I’m participating in two blogathons; the Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart Blogathon and The Biopic Blogathon. Because of this choice, I wanted to review a movie that was “the best of both worlds”. One day, while on Youtube, I came across the 1952 film, I Dream of Jeanie. After learning it was a musical biopic about the composer, Stephen Foster, I knew I had found the perfect entry! Prior to these events, I had never heard of I Dream of Jeanie. In fact, I was not familiar with Stephen Foster either. But I wanted to use my participation as an opportunity to learn more about him. I also wanted to be introduced to films that were newer to me. Did my plan work? Continue reading if you want to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: Bill Shirley is an actor I’m not familiar with. While I have seen Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, I have never seen any of his live-action films. Despite this, I did enjoy watching his acting performance! His mannerisms and line delivery reminded me of Jimmy Stewart. This is because of the tender-hearted nature Bill presented. His singing talents were amazing in this movie! One of his best performances was his solo, “Beautiful Dreamer”. With his deeper vocals and the heart-felt lyrics, there was emotion found in the song. He also sang beautifully with Eileen Christy, who portrayed Jeanie. Toward the beginning of the film, they sang a duet of “Oh! Susanna”. Bill and Eileen displayed good harmony during their performance. Having nice on-screen chemistry also worked in their favor.
While we’re on the subject of Jeanie, let’s talk about Eileen Christy’s performance. Throughout the film, she presented her character with a likable persona. Jeanie was sometimes the film’s “comic relief” as well. When a script adopts a “comic relief” character, that individual can either be goofy or be seen as dumber than the protagonist. With Jeanie, that was never the case. Even though she was silly, her intelligence never faltered. Another actress who gave a good performance is Muriel Lawrence. Portraying Jeanie’s sister, Inez, she provided an embodiment of a “diva”. Her strong will and determination to get her way made Inez one of the film’s more unlikable characters. But as an actress, Muriel had star qualities! Whenever she appeared on screen, Muriel was able to garner the camera’s attention, even when her character wasn’t the focus of a scene. It also helps that she sang beautifully in this movie.
The musical numbers’ inclusion in the story: In some musicals, a musical number can make the story feel paused. With I Dream of Jeanie, the musical numbers pushed the story forward and made sense within the context of the story. A perfect example is Muriel’s solo, “Lo, Hear the Gentle Lark”. Toward the beginning of the movie, Inez and Stephen talk about an upcoming recital, where Stephen hopes Inez will agree to an engagement. When the event arrives, the performance is used to make Inez shine, showing how she craves attention. During the recital, unpublished songs by Stephen are introduced. The secret of Stephen’s involvement with “Oh! Susanna” is revealed at this event as well. Similar to “Lo, Hear the Gentle Lark”, the inclusion of these aforementioned songs also fit within the story.
A glimpse into the legal side of the music industry: One of the conflicts Stephen experiences is his lack of royalties from “Oh! Susanna’s” success. Whenever the song is performed, Stephen’s name is never mentioned. This surprises everyone in his life, including his brother. Stephen also faces legal threats due to the song’s copyright. This is because he presented the song to multiple publishers. Since I’m not well versed in the legalities of the music world, I found this brief exploration fascinating! That part of the story allowed me to learn something new. It also showed how different copyright laws and royalty agreements were in the 1840s.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Not really biographical: The purpose of a “biopic” is to provide some education to an audience about a particular individual. In the case of I Dream of Jeanie, this movie is meant to tell the story of Stephen Foster. But I ended up not learning much about the composer. While I discovered he wrote ‘Oh! Susanna’, I was expecting to learn more about Stephen. How did he become interested in music? Did he receive any professional training? This film doesn’t answer these questions. Instead, the script focuses more on other characters and events.
The characterization of Stephen Foster: No main individual in any “biopic” is meant to be seen as “perfect”. However, one of the staples of a “biopic” is to present the admirable aspects of a given individual. With I Dream of Jeanie, Stephen Foster, more often than not, came across as a desperate push-over. I don’t blame Bill Shirley for this, as he did a good job with the acting material he received. But I will put blame on the film’s screenwriter, Alan Le May. For the majority of the movie, Stephen loves a woman named Inez. She not only doesn’t like the type of music he makes, she also hates “Oh! Susanna”. In an attempt to win her love, Stephen announces how he’s trying to achieve a “redemption” by only playing classical music. He does this instead of standing up for himself or trying to compromise with Inez. This is, sadly, just one example of Stephen’s characterization.
The character of Edwin P. Christy: Not every character is meant to be likable. Sometimes, a character’s likability is based on personal preference. In my opinion, Edwin P. Christy was annoying. Once again, blame is given to Alan Le May. Edwin was a flamboyant and over-the-top showman. But what made him unlikable for me was how he used every opportunity to put the spotlight on himself. During Inez’s recital, Edwin disrupts the event by loudly playing one of Stephen’s songs at Stephen’s nearby stable. Edwin then crashes the recital and performs some of Stephen’s unpublished music, with no granted permission from Stephen. After some time, Edwin’s antics became unpleasant. It almost felt like Edwin tried to make the story about himself as well.
My overall impression:
In my introduction, I said I wanted to use my participation in these blogathons to learn more about Stephen Foster. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Don’t get me wrong, I did learn a few things about him and about some of the legalities of the music world’s early years. But it wasn’t enough to justify an hour and twenty-nine-minute movie. If anything, it almost seems like this film was about anything but Stephen. When characters like Edwin P. Christy try to take the spotlight for themselves, it makes the project look less biographical. As I mentioned in this review, some of the blame falls on the screenwriting. The quality of a project’s script is what makes or breaks it. If the script is weak, there’s only so much the other members of the creative team can do to salvage it. Now, as I wrap up this review, I must take a detour to Wikipedia.
Overall score: 5.6 out of 10
Have you seen any biopics? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!
Because yesterday was 4th of July, I wanted to review a movie that took place somewhere in the United States. While I wanted to publish this article on 4th of July, my day ended up being busier than expected. So, this review is published a day later than I had hoped. Recently, Hallmark Drama was airing several Hallmark Hall of Fame movies I had never seen before. One of these films was 1987’s Foxfire. Years ago, Hallmark’s stores sold select Hallmark Hall of Fame films on DVD for $20 apiece (yes, you read that price right), with Foxfire being one of the titles offered. Before recording it on my DVR, I didn’t know much about the movie. In fact, all I knew was that it was one of Hallmark Hall of Fame’s older titles. When I discovered the film took place in Appalachia, I thought it would be an interesting choice for this time of year. So, would I buy a DVD copy of Foxfire if I saw it at the store for $20? Before we head to the store’s checkout line, let’s start this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: I’m not familiar with Jessica Tandy’s acting abilities. While I have seen The Birds, I don’t remember her performance in that movie. Despite this, I did like her portrayal of Annie Nations in Foxfire! It was very expressive, using a variety of expressions and emotions throughout the film. When Annie receives an art project from her grandchildren, she appears genuinely overjoyed to receive the gift. A big smile is on Annie’s face and her demeanor is pleasant. At her son’s, Dillard’s, concert, Annie looks truly concerned as he sings a song about a broken relationship. Worry is in her eyes and she never lets Dillard out of her sight. Another actor whose career I’m not familiar with is John Denver. I have heard of his songs, but I didn’t know who he was. In fact, I thought John portrayed one of the brothers on The Waltons. This is because of the mannerisms he carried in Foxfire. When his character, Dillard, was happy, there was a youthful spirit about him. It highlighted how you can take the Appalachian man out of the mountains, but you can’t take the Appalachian culture and heritage out of the man. One of John’s strongest scenes was when, in Annie’s home, Dillard is reminding his mother about her age and potential risks of living alone. As he is talking to her, his eyes look like they are desperately searching for answers to his problems. Even the tone of his voice sounds concerned. A character that is close to both Annie and Dillard is Holly. Portrayed by Harriet Hall, this character kind of reminded me of Baby from Dirty Dancing. This is because when Holly cares about someone, she cares about them with her whole heart. What makes Holly differ from Baby is how her personality was gentler. Because she is a teacher, she chooses to put her students first. When Holly is talking to Dillard about her students, her mannerisms and tone of voice seem motherly. This gives the audience the impression that she truly cares about them.
