Here's a checklist of all the Hallmark original romance movies from 2023 along with my comments on those I've seen.
Special movies of note are marked Favorite, Good, Okay, and BAD.
✓ Love on the Right Course (New Year New Me • Ashley Newbrough and Marcus Rosner • January 6, 2024)
A woman's golf career is falling apart, so she goes running home to daddy in Budapest. Unfortunately, daddy want's to sell his sprawling estate and golf club then retire, which gives her the sads. But not for long because the handsome manager of the golf club is there to help her get her game back. Literally. I don't really know who this is for. The movie itself is pretty boring. The story is slow and painfully predictable. And if you like golf there's not even enough of that to keep things interesting. I suppose that if you're a travel fan, you might find the location worth watching... but Budapest, one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen, doesn't have much of a presence. It's a missed opportunity all around. They literally could have filmed a half-baked golf movie anywhere.
✓ Okay A Scottish Love Scheme (New Year New Me • Erica Durance and Jordan Young • January 13, 2024)
One of these days Hallmark is going to give us a movie taking place in a foreign country where BOTH CHARACTERS ARE FROM THAT COUNTRY. At which time I'll probably die of shock. But nope. Here's yet another insulting tale of an American woman showing up to save the poor foreign bloke from ruin. In this case it's saving a Scottish bloke from financial ruin. That being said... I'll take Scotland (my favorite country on earth after my own) any way I can get it. And THAT being said... I would have rather had a coming of age movie with 10-year-old Finn and his dog Brody, which would probably be more interesting than this movie. But anyway... Scottish bloke owns a small whiskey distilery who is in crisis because a bigger distilery copied their idea, so OH NOES, now they need a new whiskey label and a new marketing plan to compete! But, OH YAY, the American just so happens to be a marketing expert on holiday to Scotland with her mom. Or so it woud seem. Points to Hallmark for making this not be yet another wild coincidence, but a scheme by their two mothers to get them together. The casting is good (though it was strange seeing Jordan Young, who I only know from his goofy cop show, in a serious role) and the story is good enough to make this one worth watching. Even if the dialogue is new levels of cringe.
✓ BAD! Betty’s Bad Luck in Love (New Year New Me • Laci J. Mailey and Marco Grazzini • January 20, 2024)
Oh good Lord. At what point does Hallmark think people want to have an annoying character leading a movie? Betty is a neurotic idiot who was "cursed" as a child because she was talking to a boy that another girl liked. She then spent THE REST OF HER LIFE being terrified of bad luck cursing her relationships. And all of her friends just buy into her dumbass delusion. She's constantly panicking because the guy she dates might get hurt and it will be all her fault. And of course she's a risk analyst for an insurance company or something ironic, so she's got all the facts and figures as to how absolutely everything is too risky. Then a guy moves into her building who she likes, but despite the fact that she's annoying as hell with her stupid fear-mongering he likes her. But she's all nervous about him doing things like playing rugby and flying and camping or whatever... and dumps her neurotic shit all over him. Then her best friend FINALLY calls her out on it, but then immediately moves on to another topic instead of just hashing it out. WHO WOULD DO THIS? NOBODY! ABSOLUTELY NOBODY! But no worry! She has a plan to find the girl who cursed her when they were kids and get her to remove the hex! In the meanwhile it's just stupid after stupid after STUPID. How this crap got greenlit I have no idea.
✓ Romance with a Twist (New Year New Me • Jocelyn Hudon and Olivier Renaud • January 27, 2024)
Ugh. This movie wasn't great from the beginning because the story exists only because it leans so heavily into stupidity. Small town festival show MUST have only TOP TIER TALENT or else the show will be UTTERLY RUINED... or whatever. So the organizer asks her brother, a serious arts performer, to do a silk aerial duet. But oh noes, no locals can perform on the silks. But oh yay, a local construction worker (and former dancer) tries out. And even though the snooty brother (a shaved-down Olivier Renaud with his tattoos covered SO badly that they didn't even bother matching his skin tone) HATES the idea of performing with A TOTALLY INCOMPETENT AMATEUR, he agrees to give it a shot. From there you get an absurd villain in the form of an evil local reporter, and it just keeps getting more and more idiotic. OH NOES! HE CAN'T HAMMER A NAIL WITHOUT SMASHING HIS FINGERS SO HIS SILKS PARTNER HAS TO SHOW HIM HOW!!! At one point this guy, who is a big-city mega-talent that's been around, tells the construction worker that he's never seen anybody dance the way she does. And it's like seriously? The idea of building a movie around a silk aerial performance is a good one... it's a truly beautiful art form... but this script desperately needed to get a few more passes to tone down the stupid.
Love & Jane, An American in Austen, A Taste of Love, and Sense and Sensibility
(AKA, all the "Loveuary with Jane Austen" movies in February)
No. Just no. Fuck no. Hallmark keeps beating the Jane Austen dead horse over and over and over and OVER and I am sick to fucking death of it. They even gave us a movie revolving around fucking DOGS and Jame Austen (Unleashing Mr. Darcy) so what more is there to say? I am done, done, DONE with this shit. There's nothing new to do with Jane Austen for Hallmark to say, there's no need to keep making these crap movies, and I'm finally taking a break from suffering through every Hallmark film ever made because this is a bridge too far. I'll be back after this "Loveuary with Jane" crap is over. Maybe. This may very well be the thing that makes me swear off Hallmark for good. Hallmark needs a new head of programming, because this is an atrocious waste.