Where your Heart Belongs (2022)

IMDb rating: 5.2 (as of Jan. 2)

Mackenzie is a New York City marketing executive who values “likes” over being liked. She is called back to her small Vermont hometown to help her best friend, Olivia, plan her wedding, which has been moved up nine months because the bucolic church she loves so much had a last-minute cancellation and suddenly became available–in two weeks!!

Dylan is Mack’s former high school boyfriend and local hunk-about-town who helps her father run his struggling Maple Syrup farm. He’s trying to get her stubborn dad to modernize their operations and stop tapping Cedar trees instead of Maple trees, but the old man refuses. The farm’s in foreclosure, so why change now? Things will turn around. You just have to believe.

Unfortunately pops is no Ted Lasso, and creditors are circling like vultures.

Mackenzie’s career has hit a bit of a snag, so naturally she bolts to the country for two weeks to plan a wedding. A conniving co-worker convinces Mack that this wedding could be just the ticket to revive her faltering business, so she sets off to plan the most elaborate ceremony Vermont has ever seen, even though her friend has made it clear she wants a simple affair.

Mackenzie takes her friend dress shopping and suggests a gaudy dress that looks like something Cleopatra would have rejected. Then she gets one of the hottest DJs in The City for the reception, even though Olivia clearly doesn’t have the budget to pay for this guy and isn’t the kind of person who spends her nights clubbing.

Mackenzie didn’t get to be a struggling marketing executive in New York City by listening to her clients, so she ignores her friend’s wishes and plows ahead. Her career is more important than a stupid wedding.

The DJ arrives two days early and throws a rave at the church. Kids from all over flock to the event and trash the place and even deface a historic tree on the church grounds. Olivia is mortified and tells Mackenzie she’s ruined her wedding.

Mackenzie finds out the family business is struggling and her father has signed over Power of Attorney to Dylan. Even though she hasn’t visited in ten years and has never expressed any interest in taking over, she is furious.

In classic Mackenzie fashion, she makes no attempt to find out what is really happening and instead accuses Dylan of trying to steal the business. Dylan stammers out a few words that make no sense before she stomps away.

Mackenzie ultimately sees the error of her ways and makes a lame attempt at apologizing to her friend. She brings in her conniving assistant to save the wedding by somehow cramming two weeks of work into a few hours.

The wedding is saved, and Dylan goes down on one knee during the reception to ask Mack to come back and help him save the farm. The crowd cheers wildly (more than they did even for the bride and groom), cementing the end of Olivia and Mackenzie’s friendship. No one upstages the bride on her wedding day.

Relationship update: Mackenzie quickly grows tired of country living and returns to the Big City after wresting away Power of Attorney from Dylan.

Actual review: From a non-existent plot to Jen Lilley’s self-indulgent, whiny heroine, this movie is one to miss. It’s like they got the green light for this production before they had a script and just made it up on the fly. Her character is completely self-absorbed and hijacks her best friend’s wedding in an attempt to salvage her career. She learns her father’s family Maple Syrup business is failing and doesn’t really offer to do anything about it, other than accuse her former high school boyfriend of trying to steal the business when he’s actually trying to save it. Her character is perhaps the most unlikeable heroine ever created by Hallmark. Even the scene when she realizes she’s been a jerk comes across as her whining about her life instead of a genuine moment of self-discovery. Terrible directing, terrible writing and terrible acting. Even Nelson Wong couldn’t save this train wreck.

My IMDb rating: 3 stars out of 10.

Photo of Jen Lilley from Where Your Heart Belongs
Selling maple syrup from Cedar trees might explain why this business was struggling.

Click the link below for a summary of each movie, along with a bonus prediction on what happened to our star-crossed couple.

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