does contain strengths. Some of these are the acting performances and the profound dialogue. If I had to be honest, though, this story would have worked better as either a multi-part mini-series or a television show. The 1981, made-for-TV production featured so many moving parts. An hour and thirty six minutes is, in my opinion, not enough time to address all of that. Reflecting on When the Circus Came to Town and The Sound of Music, Christopher Plummer was cast as a leader. Out of his projects I’ve seen, this seems like pure coincidence. However, I’d like to point out Christopher’s portrayals in both When the Circus Came to Town and The Sound of Music highlight his acting versatility.

Overall score: 6 out of 10

Have you seen any of Christopher Plummer’s films? Are there any you’d like me to review? Please tell me in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

And now, a word from our sponsor of The World Television Day Blogathon

Well, another blogathon has come and gone. While the turn-out this time was smaller, it was still a nice event. I was not only introduced to a made-for-tv film, I was also inspired for a future editorial! I even finally got around to writing about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising! To everyone who participated, thank you for joining my World Television Day Blogathon. There will be another blogathon taking place in 2023. But the theme and dates are still pending. In the upcoming months, I will also be introducing a new series. As it’s been said in the Signed, Sealed, Delivered series, however, you have to “trust the timing”…

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Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Alex: The Life of a Child Review

‘Films About Doctors, Nurses and Hospitals’. That’s the theme of this month’s Genre Grandeur. There were several titles I could have selected to write about. But after re-reading my list of the top ten films I’d love to review, I decided to take a different approach for November’s event. When I published the aforementioned list in June, I talked about the 1986 made-for-TV movie, Alex: The Life of a Child. The film is based on Frank Deford’s book of the same name, which recounts the life of his daughter, Alex. Because of her Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis, Alex spent a significant amount of time interacting with doctors and nurses, as well as spending time in the hospital. Therefore, I thought Alex: The Life of a Child was an appropriate title to review for November’s Genre Grandeur!

Alex: The Life of a Child title card created by Mandy Films and American Broadcasting Company (ABC). Image found on the Youtube channel, JPG Highlands Vlog.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: When you have a story that primarily focuses on a younger character/person, you need to recruit a younger actor or actress who has the talent to carry that film on their shoulders. In the case of Gennie James’ portrayal of Alex Deford, her performance highlights the idea of children being smarter than they sometimes receive credit for. Toward the end of the film, Alex asks her doctor whether she’s going to die. Her tone of voice is matter-of-fact, containing a sense of understanding for what’s going on. Alex’s doctor, Dr. Tom Dolan, tries his best to be as honest as possible, while also sugar-coating the news just enough to keep it bearable. Alex then tells Tom, “Ok, I think you better go now”, empathy felt in her voice. However, this empathy was for Tom, as Alex knew how difficult her passing would be for him.

Danny Corkill portrays Alex’s brother, Christian Deford. Even though he appeared in only a handful of scenes, Danny’s performance was a strong one! After receiving the news his family will be adopting a child, Christian goes to his room. In there, he listens to a series of recordings Frank created while Alex was still alive. Throughout this scene, Danny consistently carries a long look on his face. His eyes stare off into the distance, searching for the one person who won’t come back home. Those eyes are paired with a frown and a sad tone in his voice. This scene alone showcases how difficult a family member’s passing can be on a child, especially if that family member is their younger sibling.

Alex and Christian’s mother is portrayed by Bonnie Bedelia. What I liked about her performance was how expressive it was. Shortly after receiving the news about Alex’s diagnosis, Frank and Carole are worried about their daughter’s outcome. During her conversation with Frank, Carole’s eyes are filled with sadness and fear. A deep sense of concern is in Carole’s voice, as she and Frank wonder how much longer Alex will live. That scene displays a portrayal that feels believable, thanks in part to Bonnie’s strong acting abilities!

