I have watched TV films with MJH before and I never once understood her appeal. She always has played her every part "itchy bee" (if you catch my drift, and if you don't, reverse the words) and her one expression was dull and her one emotion was ever exasperated. So much so that you think "what a miserable person, I would hate to have her in my life".
So I tune into this, because the man (lead actor) seemed very charismatic in the previews, and I did see MJH smile in them, so this I had to see! I'm 7 min in or less, she'd already snapped at someone. Then she remembered to smile. It seems like someone might have talked to her or she finally watched herself and realized "Why do I do this (scowl/frown at people/not smile all the time?" and "Would I enjoy watching myself in this film?" and realized she needed to change.
Well, folks! It worked. Her like-able quotient went thru the roof. The other thing I noticed right off the bat, is how pretty she looks. What happened to blonde women? You see them and you think they're blondes but their hair has turned to dull brown or mousey yellow. Not here. Beautiful blonde hair that flatters her coloring to perfection and I had never seen her look this gorgeous before! (Those blue eyes!) I saw another mention "soft light filter". Is that the reason for her flawless complexion? Well, girlfriend, whatever works, she looks stunning.
For the rest, most Lifetime movies are cheesy. This one actually has good production values (where are these crew people with all the boring Lifetime garbage reel they have been serving us? Hire these people, Lifetime!) Melissa has great chemistry with the actor (I have no idea what is name is or his character's and can't look it up without crashing this.) Well I like these two together. Melissa is even very sweet with his little boy, thank goodness! I'd hate to have "old MJH" give the little boy her default itchy bee face and exasperated attitude.
It is clear MJH has made a TREMENDOUS effort smiling and having a NICE disposition. She's pleasant. She easy on the eyes. She's a good actress. Sadly, the girl (the man's daughter) ruins this TV movie. Who cast her!? Who does casting at Lifetime?? You should know the one weakest link can and WILL ruin a movie. She's unpleasant, she has absorbed Melissa's former nasty demeanor and face and she's pulling the mean faces for the camera at every turn. Not only that, in many scenes she looks 34 instead of 12 (or however her character's age is supposed to be.)
For the rest, there's nice horsees. Melissa wears Larimar earring which I'm guessing are passing as Turquoise? (They're pale sky blue, turquoise is bright medium blue.) Some nice trees but where are the Montana mountains? Where swas this filmed?
Also my one, HUGE pet peeve with this Xmas movies? 1) Way TOO MUCH SUN!!! 2) WHERE IS THE SNOW? Can't they be filming now in anticipation of next year's run? Why do they have to film in (I'm guessing) July? It's distracting thinking how these poor (ok, rich) actors are sweltering in their 7 layers of puffer coats, sweaters, jackets, long johns and lumberjack shirts.
All in all, MJH is one of the strongest actresses for Lifetime. There were others, where have they gone? Possibly to feature films. But yeah, the 2 leads share the chemistry, the directing is good, the lighting is great, the camera angles good and the decor is alright. What else? I'm giving it a 6/10. It was a toss up between that and a 7. There's much room for improvement. Lifetime: take your time and do audition more actors of one same type! Unless it's nepotism, I have no idea why that girl beat out others for the part? She should have never been cast!
The stars scene was weird: a photo of fake stars looking like a bad baby-Pollack painting gone botched, with a silly shooting star and a too obvious day-for-night filter for Hart and companion.
Finally: a review in not a plot summary. There's no need to describe anything of what happens. I'm not Siskel nor Ebert, too many people would do well to move their pseudo-reviews to the appropriate pages, namely the plot pages. (If you've ever stopped by Adam 12 and read episode reviews, you'll get what I mean... one StrictlyConfidential is guilty of just that: never leaves their opinion, just describes a bit of what happens, really weird!)