Here's a checklist of all the Hallmark original romance movies from 2020 along with my comments on those I've seen.
Special movies of note are marked Favorite, Good, Okay, and BAD.
✓ Good Winter in Vail (Winterfest • Lacey Chabert and Tyler Hynes • January 4, 2020)
Event planner Lacey Chabert inherits a chalet from her uncle in Vail. Quitting her crappy job that keeps passing her over for promotion, she heads to Vail where she meets a Tyler Haynes and they do not hit it off. But eventually warmer hearts prevail and they decide to host Strudelfest together in order to save a restaurant. Yes. I'm being serious. Tyler Hynes has a dry delivery that was flawless for his smartass character and made the entire movie for me. The beautiful Vail scenery is just icing on the cake.
✓ Love in Winterland (Winterfest • Italia Ricci and Chad Michael Murray • January 11, 2020)
Woman gets selected as the winner of a dating show and gets to take the bachelor guy back to her hometown (Winterland!) so they can find out if his pick results in true love. Of course her high school vision-board sweetheart is there, so now she's torn between the romance that didn't work out... and the handsome European guy who's falling in love with her. CAN YOU GUESS WHO SHE CHOOSES? This was a pretty boring movie, and the whole "dating show" angle was done far, far better in last year's My One and Only. Not only that, but Kewlona's Big White Ski Resort was used to much better effect in last year's A Winter Princess. And lastly, she should have picked Jack Turner over Chad Michael Murray!
✓ Good Love on Iceland (Winterfest • Kaitlin Doubleday and and Colin Donnell • January 18, 2020)
SHE'S a podcast producer in Chicago. HE'S a photographer who lives a nomadic life around the world. THEY dated when they were students at Northwestern University. Now they end up together again with friends on a vacation to Iceland. This is essentially a travel video for Iceland, which is to say it's fantastic because the country is fantastic. And boy did it make me want to go back. Much of the interaction with the native Icelandic actors (all excellent, especially the guy playing Jóhann) is klutzy and a little embarrassing... but it wouldn't be Hallmark if there wasn't a cheesy awkwardness to it. I enjoyed this one because it was actually shot on location in Iceland (instead of Canada doubling as Iceland, as Hallmark usually does) and they took full advantage of the scenery. But the best thing about it? Hallmark took the same story they've told a hundred times AND ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING TO MAKE IT DIFFERENT! I hope this trend continues because, holy cats, are these getting tired. UPDATE: The guy who played Jóhann is Jóel Sæmundsson and if Hallmark has a brain in their head, they will get him another movie. He is one of my all-time favorite Hallmark characters.
✓ Amazing Winter Romance (Winterfest • Jessy Schram and Marshall Williams • January 20, 2020)
An inspirational columnist has lost her inspiration. To get it back, her boss sends her back home to her small town to see if she can figure out what's missing in her life. Of course she runs into her old boyfriend (don't they always?). In this one, her bland boyfriend has build a giant snow maze, and apparently that's what it takes to turn things around. And while the whole maze idea is pretty cool, the idea that it would take AN HOUR to solve the thing is hilarious. A pity they slapped the tired old "journalist returns to her small town and ends up falling in love with her old flame" trope on top of everything, because I spent all 90 minutes swearing I had seen this one already. And the complete lack of chemistry destroys whatever hope there is for entertainment value, so I was checked out almost instantly. So... in the end... not so amazing.
✓ Hearts of Winter (Winterfest • Jill Wagner and Victor Webster • January 25, 2020)
Boy. Hallmark really didn't reach much with this one, did they? Widower's daughter enters a television contest to get a home makeover. When they win, designer Jill Wagner shows up and turns their lives upside-down while she fixes up their house... and their lives. Love ensues. Or does it? His love for his deceased wife could end things before they begin. I found it almost impossible to find anything interesting about this generic pain-by-numbers movie. Especially sad since Victor Webster usually ends up in stories that have at least a little more life to them.