The scenery: I haven’t seen many films that take place in Appalachia. In fact, I didn’t know Foxfire took place in this location until I read the synopsis. To my pleasant surprise, the scenery was very nice to look at! The Nation family house was surrounded by forestry, with the tall trees providing cozy seclusion and privacy. When Dillard wakes up one morning, he is greeted by the sight of rolling hills on a bright sunny day. These rolling hills could also be seen on a car ride Annie took. When a real estate agent named Prince gives Annie a trip to the market, he takes a scenic route. The aforementioned rolling hills steal the show, but are accompanied by a lake at the bottom and surrounding colonial style vacation homes that can be seen from the road. The locations in Foxfire appeared quaint, similar to the small towns in most of Hallmark’s films.
John Denver’s music: Before watching Foxfire, I had heard a few of John Denver’s songs. Even though I don’t listen to country music much, the songs I have heard were nice to listen to. Within Foxfire, John performed four songs. Most of them were slower, more soulful pieces. This fit the overall tone of the film. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Dillard performs a song about a broken relationship. After his concert, he performs an acoustic version of the song. What I’ve gathered about some country music is how emotional it can be. In that acoustic version of Dillard’s song, his heart and spirit sounded wounded. This can be heard in his voice.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A televised play: Hallmark Hall of Fame has a history of adapting stage plays into movies. One of these titles I really like is the 1996 film, The Boys Next Door. However, what sets the 1996 production apart from Foxfire is how the overall project was executed. Because The Boys Next Door contains more key characters and locations within the story, the way this adaptation was delivered to the audience looked and felt like a movie. Foxfire, on the other hand, contained a smaller cast and had a condensed story, as most of the film takes places at Annie’s house. Even some of the scenes were drawn-out and isolated, like a stage production. While the project was shot like a movie, it felt more like a televised play.
Re-created moments from the past: Throughout Foxfire, Annie brings up several memories from her and her family’s past. Instead of providing flashbacks, four scenes were dedicated to showing the characters re-creating some of these moments. For example, a current day Annie and her late husband, Hector, are reenacting when he first proposed to her. Watching grown adults act like teenagers was a bit jarring, as this prevented me from getting fully investing in these scenes. If anything, the scenes made it look like the film’s creative team didn’t have enough room in their budget to hire additional actors.
Inconsistent elements: At the beginning of the movie, Hector provides a voice-over, explaining the significance of his family and their land. Thinking Foxfire would be from his perspective, I thought this was an interesting way to tell the story. But this was the only time any voice-overs were provided. The end of the film showed Hector breaking the fourth wall for one scene. Not only was the inclusion of this element random, but it made me wonder why it wasn’t consistently woven into the movie.
My overall impression:
Whenever I watch and/or review a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, I always ask myself this: “if this movie were sold on DVD for $20, would it be worth my money”? When it comes to Foxfire, that answer would be no. At best, the movie was ok. I appreciate the film’s positive light that was shone on Appalachia. While I haven’t been there myself and while I personally don’t know anyone from there, I have heard of the hardships that the members of the community face. But despite the good will this film seemed to give, the biggest flaw was its overall execution. If I choose to watch a Hallmark Hall of Fame title, I expect to watch a movie. With Foxfire, it felt more like a televised play. Also, I wasn’t a fan of the re-created moments from the past. I couldn’t get past the adult characters acting younger than they were in the “current day”. Now that I’ve seen another Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, I can add it to my Tier Rank List! Last year, I created a tier rank list of every Hallmark Hall of Fame film I have seen so far. While I’d like to revisit this list, I will focus on adding more titles for now.
Overall score: 6.2 out of 10
Have you seen Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Foxfire? Are there any Hallmark Hall of Fame titles you’d like to see me review? Please let me know in the comment section!
For Terence’s 7th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon, I was originally going to write an editorial on an episode from Highway to Heaven. But the more I thought about that decision, the more I realized the shows I’ve reviewed so far have one of two things in common: the shows are darker in tone or they cover heavier, real-world subjects. Because of this, I decided to change things up a bit. I have never watched a full episode of Kids Incorporated, but I have seen two performance videos from the show. Since I liked what I saw, I thought reviewing the show for the blogathon would be a good idea! Its light-hearted, joyous tone is definitely different from the other shows I’ve talked about. This will also be the first time a musical show has been covered on 18 Cinema Lane. Like some of my previous TV show reviews, I have chosen four random episodes. Each episode will be broken down into five categories: what I liked about this episode, what I didn’t like about this episode, the musical numbers, the other factors from this episode, and my overall thoughts. I wasn’t able to find a consistent record of when these episodes premiered, so I will not be listing premiere dates this time. But I will share my final assessment of the show toward the end of my review.
Episode Name: Peter Pam
What I liked about this episode:
When you have a television or movie series that revolves around a group of people, that group needs to consist of actors and/or actresses who have good on-screen camaraderie with one another. With this episode of Kids Incorporated, I immediately took notice of how well these young actors and actresses worked together! The fact this cast also appeared in season two gives the impression they are familiar with each other’s’ talents, which helps make their on-screen relationship convincing. My favorite moment in ‘Peter Pam’ was when Gloria is talking to Stacey about Stacey’s lack of excitement for a new sibling. This conversation came across as sincere and believable, almost like Gloria assumed the role of an older sister looking out for her younger sister. It was a sweet moment that definitely added heart to this story!
What I didn’t like about this episode:
With this episode’s run-time clocking in at a little over twenty-two minutes, there is only so much content that can be included in the project. Because of this, I thought Stacey’s story was rushed. The “Peter Pam” part of the episode was not given the amount of time I expected, with that part of the story taking place in a small handful of scenes. Stacey’s change in perspective from being against the idea of a new sibling to being excited about growing up happens a little too quickly, which causes that resolution to feel unbelievable. I wish more time had been devoted to Stacey’s/the “Peter Pam” story.
The musical numbers:
I actually enjoyed most of the musical numbers in ‘Peter Pam’! They not only sounded good, but the overall presentation was fun to watch! A big surprise was how most of the musical numbers were unrelated to the ‘Peter Pam’ story. Because Kids Incorporated aired on Disney Channel and because this episode retold the story of Peter Pan, I’m shocked the cast didn’t perform a cover of ‘You Can Fly’. Personally, I think that was a missed opportunity.
My favorite musical number was ‘Yo Ho Ho’! It was so whimsical and imaginative, from the colorful costumes to seeing who portrayed which character. Creative changes from the Disney film, like giving Captain Hook’s sidekick more confidence, give the number and story its own voice. The choreography was fantastic, almost like I was watching a Broadway show! All of the dancers were in sync with one another and there was never a dull moment. The weakest musical number was Stacey’s solo, ‘Take Me Home’. She sang slower than the song’s tempo, which caused her to sound like she was singing out of tune. Stacey is a good singer, but ‘Take Me Home’ did not do her singing talents justice.
The other factors from this episode:
While Stacey gave a good acting performance overall, her portrayal of “Peter Pam” was weaker than her portrayal of her “real world” character. Despite this being the first episode of Kids Incorporated I’ve seen, I get the sense that Stacey is a more emotional actress who uses expressions and emotions in subtle ways. Based on her stage presence, Martika is a more dramatic and expressive performer. With that said, I wish a role like “Peter Pam” was given to Martika instead.
