The 4th Annual Gold Sally Awards Has Arrived!

18 Cinema Lane recently celebrated its fourth anniversary! To commemorate such an important milestone, I am, once again, hosting the Gold Sally Awards! As I said last month, each award post will feature two polls at a time. This decision was made to help the voting process move at a faster pace. With that said, this year’s Gold Sally Awards will begin with the Best Movie and Story polls! Because I didn’t post any announcements for the Gold Sally Awards, the first two polls will be available for two weeks; from February 16th to March 2nd. Like years past, you are allowed to vote for more than one nominee. But you can only vote once per person. The link to the polls will be located under each poll. Just click on the word ‘PollMaker’.

Similar to last year, I thought featuring this anniversary image was appropriate for the start of the Gold Sally Awards! Anniversary image created by WordPress.
What was the Best Movie of 2021?
1. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
3. The Love Letter
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly
6. Rigoletto
7. Holly and Ivy
8. The King and I (1956)
9. A Star Is Born (1937)
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
 
Created with PollMaker
What was the Best Story of 2021?
1. The Karate Kid (1984)
2. The Three Musketeers (1948)
3. The Love Letter
4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host
5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly
6. Rigoletto
7. Holly and Ivy
8. The King and I (1956)
9. A Star Is Born (1937)
10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery
 
Created with PollMaker

Have fun voting!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Best Movies I Saw in 2021

Like I said in my list of the worst movies I saw in 2021, this year is a little different. Since 2018, most of the movies on my best list have been those I have reviewed. But a few titles on those lists weren’t covered on my blog. 2021 is the first year where every film on my best list has been reviewed on 18 Cinema Lane! It should also be noted how each of these titles were either blogathon entries or Blog Follower Dedication Reviews. Therefore, I will include a link to each of these reviews on my list! As I said in my worst movies of 2021 list, I saw several films this year that I liked. This article is reflective of those feelings. But unlike my aforementioned list, there will be Honorable Mentions. So, with that said, let’s end 2021 on a high note with the top ten best movies I saw in 2021!

Honorable Mentions

Cape Fear (1962), Bathing Beauty, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Til Death Do Us Part, Elizabeth Is Missing, and The Girl Who Spelled Freedom

<a href=”http://<a href=”https://www.freepik.com/vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by BiZkettE1 – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type=”URL” data-id=”<a href=”https://www.freepik.com/vectors/christmas”>Christmas vector created by BiZkettE1 – http://www.freepik.com2021 New Year image created by BiZkettE1 at freepik.com.

10. Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ Martha’s Vineyard Mystery series is a newer story that began last year. Despite how young this series is, it has grown over the course of four movies! This chapter not only recognizes its strengths, but also improves on some of the previous movies’ mistakes. Giving equal focus to the main and side mysteries is one example. Speaking of the mysteries, the overarching story was intriguing and engaging. There were even new characters added to this film I wanted to know more about. In Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, Jeff’s story didn’t receive a lot of development. With this and everything else said, I hope this series continues in 2022!

Take 3: Poisoned in Paradise: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery Review + 360, 365, 370, and 375 Follower Thank You

9. A Star Is Born (1937)

In my three (soon to be four) years of movie blogging, I never thought I’d ever see any version of A Star Is Born. But now that I have seen the original from the ‘30s, I can honestly say it was better than I expected! The story’s honesty about the entertainment industry and maturity toward heavier subjects was such a surprise. What was also a surprise was the use of mixed-media throughout the film, as it was ahead of its time. Even though A Star Is Born was released toward the beginning of the Breen Code era, it highlights the quality storytelling that came from this period in time. With the constant changes in the entertainment landscape, as well as technology, I can kind of see why this story has been remade on more than one occasion.

Take 3: A Star Is Born (1937) Review

8. The King and I (1956)

In 2021, there is at least one movie from the ‘50s on my best and worst movies list. But since I already talked about I Dream of Jeanie and The Trap, it’s time for The King and I to shine! This was the first time I had seen this version of the story in its entirety. Despite that, I found the film to be quite enjoyable! It is a good looking and sounding film, with the costume design, musical numbers, and set design building an aesthetically pleasing picture. The most memorable part of the movie was Tuptim’s interpretation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin! As I said in my review, it served as a good example of how everyone can view a text differently. The scene itself was more interesting than I expected.

Take 3: The King and I (1956) Review

7. Holly and Ivy

Because Hallmark creates so many Christmas movies, it can sometimes feel like they blend together. However, that is not the case for Holly and Ivy! What helps this title stand out is showing realistic characters dealing with realistic situations. This is quite different from those Hallmark pictures where the conflict either revolves around returning to a small town, saving a beloved establishment, or planning a major event. The emotional balance within this story added to my enjoyment of the picture. It never felt like the creative team was trying to emotionally manipulate me or force a reaction out of me. Looking back on the few Christmas films I reviewed this year, I can say with all honesty that Holly and Ivy was the best one!

Take 3: Holly and Ivy Review

6. Rigoletto

In my opinion, Rigoletto is to Beauty and the Beast what Ever After: A Cinderella Story was for Cinderella. What I mean by this is Rigoletto does an effective job at executing a non-magical version of Beauty and the Beast! Even though there have been musical versions of this particular story, such as the 1991 animated production from Disney, the 1993 film chose music as one of the story’s themes. This was an interesting choice, as it showed the audience the talent and skill it takes to be a good singer. Another interesting choice was the story taking place during The Great Depression. As I said in my review, this creative decision helped the film achieve its own identity.

