Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Wishing Well

As many of you know, I occasionally like to take a break from watching sleazy Lifetime movies by watching saccharine Hallmark movies. A couple of weekends ago, I got to take in the laugh-out-loud (not in the way they intended) "The Wishing Well," a Hallmark original film.

This inspiring tale of yet another city girl who realizes all she needs to be happy is to live in the country begins with some mythology: The picturesque wishing well underneath the opening credits may look like it's made out of plastic (with tufts of some mossy material you'd buy at Michael's glued to it), but it's actually hundreds of years old, and grants wishes if you believe in it. Or whatever. (I honestly can't believe Hallmark doesn't have a better well in their props department.)

The movie then cuts to a shot of someone making espresso, and if that iconic image of bourgie-ness isn't enough for you to realize they've switched locales, there's shot of Times Square, where all the coolest New Yorkers hang out. But back to the espresso--Cynthia Tamerline (played by Jordan Ladd, daughter of Cheryl) is hanging out in her high-rise apartment with her friend, because what girls don't like to get together at 9 a.m. to catch up and have an espresso? The city IS awfully fast-paced, after all. Her friend, a B-level Sandra Bullock, is chatting about her 10 a.m. event planning meeting when she busts out with, "Do you ever just stop and think how lucky we are? We have exciting careers, we live in great apartments, go to great parties, make a lot of money...." Yes, they're truly living the life.

Jordan Ladd does some
hard-nosed reporting
But there's a downside to drinking espresso in Times Square every morning while making "lots of money" as a celebrity gossip writer: Your boss might be mean to you. When Cynthia arrives at work, her boss says she doesn't have "it" anymore, and assigns her a story about the Wishing Well for Good Housekeeping magazine (Oh, sorry, I mean "Great Housekeeping"). The next thing you know, Cynthia is almost running Jason London over with her car in Smalltown, USA. (Oh, I'm sorry, that's "Slow Creek, Illinois"). She and Jason have an argument--oh my, they'll never get along! And it turns out that he runs the local paper.

You may remember Jason London
as the brown-eyed London brother
who's missing two toes.
I'll spare you all the boring plot points that happen before Cynthia makes a wish in the well and her dream of living in a small town comes true. I'll also spare you the many scenes where Cynthia, now transformed into a reporter for Jason London's paper, scoffs at the notion that no one remembers that she's actually a hard-nosed celebrity writer. (It's like "Groundhog's Day," but Bill Murray isn't in it, and that's really too bad.) And since this blog doesn't contain audio files, you'll also be mercifully spared from having to hear the Hallmark Channel soundtrack to this movie, which never ceases for a single second. Light-hearted pianos and humming clarinets are behind every scene, except for the "exciting" scenes, that sound like that one ringtone option on your phone that you hear and go "What the Fuck!?" and change it real quick.

I can't make fun of Ernest,
he's like 95 years old.
So let's just jump to when Cynthia is settling into her new life in this mystical land, where a black kid in a cap delivers the paper each morning and Ernest Borgnine (yes, that Ernest Borgnine) is her friendly landlord/the town's mayor. At the Fourth of July fireworks celebration (naturally), Cynthia snuggles up to Jason London, and the mischievous piano music that normally accompanies their interactions turns into soft violins. Jason London is not only ruggedly handsome, he's a single dad of a 12 year-old daughter. And yes, he was a big-city editor before his wife died tragically (I can't believe they didn't say in 9/11) and he came out to the country to raise his child. But unfortunately, the paper is going under, because of big, bad conglomerates.

Lest you forget this isn't Lifetime and worry about Jason and his kid having to go on welfare or Cynthia committing murder, don't fear. In the film's climatic scene, the Hallmark soundtrack goes crazy as Yeardley Smith busts into the newspaper's office and announces that some dead guy's money has been found and given to the paper, much to the chagrin of the big bad CEO-man who came to shut it down. Jason's kid literally yells, "We're saaaavvveed!", and I suddenly realized that Tempest Bledsoe was playing the secretary.

Cynthia's nightie is remi-
niscent of Bette's outfit in
Big Business, and yes, this
is a blatant excuse to put
a pic from BB on my blog.
But before Cynthia and Jason can share their Hallmark-mandated closed-mouth kiss, she wakes up on the plane on the way back to New York! And you can tell she's back to her old self in the morning, because she's wearing a horrible polka dot nightie rather than the flannel jammie-jams she had been wearing in the country.

Cynthia goes back to work to discover that her article had been published and was such a success that her boss has offered her an editor position! Since he had been berating her earlier in the movie for having worked at the magazine for 10 years, you can see why she's so excited. After a decade of work, she'll now be earning close to $45,000 a year, which can buy a HUNDRED espresso machines and Times Square apartments!

But wait! What if she feels that, in the immortal words of Eddie Albert, "Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside!"? Well, hop in a cab and head to the airport, of course! She asks her cabbie what he thinks about living in the country, and his response isn't that he'd feel disconnected from his culture (and also have a hard time getting a mortgage), but that "trees make me noivus!" Those crazy city people! They hate trees, but they sure love their espresso!

So Cynthia ends up back in the country, where she runs into Jason and his daughter. Apparently in this revised real word she wasn't a bitch to him, and they happily head off to dinner. Let's hope things work out, because the dating pool in Small Creek, Illinois, ain't very big.

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