My favorite costume from this episode is definitely Stacey’s “Peter Pam” costume! It maintains the iconic look of the Peter Pan character, making the costume recognizable. Subtle sparkles on the pink sleeves and collar add a girly twist. Even though I’m not familiar with Stacey’s character, this costume seemed to compliment her personality. I could see this costume standing the test of time!
In shows like Kids Incorporated, at least one young character will be fascinated by the idea of getting older. Hijinks then ensue, which causes the character to realize growing up is not what it’s cracked up to be. With ‘Peter Pam’, a new take on this kind of story is presented, focusing on a character wanting to stay young. Instead of showing the downsides of staying young, it highlights how growing up in not always a bad thing. The way this message was executed served as one of the stronger points of this episode!
My overall thoughts:
‘Peter Pam’ was a fine episode. I could tell the creative team had their hearts in the right place, especially when it came to the overarching message. However, I wish the majority of the episode and musical numbers had revolved around the “Peter Pam” story. The parallels between Peter Pan and the desire to remain a younger sibling are an interesting concept. But with all of the content that was included in this episode, Stacey’s story was rushed, with the discovery of a resolution happening a little too quickly. I was pleasantly surprised by how well ‘Peter Pam’ has aged! Having a relatable and timeless message certainly helped its case.
Rating: A 3.7 out of 5
Episode Name: I Love You Suzanne
What I liked about this episode:
After Ryan is caught off guard by the fact Riley’s cousin, Suzanne, is blind, Riley reminds Ryan that Suzanne is no different from anyone else. He also points out that Suzanne has feelings and interests similar to Ryan’s. When Ryan is telling Renee and Stacey that Suzanne is blind, they act like her disability is no big deal. Even The Kid quickly befriends Suzanne before breaking out in song. The attitudes and beliefs of the characters highlights this episode’s overarching message: our differences bringing us together instead of holding each other apart. It’s a sentiment that is just as important today as it was in 1985.
What I didn’t like about this episode:
Ryan and Suzanne’s first encounter was awkward, as this is the moment when Ryan learns of Suzanne’s disability. I know this moment was intended to be awkward. In fact, I felt embarrassed for both characters. But the fact that it took Ryan a while to realize Suzanne is blind was somewhat unbelievable. He ends up figuring this out when Suzanne says she hasn’t seen the sights in the neighborhood. I guess you could use the excuse of Ryan being so infatuated with Suzanne, that he didn’t notice this detail at first. However, in reality, I feel like Ryan would have caught on a little bit sooner.
The musical numbers:
Unlike ‘Peter Pam’, all of the musical numbers in ‘I Love You Suzanne’ directly correlated with Ryan’s story! It felt like they were effortlessly woven into the episode. Suzanne was included in two of the musical numbers; performing a simple dance and handshake in ‘New Attitude’ and joining the Kids Incorporated cast on stage during ‘I Love You, Suzanne’. This brought home the message I talked about earlier, of our differences bringing us together. Stacey’s solo, ‘Premonition’, was much stronger than ‘Take Me Home’ from ‘Peter Pam’! It showcased her singing talents well and the pace of the song matched with the pace of her voice. The most interesting musical number was Martika’s solo, ‘Too Late for Goodbyes’! Her performance did not take place on stage, but she was edited into the scene through the use of greenscreen technology. Martika appeared in various places, from the wheel of Ryan’s bicycle to reflections in Ryan’s sunglasses. Despite this episode being filmed in the mid-‘80s, the technology holds up pretty well!
The other factors from this episode:
After Ryan leaves the P*lace, The Kid finds Ryan trying to fix his bike. The Kid then asks Ryan if he still plans on going to the movies, with Ryan replying how he is tired of them. Even though ‘I Love You Suzanne’ aired in Kids Incorporated’s second season, that scene felt like it was foreshadowing the season four episode, ‘When Movies Were Movies’. It should also be noted that Rahsaan Patterson and Ryan Lambert star in that 1987 episode.
This episode was funnier than I expected! While I know this show is meant to be light-hearted, I did not expect ‘I Love You Suzanne’ to contain as much humor as it did. The Kid threatening to leave the room if things got too “mushy” was one of the funniest moments. It contained on-point comedic timing and Rahsaan gave a good acting performance. Comedy definitely prevented this episode from becoming too dramatic or serious.
At the beginning of the episode, Riley is performing a magic trick while waiting for Kids Incorporated to start performing. He’s also practicing a magic trick during his shift at the soda shop stand. Riley’s attempts at being a magician fail both times. But it made me want to see a story where Riley creates his own act. Though I haven’t seen a lot of Kids Incorporated episodes, I wonder if a magician ever paid a visit to the P*lace?
My overall thoughts:
I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance”. ‘I Love You Suzanne’ is the embodiment of that bumper sticker. Ryan’s story is a simple one, but it ends up working. This is because the overarching message of togetherness feels organic and believable. Even the way the characters talk about Suzanne comes across as realistic. It also helps how all the musical numbers directly correlated with the story. Each one was equally enjoyable; I honestly can’t choose a favorite. Similar to ‘Peter Pam’, ‘I Love You Suzanne’ has also aged well! Everything about it has stood the test of time.
Rating: A 4.1 out of 5
Episode Name: Russian 101
What I liked about this episode:
You can tell the character of Ryan has grown up over the course of two seasons! I like how these characters change during their time on the show instead of remaining stagnant. As he expresses interest in a Russian ballerina named Katrina, Ryan takes the time to learn more about her country and culture, as well as ballet. This is very different from “I Love You Suzanne”, where he displays more consideration and respect for his crush this time. ‘Russian 101’ also explores the reality of long-distance relationships, especially when both parties are from different countries. I was not expecting this topic to be addressed, as it is more mature than what you’d usually find in a show like Kids Incorporated. However, it was handled with a sense of honesty.
What I didn’t like about this episode:
When one thinks of the ‘80s from a historical context, the Cold War will come to mind. At the time of ‘Russian 101’s’ release, the Berlin Wall hadn’t fallen yet and some movies and TV show episodes covered this particular conflict in history. But programs like Murder, She Wrote and the original Red Dawn were created for an older audience, people who were aware of what was happening in the world. With Kids Incorporated, I wanted to see how the Cold War was addressed to a younger audience, those who were not as educated on that subject. Unfortunately, the Cold War was glossed over throughout this story. Sure, Russia was mostly referred to as the Soviet Union (a term that is of its time). But the conflict itself was never brought up by any of the characters.
The musical numbers:
Similar to ‘Peter Pam’, I liked most of the musical numbers in ‘Russian 101’! However, my favorite musical number was ‘That’s America’! Not only was it entertaining to listen to, but it was also well choreographed. Some of the dancers were dressed in traditional Russian attire and performed Russian dances. Katrina even participates in the musical number. This highlights a similar message to “I Love You Suzanne”; how our differences can bring us together instead of keeping each other apart. The only minor critique I have is how the Kids Incorporated casts’ costumes should have been red, white, and blue. Also similar to ‘Peter Pam’, the weakest musical number was a solo. But this time, it was Ryan’s solo, ‘I Can Dream About You’. At some points in the song, Ryan sang faster than the music’s tempo. I found this to be, at times, distracting. However, I did like seeing Katrina perform a ballet solo within that musical number.
The other factors from this episode:
Toward the end of ‘Russian 101’, Katrina gives Ryan a record of her favorite Russian band. Even though this was a nice gesture, it brings up the question: if Katrina is temporarily in the United States with a traveling ballet company, how was she able to acquire a Russian record? Did she happen to take one with her on the trip?