Take 3: Rigoletto Review + 350 and 355 Follower Thank You

A Star Is Born (1937) poster created by Selznick International Pictures and United Artists

5. Sincerely, Yours, Truly

This is the first year an UP Network movie has appeared on any of my best lists! While Sincerely, Yours, Truly does contain a similar story to those found on Hallmark Channel, it makes up of that in genuineness and sincerity. The movie also presented interesting ideas, such as a grant proposal process and avoiding the “it’s not what you think” cliché. The on-screen chemistry and witty banter between the lead actor and actress definitely added to my enjoyment of this film! I don’t know what’s in store for UP Network in 2022. But I hope they continue to release quality productions like Sincerely, Yours, Truly!

Take 3: Sincerely, Yours, Truly Review + 295, 300, 305, 310, and 315 Follower Thank You

4. Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host

This entry in the Perry Mason movie series is one of the most memorable titles! One of the reasons why was the titular talk show host. Featuring real life talk show hosts in this story was a good idea. Having them portray talk show hosts on the radio was an even better idea, especially since some of those hosts had their own television show. That creative decision gave them new material to work with. The engaging nature of the mystery, where the outcome unfolds as the story goes on, maintained a steady amount of intrigue. This served as another way Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host stood out in the mystery genre!

Take 3: Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host Review + 290 Follower Thank You

3.  The Love Letter

Over the years, I have enjoyed finding and watching Hallmark Hall of Fame movies from years, even decades past. Sometimes, there are hidden gems that can be discovered. 1998’s The Love Letter is one of those gems! Unlike Chasing Leprechauns, the creative team behind the Hallmark Hall of Fame title found a way to allow the realistic and whimsical aspects of the story to co-exist. In fact, the whimsical part of the movie is what made the project one of the most unique in Hallmark Hall of Fame history! The film does contain the elements you’d usually find in a production of this nature, such as historical accuracy. But that just adds to the strength of The Love Letter!

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s The Love Letter Review

2. The Three Musketeers (1948)

Isn’t it interesting how another Gene Kelly movie made it to my best list’s top three? Despite the weird coincidence, I did enjoy this version of The Three Musketeers! There was so much about this project I liked, from the strength of the ensemble cast to the stellar fight choreography. However, the best part of the film was how much detail went into it. This can be seen in the set design and costumes, where research and care are also reflected. While I still haven’t gotten around to reading the novel this movie is based on, The Three Musketeers was definitely an entertaining story!

Take 3: The Three Musketeers (1948) Review

1. The Karate Kid (1984)

When it comes to the world of cinema, nothing beats the classics! The timelessness of 1984’s The Karate Kid allows the film to have a strong rate of re-watchability. The film’s story also contained ideas and messages that caused me to think, which is not something I’d expect from a sports movie. As I write this list, Mr. Miyagi’s words immediately come to mind. Whether it’s the famous “Wax on, Wax off” quote or his wisdom about karate, these words not only help The Karate Kid remain a memorable picture, but also give the audience something to apply to their lives. Add some exciting karate sequences and you have a solid film that has stood the test of time!

Take 3: The Karate Kid (1984) Review (Olympic Dreams Double Feature Part 1)

The Karate Kid (1984) poster created by Delphi II Productions, Jerry Weintraub Productions, and Columbia Pictures

Have fun in 2022!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Saw in 2021

When it comes to my best and worst of the year lists, 2021 is a little different. For one, this is the first year where I don’t have any Dishonorable Mentions. This is because I didn’t see enough movies to justify having this portion on the list. For another, my list has the least number of movies that were “so bad they were bad”. The reason is most of the films on this year’s list were disappointments. When I look back on my movie viewing in 2021, I feel most of the titles I saw and/or reviewed were either ok or fine/decent. Sure, I did see several films I liked. But some of those will be discussed on my best of the year list. Speaking of lists, let’s start counting down the top ten worst movies I saw in 2021!

Two disclaimers:

  1. As I’ve said in past lists, I did not write this list to be mean-spirited or negative. It’s simply a way to expressive my own, honest opinion.
  2. Some of the movies on this list have been reviewed on my blog. I will include a link to my reviews of these films.
<a href=”http://<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by pikisuperstar – http://www.freepik.com</a>&quot; data-type=”URL” data-id=”<a href=’https://www.freepik.com/vectors/background’>Background vector created by pikisuperstar – http://www.freepik.comColorful 2021 image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com.

10. I Dream of Jeanie (1952)

This movie made me wish I had saved an hour and twenty-nine-minutes by reading Stephen Foster’s Wikipedia page. For a “biopic”, I Dream of Jeanie wasn’t very informative. While I did learn a few things, the story didn’t capture an almost complete picture of the famous composer. It also showcased him in a not-so-favorable light. Because he was portrayed as a desperate push-over, Stephen was a character that exuded sympathy to the audience. What did not help was how the film placed more focus on other characters and events as well, such as the oh so annoying Edwin P. Christy. Speaking of Edwin, this movie would be called “The Edwin P. Christy Show” if given an honest title.

Take 3: I Dream of Jeanie (1952) Review

9. Country at Heart

This movie is notorious among the Hallmark fans for having more than one release date between 2019 to 2020. Too bad it wasn’t worth the wait. What could have been an interesting story turned out to be another tale of a woman from the city coming back to her small hometown. This is also one of those films where the protagonist says they are going to do something, but ends up spending most of the movie not doing the aforementioned thing. Country at Heart’s biggest flaw, though, lay in the singing abilities of the main character, Shayna. Throughout the story, Shayna’s talents were treated as if she were the next great undiscovered talent. But, in reality, her talents were, at best, fine. I don’t know if Jessy Schram sang in the movie or if there was a singing double. However, this part of the film dissuaded me from buying what the movie was selling.

