The Love Club

IMDb rating: 5.3 (as of March 6, 2023)

Nicole is a love-struck college student waiting to meet her pen-pal at a New Year’s Eve party. When he doesn’t show, she finds three other forlorned females facing familiar struggles in the love department. These ladies bond over their shared heartbreak and form a Love Club to support each other through their romantic escapades for the rest of their natural born lives.

Photo of Nic, Josh and creepy spa dude.

Fast forward ten years, and Nicole appears to have met the love of her life. When Warren asks for her hand in marriage, she says yes! Then promptly calls in her Love Squad and heads off in an attempt to reconnect with the pen-pal who had stood her up a decade ago. What better time to find out if he’s the one she is meant to be with than the day after she’s accepted another man’s proposal?

Her Love Squad goes along because they have nothing else going on in their sad and loveless lives. They discover the Inn run by her former pen-pal is undergoing a renovation, so Nicole pretends to be the interior designer hired to renovate the place. Ten minutes into the movie, our heroine has lied about who she is and has run off behind her fiance’s back to find someone else to fall in love with. This is a love story?

Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. Nicole strings along Josh without telling him who she is. She goes through the motions of acting like she is the interior designer, wasting his time and that of all her friends and buying thousands of dollars of stuff to decorate a room (did I forget to mention she is not the actual designer?). While she is squiring him around the property, two members of her Love Squad break into Josh’s office and go through his personal belongings.

It turns out Josh only wrote the first letter that had her head-over-heels in love with a stranger. Someone else wrote the others. Josh suffers from dyslexia, and as a result of his sloppy handwriting, he got a friend to write the remaining letters to her even though this was apparently for a class assignment (Office of the Student Code of Conduct on line 1).

Nicole, who has spun together a string of lies that would make Alex Murdaugh envious, is furious when she finds out Josh didn’t write all the letters. How could he deceive her like that? Never mind that she lied about who she is, lied about why she’s there, and has yet to mention the fact she’s engaged to someone else. No one lies to Nic and gets away with it.

By this time, Josh has convinced himself that Nicole is his one and only. Why he’s fallen head over heels for a woman who’s done nothing but deceive him makes no sense. But she refuses to give him another chance. He decides the best thing to do is to have her meet the guy who actually wrote the letters. Once she sees what a dweeb he is, she’ll run back into his welcoming arms.

But Josh is not a brilliant strategist. He’s lost touch with the actual writer and instead finds the hottest guy in town to play the ghost writer, which leads to a creepy scene at a spa where said dude gives a clearly uncomfortable Nic a massage while Josh spies on them from the next room. Stalker much, Josh?

A member of Nic’s Love Squad finally manages to track down the ghost writer. And it turns out he’s gay! Brilliant. So she is free to love Josh after all (and not the guy she’s been dating for years and recently agreed to marry).

Relationship update: Nic gets cold feet again when Josh asks her to marry him three months later. She immediately summons the Love Squad and they bust it to her hometown to track down the guy who took her to the Sadie Hawkins dance in eighth grade. Maybe he’s really the one.

Actual review: This appears to be an attempt by Hallmark to duplicate the success of The Wedding Veil franchise, but this is one of the worst Hallmark Channel movies I’ve ever seen. And there’s three more of these to go! Please keep them on the Hallmark Movies Now app.

Where your Heart Belongs (2022)

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.

Nantucket Noel (2021)

Nantucket Noel debuted on The Hallmark Channel on Nov. 19, 2021, as part of Countdown To Christmas.

IMDb rating: 6.0 (as of Dec. 29, 2021)

Christina owns a toy store she inherited from her mother on a rundown wharf on Nantucket Island. The wharf loses a foot or two a year to the encroaching ocean, and half the boards on the wooden walkway are rotted through. This place is one bad Nor’easter away from being swept into the Atlantic.

A developer wants to buy the wharf, tear it down and replace it with a new structure. Christina can’t let go of the precious mural her dearly departed mother painted on one of the walls when she opened the store and refuses his entreaties.