During a conversation with the Kids Incorporated members, Renee compares ballet to basketball. While she doesn’t refer to ballet as a sport, she does acknowledge how, like basketball, ballet requires strength and skill. This stance on dance actually sounds ahead of its time. More people would now consider competitive dance a sport, recognizing the athleticism associated with it. Also, ballet was featured in the Sochi Winter Olympics, even though it was only included in the opening ceremonies.
While giving Katrina a tour of his neighborhood, Ryan takes her to the P*lace. He briefly explains the P*lace’s history, expressing his enthusiasm about one of his favorite spots. Because this episode aired in season four, it is to be assumed this history was thoroughly explained in, as least, season one. I liked how this script referenced earlier episodes, as it maintains the show’s overarching continuity!
My overall thoughts:
Out of the three episodes I’ve reviewed so far, I’ve noticed a consistent element. Each episode has aged fairly well, despite premiering four decades ago! I didn’t like how the Cold War was glossed over in ‘Russian 101’. But I do appreciate the episode’s message of our differences bringing us together instead of tearing each other apart. Between ‘Russian 101’ and ‘I Love You Suzanne’, I’d pick “I Love You Suzanne”, as I found that episode to be stronger overall. However, there are aspects of the 1987 episode I liked. One of them was most of the musical numbers. Like the other two episodes, they were fun to watch and were the highlight of the story. ‘Russian 101’ became a nice piece of entertainment that was worth the twenty-one minutes!
Rating: A 3.9 out of 5
Episode Name: When Movies Were Movies
What I liked about this episode:
When I read the synopsis for this episode, I was expecting a completely different story. In ‘When Movies Were Movies’, I expected the episode to revolve around the cast’s day-off, with the musical numbers taking place at a movie theater. Each musical number would be based on each member’s cinematic preferences. For example, Renee might want to see a romantic movie, so her song would be a slower tune with a romantic tone. However, this episode was about the early history of cinema, as well as Laurel and Hardy’s contributions to the world of film. Since about a third of this episode showed the cast traveling back in time to the 1920s, an imaginary conflict was created in correlation with the story’s discussion on film. I liked the direction this story took because it was a creative subversion of expectations! Because the topic of film is so broad, it was nice to see the show’s team think outside the box!
What I didn’t like about this episode:
Even though Kids Incorporated is somewhat grounded in reality, the locations within the characters’ world are clearly sets in a filming studio. Because of this, I was curious to see what a movie theater would look like in this world. Unfortunately, no movie theater was shown in this episode. In fact, we never see the cast go to the movies. Another thing I didn’t like about this episode was how the cast either didn’t mention a movie’s title or said a fake movie title when suggesting which film they should see. As someone who is interested in ‘80s pop culture, I was looking forward to hearing which films each character would bring up. Like I said before, Kids Incorporated aired on Disney Channel, so I’m surprised no Disney affiliated movies were included in this script.
The musical numbers:
I mentioned earlier how a third of this episode showed the cast traveling back in time to the 1920s. These scenes were presented as a skit where each character is given a role at an imaginary movie studio, trying to figure out what the next big picture will be. Within this skit, two musical numbers directly associated with this part of the story. The first one was Ryan’s solo, ‘Forever (Like Heroes and Fools)’. For a show of this nature, this was a mature number because it brought up feelings and thoughts that might come to mind for people around Ryan’s age or older: failure, self-doubt, and the figurative cost of a dream. The way the overall musical number sounded reminded me of ‘One More Try’ by Timmy T. ‘When Movies Were Movies’ was the second musical number. Even though there was singing and some dancing involved, the number itself was presented as a skit. It was shown in black and white, like a movie from the 1920s. This was the most creative musical number from the four episodes I saw!
I liked all the musical numbers in this episode, but I don’t think Connie, Stacey, and Renee’s number, ‘I’m Still Standing’, fit in its moment of the episode. It should have been a group number placed as the finale. If ‘I’m Still Standing’ had been the last song of ‘When Movies Were Movies’, it would have represented two ideas: the cast finding a solution to their problem in the imaginary world and movies remaining a pastime since the 1920s. ‘The Finer Things’, the musical number that was this episode’s finale, should have been the second number.
The other factors from this episode:
According to a comment from Youtube, Kids Incorporated was filmed at Hal Roach Studio. This particular studio also filmed silent comedies from the 1920s. The decision to take a movie-centric episode and using it to pay tribute to the history of the studio shows the creative team put a lot of thought into this story. It also makes me appreciate the efforts made when it came to this episode.
In ‘Peter Pam’, Stacey portrayed “Peter Pam” while the rest of the cast portrayed either lost children or pirates. While I liked the musical number, ‘Yo Ho Ho’, I feel there are other roles the Kids Incorporated cast could have portrayed. For example, Martika could have portrayed TinkerBell and Renee could have portrayed Wendy. With ‘When Movies Were Movies’, the roles the cast were given in the imaginary world were more diverse. While Ryan portrays the executive leader of a studio, The Kid and Connie are given the roles of directors. Meanwhile, Richie is portraying an actor from the Western genre and Stacey and Renee are portraying glamourous actresses.
Even though there was an overarching message in ‘When Movies Were Movies’, it wasn’t in the center of the story like the previous episodes I saw. This episode primarily focused on the exploration of the early history of cinema. The message came after this history was explained; when it comes to entertainment, sometimes older is better. It’s a message that seems to be relevant today, as I have heard people say they choose to turn toward the older films than the modern ones. In fact, I have found myself doing this on my blog.
My overall thoughts:
‘When Movies Were Movies’ is my favorite episode out of the four I’ve seen! It not only covers a topic I’m interested in, but the concept was executed in such a creative way! I am disappointed a movie theater wasn’t shown on-screen or any real-life movies weren’t brought up. However, the episode has more positives than negatives. The majority of the musical numbers had a strong connection to the story. ‘When Movies Were Movies’ and ‘Forever (Like Heroes and Fools)’ were the only two that correlated with the cast’s trip to the 1920s. These numbers were interesting for various reasons. It gave the cast different material to work with from a musical and acting perspective. ‘When Movies Were Movies’ serves as a good introduction to movies for a younger audience. How entertaining this history lesson is also helps!
Rating: A 4.2 out of 5
My final assessment:
I was not expecting to like Kids Incorporated as much as I did! Even though there are episodes I liked more than others, I had an enjoyable experience watching this show for the first time! By this point, I’m going to sound like a broken record. But I was surprised by how well the episodes and their messages held up. Each episode’s story was simple yet interesting, with a message that was timeless and relatable. These elements work in Kids Incorporated’s favor, as they help the show live on past its prime. Entertaining musical numbers also make this show as enjoyable as I found it! Most of the songs were likable and the musical numbers were a joy to watch. I liked seeing the creativity in some of these numbers, like ‘Yo Ho Ho’ and ‘When Movies Were Movies’. Witnessing imagination come to life is what stands out when I think about this show. I’m actually considering watching all of Kids Incorporated’s episodes and ranking them. Since I don’t create rank posts often, it would be something different from the content I usually publish.
Have you seen Kids Incorporated? Are there any episodes you’d like to see me review? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
In this episode of When Calls the Heart, we are introduced to two new characters; Angela Canfield and Rachel Thom. Though their lives are very different, they share one thing in common. Both young women have a mother who is protective of their daughter. From a distance, it can seem like these mothers are strict and unfair. But when we get to know these characters, we learn that their hearts are in the right places and they have the best intentions for their child. As Angela and Rachel grow up, they will want to go out into the world and have lives of their own. In this episode, we see each young woman has a talent worth pursuing. How those talents are used, nobody yet knows. Until those moments come, let’s re-cap this week’s episode of When Calls the Heart!