8. The Trap (1959)

What a weird coincidence for another movie from the ‘50s to end up on my worst list. Even though The Trap is classified as a drama, the creative team placed more emphasis on the drama within the story. When you have gangsters in your film, this is not the genre you want to place your movie in. Since my warning came way too late, the 1959 title was a boring combination of a Suddenly rip-off and a road trip picture. Adding insult to injury, the excitement and action you’d expect from a gangster film was so far and few between. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t fall asleep during this movie, as I wanted to on more than one occasion.

Take 3: The Trap (1959) Review

7. Jane Doe: Ties That Bind

It is possible to make a good movie revolving around a debate. The Hallmark Hall of Fame film, Sweet Nothing in My Ear, is a beautiful example of this. With Jane Doe: Ties That Bind, however, adding a debate to a mystery story doesn’t work. This is because it goes against the very nature of the mystery genre, which emphasizes finding a concrete resolution to the story’s conflict. Unfortunately for the 2007 movie, a debate was the most focused part of the script. Because of that decision, the debate overshadowed the mystery itself. When everything was said and done, the debate wasn’t resolved. If I could summarize this film in one meme, it would be the one where the woman asks “You did this for what”?

6. Hometown Hero

It’s a shame that not one, but two PixL movies ended up on my list, especially since I rarely talk about their films on my blog. The reason why Hometown Hero is considered one of the worst movies I saw this year is because of how bland it was. This caused me not to care about any of the characters or their stories. It also doesn’t help that the main actor and actress had such weak on-screen chemistry, it felt like their characters were becoming good friends instead of romantic significant others. Similar to what I said about choice number seven, I would choose the meme of the woman asking “Where’s the flavor”? if I needed to summarize Hometown Hero in one meme.

I Dream of Jeanie (1952) poster created by Republic Pictures

5. The Price of Fitting In

Lifetime has an infamous history of creating PSA/“after school special”/cautionary tale movies, which cover a variety of serious, real world subjects. When I came across this 2021 title, I was curious to see what new topics and issues would be discussed in this film, especially considering it’s been a long while since Lifetime created a movie of this nature. But unlike the network’s other PSA/“after school special”/cautionary tale productions from decades past, The Price of Fitting In suffers from an identity crisis. The script spends the entire movie trying to figure out what type of story it wants to adopt. This led several parts of the narrative to either be underdeveloped or unresolved. The Price of Fitting In does recognize how a robotics team can experience similar peer-related situations like other extracurriculars, so I’ll give the movie credit where it’s due. I just wish that idea had belonged in a better film.

4. Raising Arizona

The best way to describe how I feel about this movie is by using an analogy: You’re listening to someone tell a joke. But when it’s time to deliver the punchline, that person forgets what it is. So instead, they either try to come up with a new punchline on the spot or they attempt to figure out what the original punchline was.  In Raising Arizona, the comedic moments lasted so long, the punchline got lost in translation. Some of the jokes didn’t make sense because of this. The characters were not charming or likable enough to make their dysfunctionality tolerable for the audience. If anything, they were one-dimensional and uninteresting. The only part of the movie that prevented me from DNFing (did not finish) it was Leonard Smalls. He was such a mysterious and intriguing character, that I wish I watched a movie about a character like Leonard.

3. Durango

As I said in my review from July, Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Durango is “the first western set in Ireland”, according to IMDB. For the first of its kind, it was a step in the wrong direction. Stories in the western genre are known for having higher stakes, giving the audience an excuse to stay invested in the characters well-being. Durango didn’t get that memo because most of the stakes were so low, the characters’ plans worked out too perfectly. Despite never reading the book this Hallmark Hall of Fame title is based on, I can tell how weak this script was. What was also weak was Matt Keeslar’s performance and his on-screen chemistry with Nancy St. Alban. Watching this movie on Hallmark Drama was a blessing in disguise. I may not have saved some time, but at least I saved some money.

Take 3: Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Durango Review

2. Chasing Leprechauns

Yet another Hallmark movie set in Ireland joins the list. Since the network doesn’t create many St. Patrick’s Day themed movies, it is frustrating when a story relating to this particular holiday doesn’t stick the landing. With Chasing Leprechauns, the creative team wanted to include a whimsical element without making the movie too whimsical. Like I said in my review of the 2012 film, those involved with the project wanted to have their cake and eat it too. When I look at the movie’s poster, it feels like false advertising. For one, Chasing Leprechauns is a drab looking picture, not the lush, green paradise the poster wants you to believe. For another, there are no leprechauns in the story, despite the word ‘leprechauns’ being in the title. Hallmark is known for releasing some of their movies on DVD. As far as I know, Chasing Leprechauns was never made available for purchase. Maybe its poor quality is the reason why?

Take 3: Chasing Leprechauns Review

Remember when I said there were two PixL movies on my worst list? Well, The Cookie Mobster is the second film. For those who are not familiar with PixL, this is an entertainment company that typically creates “rom-coms” similar to those on Hallmark Channel. Because of that, this 2014 film was way too ambitious for the company’s own good. The light-hearted tone of the scouting troop’s story and the darker tone of the former gangster’s story ended up clashing with each other. Adding to that, the screenwriters didn’t display an understanding for several of the movie’s subjects. The weak script caused me to question the story’s validity, which took away any opportunity for me to stay invested in the story. The more I think about The Cookie Mobster, the more I wish it had been created by INSP or Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.