Andy is a workaholic divorcee for his father’s development company. His ex-wife begrudgingly allows him to take their precocious daughter (nicknamed Wink) on a working vacation to Nantucket so he can show her the ins and outs of how to ruin people’s lives.

Andy arrives on the island and scopes out the wharf. Wink begs her dad to let her visit the toy store, and she promptly shoplifts a mermaid. When Andy finds out, he punishes her by pawning her off on Christina for a few hours each day so she can “work off” her debt to society. Christina gets free child labor, and he gets free babysitting. Win-win.

Christina tries to organize resistance, but most of the other store-owners have already cashed the checks (cha-ching!!) and are busy plotting how they’re going to blow this wad of cash.

Andy suggests she move her store to Main Street, where she’ll get more foot traffic and customers won’t have to worry about falling into the ocean. But Christina stubbornly refuses to budge and resents his meddling so much she goes shopping for a Christmas tree with Andy and Wink and then offers to help decorate the tree at their house.

Andy’s father sees Christina putting an angel on top of the tree and blows a gasket. He accuses her of seducing his son in an attempt to stop the development and promises her that he won’t change his mind no matter how many sexual favors she promises his son.

A lifetime of accumulated guilt catches up to the old man, and he decides to turn the business over to Andy before his acid-ridden gut spontaneously combusts.

Despite going on a romantic seaside walk with Christina the day before, Andy forges ahead with the project. This apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Forced to accept the inevitable, Christina agrees to the old man’s offer and moves into another location on Main Street. Andy decides to stay on Nantucket until the project is complete.

Relationship update: Christina tries to make it work, but festering resentment over losing her business eats away at their relationship, and she calls it quits before the new wharf is finished.

Actual review: This movie lacked heart, a good script and any sense of cohesion. The love story was clunky, and the two leads had zero chemistry. The dad was a rude jerk from beginning to end. Trevor Donovan seemed to be mailing this one in while awaiting his move to GAC Family TV in 2022.

My IMDb rating: 4 stars out of 10.

Christmas Together with You (2021)

Christmas Together With You debuted Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, on the Hallmark Channel as part of its Countdown to Christmas series.

Megan is an unlucky-at-love coffee shop owner who is best friends with Frank, a 70-ish widower who carries around a photograph of Claire, his first girlfriend from 50 years ago, and not his wife of thirty-plus years who recently died.

With her own love life in tatters, Megan urges Frank to look up his old flame. Odds are Claire’s either buried or married, and he wants to leave the past in the past. She ignores his wishes and stalks her on the Internet.

Turns out Claire is alive and kicking in a town a few hundred miles away, and Megan suggests a road trip. Once again Frank says he’s not interested in reliving the past, but after realizing how much effort Megan put in to finding her (thirty minutes of Googling and a short email to a stranger), he decides to go along on the off chance Claire still carries a torch for a guy she hasn’t seen in fifty years.

Megan stops to buy Frank a coffee. A rude lout on a cell phone lets his mangy mongrel of a mutt run amok and smash into Megan. She spills coffee all over her jacket. The boorish man shoves a wad of cash at her and mumbles an apology, all the while managing to keep his cell phone glued to his ear.

When Frank and Megan reach their destination, they check into the only inn in town. Lo and behold, the buffoon with the unruly pooch runs the lodge. Steve, a hotel hotshot who lives on the other side of the country, bought the place a year ago as an investment. He forced his parents to ditch their retirement plans and run it, but their indifference and incompetence has let the inn fall into a dangerous state of disrepair. Despite a list of one-star reviews longer than Courtney Love’s rap sheet, the inn continues to pull in paying customers and is somehow booked for the weekend.

Before Steve gives Megan and Frank the Joseph and Mary treatment and tells them the inn is full, an unhappy guest demands to be freed from this hellhole because the heat in her room isn’t working and she’s worried about catching fleas from that mangy mongrel Max, who lounges around the lobby licking his balls all day long. You’re in luck, Steve tells Megan and Frank, and happily boots out the old coot to give them a room that doesn’t even meet the standards for POWs set by the Geneva Convention.