Just a reminder: If you did not see this episode of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.
Name: Welcome to Hope Valley
The Canfield family begins moving into their new home. In an effort to welcome them to Hope Valley, Elizabeth brings some books from the library. When Elizabeth arrives at the Canfield’s house, she meets Joseph and Minnie. She is also introduced to Cooper and Angela, who is blind. Elizabeth gives the children Call of the Wild and the third book in the Anne of Green Gables series. Minnie declines Elizabeth’s invitation for Angela to come to the Jack Thornton School, as she says she’ll teach Angela at home. Later that day, Elizabeth visits Joseph at the gas station. She expresses excitement about teaching Cooper and Angela. Joseph reminds her how Minnie is protective of Angela. Elizabeth tells him that even though she isn’t certified in teaching blind children yet, she hopes to teach Angela in the near future. The next day is Cooper’s first day of school. As Cooper introduces himself to the class, the Canfield family listens through the school’s front door. As they walk home, Angela expresses interest in going to school with Cooper, as she wants to spend time with children her own age. Minnie is against the idea because she doesn’t want Angela to face prejudice like she did before. Joseph feels that this won’t happen in Hope Valley, based on how the residents have treated the family so far. Minnie then agrees to think about what Angela wants. Back at home, the Canfield family continues to unpack their wagon. During this activity, Angela climbs into the wagon in order to reach the piano. After she accomplishes her mission, she starts playing ‘Clair de Lune’. As Jesse and Elizabeth are giving Cooper a ride home, they hear the piano music. Everyone is impressed with Angela’s musical talents, especially Elizabeth. In a private conversation with Minnie, Elizabeth compares Angela’s desire to reach the piano to her desire to learn among her peers. Minnie shares how her family experienced difficult times ever since Angela was born. Elizabeth tells Minnie how she will never stop trying to help Angela and her family.
Nathan’s inquiry begins in Hope Valley. On the first day, Andrew questions Bill. Bill shares how even though he was present during last year’s prisoner transfer, he didn’t see who shot the now deceased Mountie. Andrew points out how Nathan could have shot the Mountie. The next day, Nathan is questioned by Andrew. One of the questions is about his time at Fort Clay three years ago. Bill objects to this, as he feels it does not relate to the prisoner transfer from last year. After the hearing, Bill asks Nathan what happened at Fort Clay. Nathan reveals he broke protocol by making an arrest on his own. Because Fort Clay was Jack Thornton’s last assignment, Bill asks Nathan if he knew Jack. Nathan replies by saying no. The inquiry has also been bothering Ally. During recess at school, Ally shares that Nathan was suspended after he served at Fort Clay. This causes Elizabeth to wonder if he knew her husband. On the day of the final verdict, Ally visits Nathan at the courthouse. Right before Andrew gives the final verdict, Ally enters the courthouse, confessing how Nathan is a good man. She also says his reputation is impeccable (a word she learned from Elizabeth) and how Nathan is the closest thing to a father she has. After Ally leaves, Andrew agrees to drop the inquiry. Before the end of the episode, Elizabeth apologizes to Lucas for keeping his mother’s secret from him. Lucas also apologizes for being disrespectful toward Elizabeth. After making up, they agree to have dinner together. Nathan then approaches Elizabeth, giving her an opportunity to ask about his time at Fort Clay. She asks Nathan if he ever met Jack, which he replies no. When she asks why he never shared this information with her, Nathan says he never found the opportunity to do so.
While Mike and Jesse are helping Fiona load some furniture into her barber shop, Clara gives Jesse the cold shoulder. When Fiona points out how harsh Clara is being toward Jesse, Clara reveals how she is teaching him a lesson for purchasing Lee’s motorcycle without consulting her first. Later in the episode, Jesse and Clara share an ice cream cone. When discussing finances, Clara reminds Jesse how even though Lee offered the motorcycle to Jesse for a good price, Jesse will still have to pay for repairs. Not only does Jesse agree to give the motorcycle back to Lee, but he also agrees to communicate with Clara when it comes to major purchases. Several scenes later, Fiona reveals how she is going out of town to see her family. Clara says she is seeking extra employment so she and Jesse can purchase a house someday. Fiona decides to help Clara by hiring her as a barber.
Lee’s sister, Susannah, and her daughter, Rachel, have come to Hope Valley for a visit. Even though Lee is excited to see his sister again, he and Rosemary quickly notice how Susannah is protective of Rachel. One morning, Lee, Rosemary, Susannah, Rachel, and Elizabeth have breakfast at the Queen of Hearts Saloon. When Elizabeth discovers Rachel has recently graduated high school, Elizabeth asks Rachel what her plans are for the future. Rachel says she wants to be an actress like Rosemary. Because they know how protective Susannah is, Rosemary and Lee try to dissuade Rachel from this career path. Later that day, as Lee takes the motorcycle to the lumberyard, Rosemary and Rachel go to the dress shop. While helping Mollie with a fitting, Rachel gives Mollie fashion advice that ends up improving Mollie’s look. Rosemary takes notice of Rachel’s eye for fashion and agrees to give Rachel an outfit from the store. When Rosemary and Rachel come home, Rachel models her new Freedom Alls and makeover. Susannah disapproves of this look and tells Rachel to change back into her previous outfit. Because Rosemary senses tension between Lee and Susannah, Rosemary talks a walk. When Rosemary arrives that evening, Susannah apologizes for being disrespectful toward her. She also asks if Rachel can stay with the Coulters. Even though Lee and Rosemary agree, Susannah explains how she doesn’t want her daughter to grow up in the city.
Mollie is still determined to attract Bill. When Florence questions this, Mollie says she’s in it for the long haul. In an effort to get Bill to notice her, Mollie purchases a fancy dress from Dottie’s Dress Shop. At first, she isn’t thrilled with the dress Rosemary picks out for her. Then, Rachel gives Mollie a necklace and satin ribbon sash to complete the look. These simple changes instantly cause Mollie to change her mind about the dress. That evening, Mollie goes to the Saloon, where Bill happens to be. When Mollie arrives, Bill leaves in a hurry, not noticing Mollie’s dress. Seeing Mollie’s disappointment, Florence invites Mollie to join her and Ned at their table, as they also happen to be at the Saloon. The next day, as he’s passing by Mollie in town, Bill makes a comment about Mollie’s dress. This makes Mollie feel validated.
Some thoughts to consider:
Jesse, Clara, and even Ally appear to have purchased their ice cream cones from the Mercantile. However, Opal and Hattie revealed in season five that Hope Valley had an ice cream parlor. Did these characters purchase their ice cream cones at the parlor off-screen or did the parlor close down? If the latter is the case, maybe a new character could purchase the ice cream parlor in season nine.
This episode was funnier than I expected! One of the funniest scenes was when Elizabeth is about to join Ally at the courthouse. Elizabeth tells Robert to watch the class while she is away. Robert then appears satisfied with her decision and says to himself how he’s the right man for the job.
I thought it was nice of Carson to give Faith her own doctor’s bag! This simple gesture keeps up the season’s continuity, as Faith told Carson in the previous episode how she wanted to be taken seriously as a doctor. The bag also serves as a symbol for the start of Faith’s medical career. I hope we get to see this bag in future episodes!
What are your thoughts on this episode? Do you have any predictions for what will happen in the next episode? Tell me in the comment section!
Back in February, Ospreyshire, from Iridium Eye Reviews, tagged me as part of the Peer Pressure Tag. Because the first two months of 2021 have been busy months for me, I’ve been using March as the time to catch up on important posts that I need to publish. Now, I’m finally getting around to participating in this tag! Thank you, Ospreyshire, for choosing me for this tag. Thank you also to that one crazy girl from Random Thoughts of my Fandoms for creating The Peer Pressure Tag.