Since I’m talking about Durango again, I’m re-posting my screenshot of the film’s poster. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Have fun in 2022!

Sally Silverscreen

Take 3: Sincerely, Yours, Truly Review + 295, 300, 305, 310, and 315 Follower Thank You

I know this review has been long overdue.  With several projects on my plate last month, I wasn’t able to get to my review as soon as I had wanted. Like I mentioned in my Peer Pressure Tag post, I am using March as the month where I catch up on important articles. This includes the newest blog follower dedication review. This time around, I wanted to choose a movie that was different from the film I wrote about for my last review; Perry Mason: The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host. Even though there is a mystery in Sincerely, Yours, Truly, the overall story is more light-hearted in tone. It’s rare for an Up Network film to be covered on 18 Cinema Lane. This is because I just haven’t gotten around to watching many of them. Beginning at the start of 2021, Up Network has been releasing a new movie almost every Sunday night. Since Sincerely, Yours, Truly has been on my DVR for about a month, I finally had an excuse to watch it!

I took a screenshot of the film’s poster from my television. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Even though Natalie Hall has starred in Hallmark Channel movies since 2011, the only film of Natalie’s I have seen is A Winter Princess. The reason I bring this up is because it shows how Natalie has experience when it comes to working on films of this nature. Throughout Sincerely, Yours, Truly, Natalie was very expressive, which is reflective of her time appearing in Hallmark’s rom-coms and one of the Love Saga (Love Comes Softly) films. Toward the beginning of the movie, Natalie’s character, Hayley, and her friend, Elisa, have received good news about a potential grant for their non-profit, Growing Out. They dance around Hayley’s kitchen and squeal in delight, as they can’t contain their excitement. While we’re on the subject of Elisa, I also liked Nicki Whitely’s performance in Sincerely, Yours, Truly! Like Natalie, Nicki was also expressive. She had a good on-screen personality as well. Anytime Elisa interacted with Hayley, their friendship came across as realistic. The moments when they read the love letters are a good example. This was my first time watching any of Marshall Williams’ projects, so I didn’t know what to expect from Marshall, talent-wise. I have to say that I was very impressed by his portrayal of Josh! In the movie, he was charming, with his reactions and expressions appearing natural. Having good on-screen chemistry with Natalie also helped Marshall. One of Marshall’s best scenes was when Josh discovers a letter about a lost item. Josh receives his mail when he is on his way to work, not thinking twice about the task. As soon as he sees the letter, a look of curiosity immediately appears on his face.

The witty banter: In order to make any movie, let alone a rom-com, work, there needs to be good dialogue among the characters. Sincerely, Yours, Truly contained witty banter, which was one of the strongest parts of the film! Hayley and Josh meet when they argue over who should receive the last two jars of rhubarb jam. During this interaction, Josh lies about his reasons for wanting the jam. At first, he says he needs it for his sister because she’s having a bad day. Then he says he needs the jam because his sister is sick. Hayley comes back with witty remarks, calling out his falsehood in the process. After hearing both explanations of Josh’s, she asks him which one is true. This back-and-forth banter between these two characters was consistent, being both quick and sharp. Another example of this banter is when Josh is asking Hayley to put out her incense at their shared office facility. Because he’s entering her part of the office, Hayley responds by telling him not to spy, a reference from an earlier conversation. Not only do these interactions work because of the script, but also because of Natalie and Marshall’s talents!

The process of a grant proposal: A overarching narrative in Sincerely, Yours, Truly is Josh and Hayley attempting to win a financial grant for their respective non-profits. Throughout the film, the audience gets to see the entire process, from Josh and Hayley’s initial meeting to the final results. I found this part of the story interesting, as it allowed the characters to use problem solving skills and creativity. Even though Hayley’s non-profit was featured in the film more than Josh’s, I liked seeing her ideas come to life! This kind of insightful story-telling is what I’ve come to enjoy in stories like this.

Envelope with hearts image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/hearts-and-pink-envelope-for-mothers-day_1950691.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/love”>Love image created by Freepik</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Revealing the mystery too early: A mystery surrounding a collection of love letters was one of the major stories in Sincerely, Yours, Truly. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to watch this film. Within the first twenty minutes, a narration from a character the audience already met recites one of the love letters. The narration reveals the identity of the letters’ author. The mystery should have been drawn out for longer than twenty minutes, with the author’s identity remaining a secret for at least half the movie. This would give the audience more time to stay invested in the mystery.

No subplots for the supporting characters: While I liked the major stories in Sincerely, Yours, Truly, I didn’t find subplots for any of the supporting characters. What’s even more frustrating is how there were opportunities for subplots to take place. One example is Hayley’s mom, Camille. Over lunch between mother and daughter, it is revealed that Camille has a crush on a local butcher. However, this relationship is never explored and we only see Camille in two scenes. In the story, Elisa shares how she’s dating a dog-walker, whose profession is affecting her allergies. This conflict was not resolved anywhere in the movie.

Josh and Hayley never coming across as enemies: A classic rom-com trope that is found within the movie is “enemies to lovers”. Even though I enjoyed seeing Hayley and Josh’s interactions, I never felt like they were enemies. Sure, there were aspects of the other person they didn’t like. But their banter came across as playful than antagonistic. This made me question why the creative team behind Sincerely, Yours, Truly adopted this specific trope if they weren’t going to fully utilize it?

