27 March 2016 | reader4
Hallmark has recently developed a number of mysteries in which the protagonist is the female owner of a small shop of some kind. These are the Garage Sale Mysteries (5), Murder She Baked (3), Aurora Teagarden (1), and the related Gourmet Detective Mysteries (2). These last two don't quite fit the category, as the protagonist is a cop, not a shop owner, but they are my favorites of the lot, which is probably why I find it so necessary to include them.
The latest addition is A Flower Shop Mystery: Mum's the Word. It is worse than all the eleven movies listed above.
The problem with the movie is not lack of star power. It has bigger names than any of the other 11. Brooke Shields is still appealing at 50, and Brennan Elliot does a decent job. Kate Drummond is sparkling. It's too bad they didn't give her more to do. Beau Bridges, looking better than in several recent appearances, clearly demonstrates that he is the real professional in the cast. But he has an extremely small part. I'd be surprised if he had more than 2 minutes total on-screen time.
It seems that they spent all their budget getting these big names, and a Mercedes for Abby to drive, and had nothing left to hire a screenwriter.
The only reason I give the writing a 2 instead of a zero is that it contains some good puns, a rarity these days, and not present in the other series. But the dialog itself is atrocious: choppy, unrealistic, awkward and poor at conveying the story. (SORRY, THE QUOTES BELOW HAVE BEEN SEVERELY COMPROMISED BY IMDb'S AUTOMATIC FORMATTING.)
It contains such illiteracies as: "re-open up your store."
"His death was very hard on her, and it was for me too."
"I can promise you one thing. Regarding the date. And it will be a date." "Thank you."
And finally, along these lines, "You know what they say, join the Army and see the world." Of course, it should be "Navy."
It contains such discontinuities as "He asked me for money," when Elvis Jones did not do so -- She spontaneously gave him ten whole dollars.
"Did you know they ID'ed the victim?" "(smugly satisfied) Uh-huh. Did you know his name?" "Billy Ryan." "(shocked) What?? When did this happen?" "I won that round, didn't I?"
The dialog is very repetitive.
"Who's that tank commander?" "What?" "Who's that tank commander?" "Oh, that's Sergeant Major Marco Salvare, 75th Army Ranger Unit." "Wow! When? Where?"
And my favorite: "Oh! There's a car!" "Car?" "There's a car!"
A moment later, "What do you see?" "It's an Escalade." "I know it's an Escalade. Who's driving?" "It's Tony Vertucci in the Escalade."
The flow of scenes leaves much to be desired. It's like Goldstein said, "Oh, let's have a scene in the flower shop, and then we can have one in the bar, and then one at her father's house, and then one at the nursery, and then another one at the flower shop, and then another one at the bar, and then one where Marco runs into Abby when she's jogging," without there being any reason or plot requirement to do so. I often found myself apathetic to where they were at the moment and what they were doing (mostly eating).
Many scenes end lamely. Abby comes home to find a wilted, dried-out bouquet on her doorstep. She looks for a note, but there is none. Break to commercial. Bouquet never mentioned again.
"Look, I got a bar to run, so just... good night." "Bye."
"Have a good day, Abby." "Mm-hmm." Break to commercial.
The story is full of idiotic elements. Abby says, "I told my insurance agent to file a claim against Vertucci," which he apparently did, even though she has no evidence, nothing more than a hunch that he was the one who hit her Mercedes and ran.
All the harassment Abby suffers at the hands of a corrupt cop and county commissioner is very prosaic. Little is made of any of it, she mostly ignores it, and there is no tension or suspense whatever associated with it. It is finally all explained away in a couple of sentences in the next-to-last scene.
In that same scene, Abby's DA ex-boyfriend tells her, concerning Elvis Jones's murder, "But, believe me, this part of the investigation is just beginning."
And in an ironic flouting of modern nutritional knowledge: "I've got meatball parm. Four stars on Yelp. We can eat healthy."
The story is not particularly imaginative, which is the flaw of all the 12 movies I speak of here. Their charm results more from the characters and their interaction than from originality of plot. The best along these lines is the Gourmet Detective series, with the banter between Brooke Burns and Dylan Neal a constant delight. The Aurora Teagarden, Murder, She Baked and Garage Sale series also have some good moments.
But the banter in Mum's the Word between Abby and Marco generally falls flat. It is composed of things nobody would ever say, in an order they would never say them, and for most part comes off as just lame. Brooke does what she can to make her character an indomitable force that can't be turned aside, but is severely hampered by the asinine things she has to say.
"You like to meddle, don't you?" "OK, first of all, I hate that word, and... where do we go from here?"
"Think about how happy it makes people." "Is it making you happy?" "Yeah, as a matter of fact, it is." "Good."
There is another Flower Shop Mystery in post-production right now, and one beyond that in the works. Let's hope somebody tossed Hallmark a clue, and that they will be better than this turkey.