-Come up with 5 questions of your own. (4 have to be about peer pressure; 1 can be random and about whatever)
-Tag at least 10 people and provide links to their blogs. Please no “you!”
-Recommend at least 5 books or songs you see everywhere/are very popular that you’ve read or listened to.
-Use the hashtag #peer pressure tag for easier visibility
-Have you ever been pressured into watching/reading something and told to like it?
I haven’t been pressured into watching/reading and/or liking something. However, I have been recommended films by readers on several occasions. The most recent film I reviewed, The Abominable Dr. Phibes, was recommended by a reader named Michael.
-Have you ever been pressured into hating something that you normally like?
If I like or dislike something, it’s because I choose to do so. Therefore, I have never been pressured to hate something I normally like.
-How do you deal with peer pressure when it happens to you?
During my three years as a movie blogger, I haven’t experienced peer pressure. But, as I’ve mentioned before, I have been given recommendations by my readers. I have a board on Pinterest where I post movie posters of the films that have been recommended to me. This is to help me keep track of these suggestions.
-What crosses the line between recommendations and peer pressure for you? When someone is constantly telling you to do something, that, to me, would be considered peer pressure. Recommendations are when people mention a particular subject on a few occasions. Using The Abominable Dr. Phibes as an example, I was informed about that movie by one person. There have been times when more than one person has recommended a movie. But these instances have been rare.
-What is one interest or hobby that you got into that you never thought you would like?
As I mentioned two months ago, I have become more serious about American Girl doll collecting. Before I made that decision, I never thought I’d become an American Girl Instagrammer. Even though I started my account this January, I’ve already found some success! It has boosted my confidence and helped me retain my creativity.
My 5 Recommendations
Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton (the best book I read in 2020)
Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic (one of the most important books I’ve ever read)
‘Get Low’ by Dillon Francis & DJ Snake (I will always associate this song with the seventh Fast & Furious film)
‘Zurna’ by Blasterjaxx & Zafrir (Discovered this song recently and have really enjoyed it)
‘Making Love Out of Nothing At All’ by Air Supply (I find this to be a beautiful song)
Ten next tags go to…
Lady Kelleth from Lady Kelleth
Paul from Disney Imagineering with Paul Pederson
Micky from Hobo Movie
Brooke and Danielle from Colorful Sisters
Indreya from Up!
SaaniaSparkle from saania2806.wordpress.com
Marouabourni from Let’s talk
Jessey from Geekglamma
J-Dub from Dubsism
Aizen_Kuro from It’severythinganime
5 New Questions
Have you been pressured to like something that you really disliked?
Did you like something simply because of its hype?
What popular thing have you reflected on and changed your mind about?
Have you ever regretted liking something? If so, what was it?
The Olympics are an event that many people around the world look forward to. However, the 2020 Summer Games were postponed due to the on-going Coronavirus. As of late January 2021, the Summer Olympics are still taking place. In honor of that, I am hosting an Olympic themed blogathon! Because the Olympics are such a broad topic, I am encouraging you to be creative! Movies, tv shows, books, music, art, etc. involving the following will be eligible for the blogathon:
Winter or Summer Games
Sports that have been a part of or are still in the Olympics
Olympic athletes past and present
Countries and/or cities where Olympic games have taken place
Performers and/or performances from an Olympic opening or closing ceremony
Years when an Olympic game has taken place
Advertising promotions related to the Olympics
The Official Blogathon Rules
Please be respectful when writing your entries and toward other participants.
If you plan on publishing your post(s) earlier or later than the allotted time-frame (July 19th to the 23rd), please let me know in advance.
Only new posts are allowed for this blogathon.
As I mentioned, the Olympics are a broad topic. Therefore, I am not allowing duplicate entries for the Olympic Dreams Blogathon.
A maximum of three entries are allowed for each participant.
All entries must be original work.
If you’re interested in participating, please share your idea(s) in the comment section below.
Pick one of the five banners and let others know about the Olympic Dreams Blogathon!
The List of Participants
Sally of 18 Cinema Lane — Movie reviews of The Karate Kid and Karate Kid Part II(1984 and 1986)
Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews — Movie review of Those Glory GloryDays (1983)
J-Dub of Dubsism — Movie review of Personal Best (1982)
Ruth of Silver Screenings — Movie review of Golden Boy (1939)
The Very Special Blog of The Very Special Blog — The Cutting Edge (1992)
Le of Crítica Retrô — Laff-a-Lympics(1977/1978)
Movierob of MovieRob — 16 Days of Glory (1986), Blades of Glory (2007), Eddie the Eagle (2016), Prefontaine (1997), Visions of Eight (1973)
This is my first time participating in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon. Because I’m not familiar with the subject of Luso World Cinema, I gave my submission careful consideration. A movie I have wanted to watch for a while is Ladies in Lavender. When I discovered Daniel Brühl was one of the blogathon’s recommended subjects, I decided to review his 2005 film, as he is one of the starring actors in that movie. I haven’t seen many projects from Daniel’s filmography. In fact, the only film of his I’ve seen is Captain America: Civil War. So, this is a good opportunity for me to see what his acting talents have to offer outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The synopsis of Ladies in Lavender reminded me of Swept from the Sea, a movie I reviewed two years ago. Because of this, I will compare and contrast these two films from time to time in this review.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: For this part of the review, I will take a moment to talk about Daniel Brühl’s performance, as he is the reason why I reviewed this movie. His portrayal of Andrea was enjoyable to watch! It combined both comedic and dramatic elements that helped make Daniel’s performance entertaining. One example is when Andrea is peeling potatoes with Dorcas. What also worked in Daniel’s favor was how he was able to portray his character realistically. Whenever Andrea is trying to make his wishes known to the other characters, you can see him becoming frustrated at times. This was achieved through Daniel’s facial expressions and body language. Despite not being familiar with Natascha McElhone as an actress, I did like her portrayal of Olga. She appeared throughout the film as an approachable character. Natascha also had a good on-screen relationship with Daniel Brühl as well as with the other actors. A perfect example is when Olga is interacting with Andrea in her cottage. Speaking of on-screen relationships, I liked seeing Judi Dench and Maggie Smith work together in this film. While they have similar acting styles, their characters were allowed to have their own district personalities. This let them shine individually as well as together! One of their best scenes is when their characters, Janet and Ursula, receive terrible news over the phone. As Janet is telling her sister what happened, Ursula immediately crumbles into tears. This scene showcases how the sisters have an unbreakable bond!
The scenery: Similar to Swept from the Sea, Ladies in Lavender takes place in the English countryside. This particular environment provided photogenic scenery that visually complemented the story! Because Ladies in Lavender is set in a seaside town, there are some scenes that take place around the ocean. It was captured very well on film at various moments, from a morning scene where the rising sun perfectly contrasted the water to a night-time shot of the rolling waves. Country landscapes were also included in the movie! In one scene, Olga is painting a landscape of rolling hills with a nearby tower. The location itself contained beautiful green hills that looked great on a sunny day. The gray of the nearby tower paired surprisingly well with the rolling hills’ green hue. Because of how picturesque this space was, it makes sense that Olga would want to capture it on canvas!
The cinematography: I was pleasantly surprised by the good cinematography found in Ladies in Lavender, especially when it came to scenes involving water! In films where a character is drowning, those scenes are usually presented with a fast pace and quick cuts. When we see Andrea’s flashbacks, they are presented at a slower pace. This allowed the audience to see what is happening on screen as Andrea is shown in the water. One of the most beautifully shot scenes I’ve ever seen is when Andrea is playing a violin on a rocky ledge at night. His dark silhouette perfectly contrasts with the deep blue ocean that looks like it sparkles in the evening. The color scheme of blue, white, and black are prominently featured and is visually appealing!