Fancy jewelry image created by Freepic.diller at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding”>Wedding photo created by freepic.diller – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

I’m glad to see Up Network releasing newer films on their channel! It gives their audience something to look forward to and allows the network to compete alongside their competitors. With Sincerely, Yours, Truly, it was a film I ended up liking! While the movie does have its flaws, its sincerity and genuineness make up for that. I didn’t bring this up in my review, but Sincerely, Yours, Truly successfully avoided the “it’s not what you think” cliché. There were two instances where this cliché could have been used in the story. However, the film’s creative team subverted my expectations and chose not to use it, which made me enjoy the movie more! I want to take the time now to thank all of my followers. Reaching 300 followers is a big deal for me, so I appreciate all of the support!

Overall score: 7.8 out of 10

Have you seen any of Up Network’s newer films? If so, which one has been your favorite? Please tell me in the comment section below!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Hallmark’s Top 10 Missteps From the 2010s That Should Not Be Repeated

When I published my review for Teenage Rebel last December, it became my 225th movie review! Since then, I’ve been thinking about what kind of article I should write in honor of this milestone. A few days ago, I saw a video on Youtube titled ‘Top 6 AG Trends that need to *GO* this Decade’. This video focused on how American Girl could correct their mistakes from the 2010s. Created by pinksmartiesag, it inspired me to think about the ways Hallmark can improve in the 2020s. Like any company, Hallmark is not perfect.  There are areas where they can grow and find success. During the first year of the 2020s, I have seen Hallmark’s mistakes from the past decade seep into 2020. In this list, I will talk about the missteps that Hallmark should leave behind in the 2010s to have a chance to make better choices in this new decade. Similar to the list-articles I’ve written in the past, everything I talk about is based on my opinion of the things I have noticed as a fan and consumer. The list is meant to be critical in a constructive way, not mean-spirited or negative. When I refer to Hallmark in this article, I am focusing on the entertainment division of Hallmark; which consists of the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama.

Image of 2010 and 2020 on chart created by Macrovector at freepik.com. Infographic vector created by macrovector – www.freepik.com
1. Hallmark Channel’s Over-Reliance on the Romantic Comedy (Rom-Com) Genre

In the 2010s, when Rom-Coms made less appearances in the cinema than in previous decades, Hallmark made it their mission to save this genre from extinction. While Hallmark attempted to preserve Rom-Coms, they ended up putting almost all their eggs in one basket. Now, every movie on Hallmark Channel is a Rom-Com, telling the same types of stories over and over again. This decision has caused the films on this network to feel repetitive and predictable. When you look at a typical poster for a Hallmark Channel movie, you already know how the story will play out. Lately, I’ve been watching and reviewing past Hallmark films, which have much more interesting stories. It feels like those were the days when Hallmark would embrace originality and not shy away from taking creative risks. I would like to see Hallmark experiment with different genres and tell a variety of stories in the 2020s. Creativity and imagination should be the rule moving forward!

2. Continually Using the Same Tropes and Clichés

Because Hallmark Channel has focused on the Rom-Com genre, there are several genre related tropes and clichés that are continually used throughout Hallmark’s film library. In my list of The Top 10 Worst Clichés from Hallmark Movies, I talk about some clichés that have run their course. How many times can you tell a story where a woman from a big city goes back to her small hometown before you call it quits? The constant inclusion of these tropes and clichés cause a given film to be more predictable. Even though some creative teams have approached these story-telling concepts in new and interesting ways, it feels like that has been the exception to the rule. It’s time for Hallmark to either put a new twist on these clichés and tropes or abandon them altogether.

3. The Hypocrisy

Ever since 2019, I have noticed Hallmark’s blatant hypocrisy when it comes to certain areas of their entertainment division. For this point, I’ll provide two examples. In my editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I wrote about how, in 2019, Hallmark advertised they would be airing a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. However, that statement turned into a broken promise, as there were some Saturdays where no new movies premiered. I also said in that editorial how Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries kept their promises to air a Christmas movie every Thursday and Friday night in correlation with the 10th Anniversary of Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” line-up. When it comes to subjects that Hallmark cares about, like Christmas, that becomes one of their top priorities. For everything else, it falls to the wayside.

While promoting Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups last year, George Zaralidis, Hallmark’s network program publicity vice president, claimed that “diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us”. But there are times when these words sound empty. The upcoming Hallmark Channel movie, Fit for a Prince, is a perfect example. Based on promotional material directly from the network’s website, we can see this is the same type of “royal” movie, starring the same types of actors in the same types of roles. Remind me how this is diverse? When it comes to story-telling, diversity is more than just a character’s appearance. It’s also about the perspectives, beliefs, and journeys those characters bring to the overall story. In my award post, The Sunshine Blogger Award and The Blogger Recognition Award: Two Awards for the Price of One, I said that I wanted to see Bai Ling join the main cast of When Calls the Heart as Hope Valley’s first female Mountie. One of the reasons why I want this is because it would be a beautiful opportunity for Hallmark to put their money where their mouth is. If diversity is that important to them, then they will take no issue in casting Bai on Hallmark Channel’s most popular scripted show.

