Famed culinary consultant Henry Ross is a charming food industry insider in San Francisco. When suspicious sabotage ends in a shocking murder at his friend’s five-star restaurant, Henry is put on the case with strong-willed police detective and single mom, Maggie Price. Despite Maggie’s protests, they must work together to decipher the clues and investigate all of San Francisco’s top culinary pros.
From the moment I first heard Dylan Neal mention this upcoming film several months ago, I was so excited! I love mysteries anyway, and the fact that Dylan co-wrote, produced, and starred in this film makes it quite intriguing. Add to that the fact that this is a new movie series based on a book series–well, can it get any better?
By way of a mini-back story, Dylan Neal is a relatively new actor to me. I discovered his talent through Cedar Cove, and it wasn’t until last season I put a name with his character on the show. As I’ve covered in my review of that series, I became a Dylan Neal fan the evening that he “stayed after” the show was over and continued to tweet with a group of us fans. (You see, I just don’t forget things like that.) Additionally, he has always been one to respond to a good share of my tweets to him, and he is always polite and kind in his dealings with fans. Furthermore, he was the first cast member to comment on my Cedar Cove season one review.
As per usual, I will begin with some of the supporting cast members (I actually recognized both of these ladies but I didn’t know why until I looked them up). As Maggie’s daughter, Alissa Skovbye is exceptionally cast. I had already been told I might recognize her from One Christmas Eve, but until I looked her up, I couldn’t recall why I remembered her. That is the only reason I know this young beauty, but I am so glad that she is a recurring member of this series. She fits right into the framework of the family system, and her innocence, youth, and vitality are exactly what this role needs.
As for Christine Wiles, when I discovered she guest starred on Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I immediately made the connection. After all, that show will always have a little piece of my heart. However, she also guest starred on The Returned (though I may not have seen her as I didn’t see every episode), and she was in a film featuring Sebastian Spence I have not seen (Possessing Piper Rose). However, I just made a startling connection! She had a small role (that I am sorry I do not recall) on To Have and to Hold! Oh goodness, I must go back and watch that again. Regardless of where I have seen Christine prior to this, could there be anyone better to play Maggie’s mother? Absolutely not!
In fact, altogether, this group fits well. I don’t mean that they are a big happy family. (Maybe that will come in future films–you never know.) But this core group works well together and seem to truly enjoy working together. Oh, did I mention they are immensely talented as well?
As for honorable mentions, watch out for Samantha Ferris as Captain Forsyth and Marc Senior as Bailey. I am not familiar with any of Marc’s works, but I simply savored him in this role. Perfect fit, and I hope to see him in plenty more works in the future. As to Samantha, there were more connections there! First of all, she was absolutely brilliant in her role. If anyone could stand up to both Dylan’s and Brooke’s character, it was definitely her character! Imagine my surprise as I looked at her works and discovered that not only did I see her at Christmastime awhile back in Let it Snow, but she was in NYC: Tornado Terror and an episode of First Wave. While I don’t remember her in the former, I thought for a moment and realized she had a prominent part in First Wave. Oh more Sebastian Spence connections! But regardless, now that I know who she is, I will be watching for her in more works yet to come.
I have recently become a fan of Laura Mennell, and it was sheer delight to see her in this film. She is one of those actresses who is so versatile she can play any role. Stolen from the Womb introduced me to her awesome prowess, but since then I have discovered she can play more than crazy ladies. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I saw her as a female attorney on When Calls the Heart, and now she stars as the lovely Pauline Duqeutte. I think the thing that astounds me about her is that she is able to play everything from sweet to sassy to crazy to downright creepy all within one film or show if necessary. And indeed Laura plays her role impeccably in this film. I actually wonder if the woman ever ages as she appears to be as beautiful now as she always was–another one of her sensational virtues. I so hope to see her in many more things in the future, and I plan to look up her works from the past.
And now to the stars of this film. Oh these two are so delicious together! The chemistry, banter, and their way of playing off each other is one of the many strengths of this film. I think it’s always important to have chemistry between the two leads, but there is something truly uncanny about these two and their interactions. Their sense of humor is impeccably timed, and I would say that the two actors have such a blast together that it just spills over into their respective roles. Granted, they are acting, but these roles are such a perfect fit that their Joi de Vivre shines through.
Brooke Burns is someone I have never seen before (or if I did, I don’t remember). I’ll be honest that the first thing I noticed about her was her unbelievable figure! However, that is just the beginning. Yes, she is beautiful, but her acting is effortless. I would say that Brooke brings the perfect mood and mannerisms to a woman in her unique position. In fact, being a single mother myself, I think I can somewhat identify with her character’s complaints. In fairness, I probably wouldn’t have treated Henry Ross any better than she did. Perhaps that is why I like her character so much–I can somewhat identify with her.
All right, it’s finally this guy’s turn. After all, not only is Dylan Neal the star, but he co-wrote it and is one of the executive producers as well. There are probably pros and cons to being so involved in this film, and some probably couldn’t handle the pressures and demands that come with this responsibility.
Well, Dylan is a creative genius so there is no problem there. Now, I know what you might be thinking. You may be thinking I’m biased and not using my proper judgement. Or perhaps my credibility is being seriously called into question. (Mm, sound like a tweet that Dylan himself sent my way a few weeks back.) Permit me to put your mind at rest. While it is true that I came into this film expecting it to be superb, that doesn’t mean that I would give anyone a rave review solely for that purpose. The reviewer in me will only permit me to speak what the absolute truth is as I see it.
Well, then let me say it. This film was so well-written, well-acted, and well-executed that it has become my new favorite mystery movie series. While there are several others that I enjoy, there is just something about this one that truly works in amazing ways. Additionally, Dylan’s performance exceeds anything he has previously done. Granted, I have not followed Dylan’s career long, but I have seen him in Cedar Cove as well as a couple of Lifetime films. I’m not discounting his amazing work on those. What I believe I can say about this film is akin to what one of my friends mentioned. Since Dylan has such a hand in so many aspects of this film, I believe that he was able to provide just the right demeanor for his character. While he always brings his “A” game to any of his works, this one is something very near and dear to him. And it comes across as such.
Now I’m really going to step out on a limb here. In recent times, my favorite actor list has experienced some changes. The top two are pretty well-cemented, but I never considered Dylan Neal a contender for even the top ten. Not that I didn’t like him–oh I did. But I never really examined his acting prowess in great detail as I had with others. I had only reviewed him in Cedar Cove, and I wasn’t aware of his full range of acting abilities.
I am happy to announce that after watching this film, he is now my third favorite actor. And the really wondrous thing is that my top three favorite actors all appear on Cedar Cove (I mean how cool is that?) While Dylan’s kindness caused me to be a fan last year, his devotion to his craft and unbelievably effortless and mesmerizing acting (as well as ideal comic timing) have caused me to recognize his talent for what it is–pure genius. In fact, when I add in his production and writing skills, he becomes a triple threat. I knew I would like the film, but I had no idea just how much!
On a side note, my 11-year-old daughter watched this with me, and she not only loved the film, but she figured out the mystery! I definitely have a little sleuth in the making. There was nothing inappropriate in the film, and it a wonderful for the entire family to watch together.
And in conclusion, while I like the scruffy Jack look for some of his roles, I do agree with his wife that the “smooth” look is better, especially in this role. Can you sense the tension between them? Oh I just adore those two together! I can hardly wait for the next installment. Maybe one day my other two favorite actors will appear with him in one of these movies. Now that would be an absolute dream come true!
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