What I didn’t like about the film:
An unclear direction: In Swept from the Sea, the overall story is a drama with a romance included. This is a clear creative direction that was consistent throughout the film. Ladies in Lavender is different, as the story went in many different directions. It gets to the point where it was difficult to determine what the plot was about besides the main premise. Was the story supposed to be about a forbidden romance? Or was it meant to revolve around the strained relationship between two siblings? Maybe it was supposed to partially focus on Andrea’s musical dreams? The story of Ladies in Lavender adopted too many ideas. That decision made the overall film feel like it was bouncing around from place to place.
Telling more than showing: At various moments in Ladies in Lavender, the audience is told how Andrea was washed up ashore. We are even shown flashbacks where he is seen drowning. However, we never get to see the events that caused Andrea to fall overboard. Because of this, the audience is not given a complete picture of what happened. At one point in the story, Janet and Ursula meet Olga. They express how they don’t like this new visitor. But the audience never receives an explanation for why Janet and Ursula do not like Olga. Visuals should have been used to illustrate the sisters’ point. If this had been the case, we might have gotten a better glimpse into Janet and Ursula’s perspective.
The exclusion of Andrea’s perspective: I know this movie is called Ladies in Lavender, with the title referring to Janet and Ursula. But because the overall story primarily focused on Janet and Ursula’s perspective, we don’t see the story from Andrea’s perspective. In Swept from the Sea, the story is narrated by Dr. Kennedy. Despite this, the audience is allowed to see that film’s world from Yanko’s perspective. That aspect of Swept from the Sea also gave the audience an opportunity to truly get to know Yanko as a character. With Ladies in Lavender, I feel like I barely know Andrea. The inclusion of Andrea’s perspective would have easily solved this issue.
My overall impression:
Ladies in Lavender is a film that I found to be just ok. Yes, there are aspects worth appreciating, such as Daniel Brühl’s performance. As a matter of fact, this movie made me appreciate Daniel’s acting abilities more! But if I had to choose between Ladies in Lavender and Swept from the Sea, I’d choose Swept from the Sea. This is because I find that movie to be stronger among the two. With Ladies in Lavender, the direction of the overall story was unclear. While there was a main conflict, it was difficult to determine what the main plot was. More telling than showing was also one of the movie’s flaws, not giving the audience the full picture when it came to certain areas of the story. I found the lack of Andrea’s perspective to be disappointing as well. This prevented me from truly getting to know Andrea as a character. Even though Ladies in Lavender will not be one of the best movies I saw this year, I am glad I participated in the Luso World Cinema Blogathon. I wonder what I’ll chose to write about next year?
Overall score: 6.3 out of 10
Have you seen Ladies in Lavender? Are there any Luso World Cinema films you’d like to see me review? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
After a temporary break from blogging to work on a creative side project, I have returned to write a blog follower dedication review! 18 Cinema Lane received 265 followers right before my blogathon, A Blogathon to be Thankful For, started. Because I was reading participants’ articles, as well as writing my own editorial, I planned on publishing this review after the event. Shortly after the blogathon ended, 18 Cinema Lane received 270 followers. As the Christmas season is now upon us, I chose to talk about one of Hallmark’s newest seasonal titles. A film I had wanted to see was Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ The Christmas Bow. What intrigued me was the story’s use of music and the dramatic nature of the plot. Even though Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is known for creating less light-hearted Christmas films than Hallmark Channel, the stories themselves do contain good messages and themes.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: While I’m not familiar with the acting talents of Lucia Micarelli, I feel she did a great job with the material she was given! Lucia’s best scene was when, during a flashback, her character, Kate, is playing the violin for her grandmother. Throughout this scene, Lucia was able to convey so much emotion with her face alone; trying to hold back tears while staying passionate about the music her character loved. Prior to watching The Christmas Bow, I had seen some of Michael Rady’s performances from his Hallmark projects. A consistent part of Michael’s acting abilities is how he makes his portrayals appear so effortless. Whether his character was interacting with his cousin or having deep conversations with his mother, Michael gave a performance that felt natural. The supporting cast in this film was strong, with some stand-out performers among the cast. One of them was James Saito, who portrayed Kate’s relative, Grandpa Joe! Whenever James’ character came on screen, he brought joy with him. That’s because he had a great on-screen personality and his smile lit up the room!
The interior design: I really liked seeing the interior design inside Kate’s family’s home! It was not only creative, but also photogenic. In Kate’s room, the décor was primarily white with splashes of color. With the addition of Christmas lights, the room appeared brighter. This prevented the space from looking drab or unimpressive. The living room featured light and dark stone along one wall and the fireplace. Light wood cabinets from the nearby kitchen complement the stone work. Within this house, there were interesting design choices when it came to specific elements in certain rooms or areas. The upstairs hallway contains a tall white bookshelf. A dark wood ladder and desk pairs nicely with the shelving unit.
The music: When I first read the synopsis for this movie, I knew that music would play a significant role in the story. However, all of the music in The Christmas Bow was pleasant to listen to! Because Kate is a violinist, classical music has a primary place in this film’s soundtrack. As she performs, the songs themselves are really good. From ‘Carol of the Bells’ to ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, these were familiar tunes that were strengthened by the sound of the violin. I also liked the story angle the film’s creative team took in regards to the influence music has during the Christmas season. When Kate and Patrick’s cousin meet for the first time at a café, Kate teaches him that closing his eyes will help him see the music. Patrick’s cousin tries this technique as Christmas music plays throughout the café. This lesson also shows how music can play a role in people’s lives.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A less dramatic injury: Based on The Christmas Bow’s synopsis, I expected the film’s protagonist to be involved in a car accident that causes her to be so traumatized, she decides to avoid the violin as much as possible. In the movie, Kate ends up hurting her hand due to getting it caught in a door. Hand injuries and broken bones are serious. However, compared to what I expected, it seemed like this part of Kate’s story wasn’t as dramatic as it could have been.
Obligatory Christmas activities: In my review of I’m Not Ready for Christmas, I mentioned how the Christmas activities featured in the film were obligatory for the sake of reminding the audience that they were watching a Christmas movie. The Christmas Bow has a similar flaw, as Patrick’s cousin continually presents a list of Christmas activities he wants to complete before December 25th. While these activities were woven into the overall story better than I’m Not Ready for Christmas, their presentation in The Christmas Bow felt like they had to be there. The activities themselves were those that have been featured in countless Christmas movies before, such as buying a Christmas tree and making gingerbread houses.
A party planning subplot: One of the subplots in The Christmas Bow revolved around Kate’s family planning a Christmas party at their music store. The subplot itself wasn’t bad and preparation for a party can work as a story concept. But an influx of this type of story during last year’s Christmas line-ups made me hope both networks would move away from showing party planning in their movies. Sadly, Hallmark isn’t aware of that detail as they continue to recycle this plot point.
My overall impression:
The Christmas Bow is the first 2020 released Christmas movie from Hallmark I’ve seen. Therefore, I can only compare it to the 2015 film, I’m Not Ready for Christmas. What I will say is The Christmas Bow is far better than I’m Not Ready for Christmas! Sure, there were flaws within the film. But the overall story was engaging with memorable strengths. Music was easily woven into the plot, feeling like it naturally fit in the movie. Character interactions and acting performances helped make the film worth watching. The story itself definitely belonged on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, as the material was more emotional than projects found on Hallmark Channel. While it’s too early to say if The Christmas Bow will go on to become one of Hallmark’s “classics”, I can state here that I liked the film. Thank you to my followers who have supported 18 Cinema Lane! It truly is an accomplishment I appreciate!