4. Hallmark Making Promises They Know They Can’t Keep

As I just mentioned in point number three, Hallmark broke their promise to air a new movie every Saturday night for an entire year on Hallmark Channel. But that wasn’t the only promise the company broke in 2019. In my aforementioned editorial, When Hallmark Made Their Fans Really Upset, I talk about several films that were mysteriously removed from Hallmark Channel’s and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ schedules after being promoted for weeks or months. If Hallmark had any thoughts about moving films out of their respective premiere dates, why would they spend so much time promoting them and setting dates? In the seventh season of When Calls the Heart, Clara and Jesse had entertained the idea of having an outdoor wedding. But when the wedding arrived, their ceremony ended up taking place indoors. According to Kami, from Hallmarkies Podcast, that episode was filmed in November. This begs the question; if the creative team behind the show knew it would be too cold to film any outdoor events, why would they mention the idea of an outdoor wedding in the first place? In the 2020s, it would be nice to see Hallmark stick to their word more often. Broken promises lead to broken trust with the viewers, which is not good for any business.

5. An Adoption Ever After Segment During the Seasonal Line-Up Preview Specials

When Larissa Wohl first joined Alison Sweeney in 2019’s “Valentine’s Day & Adoption Ever After Preview Special”, the program was used to not only promote Hallmark Channel’s Valentine themed movies, but also that year’s Cat Bowl, Kitten Bowl, and American Rescue Dog Show. At the time, the cross-promotion made sense. But as Larissa kept appearing in Hallmark’s other seasonal line-up preview specials, as well as the Crossword Mysteries & Friends Preview Special, she ended up overstaying her welcome. Instead of promoting a worthy cause, it felt like she was interrupting the regularly scheduled program to host an infomercial about homeless pets. Most people can get behind the idea of raising awareness for shelter animals. However, using the same tactics over and over again gets repetitive and runs the risk of turning away potential supporters.  I don’t know if Hallmark has any plans to air preview specials for the various seasonal line-ups in the 2020s. If they do, I hope they think twice before adding the Adoption Ever After segments to the specials.

Heart shaped balloons image created by Katemangostar at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by katemangostar – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.
6. Hallmark’s Excessive Obsession with Christmas

Hallmark loves Christmas; I get it. But is it really necessary for them to do the following?

  • Airing both Christmas line-ups for almost three months
  • Showing Christmas movies on three networks throughout the year
  • Creating over twenty movies between two channels
  • Devoting an entire month to Christmas in July

In my opinion, the answer is absolutely not, as there is a fine line between loving something and going overboard. Because of Hallmark’s excessive obsession with the holiday, they are actually doing more harm than good to their line-ups. In 2019 and 2020, the “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” line-ups received less viewership than in years prior. Hallmark’s decision to make more Christmas movies year after year prevents their films from becoming beloved classics. Movies like The Christmas Card, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and The Nine Lives of Christmas were able to achieve long term success because they premiered in years where Christmas line-ups were smaller, allowing these projects to stand out. As I’ve said before on 18 Cinema Lane, Hallmark needs to pull back the reigns on their approach to Christmas. Give Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries ten movies each, as it would challenge each creative team to create something new and unexpected. Save Christmas films for a week in July and for a month and a half toward the end of the year. Once upon a time, Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups were anticipated events. Now, it has become run of the mill and one of the only things Hallmark cares about.

7. Movie Premiere Twitter Parties

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, Twitter parties take place for the premiere of new Hallmark programs and movies. Let’s use the upcoming movie Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con as an example. Before the film appears on television for the first time, someone directly connected with the project, either the director, producer, or stars, will encourage viewers to send tweets during the movie. There may even be pop up advertisements for the Twitter party while other films or shows are on T.V. When Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: How to Con a Con airs on March 14th, viewers can tweet about their thoughts on the film, share their theories with other viewers, and have brief conversations with the stars. Personally, I never participated in these Twitter parties because I wanted to give my undivided attention to the film I was watching. The tweets from the Twitter parties are laced with spoilers, which means I have to avoid Twitter after a new movie or television show episode has premiered. From what I remember, Bill Abbott was a big advocate for this kind of interaction with the customers. But in 2020, Bill stepped down as President of Hallmark’s entertainment division. Also, Twitter isn’t as popular of a social media platform as it was five or ten years ago. With all these factors, it makes me wonder why Hallmark would still promote Twitter parties?

8. Giving Movies Unnecessary Hype

I haven’t seen this happen often on Hallmark networks. However, I have seen it happen enough to know that Hallmark needs to discontinue the practice. The two examples I’ll use for this point are 2014’s Northpole and 2019’s Bottled with Love. Before Northpole premiered, it seemed like news about the film was inescapable. Commercials would air constantly, reminding viewers of what they already knew. Even products directly associated with the film, like the North Pole Communicator, were sold at Hallmark stores. Even though the film received a large viewership number and a sequel, the movie has become forgotten. As the years go on, it is rarely featured in Hallmark’s Christmas schedules. As I mentioned in my review for Bottled with Love, Hallmark chose to overhype this film by proclaiming it was “the best movie you’ll see all year”. But when the movie premiered, it was only a “flash in the pan”. Its viewership numbers were fine, but nothing spectacular. I shared the same thoughts on the film itself. What Northpole and Bottled with Love have in common is how Hallmark overhyped these movies so much, they prevented them from being memorable in the long run. I’m hoping this was just a phase within Hallmark’s lifespan.

9. Launching Television Shows from Movies

Since Cedar Cove became Hallmark’s first scripted television show, Hallmark Channel has had three shows that originally started as a movie or a series of movies: When Calls the Heart, Good Witch, and Signed, Sealed, Delivered. But the only one that has found continued success is When Calls the Heart. While Good Witch has received more than five seasons, its overall quality has dropped since season three, as I’ve mentioned before on my blog. Meanwhile, Signed, Sealed, Delivered was converted into a movie series after the show’s first season and moved to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. This isn’t a good track record for Hallmark. Instead, they should create shows based on new ideas or well-liked books that are overshadowed by more popular titles.

