Mingle All the Way is a mixed-bag of a movie that so desperately wants to be better than it is. Poorly cast except for the main female lead, you'll find this mis-mash delivering quality drama that is constantly interrupted by confoundingly foolish and/or absurdly convenient situations. On multiple occasions the movie smartly builds tension then shoots itself in the foot with such forced developments. The feedback I have for the script writers is 'less is more.'
Jen Lilley plays Molly Hoffman, a smart yet vulnerable go getter who refuses to spend her life as an accountant at her parent's firm. Instead, she designs and launches a networking app that is supposed to be for platonic dates, but of course this is a Hallmark movie so you quickly figure out what actually happens. Brant Daugherty is the male lead here, Jeff, doing a very convincing job of portraying his character as a gay man. Yet Jeff is not supposed to be gay and this makes his forced romantic interest in Molly rather grating to watch.
I was impressed with the refreshingly new plot - a dating/networking app, even though major unanswered questions left me trying to connect the dots the movie chose to ignore. Who actually built the app, since Molly does not come across as a technical software developer? Who provided the funding for the one room sunny office with a door that goes directly to the outside? Does the claimed target market of single, 30-something, successful and attractive professionals actually exist? Wouldn't anyone try to simply mis-use Mingle All the Way as yet another dating/hookup app? How and when did the app actually launch and become available for downloads? Why does Molly need a full time onsite employee (Tyler) when all it seems he does is redesign the logo and post her testimonials to the website? Who funds all those expensive TV commercials? It just seems like it would be a significant amount of effort to get the app designed, funded, built, and deployed to end users, a rather impressive feat by a single woman such as Molly...ah yes a more interesting movie we will never get to see... Anyway, we know that she built the algorithm, but there is much more to launching a new app than the backend functionality.
The other characters are quite boring and detract from the flow. I found the evil co-worker doing a bad Stiffler impersonation to be the most annoying. Kudos for having the mom wear the pants in this one, playing the 'skilled business person,' yet they then left the dad with nothing to do - a role they could have easily deleted. It was amusing that the CEO of Greyson Advertising likes to individually invite his employees to personal private events, even caroling of all things?!? This guy came across as an aloof doofus until the very end when he spoke very intelligently and with more clarity than anyone else ever had. The subplot romance between Tyler and Lisa was a nice change - we get to follow two love stories for the price of one. By the way, the connection between Tyler and the entrepreneurial wizard Lisa was far more realistic and interesting than that of the main leads. Actually, I was rooting for Molly and Tyler to end up together from the get go because he seemed like a far more normal and fitting boyfriend for Molly-I mean come on, they sit 10 feet apart in that little office all day alone together, they're both single, there's gotta be a little side somethin' going on between the two of them, just don't tell Lisa as she seems like a woman whose wrath could be of surprising proportions.
They all hail from small town sounding 'Cedar Falls' yet all establishing shots are of downtown Toronto...sigh.
Overall, Jen Lilley's Molly is the most well rounded and believable female lead I've seen in a Hallmark movie this season. "Jeff" was a disaster. But hey, they finally (and awkwardly) did kiss with three minutes left on the DVR - it's not a Hallmark holiday movie without that!