✓ A Valentine's Match (Love Ever After • Bethany Joy Lenz and Luke Macfarlane • February 1, 2020)
TV personality gets fired from her job in San Francisco because she's lost her "oomph." Rather than sit at home worrying about it all, she heads back to hometown Portland so she can clear her head. While there she's manipulated into running into her former fiancé and running a Valentine's Day auction... with her ex, of course. After a while she starts to fall for him again, eventually finding out that when he broke up with her to go to art school in Europe that all was not as it seemed. Then her boyfriend shows up to surprise her and... predictability ensues. This is a fairly straight-forward Hallmark movie with good performances, great use of the song We Belong by Pat Benatar, and not a lot else.
✓ Matching Hearts (Love Ever After • Taylor Cole and Ryan Paevey • February 8, 2020)
FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, WHY ARE WE STILL DOING MATCHMAKER GETS MATCHED MOVIES?!? IT'S BEEN DONE TO DEATH! Drop-dead beautiful Taylor Cole works at a highly successful matchmaking service which has an algorithm that rarely fails. So of course she runs into a guy who thinks that matchmakers are silly. Then she runs into the same guy at her parent's flower shop... he just opened a pet adoption center down the street! Then she finds out that the guy is the half-partner owner of a ballroom she wants to rent... the other half-partner is somebody she matched of course. And just when you think that the coincidences couldn't possibly be more pathetic... the guy is in a magazine article telling people that his best dating advice is to stay single. AND THEN somebody at the matchmaking company wants to use him as publicity for their service and, YOU GUESSED IT, Taylor Cole is the one in charge of finding his perfect match! HOLY CRAP! YOU DON'T THINK HIS PERFECT MATCH WILL BE HER, DO YOU?!? If you don't, this must be your first Hallmark movie. This was just so frickin' pathetic and sad. I know there's a formula to Hallmark movies, but this one is 100% missable and not worth your time. You've seen it before... and done better than this mess.
✓ The Secret Ingredient (Love Ever After • Erin Cahill and Brendan Penny • February 15, 2020)
Pastry chef's ex-fiance pastry chef shows up in town from Paris just as she gets nominated to appear on a Valentine secret cooking face-off TV show in New York City. When she gets to NYC, she happens to run into her ex-fiance again. I wonder what he could be doing there? Surely it couldn't be to compete in the same competition? Of course it could be! Absolutely everything is about as predictable as you'd imagine for Hallmark... except the ending, which doesn't end up in a tie for once.
✓ Love in Store (Love Ever After • Alexandra Breckenridge and Robert Buckley • February 22, 2020)
Two home shopping network hosts are paired up to sell a variety of merchandise on a television show. But while they're together on the show, they're competing to take over the channel when their boss retires. Oh noes... you don't think they'll fall in love, do you? Yes you do. How could you not? You have seen a Hallmark movie before, haven't you? Nothing new to see here. Move along.
Adventures in Love & Babysitting (Tammin Sursok and Travis Van Winkle • March 21, 2020 )
No clue what happened. The way Hallmark CONTINUOUSLY jerks their schedule around, it's no wonder anybody can plan to watch anything on the entire network.
✓ Just My Type (Spring Fever • Bethany Joy Lenz and Brett Dalton • March 28, 2020)
Bethany Joy Lenz wants a big promotion from her columnist job at work, but is going to get passed over. Then an opportunity drops in her lap when she runs across a famous writer she likes while visiting her friend's parents in rural Oregon. At first she doesn't want to intrude on his privacy, but ultimately decides her job promotion is more important than what he wants. Even though she's a terrible person who puts her ambition over other people's wishes, the author agrees to a series of interviews and slowly lets her into his life. Inexplicably he falls for her... and her for him... but it's not like she's going to give up that promotion! Or is she? This was a fairly uneventful paint-by-numbers Hallmark outing that did have the benefit of not falling into the "YOU BETRAYED ME!" trap that these kind of stories always do. But that's not much. Certainly not enough for a good movie.