Frank’s reunion with Claire gets off to a rocky start. She turns him down when he asks for a date and then blows him off when he shows up with a group of Christmas carolers and starts singing their song. Turned off by his tone-deaf caterwauling, she tells him she doesn’t want to set herself up for more heartbreak and stomps away.

This man can’t be trusted, and not because of his Christmas sweater.

Megan convinces Claire to give him another chance, and they enjoy a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant followed by a moonlit stroll. Their love seems to be rekindling, but Claire admits she can’t let go of the heartache and splits again, leaving Frank stammering more apologies.

Before leaving town, Frank writes a note to Claire explaining that he ditched her half a century earlier because her old man believed his daughter could do better (why Frank couldn’t have told her this face-to-face the first, second or third time she brought up how heartbroken she was beggars belief).

Unbeknownst to Megan, Steve’s mangy mutt Max somehow climbed into the back of her car undetected and pops up when they’re about halfway home. Given no choice, she returns to the Inn and drops off the stowaway. Steve, a heartless monster who didn’t realize his dog was missing for half a day, asks Megan to stay. Despite having spent little time alone together, she agrees.

Relationship update: Steve gets sued for all he’s worth when an octogenarian guest tumbles down the rickety steps his parents neglected to repair. Realizing Steve’s about to lose everything, Megan hightails it back to the city and her beloved coffee shop.

Real review: This movie was hard to watch. Niall’s character was unlikeable for so many reasons. The plot, what little there was of it, moved along at a glacier pace. There was zero chemistry between the two love interests, mainly because they hardly spent any time alone together. The attempts at comedy fell flat. Just a huge swing and miss by Hallmark. Won’t be watched again.

My IMDb rating: 4 stars out of 10.

Check out these other reviews

You, Me and the Christmas Trees (2021)

Olivia is a dedicated arborist for the University of Connecticut who is known as the tree whisperer. She’s also a major disappointment to her parents, who despite her shortcomings invite her to come home for Christmas anyway.

Olivia was supposed to get married over Christmas, but she called it off six months earlier. Not wanting to get grilled yet again by her taciturn parents, she searches for any excuse to avoid going home. When a hapless tree farmer calls her three weeks before Christmas to see if she can help figure out why all his trees turn brown a few days after being cut, she leaps at the chance to spend the holidays traipsing around the frigid woods of his farm instead of going home to her parents, who exude even less warmth than she’ll find in that frozen tundra.

Olivia’s GPS navigation system short circuits. She stops in the middle of a roundabout while she tries to figure out where she is and is promptly rear-ended by Jack, the aforementioned hapless tree farmer. He had spilled his coffee in his lap and wasn’t paying attention when the accident occurred, yet somehow blames it on Olivia.

Jack and Olivia overcome a start that is rockier than his farmland and get to work figuring out what is going on with his trees. Well, sort of. She spends most of her time taking in all the small-town charms of Avon, winning the design-your-own cider contest and charming all the townsfolk. While investigating his problem, she encourages Jack to diversify his crops, but he is hellbent on growing only trees and resents her meddling.

She figures out they are suffering from indigestion and concocts some colorful Alka Seltzer pills in her fancy lab at the university (now we know why tuition costs are sky-high). Her potion keeps the trees green a few days longer, meaning the town won’t become a living fire hazard until after Christmas.

A few plops and fizzes later, Jack’s trees are once again selling like hot cakes. Her work means the town will buy the official Christmas tree from his farm yet again, foiling the efforts of rival tree grower Duane, who somehow has a tree farm even though everyone in town hates him. Those people refused to buy trees from him even after Jack’s crop proved worthless.

Fueled by a jealous rage, Duane pays a couple of local ne’er-do-wells to poison Jack’s tree, but Olivia discovers their plan and saves the day with more of her magic potion.

Relationship update: Olivia cements her reputation as the tree whisperer, but when Jack follows her advice and plants a crop of tomatoes that wither on the vine the next summer, he dumps her.