10. Hallmark’s Summer and Winter TCA Events

Twice a year, Hallmark partners with the Television Critics Association to host a special event where they announce upcoming media related projects. Back in 2018, I wrote a Word on the Street story about announcements made at Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event. Recently, it seems like Hallmark makes their more interesting announcements before or after these events. At each TCA event, announcements consist of projects most fans already knew about. Because of this and the fact that fewer social gatherings are taking place because of the Coronavirus, I question why Hallmark still hosts these events? I wish Hallmark would use those finances, time, and resources toward something more productive.

Hallmark’s Summer TCA Event poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.crownmediapress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=2018+Summer+TCA.&nbsp;

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here is a link to the article about George Zaralidis’ statement:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/entertainment/news/hallmark-will-include-lgbtq-storylines-in-christmas-movie-lineup-diversity-and-inclusion-are-top-priority-for-us/ar-BB16Py6W

Word on the Street: New Trailers for Upcoming Hallmark movies + Official synopsis for next ‘Aurora Teagarden’ movie revealed

I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been easy finding movie news stories to discuss on 18 Cinema Lane. However, I am thankful when I come across news about Hallmark productions! While I did talk about stories revolving around Hallmark films last month, those projects were Christmas related. In this Word on the Street article, I will address Hallmark films that will premiere outside the Christmas season! With the ‘Fall Harvest’ line-up just around the corner, it’s common for viewers to see trailers rolled out as the weeks go by. My Word on the Street story will focus on the first new trailer for the line-up. Before the Christmas season begins, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries likes to air some new films during the Fall. This Word on the Street story will feature a discussion about two upcoming movies; with one receiving a trailer and the other receiving a synopsis. As I sometimes do, I will share my opinion on these pieces of movie news.

Poppy and chamomile pattern image created by Klyaksun at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/seamless-pattern-with-chamomile-and-poppies-flowers_1308007.htm’>Designed by Klyaksun</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Klyaksun – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Two new trailers have been released from Hallmark; with one for a ‘Fall Harvest’ film and the other for an upcoming movie from Hallmark’s second network! The first one represents the Hallmark Channel movie Follow Me to Daisy Hills, which currently has a release date of September 19th. In the trailer, there were three scenes that featured good cinematography! These scenes revolved around a river during the autumn season. The acting from the leads, Cindy Busby and Marshall Williams, appeared stiff to me. However, this is not a reflection of their performances in the film, as the movie has not been released yet. I am disappointed that with a project called Follow Me to Daisy Hills, there were no daisies to be found. It makes me wonder why the film’s town is even called ‘Daisy Hills’ at all?

Horse with saddle photo created by Topntp26 at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stallion-black-equine-race-sky_1104246.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background image created by Topntp26 – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

The other trailer is for one of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ newest titles, JL Family Ranch: The Wedding Gift. This movie is advertised on the main page of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ official website and boasts a release date of September 27th. As I look back on this specific trailer, I noticed how this movie feels like a complete tonal shift from its predecessor. From what I remember, JL Family Ranch was a gritty, modern western that had a certain amount of adrenaline and suspense. According to the trailer, however, the sequel is a heart-felt drama that focuses on family and second chances. Even the color scheme and lighting appear brighter than the first film.

Female detective image created by Brgfx at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/female-detective-with-magnifying-glass_1250814.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Brgfx – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

Speaking of Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, an official synopsis for Aurora Teagarden Mysteries: Reunited and it Feels So Deadly has been posted on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website! Below is the description for the movie:

“Aurora’s high school reunion turns deadly when a body is found in the hotel pool. Aurora and her Real Murders Club help investigate which classmate was most likely to kill.”

Even though the movie sounds interesting, I am disappointed that the “reunited” part of the film will not have anything to do with Aurora’s ex, Martin. In a Word on the Street story back in February, I wondered if Martin would return to the series, based on the film’s title. A dynamic that hasn’t been featured in a Hallmark Movies & Mysteries film before could have been found in this project. But I guess there’s always the next film. What I do wonder is if any mentions of Nick and Aurora’s engagement will be found within the script? Will we see any wedding planning in the film? If we do, it would continue the story’s overarching continuity.  

What are your thoughts on these pieces of movie news? Are you looking forward to any of the films I talked about? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

Here are the links if you want to check out each source:

https://www.hallmarkchannel.com/love-at-daisy-hills/videos/preview-follow-me-to-daisy-hills

https://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/jl-family-ranch-the-wedding-gift/videos/preview-j-l-family-ranch-the-wedding-gift

https://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/aurora-teagarden-mysteries-reunited-and-it-feels-so-deadly

Take 3: Honeymoon for One Review

I’m not going to lie, my submission for the Out to Sea Blogathon required a good amount of thought. I consulted with the blogathon’s creator, Debbie from Moon in Gemini, to find an appropriate film to talk about. After searching my DVR, I ended up choosing a Hallmark film from 2011 called Honeymoon for One. While the ocean doesn’t play a role in this story, other bodies of water can be found. In this movie, there are several scenes that take place in a river, one where a waterfall is featured, and another where the protagonists sit next to what looks like a lake. As the days of the blogathon came closer, I realized that St. Patrick’s Day was two weeks after the event. Because Honeymoon for One takes place in Ireland, this film became a better choice for the blogathon than I expected! I’ve seen pieces of this movie before, but never in its entirety. This blogathon has given me the chance to finally see all of Honeymoon for One!