✓You're Bacon Me Crazy (Spring Fever • Natalie Hall and Michael Rady • April 4, 2020)
A food truck chef is out to win $100,000 by entering her food in a city-wide Portland contest. Just as she's gaining confidence in her chances, a guy opens up a "Mo-Bacon" food truck across the street and starts poaching her business. But will a friendly competition lead to romance? Oh probably. It's Hallmark. This is one of those cases where the movie ended up being less than the sum of its parts. I've always liked Michael Rady, and Natalie Hall starred in my second-favorite Hallmark movie of all time, A Winter Princess, so my expectations were rather high. But there just wasn't much here for the actors to work with. Every scene was by-the-numbers, the story was painfully straightforward with no surprises, and I couldn't help but think there was a better movie in here somewhere.
✓ Fashionably Yours (Spring Fever • Kat Graham and Kendrick Sampson • April 11, 2020)
With the opening footage of Seattle landmarks... and the story being about a woman who gets passed over for a promotion who decides to leave Seattle, only to have a moving man show her that Seattle has too much to offer to leave it behind... I assumed that Hallmark actually sprang for the money to shoot this in Seattle. Silly me. It's (mostly) yet another Vancouver-doubling-as-Seattle movie. They eat burgers at Bobby Sox, for example, which is East of Vancouver near Golden Ears. At one point you can see that they (apparently) made a Seattle field trip and end up at the Seattle Center, Pike Place Market, and the waterfront (all to the tune of Harry Style's Adore you!). But it begs the question... Why not just have it take place in Vancouver? Anyway... after the pleasant surprise of a diverse cast of beautiful people wore off, I found this to be a straightforward and charming movies... if somewhat slow. And also confusing. This movie had very little to do with "fashion." It was more Marie Kondo than Vera Wang.
✓ Nature of Love (Spring Fever • Emilie Ullerup and Christopher Russell • April 18, 2020)
City-slicker woman gets an assignment to do a story on "glamping" (glamour camping). When she gets to the camp, she finds that the nature activities guide is a famous outdoorsman writer she admires. Everything you need to know about this movie can be found in the first five minutes when the woman shows up with no footwear except high heels... and has to be outfitted with boots so she can, you know, WALK AROUND IN THE OUTDOORS. How stupid do you have to be? I can't determine if this is better or worse than the city-slickers in movies who go buy out the store because they are spending the weekend in the woods. Outlandishly stupid at just about every turn, you'd think that maybe the beautiful scenery could save it... except the leads have absolutely no chemistry at all, and the woman is all slap-sticky ridiculous and uninformed about everything. I honestly don't understand if this was supposed to be funny or not. I just found it lame and horribly boring. With Hallmark trying to fill their calendar with more and more movies, it's apparent they don't care if their offerings lack quality or entertainment value. Or common sense.
✓ Love in the forecast (Cindy Busby and Christopher Russell • June 13, 2020)
Local weather girl and newly-certified meteorologist dreams of getting to analyze weather data to create the forecast for her job. In a burst of confidence about her career, she moves into a new home which is next door to a handsome farm boy who is living in the city for a year. Farm boy quickly eclipses weather girl's scientific approach by out-forecasting her with old tricks his grandpa taught him. But no worries... he'll totally mansplain weather forecasting and prove his old-time techniques are more accurate than her silly science. This idiotic romp is mind-numbingly boring and relies on all the stupid tropes you know and hate. Of course the woman is so flighty and silly that she can't even reheat a casserole without burning the kitchen down. Of course she falls in love with her Prince Charming because he watches over her so good. Of course this is a painfully predictable story that's barely worth your time. Of course I end up wondering why I even bother with these any more since Hallmark refuses to try anything new.
✓ Love Under the Olive Tree (Tori Anderson and Benjamin Hollingsworth • June 20, 2020)
A decades-old family feud leads to a land dispute between two olive-oil producers. A judge decides that the winner of a local olive oil contest will win the dispute, so childhood friends on both sides have to battle it out. Oh dear. I hope they don't fall in love! This predictable slog could have been so much more interesting if they would have at least tried to mix things up a bit. They tease a possible gay romance between the woman's assistant, Adam, and the owner of the cafe, Billy, but of course it goes absolutely nowhere. Heaven forbid Hallmark ever try to give us a deviation from the tired old formula they keep beating into the ground.
✓ Romance in the Air (Cindy Busby and Torrance Coombs • August 1, 2020)
Cindy Busby is in danger of losing her marketing job and is forced to take a vacation to recharge or get fired. She decided to head to Lake Tahoe where she spent her summers as a kid. There she runs into her first crush who now runs a struggling hot air ballon business. Naturally Cindy Busby decides to help by using her advertising and marketing skills to help his business get noticed. Alas, she's pretty bad at her job... she create rack cards where you can't see the business name or even what the business is about because it's at the bottom where it gets buried behind other cards... and creates window posters with type so small they're not very effective unless somebody's face is up against the window. And yet her useless "help" somehow works and, as they spend time together, they start falling for each other. Why Hallmark can't hire somebody with actual marketing talents to design their props so they at least have the appearance of being competent is beyond me. Surprisingly, they actually filmed at Lake Tahoe so the scenery is amazing, even if the story (and romance) falls a little flat. Torrance Coombs deserves better than this.
✓ Love on Harbor Island (Morgan Kohan and Marcus Rosner • August 8, 2020)
You know Hallmark is scraping the bottom of the intellectual barrel when they hire an actor named Marcus to play a character named Marcus who has a dog named Marcus. Learning lines is tough enough without having to play a character with a different name, amiright? Surprised that they didn't name the love interest Marcus as well, because that would have made things so much easier on the poor guy. Anyway... a flailing interior designer has to rush to help her aunt run her bed and breakfast after she takes a fall. While there she is immediately at odds with the seaplane pilot who flew her to the island. But he ends up being an okay guy after all because he finds homes for rescue dogs. And since she's conveniently just broken up with her workaholic boyfriend, the road is paved on the way to romance! Despite having precious little chemistry with the seaplane pilot. If I were to rate this one, I suppose I'd call it "painfully mediocre."
✓ Good WeddingEveryWeekend.jpg (Kimberley Sustad and Paul Campbell • August 15, 2020)
For being a total rip-off of the Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid movie Plus One, this isn't as terrible as you'd think it would be... mostly thanks to Kimberley Sustad and Paul Campbell, who do their best to make the material their own. But anyway... a coupe meet at a weeding and find out that they're attending the same weddings for four weekends and decide to be each other's "plus one" wedding buddy so they don't get hit on. Neither of them are wanting a relationship after their break-ups, so this seems like a good plan. Except I don't think that I'm spoiling anything to say that they end up falling for each other. =sigh= It's actually really good... at first... but the weddings all blur together and the aren't given anything new to do. Then there's the whole "I COMPLETELY MISUNDERSTOOD SOMETHING BECAUSE I ONLY HEARD A PART OF A CONVERSATION" trope that Hallmark seems intent on running into the ground. In this case, it was just stupid and unnecessary, making Kimberley Sustad look stupid for no good reason. And, oh yeah, this movie is a bit revolutionary for Hallmark because one of the weddings is a lesbian wedding! Somehow I thought that the new GLAAD partnership would be just for show, and they would keep kicking the gay football down the field for all eternity... but here we are. LGBTQ PEOPLE EXIST IN THE HALLMARK UNIVERSE! Next step? An actual gay couple as the main story maybe? We shall see.
Country at Heart (Jessy Schram and Niall Matter • October 3, 2020 )
Hallmark rescheduled this movies... AGAIN. The way it keeps getting pushed back, I guess it's guaranteed to be a pile of crap. Yay.
✓ BAD Love Wedding Repeat (Sam Claflin and Olivia Munn • April 10, 2020)
Look, as you can tell from the hundreds of Hallmark movies I've reviewed here, you know I'm able to sit through just about anything no matter how bad. I was not able to sit through this movie! It was so unbelievably, phenomenally stupid that it was essentially unwatchable. Too much idiotic crap plagued the whole "Sliding Doors" retread plot that I couldn't do it. I hung in until Sam Claflin got head-butted by his ex girlfriend and I was DONE. It was such an asinine moment on top of a dozen other asinine moments and there was just no way I could watch another frame