Overall score: 7.8 out of 10
Have you seen any of Hallmark’s 2020 Christmas films? If so, which one has been your favorite? Let me know in the comment section!
When I submitted my review of The Great Mouse Detective last week, it became the 175th movie review I’ve ever published! In honor of this accomplishment, I decided to write a Top 10 list, especially since I haven’t written one in quite some time! Back in February, in a Word on the Street story, I reported how Chesapeake Shoreswas renewed for a fifth season. However, because of the Coronavirus, the show hasn’t gone into production. On 18 Cinema Lane, I recap two of Hallmark’s shows, with Chesapeake Shores being one of them. While some areas of the world are slowly going back to creating movies and television shows, the O’Brien family may not appear on screen this year. This means that my Top 10 list will probably be the only Chesapeake Shores related content I create in 2020. As “Chessies” (the show’s fandom) waits for any news of the show’s return, here are the top 10 things I’d like to see in the fifth season! Before I begin, I want to say that this list is solely based on my opinion. There will also be spoilers for the previous season.
Tone down the relationship drama
As I’ve said before in my Evenings At The Shore series, the first and second seasons of Chesapeake Shorescontained a healthy balance between their character and plot driven narratives. But since season three, the show’s overall quality has plateaued. That’s because the overall narrative has placed its primary focus on the relationship drama between the characters. This decision has caused the plots to be put on the back-burner. One example is the fourth season’s fifth episode, where the plot surrounding Jess’s story didn’t make any sense. In Chesapeake Shores’ next season, I hope the screenwriters bring the show back to that balance from the first two seasons. This show has come up with some interesting plot ideas, but haven’t utilized them to their fullest extent.
2. A wedding for Jess and David
Before Kevin and Sarah got engaged in the fourth season, fans had never seen a wedding within the O’Brien family. This next step in Kevin and Sarah’s relationship was history in the making for the show. Because of the fourth season’s six episode run, wedding plans were replaced with an elopement and a reception dinner. This decision was a “bait and switch”, leaving fans cheated out of a historical moment they were promised. Kevin and Sarah were not the only couple to get engaged, however, as Jess and David became engaged at the end of the season. I’d like to see Jess and David’s wedding in the fifth season. Because the filming locations of Chesapeake Shores are photogenic, maybe they could receive an outdoor ceremony.
3. Get rid of the love triangle
It’s bad enough When Calls the Heart features a love triangle that seems to have no end in sight. Like I said in one of my Sunset Over Hope Valley posts, love triangles are a waste of time and creative energy. In Chesapeake Shores’ fourth season, the narrative introduced a love triangle between Abby, Trace, and Jay. This not only enables the screenwriters to continue emphasizing the relationship drama, but it also takes screen-time away from more intriguing plots. Hopefully, this love triangle will get resolved sometime in the fifth season.
4. A subplot for Carrie and Caitlyn
Speaking of When Calls the Heart, what this show does well is provide subplots for the younger characters. It gives the audience a chance to get to know them and view the story from their perspective. When it comes to Chesapeake Shores, Carrie and Caitlyn, the youngest characters on the show, have never received a story of their own. In fact, it feels like they’ve become an afterthought within the overall narrative. I’ve been waiting for Carrie and Caitlyn to receive their own subplot for a while, so I hope this happens in season five. It would be interesting to see what the screenwriters come up with.
5. More episodes
Earlier in this list, when I talked about Kevin and Sarah’s lack of wedding plans, I stated how the fourth season of Chesapeake Shores was only given six episodes. While Hallmark shows have received seasons with less than ten episodes before, a fourth season receiving six episodes is a bit concerning. This creative decision prevented certain subplots from being fully explored and made the story feel like more was desired. Personally, I think the fifth season should be given at least nine to ten episodes. That way, Chesapeake Shores will have enough time to flesh stories out and focus on telling well-thought out narratives.
6. The fruition of Trace’s recording studio
Chesapeake Shores excels at featuring locations that have been brought up in the story. One example is The Bridge, a musical restaurant that Trace had been dreaming about for several years. At the end of the fourth season, Trace had expressed interest in creating a recording studio. While recording studios have been presented in the story before, this particular business was never shown in Chesapeake Shores. Because this show has a good track record when it comes to locations, I’d like to think Trace’s recording studio will become a reality. However, I still want to see this location brought to life.
7. For Bree and Simon’s paths to cross again
When Simon was introduced on Chesapeake Shores, he met Bree in her home country. At the end of the fourth season, Bree’s literary agent, Brian, wanted to bring her play to London. If this happens, Bree would be in Simon’s home country. This dynamic would be very interesting to watch, especially if Bree and Simon plan on revisiting their relationship. Should Bree decide to find a different significant other, I’d be curious to see which new British actor joins the show.
8. More appearances for Nell
Over the course of the fourth season, I noticed that Nell had such a limited on-screen presence compared to previous seasons. I was told Diane Ladd, the actress who portrays Nell, was experiencing pneumonia when this particular season was in production. As I indicated in the introduction, we don’t know when Chesapeake Shores’ fifth season will be filmed. Whenever that happens, I hope Diane is in better health. Nell is the one who keeps the glue of the O’Brien family together. Without her, things just wouldn’t be the same.
9. A Chesapeake Shores Movie
I know a Chesapeake Shores movie is on the way. However, it never went into production, partly due to the Coronavirus. Even though the film was originally about Abby, Bree, and Jess, I still want to see a St. Patrick’s Day themed movie in Ireland. Another possible film idea is a Chesapeake Shores Thanksgiving themed movie! Hallmark hasn’t created a Thanksgiving movie in several years. Also, Good Witch has capitalized on Halloween, while When Calls the Heart creates annual Christmas films.
10. Megan becoming a successful businesswoman
You’re probably thinking, “Megan’s not a businesswoman, it isn’t her forte”. However, when we look at Abby, Bree, and Jess, there is one thing they have in common: they are all successful businesswomen. While each sister has forged their own path in the world of business, they have let their passions guide them through this specific journey. For at least one season, Megan has expressed her passion for art. Toward the end of the fourth season, she had shown an interest in creating her own studio. If the screenwriters wanted, they could allow Megan to use her art as the basis for a small business. This could make Megan an independent businesswoman like her three daughters.
It hasn’t even been a week since I published my previous Word On The Street post and it’s yet another “what the heck” story. On the website, MovieWeb, Jeremy Dick reports that a movie about Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is in the early stages of development. In Jeremy’s article, it reveals that Bret McKenzie is going to write the music and script for the film. If you’re not familiar with Bret or his work, don’t worry, Jeremy provides enough explanation. According to MovieWeb, Bret “is of course best known as one half of the New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords”. Bret also “served as the music supervisor for the 2011 movie The Muppets and its 2014 sequel Muppets Most Wanted”. Because Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas was created by the Jim Henson Company and since this company is one of the co-producers of this project, it makes sense for Bret to be involved.
While I haven’t seen Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, I have definitely heard of it. When I first read this story two days ago, I, once again, found the project unnecessary. Wasn’t Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas already a movie? Based on the article, it seems like the production will be a remake/reboot of the original. Why retell a pre-established story when there’s a beautiful opportunity to create a new story? Similar to the Word On The Street post about “Barney the Dinosaur”, this project hasn’t even started production yet. In fact, the MovieWeb article shared very few details about the movie. So, we’ll just have to wait and see if this film is worth the time.
Have you seen Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas? How do you feel about this piece of movie news? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!
If you want to check it out, here’s the link to the article I referenced in my post: