When one of the cast members of a favorite show appears in something else, I get excited at the prospect of seeing them outside of the character I’ve come to know – in a sense outside of that “comfort zone.” Apart from seeing this was a Hallmark (nearly always an automatic qualifier), the thing that most interested me was its leading lady.
High school doesn’t hold fond memories for Harold. After all, he wasn’t exactly popular. Considered a geek, his crush on the prettiest girl in school didn’t end how he’d have wished. Twenty years later, Harold (Eric Mabius) runs his own accounting firm with smart business savvy yet he’s still not very good when it comes to dating. His dream girl (Gina Holden) he’s never spoken with prompting his best friend to suggest Harold see a dating coach. That meeting ends in less than productive ways and then, there is Annie (Brooke D’Orsay). The girl Harold always liked in high school is suddenly back in his life and she has a solution to all his problems: Hire her as his dating coach and she guarantees, he’ll be dating in no time. With Annie’s help, Harold may just land the girl of his dreams in no time.
Being a “how-to” story is perfectly appropriate for this film, because it’s impossible not to fall for this – and believe me, I fell for it hook, line and sinker. The one thing it doesn’t do is teach us how not to be so charmed by it. It was quite difficult to remain aloof with the characters and the story itself. Yes, the production could have used more “pizzazz.” Or perhaps the casting isn’t the ideal of a romantic-comedy lover’s dream and yet, something is infectious about the film once it all came together in one wholesome and cutely (did I just make up a word? I wonder…) romantic package.
Typical to any telefilm, the scripting isn’t always what it should be though I’d be lying if I didn’t say it gets in some decent dialogue and poignant conversations. Annie’s determination to make Harold realize his worth was particularly sweet while it was especially fun to discover Harold’s hobby – I liked how much it didn’t “match” what he did in his professional life, and that it showed a creative side of his personality. What’s worse in this is probably the photography of the movie. Nearly every scene seemed “gray,” missing the colorfulness that the characters and story should have had. The backdrop was sorely lacking in that way making the film seem more one-dimensional. Pops of unexpected fun come into the frames here and there, and in spite of myself I liked the quirky-ness of Annie’s dress. This then brings me to the fantastically terrific protagonists.
Any seasoned rom-com fan will perhaps be a bit… surprised at the depiction of the leading man. He’s a “geek” through and through whose personality is revealed to be more multi-layered than first impressions expose. From the first moment meeting him as a gangly, 15-year-old nervous about his date but earning his mother’s pride, there is something “cute” about him. Then as the successful business man, Harold, I literally couldn’t help what a great and compelling leading man I thought him to be. Whether he is wearing ridiculously large, black-rimmed glasses or dressing like a suave heartbreaker, Harold has to be one of my favorite leading men to come from Hallmark (does that statement reveal too much of my “obsession” with these movies!?); he’s considerate and cute in a boy-next-door kind of way. Borrowing from Annie, he’s a romantic and truly a gentleman whose “geeky-ness” only makes him all the more endearing. He and Annie are adorable together, and Brooke is simply delightful as the out-going and kind-hearted Annie.
Unless you have an aversion to sappy dialogue or poorly executed directing (in a few instances), this is one comedy that is hard to say “no” to. It may be a “how-to” guide for the benefit of Harold and instead it proves more challenging to the viewer to remain impartial; at the heart, there may not be that “deep” of a message yet it teaches the once naïve, self-indulgent Annie that first impressions are not often what you think. Looking underneath the outward physical picture, she found that what really matters is underneath. That’s where the real value is.
(Rated TVPG: There may be a brief sexual implication [non-graphic] or an instance of immodest dress.)