Respect toward the source material: As I mentioned in the introduction, Alex: The Life of a Child is based on a book written by Alex’s father, Frank. In my list of the top ten movies I’d love to review, I said I had read this book. Even though it’s been years since I read Frank’s novel, there were parts of the story I recognized from the text. One of them was the Deford family’s recording for their answering machine. In both the book and movie, the Deford family creates a funny recording for their answering machine, where they pretend to be in the shower while the phone is ringing. They record the message in the bathroom, leaving the faucet running and singing songs. This moment served as a hilarious moment in Alex’s life, stressing how Alex attempted to seek out the bright spots in her world, despite the severity of her illness.

Addressing the subject of patient advocacy: During one of her hospital stays, Alex’s lung collapses. She not only is in pain, she recognizes where the pain is coming from. When she tells a doctor what is happening, the doctor doesn’t believe her. But when Alex told a nurse she couldn’t breathe, Alex’s concerns were addressed. The subject of patient advocacy, especially for younger patients, is one that has received more acknowledgment in recent years. Alex’s story took place in the 1970s, with the film released in 1986. Therefore, this scene’s inclusion feels ahead of its time. It can also show viewers, including younger viewers, that you should stand up for yourself, even in a medical setting.

A screenshot of my copy of Alex: The Life of a Child. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The adoption subplot: Throughout the film, Frank and Carole Deford plan on adopting a child. This decision comes after the death of their daughter, Alex. In real life, the Deford family did adopt their youngest daughter, Scarlet. But this information was not included in the film’s source material, which was published in 1983. Scarlet’s adoption was addressed when Frank’s book was re-released in 1997, a decade after the film premiered. Because a good amount of the movie focused on this subplot, it took away focus from Alex’s part of the story, even though the film is titled Alex: The Life of a Child.

No acknowledgment for the Deford family’s involvement with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: According to Frank Deford’s bio on Goodreads, “he became involved in cystic fibrosis education and advocacy after his daughter, Alexandra (“Alex”) was diagnosed with the illness in the early 1970s”. Frank even became a chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Unfortunately, none of this information is included in the film. In fact, the aforementioned foundation is never brought up. I know there’s only so much story you can tell in an hour and thirty-three minutes. However, I wish this part of the story was included in a subplot instead of the adoption subplot.

Unclear time period: Similar to the book, the movie is told from Frank’s perspective, as he recalls Alex’s short life. Because of the visual nature of film, the audience witnesses some of these moments brought to life. But since the presentation of the “past” scenes doesn’t look much different from the “present” scenes, it was sometimes difficult to determine what part of the story was being told. For the sake of the film, I think the story should have been told in chronological order.

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My overall impression:

Back in April, I reviewed Brian’s Song. In that review, I said I wasn’t as emotionally affected by the movie as I thought I would be. This is because I was familiar with Brian and Gale’s story before watching the film, which prevented me from becoming caught off-guard by the emotional, sadder moments in the story. I ended up having a similar experience while watching Alex: The Life of a Child. As I mentioned in this review, I have read the source material prior to seeing its adaptation. Therefore, I already knew how Alex’s story would play out. From what I remember of the book, I do feel the film was respectful to Frank’s text. I also think the strong acting performances worked in the movie’s favor. Alex: The Life of a Child is a fine, competently made television film. But if you’ve read the book, you’ve already seen the movie.

Overall score: 7.1-7.2 out of 10

Have you seen or read Alex: The Life of a Child? Is there a “based on a true story” movie you’re a fan of? Let me know in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Top Ten Characters Who Didn’t Reach Their Full Potential

For my World Television Day Blogathon, I was originally going to review one of the books in the Murder, She Wrote series. But with the recent passing of Angela Lansbury, I thought it would be a bit too soon. Therefore, I decided to write about the top ten characters who didn’t reach their full potential instead. What does it mean for a character to reach their “full potential”? In my opinion, it means a character is given the opportunity to reach their goals, make their dreams come true, and allow their stories to be told to a satisfying extent. Unfortunately, some characters are denied these opportunities for various reasons. This list will address the characters I wish had received their full potential. For the sake of this discussion, I will focus on characters who appeared in television shows or made-for-tv movies. While there are some characters I have talked about before, I tried to include those I never talked about on 18 Cinema Lane. There will also be spoilers for the television shows and movies discussed in this list.

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1. Matthew Rogers from Little House on the Prairie

Yes, I’m starting this list with a character I’ve written part of an editorial about. However, I feel there’s an argument to be made for Matthew not reaching his full potential. On Little House on the Prairie, he was introduced in the show’s last season. Within that season, Matthew only appeared in a total of three episodes, departing in the series finale. This left him with little to no time to reach his full potential. Meanwhile, characters such as Albert Ingalls, Willie Oleson, and even Nancy Oleson had their potential recognized because they were introduced in earlier seasons. Had Matthew made his debut in, say, season seven, his chances to reach his full potential may have been stronger.

2. Jamey Farrell from 24

24 was released during a very interesting time. It was almost ten years after the premiere of Jurassic Park, a film that showed Dr. Ian Malcolm breaking the mold of a “geek/nerd”. But 24 was also released almost ten years prior to Iron Man, when the idea of the “cool geek/nerd” would be fully embraced by the media. Before Robert Downey Jr. accepted the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man, Karina Arroyave portrayed Jamey on 24. A beautiful, intelligent, and charismatic woman, Jamey had the potential to be the Dr. Ian Malcolm of the show. In fact, I think if the show’s writers had allowed her to reach her full potential, Jamey could have been the reason why the media embraced the “cool geek/nerd” idea a lot sooner than they did. As the events of 24’s first season unfolded, though, Jamey’s sparkling personality became watered down and her unique attire morphed into looking just like every other employee. Becoming a villain and dying after appearing in ten episodes ended all chances of Jamey reaching her full potential.

3. Jiggy Nye from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure

Another character I’ve written an editorial about joins this list. In the 2005 made-for-tv film, Jiggy was presented more as a victim than a villain. This is because he didn’t come across as a big enough threat to the protagonist. It also doesn’t help how Jiggy’s backstory was poorly incorporated into the script. Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is based on a six-book series. Like any adaptation, changes were made between books and film. When it comes to Jiggy’s part of the story, though, it seems like he received the short end of the stick. From a writing perspective, he deserved so much better.

4. Libby from Lost

Out of all the characters from Lost to not receive their full potential, especially those from season two, Libby is the one you can make the strongest argument for. Introduced as one of the “Tailies”, there was so much mystery and intrigue surrounding her and her story. When Libby and Hurley started a romantic relationship, things seemed to be going well with her character development. Sadly, Libby’s story was short-lived, as she died toward the end of the second season. Because of her departure, none of the mysteries surrounding her were ever addressed. Libby never even received any flashbacks.

5. Amédée Chevalier from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s O Pioneers!

I first mentioned Amédée in my review of the 1992 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. In his limited appearance in the movie, he had so much potential. From his athleticism to his charisma, Amédée could go anywhere and be anyone he wanted. Sadly, his story was cut short due to dying off-screen of appendicitis. From the information I’ve found about Amédée, he only made three appearances in the book. This makes me wonder if his full potential was always meant to be denied?

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6. Captain Lynch and Judy from Crusoe

Long before 18 Cinema Lane existed, there was a television adaptation called Crusoe. In the season premiere, Captain Lynch and Judy arrived on Robinson’s island. Similar to Libby from Lost, Judy and Captain Lynch were surrounded in mystery and intrigue. But toward the end of the season premiere, these characters departed from the show. While Captain Lynch died, Judy was taken away by the Royal Naval Police, never to be seen again. It also didn’t help how Crusoe survived for only one season.

7. Barry Klemper from Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Boys Next Door

I always thought there was an argument to be made for Barry Klemper’s full potential in the 1996 Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation. A photogenic and articulate man, Barry had a passion for golf, which he kept alive at his job at a driving range. Had he received a more one-on-one, individualized approach to his care, I honestly think Barry could have lived a, somewhat, independent life. But all that momentum Barry had was destroyed when his father showed up and intimidated him. This interaction caused Barry to spend the remainder of the story in a psychiatric hospital. The Boys Next Door is based on a play that I have not read or seen in its entirety, so I’m not sure how respectful the adaptation is to its source material. All I know is Barry Klemper not reaching his full potential is, in my opinion, heart-breaking.