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What a funny coincidence that the second Hallmark film from 2011 I’ve reviewed has a poster that is a screenshot. Screenshot taken by me, Sally Silverscreen.
Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Back in 2016, I saw the Hallmark Channel film, All Yours. One of the reasons why I enjoyed that picture is because of the acting, including Nicollette Sheridan’s performance. Like that movie, I liked seeing her portrayal of the protagonist, Eve, in Honeymoon for One! The well-roundedness of her performance is what made it work, giving her an opportunity to express a variety of emotions for different situations. The scene where Eve spends her first night in Ireland is a perfect example of everything I just said. I also liked seeing Greg Wise’s portrayal of Sean! He did a fine job carrying an Irish accent and he was expressive in subtle ways. Greg’s interactions with the film’s other characters showcases these ideas well. Speaking of accents, Katie Bannon also did a fine job carrying an Irish accent! Her portrayal of Sean’s daughter, Kathleen, was so endearing. It also helps that her on-screen relationships felt genuine. One great example is when Kathleen is interacting with Sean and Eve at a local art fair.

 

The scenery: Filmed in Ireland, the scenery in Honeymoon for One definitely stole the show! The country’s natural beauty shined through in every scene that took place there. Eve visits the Irish countryside, which was gorgeous to look at. Various shades of green and even hues of brown and red could be seen in the foliage throughout the characters’ surroundings. The aforementioned locations featuring water were breathtaking, its video footage likely not doing them justice. Even the hotel and Sean and Kathleen’s house were impressive! The interior and exterior of these locations were visually appealing. Just one example is the hotel’s honeymoon suite, where its spacious layout and white décor looked fit for royalty. The country town that was occasionally shown in the film appeared quaint and inviting. The landscape alone provided one good argument why one should take a trip to Ireland!

 

Similarities between American and Irish culture: In movies like The Cabin, the incorporation of another country’s culture is meant to show how it is different or unique from that of the American protagonist(s). Honeymoon for One chooses to focus on the similarities between American and Irish culture instead. At various moments, Eve tries different outdoor activities, like horse-riding and fishing. These activities can be found in both countries, highlighting how they have a respective place in both cultures. While taking a day trip through the countryside, Sean explains to Eve why he doesn’t want a new golf course to be built, stating that he’d like to protect the landscape and its wildlife for Kathleen. Standing up for what you believe in and looking out for your family are values that both Americans and the Irish share. Even cuisine has its similarities! Burgers are brought up by some of the characters, with Eve and her Irish friends enjoying the treat. Honeymoon for One does a good job at showing how people from all over the world can, more often than not, find common ground!

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Irish heart image created by Freepik at freepik.com. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/label”>Label vector created by freepik – http://www.freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

What I didn’t like about the film:

A weak conflict: The main plot of Honeymoon for One revolves around the protagonist and the aftermath of her break-up. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this kind of story. However, because this is a Hallmark “rom-com”, you already have an idea of what’s going to happen. Smaller conflicts were sprinkled in the story, such as Sean’s efforts to preserve the Irish countryside. But these conflicts weren’t explored enough to infuse intrigue into the overall plot. In the end, this story was too predictable for my liking.

 

The “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché: In Honeymoon for One, Eve’s ex, Greg, shows up in Ireland unannounced. This part of the film ended up being drawn out for so long, that it felt like Greg overstayed his welcome. I understand Greg’s presence on Eve’s trip was meant to serve as the main plot’s conflict. But, as I already mentioned, this is a Hallmark “rom-com”. Sean appears as a better candidate to receive the protagonist’s love and Eve expresses little to no interest in getting back with Greg. These factors make this cliché’s inclusion in the story pointless.

 

The “it’s not what you think” cliché: At one point in the movie, Eve assumes that Sean is dating another woman after meeting her at his house. Kathleen’s persuasion is what causes Eve to hear the real story from Sean’s perspective. Like the aforementioned “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché, this cliché also felt pointlessly included in the story. Because of the nature of this film, we know that things are going to work out for the better. Also, an intelligent and hard-working businesswoman like Eve making assumptions that quickly and easily seems petty for her character. I know this was supposed to be a conflict for Eve and Sean’s relationship. I also understand that Eve went through a terrible break-up. But for protagonists who appear over the age of thirty-five, it would have more respectful toward their integrity show them dealing with this issue in a mature and civil way.

Out to Sea Blogathon banner
The Out of Sea Blogathon banner created by Debbie from Moon in Gemini. Image found at https://debravega.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/announcing-the-out-to-sea-blogathon/.

My overall impression:

It’s always exciting when Hallmark creates a movie that involves traveling to a new location! This gives the audience an excuse to see a part of the world that may be different from their own. But, at the end of the day, the most important part of any film is the story it visually tells. Personally, I think this story could have been stronger. The film’s main conflict was weak, which made the movie more predictable than it needed to be. There were other conflicts in the movie, but they didn’t receive enough attention. I also feel the uses of the “protagonist’s ex showing up unannounced” cliché and the “it’s not what you think” cliché were unnecessary. However, the movie does have its merits. Like I said in this review, the scenery was the showstopper of this project! It brought visual interest to the film and it was great to look at. Even though I’m glad I picked this movie for the Out to Sea Blogathon, I think there are Hallmark films featuring the Irish backdrop that are better than this one.

 

Overall score: 6-6.1 out of 10

 

Have you ever been to Ireland? What movie featuring an ocean is your favorite? Tell me in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen