When a privileged city girl goes bankrupt, she is left with only one asset, a small town pumpkin farm. Determined to sell the property to maintain her expensive lifestyle, she travels to the farm, run by a handsome farmer and single dad who will do anything to keep the sale from displacing his family. But as they both work to turn the dilapidated farm into something more valuable than they ever imagined, they find themselves falling in love just in time for harvest season.
First of all, I would like to thank Jesse Hutch for specifically asking for me to review this movie. I know that may not seem like much to some–I was planning to review it anyway. But when an actor requests a review, I see it as a particularly high honor. Know that I take the reviewing of every movie or show extremely seriously, and I will always do my best to provide uplifting, honest, and mostly spoiler-free reviews for those actors and shows about whom I am passionate. And Jesse happens to be one of those who deserves my utmost respect not only for his incredible talent (which I shall attempt to describe adequately through the written word) but for the respect he always shows his fans and supporters.
Talk about a blast from the past. I grew up watching Eight is Enough, and when I discovered that Willie Aames was involved with this project and that he was a part of that iconic show, I was immeasurably excited. I had not kept up with him since my childhood, and I was virtually unaware of anything else he had done, but I did notice that he has come back to the industry in recent years. And this was just the kind of film which was a perfect fit for him. Although his part of William Stone, the father of the “spoiled brat” (I’ll mention her later), is small, it doesn’t lack substance. In this role, he is as comfortable and credible as one could expect. One thing that struck me is that he plays his character as a down-to-earth guy rather than a stuck-up businessman. I think that is essential in believing that the family owns a pumpkin farm since millionaire businessmen are not the first people who come to mind when considering country living. Additionally, it is evident that he let his daughter railroad him on a regular basis based on the announcement that even her trust fund was gone. If there is one thing I have discovered in the review process, “minor” characters are more important to the framework of the story than the casual viewer might suppose. Had it not been for the way in which Willie portrayed William, the rest of the story would have potentially fallen flat. I certainly hope this is the first of many Hallmark projects for Willie, and I will definitely keep a lookout for more of his works in the future.
In addition to Willie, there are other notably memorable performances by actors who may go unnoticed to the casual observer. Tony Alcantar (whom I hadn’t seen previously) and Patricia Isaac (whom I must have seen in NYC:Tornado Terror, but I do not remember her) give reputable performances that remind me that every role is essential to the movie overall. Patricia is the one who really stands out to me in this scene as she has the conceited, condescending societal gal perfected to a tee. It’s unmistakable that she is partly responsible for the celebratory conclusion while at the same time somewhat to blame for the catastrophe that almost was.
Once in the country, the amount of actors I recognized was astounding! Brittney Wilson (Valerie) I had just seen in The Unauthorized Full House Story. And just as in that film, she gives an alluring and agreeable performance. Opposite her was a big surprise–Rowen Kahn (Harry). When I looked at him, I knew I recognized him from somewhere, and sure enough I had. If you have ever seen How to Fall in Love, you saw Rowen play the teenage version of Harold. And though he is maturing, he is still full of enthusiasm, charm, and nonchalant composure. All too often,teen-age boy roles in films such as these lack conviction and plausibility, but not so in Rowen’s case. He’s portrays the kind of amiable boy that I would let my daughter date when she’s older(MUCH older). Barbara Pollard (Rosie) is one that my mom and I recognized immediately, and of course, we soon realized why–All of My Heart. Although I am not one who often appreciates “typecast” roles, in Barbara’s case, it works. She is able to play her role without being cheesy, overdramatized, or underwhelming. I think Hallmark has discovered her niche, and indeed she brought her entire self to this role.
Not to be overlooked is Natasha Burnett. Having said that, if you blink, you might miss her. Notwithstanding, even in this small role, she manages to pack a pretty mean punch. The moment I saw that she had been in UnREAL, I knew why I found her so memorable. Although the cashier part is small and almost forgotten, Natasha knows exactly how to make it unforgettable. She adds that same attitude to this role that I absolutely adored from her in UnREAL. While her career is not overly extensive now, I am convinced that whenever I see her, no matter the magnitude of the role, she will infuse it with attitude, heart, and soul thus making her an actress to be remembered. I look forward to witnessing her career taking flight as more esteem the talent she possesses.
And who can forget the precious actress who plays Abby? I knew I had seen her (yes, Hearties will recognize her), and I discovered I also saw her in The Returned. This little lady is sweet and professional even at her tender age, and I look forward to a plethora of projects in her future. She has the natural talent for which so many clamor, and her look is absolutely matchless. Definitely exuberant for Lilah’s future as I think she just might become a much sought after, “in-demand” actress as the years go by.
Undeniably, it is Jesse and Jessy (don’t you love that both stars have the same first name?) who are the reason this film thrives as it does. While I have been a loyal fan of Jesse’s for some time, Jessy is a novel face to me (though she does have an extensive resume–my daughter recognized her from Once Upon a Time). It is the interplay and frolicsome chemistry between these two that radiates the screen with effervescent delight. In addition to this, there is nothing overdone nor corny in how they relate in any of their scenes, even the ones that are uproariously humorous. Authenticity is the key in any film today, and as far as I’m concerned, these two nailed it. My only complaint is that the writers rushed things towards the end. I would have reveled in more development in the relationship between these two, but sometimes that cannot be helped due to time and budget constraints.
Although Jessy was a new face for me, Hallmark made one of the most intelligent decisions ever in casting her as Jen Stone. From the moment she appeared in the opening sequence, I was convinced she was that narcissistic, spoiled rich girl who never gives a thought beyond herself and her image. This actress could rock the millionairess look, but when she found out she was bankrupt, I didn’t even feel sorry for her character! After all, these socialite snobs tend to be annoying, brainless girls who deserve everything they get. Amazing how Jessy could make me instantly think her character was like that merely through her mannerisms, facial expressions, and the expert way she delivers her lines.
When her father tells her about their great devastation, my sympathy for her was still lacking. I actually felt more pity for her dad (well-played, Willie). And now poor little rich girl heads off to the family pumpkin girl to become a gauche country girl.
And this is when Jessy truly sparkles. Talk about pitfalls–I don’t remember the last time I saw an actress face so many disasters and in designer clothes to boot. I don’t know how Jessy does it, but she still looks fabulous sitting in a puddle of mud, and I have no idea how she got into that position when getting on the horse. The comedic timing that she and Jesse have is phenomenal and laugh-out-loud fabulous!
I simply adore the fact that in the midst of the country, Jen turns to what she knows best–fashion and beauty. And no matter where women live, we all want to look sensational, right? I am enraptured by the fact that it took a foray into the country for Jen to discover her purpose in life–or at least one of them.
No matter what she wears or where she happens to find herself, Jessy always looks the part. The resplendent Jessy has mastered the technique of injecting into her character whatever emotion or mannerism the moment requires, and she does it with flawless authenticity. Even though I had no sympathy for her in the beginning, as Jen continues to adapt to her new surroundings and fall for Jesse’s character, I found myself finally liking her. After all, can you really despise a woman who looks as stunning and as darling as this?
As was stated earlier, there is veritable magic when these two are on-screen together. It makes no difference if they are fighting, making eyes at each other, or exploring the farm as they are “a match made in heaven.” As far as I am concerned, this movie could easily foster a series of films with these two unbelievably talented actors.
Lest you think I have neglected Mr. Jesse Hutch, no need at all to worry. I traditionally save the best for last which is why you will find my remarks about Jesse here. If you have read my other reviews, you probably know that while I liked Jesse in other works (Let it Snow, How to Fall in Love), when it came to Cedar Cove, I had to warm up to him. Of course, I’m now completely in his corner as his caliber of acting, his genuinely friendly nature, and his optimistic outlook on life have won me over. (Not to mention his enchantingly quirky sense of humor) If you have seen his previous works, you are in for a delectable delight in this film as I believe his prowess dumbfounded me as never before.
As I have ruminated on Jesse’s career in light of this film, I have to say he has unreservedly impressed me in a new way. While Jesse always exudes congeniality and kindness, I also sense the desire in him to consistently better himself. I suppose I notice that because I am much the same way. Taking all that into account, I thought I would insert a few comments concerning the maturation I have witnessed in Jesse’s acting.
Although Jesse has always been a competent and sincere actor, he has continued to hone his skill, and that is never more apparent than when he appears in this film. He is much more confident in his abilities and expresses the emotions of his character with a proficiency that few actors possess. While his character of Brett is reminiscent of Cedar Cove‘s Luke (mannerisms, tone inflections, facial expressions, even the way he expresses emotion), I don’t see that as disparaging in any way as it would seem that the writers envisioned his character that way. Because Jesse is such a master at his craft, I am certain that he will only strive to improve as I don’t think he will ever be satisfied with the status quo. I sense he is incessantly endeavoring to improve on whatever his last role was. I can only hope and pray that he will be offered parts in the future that will never cease to inspire him to new heights as I don’t believe we have been privy to the full measure of his talent. Something tells me we have only scratched the surface so to speak, and it only boggles the imagination to consider the monumental capabilities of this sensitive and gifted actor. I greatly anticipate it.
One of my most treasured things about Jesse is the way in which he crafts his love scenes. Now that may sound peculiar, but I appreciate the fact that any romantic chemistry between him and his costar is sweet, pure, and unaffected. I grow weary of the actors on-screen who perform such passionate love scenes that I am sometimes forced to shield my eyes. But with Jesse, that is never an issue. And the chemistry between Jesse and Jessy is idyllic. I found myself captivated and charmed by the innocence and simplicity they bring to the screen. As a matter of fact, I think sweet, unaffected chemistry is much more romantic than the “suck-face” fare in which so many actors find themselves today.
As this film is a total triumph, my hat goes off to all actors, crew members, and the most marvelous director–Peter DeLuise. This is truly a harvest masterpiece, and it now ranks up with my top five Hallmark films of all time. I may just have to campaign for a sequel to this movie as I know the fans would be absolutely “over the moon” if Hallmark were to make more movies starring this clever and delectable duo!
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