8. Moon from Cedar Cove

The proprietor of Moon’s Café, Moon is one of the most important characters of the 2013 Hallmark Channel show. Along with coffee and baked goods, Moon serves up wisdom to those who will provide a listening ear. I even recall one episode where he claimed he was adopted. This tidbit could have opened the doors to a compelling story for Moon. But during Cedar Cove’s three season run, Moon, more often than not, was overshadowed by the other characters and their stories. Since the show ended in 2015, there have been no announced plans to release a Cedar Cove movie or reunion special. Hallmark’s lack of interest in revisiting their first scripted show leaves Moon with no more chances to reach his full potential.

9. Harris Trinsky from Freaks and Geeks

After watching some episodes of Freaks and Geeks, Harris has become my favorite character from the show. His “wise beyond his years” perspective make him a character the “geeks” can trust and others can respect. Harris also had a lot going for him, from his intelligence to his interest in Dungeons & Dragons. Unfortunately, Freaks and Geeks lasted for only one season. The fact Harris was a recurring character didn’t help his case either, as he appeared in ten of the show’s eighteen episodes.

10. Jesse and Clara from When Calls the Heart

When I was creating this list, I, at first, didn’t think there were any characters from When Calls the Heart who didn’t reach their full potential. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized Jesse and Clara fit my list’s criteria. Clara came to Hope Valley in season two, still healing from a broken heart. Season three saw the arrival of Jesse, seeking a second chance after living a life of crime. When Clara and Jesse became a couple, they had their whole lives and relationship ahead of them. But the longer they stayed on the show, the more overshadowed they became. Jesse and Clara were given few good stories during their time on When Calls the Heart. They were also denied the outdoor wedding of their dreams. Clara and Jesse were written out of the show after season seven.

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Have fun on television!

Sally Silverscreen

Welcome to the World Television Day Blogathon!

The day you’ve been waiting for is finally here; the World Television Day Blogathon! Since the dawn of television, this particular medium has become a staple in popular culture. Through this lens, history has been recorded and memories have been made, giving people a way to look back on the past. Television’s broad landscape has provided something for everyone, from cozy mystery shows to beloved musical competitions. In this blogathon, various television related topics will be showcased. Each entry highlights different decades, made-for-tv movies, and shows, illustrating the importance of World Television Day!

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18 Cinema Lane — Four Reasons Why ‘The Flamingo Rising’s Adaptation is Different from its Book, Top Ten Characters Who Didn’t Reach Their Full Potential

The Stop Button — THE JERICHO MILE (1979, MICHAEL MANN)

Taking Up Room — My Top Twelve “Gilmore Girls” Episodes

Four Reasons Why ‘The Flamingo Rising’s Adaptation is Different from its Book

When we talk about book-to-film adaptations, we are quick to point out how both pieces of media are different. Some of these differences can lead to insightful conversations between the fans and the casual audience. Other differences can cause a negative reaction, from readers walking out of the theater mid-film to Youtube videos showcasing fans’ rants and complaints. But one topic I haven’t heard addressed is why these changes between book and film likely happened. This topic can be applied to any adaptation. For the sake of my editorial, though, I’m writing about Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising. Back in June, I published a list of the top ten movies I’d love to, one day, review. The 2001 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie was on that list. Because I own a copy of Larry Baker’s novel, I thought it would be interesting to read the book after I saw the movie. Now that I’ve consumed both pieces of media, I have gained an understanding for why Hallmark likely made the changes they did. There are four main reasons why The Flamingo Rising’s book is different from its adaptation, which will be explored in this editorial. This article contains spoilers for the story of The Flamingo Rising.

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The Run-Time

Abraham Isaac Lee is the protagonist of The Flamingo Rising. In Larry Baker’s novel, Abraham takes a biographical approach to telling the story, reflecting on various moments that occurred in his life. He even goes into detail about the history of his parents and Grace’s parents. According to IMDB, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising has an hour and thirty-four-minute run-time. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, that run-time gives a film’s creative team only so much time to tell a story. Hallmark Hall of Fame’s adaptation of The Flamingo Rising condensed the events in Abraham’s and his family’s life. The book explains how Hubert, Abraham’s father, purchased the land for The Flamingo Drive-In before Abraham and his sister, Louise, were adopted. While Hubert was a soldier in the Korean War, he sent building plans and business ideas to his wife, Edna, who was put in charge of putting those plans into fruition. The purchase of the land and creation of The Flamingo Drive-In, in the movie, took place long after Hubert left the military and in a shorter amount of time. Both Abraham and Louise are teenagers for the majority of the movie, with only one flashback showing the siblings as babies.

There are many characters in The Flamingo Rising. While reflecting on his life, Abraham takes the time to explain who each person in his life is, as well as giving these people a significant presence in the story. Most of these characters were present in The Flamingo Rising movie. But because the film’s run-time is an hour and thirty-four-minutes, their parts of the story were reduced. Abraham’s sister, Louise, is one of these characters. The book reveals Louise grew up to become an actress, as Abraham claims she had the talent for it. In one scene, Louise expresses interest in flying in Harry “Judge” Lester’s plane. This interest was sparked by a promise Hubert made to his children. The movie’s script, however, never addresses why Louise wants to fly with “Judge”. In fact, the audience never sees her flying in “Judge’s” plane. When it comes to Louise’s acting, it was only mentioned once throughout the movie. During a conversation between Abraham and his friend, Gary, Abraham mentions how his sister wants to be an actress someday.

Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising VHS cover created by Hallmark Entertainment, Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, McGee Street Productions, CBS, and Artisan Entertainment 

The Budget

From what I’ve heard over the years, a typical made-for-TV movie costs somewhere between one to three million dollars. While that sounds like a lot of money to the average movie blogger, that amount is actually on the lower end of the financial spectrum, when it comes to making movies. If the aforementioned millions were the budget for Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Flamingo Rising, it would explain why some parts of the source material were cut from the movie. In the book, Abraham shares his family had a temperamental dog named Frank. This dog was so unstable, he not only bit Louise, he was forced to live in an empty room above Abraham’s room, due to the dog’s behavior. In the film, however, Frank the dog is nowhere to be seen and is never acknowledged by any of the characters. If a movie’s creative team chooses to include an animal in their production, the training, veterinary care, and other related expenses will need to be factored into the overall budget. Working with an animal trainer also requires time, something the creative team behind The Flamingo Rising only had so much to spend. Therefore, the inclusion of Frank the dog was an expense the adaptation’s creative team likely thought was unnecessary.

Location scouting is a film-making component also affected by a creative team’s budget. Like I said in my editorial, ‘Redwood Curtain’: From Stage to Screen, a location scout might not be able to secure a location similar to one described in the source material. Even if they succeeded, there’s a process in order to film at a residential building, especially if it’s someone’s real-life home. This process, along with the budget, is the probable reason why the funeral home has a different appearance in the movie than described in the book. Larry Baker’s novel gives the West Funeral Home the look of a “Southern plantation style house”, complete with white columns and Jeffersonian arches. The Home also contains a garage full of hearses and limousines. The Flamingo Rising’s adaptation gives the funeral home a different exterior. Referred to as the Knight Funeral Home in the movie, the facility boasts a bungalow style in a dark green hue. The Home’s garage is not shown on-screen. However, the Home itself does feature a full-sized porch. The funeral home’s interior has more appearances in the book than in the movie. In fact, the only time the Lee family enter the Knight Funeral Home is shortly after Edna dies. For those two scenes, the creative team may have filmed them on a set, away from the building that portrayed the funeral home.

Image of The Flamingo Rising by Larry Baker found on Goodreads

Appropriateness of Content

For many years, Hallmark garnered a reputation for presenting themselves as a “family-friendly” company. This has been reflected in their programming, including their Hallmark Hall of Fame productions. As someone who’s read The Flamingo Rising book, I’ll be the first person to say there are some parts of the story that are not “Hallmark appropriate”. One of these parts is Louise’s social life. Abraham, in the novel, recalls how, one night at The Flamingo Drive-In, Louise snuck out with some male college students. During this interaction, these males attempt to take advantage of her. Even though Louise is saved just in time by some of the drive-in’s employees, the ordeal is a frightening one. This event is not included in the movie. The only older characters Louise is friends with are Polly and Alice, who all happen to work at the drive-in. It should also be noted that Abraham and Gary are the only male characters Louise hangs out with in the film.

Louise’s story was not the only one to change in Hallmark’s efforts to keep the adaptation “Hallmark appropriate”. Polly, an employee of The Flamingo Drive-In, is a very problematic character in the book. A reason for this is due to her racism. Polly expresses how she didn’t like her high school becoming integrated. She also thinks Abraham is “too brown”, causing Abraham to have self-image related issues. Even though Polly’s role in the movie is smaller, she never comes across as racist. In fact, racism is never addressed in the film. Polly, along with Alice, appear to get along with both Abraham and Louise. Alice, throughout her time at the drive-in, gives Abraham advice and looks out for him, like an older sibling would look out for their younger brother or sister.

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The Casting

When an author creates a story, they sometimes don’t consider how that work could be translated to film or television. If that author’s work does receive an adaptation, the casting can dictate how the story changes. Abraham describes Alice Kite, in the book, as being “as tall as my mother”. Edna is six feet tall in the novel. Because of her height, Alice wore baggy jeans and shirts, never shorts. Elizabeth McGovern and Angela Bettis were cast as Edna and Alice in the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation. According to IMDB, Elizabeth is 5’7, while Angela is 5’3. Alice wardrobe’s, in the movie, included tank tops and shorts. This creative decision was likely made to compliment Angela’s height.

In both the book and movie, Grace looks like her mother. Turner, Grace’s father, tells Edna, in the film, “she looks just like her”, referring to his daughter’s resemblance of his late wife. But Grace’s mother never makes an on-screen appearance, as she dies before the movie’s events. Therefore, The Flamingo Rising’s creative team cast an actress that resembled the actor portraying Turner. William Hurt portrayed the owner of Knight Funeral Home. He appears blonde in the film, despite his character having “coal-black hair” in the book. Erin Broderick was cast as Grace, though it isn’t known if Erin or William was recruited to the movie first.

Since The Flamingo Rising takes place in Florida, I figured featuring this screenshot was appropriate. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen. Image originally found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiBkULOrf7Y.

When I reviewed the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, O Pioneers!, back in July, I said that story should have been adapted into a multi-part mini-series or a television show. That’s because I felt an hour and thirty-seven minutes was not enough time to tell a story with that many moving parts. I feel similarly about The Flamingo Rising. Because Abraham, in the book, is reflecting on his life, there are a lot of characters and plot points included in the text. With the Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation being an hour and thirty-four-minutes, Larry Baker’s story was forced to be condensed.

There are several parts of The Flamingo Rising book that were either omitted or changed in the adaptation, due to these parts not being “Hallmark appropriate”. With that said, it makes wonder why Hallmark Hall of Fame chose to adapt Larry Baker’s novel over a story that was more “Hallmark appropriate”? This situation kind of reminds me of when Hallmark Channel adapted At Home in Mitford. Last September, I reviewed the 2017 film for one of my double features. After reading the book and watching its adaptation, I came to the conclusion the network was attempting to fit a round peg into a square hole, trying so hard to fit At Home in Mitford into their brand of film-making. Perhaps something similar happened to The Flamingo Rising, causing history to repeat itself sixteen years later?

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen