December 28, 2016

Stop Wishing For Things You Already Have: My Christmas Love (2016)

Video from My Christmas Love
Image Credits: Hallmark Channel
Have you ever wished for something only to realize that the very thing you were wishing for was right in front of you all along? So many of us want meaningful and lasting love, but fail to see the potential for love right in front of us. That's exactly what happened to Cynthia in the holiday-themed romantic comedy My Christmas Love. Cynthia, a hopeless romantic, just can't seem to find the kind of friendship and love that her parents had, even though she tried ... and tried ... and tried. The problem was that she was trying too hard to force love instead of taking pause and realizing what she had right in front of her the whole time. My Christmas Love is a great reminder to all of us of the valuable life lesson to appreciate what we have. As it turns out, stopping to smell the roses (or the fresh snow in this case) could just be what we need to realize what we've wanted was right in front of us all along.

Image Credits: Hallmark Channel
In the movie My Christmas Love, Cynthia Baker (Meredith Hagner), the aforementioned hopeless romantic, just can't seem to find a meaningful and lasting love. Desperate to have the kind of romantic love affair that her parents had, Cynthia knew that friendship and a spark were necessary ingredients for the kind of love story that she wanted to have. Too bad she kept chasing love in all the wrong places. That is until she got a better-late-than-never wake-up call while visiting her hometown for the Christmas holiday with her best friend/employee Liam Pollok (Bobby Campo). All it took was a daily reminder of what real and true love is, thanks to daily deliveries representing the 12 Days of Christmas, and a couple failed attempts at rekindling old flames that finally helped Cynthia to see that she was looking for love where it didn't exist. Trying to hit on your ex-boyfriend who's now a priest can do that to you, right? Turns out, love, that is meaningful and lasting love, was with her all along in the form of her best friend/employee Liam. And thank goodness real and true love is patient and forgiving because Cynthia's seeming last-ditch effort to find love over the Christmas holiday by turning her attention to Liam (since nothing else panned out) couldn't keep the two lovebirds from reuniting and pledging their love for one another, even though Liam was initially hurt by the appearance of being her last choice. In the end, it all worked out for Cynthia (and her beau Liam) because she finally started to really appreciate the relationship she had with her best friend.

Image Credits: Hallmark Channel
While My Christmas Love is a cute, light-hearted Hallmark Channel holiday classic-in-the-making, it's also a great reminder to us all about one of the true gifts of the holiday season: appreciation. Like Cynthia, we all could take a little time every day, not just during the holidays, to really appreciate the people in our lives and what a gift they are to us. So, let us all go forth and cherish the time we have with the people around us, appreciating every moment we have with them while we have it because they just might be our wishes come true. Happy Holidays!

December 13, 2016

Saying Goodbye Is Tough, But Sometimes You Have To: A Walk To Remember (2006)

There's an old, beautiful poem that says people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Even if you've never heard of it before, you can probably guess that the poem is about appreciating the people that come into our lives as well as the life lessons they help us learn. The trick is to figure out which category the people in our lives fit into. Not an easy task, I must admit, but one well worth the conscious effort as you'll start to see things in your life in a totally different way. You'll start to make conscious choices about the people you choose to bring into your life as well. Wow, right? Deep stuff. Basically, we're talking about not being one of the walking dead ... in real life.

A Walk to Remember Poster.jpg
Speaking of passing on, death is one of the biggest reminders we have of our own mortality and what matters most (and even the kick in the butt we may need to get our act/lives together). And as frightening as it may be to think about, at least our own demise, it can be downright emotionally devastating when we have to watch someone we love and care for pass on, whether our loved one passed on prematurely or not. That's what makes the movie A Walk to Remember such a great story. It portrays a compelling story about a misguided young man who turns his life around after falling in love and then ultimately losing the love of his life due to her untimely passing from a life-threatening illness. A Walk to Remember reminds us all of the important lesson: saying goodbye is tough, but sometimes you have to. And this lesson doesn't just apply to coping with death, but also breakups and any other forms of voluntary separation.

In the movie A Walk to Remember, teenage rebel Landon Carter (Shane West) is forced to choose between expulsion and helping out other students and participating in the school play after being exposed for his involvement in a prank that led to the injury of another student and property damage on school grounds. Although he knew quiet Jamie Sullivan (Mandy Moore) since kindergarten, they pretty much hung out with different crowds. It was during his punishment/atonement for his crimes, however, that Landon finally became officially acquainted with his old classmate. Jamie helping Landon out with his role in the play sparked a new connection, which was initially plagued with a lot of back-and-forth between the two, but then turned into friendship and so much more. The two unlikely friends, the rebel and the minister's daughter, fell in love and began to change each other for the better. Things became really serious when Jamie finally confessed to Landon that she was dying from leukemia and didn't have much longer to live. By then the two were spending as much time together as they possibly could, making the most of the time Jamie had left, which Landon made sure to try and fulfill as many of Jamie's wishes as possible including getting married. When Jamie died at the end of the summer, she did so having experienced a lasting and meaningful love, one that Landon would never forget either. In the end, Landon was a changed person. He even went to college and had plans to attend medical school. And even though saying goodbye to the love of his life felt premature, with Jamie being so young and all, Landon did so and was able to go on with strength because of the beautiful memory of the love he experienced that summer with Jamie.

As sweet as A Walk to Remember is to experience, it's also a great reminder to us all that sometimes people come into our lives for just a reason or a season and not a lifetime. Yes, like Landon in the movie, we sometimes have to say goodbye sooner than we expect or maybe we don't realize that someone is in our lives for just a reason or a season, which can be tough, but facing that reality is the only thing left to do. So, let us all embrace the fact that saying goodbye is tough, but that sometimes we just have to remember that it's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not bad because no matter why or how long someone is in our lives, we are better for having known them. It's all about evolving, right? Onward and upward.

November 22, 2016

You'll Know When It's Right: A Ring By Spring (2014)

Image Credits: Hallmark Channel
Love is a funny thing, isn’t it? When it shows up it may not be the person you envisioned falling for (like a friend you suddenly have feelings for) or you may find love when you're not really looking for it -- notice how I avoided using the words "inconvenient timing" because, well, is there really such a thing? That's kind of the point of it all, right? As the saying goes, all is fair in love. The one thing that we can count on about love, thankfully, is that when it does, in fact, show up in our lives, we'll know when it's right. How can I be so sure? Well, not only do all the really great romantic comedies tell us so, but we also know that we'll know when it's right because when we realize we're in love, we will be forever changed. At least that's what happened in A Ring By Spring (2014), yet another great example of a life lesson from a chick flick: You’ll know when it’s right. So, let that be a reminder to us all to stop wondering if someone is right for us because if art imitates life, we'll know when we've found it. And doesn’t that sound nice?

Image Credits: Hallmark Channel
In the movie A Ring By Spring (2014), successful Business Consultant Caryn Briggs (Rachel Boston) has everything going for her, well, except for the fact that she's a cynic about the existence of true love, which pretty much started after she read Romeo & Juliet as a child. Unlike most, Caryn read the romantic classic and decided that it was lame to give up anything for love. She basically felt that being in love implied a sacrifice, a sacrifice that seemed very much unappealing to a young Caryn even as she grew older and began dating. The only problem with her theory on love is that it left her with constant disappointments in the love department, with a trail of exes that felt that she lacked “long term” potential. Offense aside, it wasn’t until she met Tom Halsey (Kirby Morrow) on a consulting assignment and he began to open her eyes to the truth of her relationship with her then-boyfriend, a guy that told her to her face that she wasn’t marriage material, that Caryn started to think of things differently for the first time. She began to start seeing her parents’ loving and affectionate relationship as desirable for herself. However, it wasn’t until she finally relinquished the idea of getting a ring by spring, per the Psychic Madame Rue (Stefanie Powers), that Caryn ended up really seeing the true love that was right in front of her the whole time, in Tom, which she was finally able to see as a result of realizing just how much her ex wasn’t right for her. In the end, Caryn came around to the idea of having the kind of love that her parents have and got her ring by spring.  

Image Credits: Hallmark Channel
While A Ring By Spring is definitely a heartwarming, feel-good romantic comedy, it’s also a great reminder to us all that when it comes to love, you’ll know when it’s right. Just like Caryn in the movie, when it was right she didn’t need a nudge or to convince herself because she already knew it. She already felt it. I bet art imitates life and the same is true for you and me too. So, let us go forth and stop pursuing love and let it find us instead because when it’s right, we’ll know it.  

July 4, 2016

There's Always A Reason Behind It All: 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Let's be honest for a second, we've all been judged before for something we did or did some judging ourselves. The thing is whether you were the one being judged or doing the judging, the truth of the matter is that there was probably a reason for the behavior or action in question. Sometimes the reason is really deep, reflecting some rooted emotional stuff, or the direct consequence of something else that happened, but either way there is a reason. Whether others understand or not. That's how it goes when we're working through our stuff on the path to growth and maturity, right? It's not always pretty. But, because we don't live in a world by ourselves there's always the inconvenience of spectators, some who are quick to judge and others who are a little more understanding and compassionate -- kudos to the latter in all of our lives for they are truly our saving grace in helping us to overcome whatever behavior or actions in question ... aka "our stuff". The movie 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) is a great reminder of the important life lesson: There's always a reason behind it all.

10 Things I Hate About You film.jpgIn the movie 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), high school senior Katarina "Kat" Stratford (Julia Stiles) couldn't be more opposite than her younger sister Bianca (Larisa Oleynik) with respect to social status. While Kat looks down upon the popular kids and everything they like and stand for, her sister Bianca wants nothing more than to be the very thing her sister despises. More than just sibling rivalry, there is a real reason why Kat is the way she is. But before we find out that reason, things get a bit more interesting when suave "bad boy" Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) is paid to date the odd-ball older Stratford sister by another high school senior Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan), who is intent on pursuing younger Stratford sister Bianca. And while his money and possessions are impressive to Bianca, at the end of the day Bianca is really into another classmate, the sweet, new student Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Unfortunately, Donner's plan works, but then something else happens. The thing is Patrick and Kat really start to like each other, even though the whole thing started under false pretenses. But when Kat gets drunk at a party, everyone sees another side of the anti-everything mainstream and popular high school senior with an apparent axe to grind and more importantly we learn the reason behind her "I hate everyone" persona. The reason for it all, particularly her hatred for Joey, is the result of her past romantic relationship with him that turned sour. Kat had her heart broken by Joey and not only wanted to protect her sister from a similar fate, but it also made her distrustful as a result of her romantic let down. But thanks to Patrick, Kat suddenly had a reason to smile and be happy. Their budding relationship might have experienced a slight hiccup along the way, given the fact that he initially pursued her for money, but once that was out in the open and dealt with Kat and Patrick were able to pick up right where they left off. Bianca also got her own happy ending with Cameron too.

Although this movie is a cute voyeuristic journey back into high school politics, and let's not forget yet another demonstration of the talented, late Heath Ledger, it's also a great reminder that there's always a reason behind it all. Just like Kat in the movie, we've all likely been guilty of inexplicable behavior or actions, at least from someone else's viewpoint. The thing is there is always a rationale behind the things we do, to be honest. Whether we are aware of the reasoning behind it all at the time or not, there is one. It does, however, behoove us all to figure out why we do certain things because it is at the end of the day a reflection on us and those closest to us, in some instances. But first, let's all start by taking pause to understand that there's always a reason behind behavior, and actions, and as a result we should be less "judgy" and more "lovey". So, go forth and spread compassion knowing that nothing happens without a reason for it all, and because it's the decent thing to do. Peace.

June 2, 2016

We All Have To Grow Up Some Time: Failure to Launch (2006)

Failure to Launch.jpgBeing an adult can be a pain sometimes. This we all know. The thing is, as much as we may gripe about being on our own, out in the big scary world, the truth is if we really think about it or had the choice we probably wouldn't have it any other way. What I'm trying to say is, the positives of being a mature adult fending for ourselves far outweigh the negatives; at least when we look at the big picture. However, and as they say "you pay the cost to be the boss." And that means doing all those both annoying and awesome things we all know and associate with being a mature adult, like working, paying bills, and managing relationships (both platonic and romantic). Because let's face it, that's what adults do, right? The movie Failure to Launch (2006) is a great example of the very important life lesson that we all have to face no matter how long we may want to or even try to prolong it: we have to grow up some time. And boy is that true!

In the movie Failure to Launch (2006), Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is a 35-year-old man living the quintessential good life (or so it seems), prolonging striking out on his own and permanently moving out of his parent's home. But the latter isn't what makes him seem stunted, it's more or less his unwillingness/fear of taking "normal" risks that would be considered adult behavior, relationships included, that keep him stuck in his current life pattern. That is, until he meets and falls for Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), a beautiful consultant who he just so happens to meet at a furniture store, but really Tripp's parents arranged the meeting in an attempt to get him to meet/fall for her so he would be motivated to move out. It worked, sort of. In the end, although Tripp did indeed fall for Paula, he also realized that his parents and Paula were in cahoots the whole time, which prompted him to end things with his budding love just to end up with the upper-hand. That didn't happen; at least not until he made the choice to grow up, be honest about his feelings for Paula, and have an honest conversation with his parents about moving out and being completely responsible for himself (mutually exclusive, but equally necessary in this particular case).

While Failure to Launch (2006) is an enjoyable romantic comedy with great casting, it's also a great reminder that we all have to grow up some time. Like Tripp in the movie, whether we get a little push from the ones we love or not, growing up is pretty much inevitable for us all, even it seems you or someone you know is off to a so-called slow start. Be patient, we'll/they'll get there sooner or later. Especially when we/they are properly motivated, not manipulated. So, let us all go forth and embrace the maturity and adulthood that we all are meant to experience. It'll all be just fine.

May 19, 2016

Sometimes You Aren't 'Just Friends': Just Friends (2005)

We've all heard of it: the age old debate about whether or not men and women (in particular) can be just friends. Of course, the answer depends entirely on the person answering the question, right? While it may be true that some people, maybe even you at some point, have been able to maintain a 100 percent platonic relationship/friendship with someone of the opposite sex, wouldn't you also say that it is also certainly possible that some just can't have that 100 percent platonic relationship/friendship with someone of the opposite sex? Especially if there are feelings involved. As many may already know, the difference between the two groups really has little-to-nothing to do with all the usual stuff that makes people attracted to one another because sometimes attraction can grow out of a mutual appreciation among two people who probably have a bit in common. The movie Just Friends (2005) is the perfect example of the latter or as I like to call it sometimes you aren't just friends and quite the foundation for something interesting to unfold...certainly in the movies.
Just friends.jpg

In the movie Just Friends (2005), Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) is 'just friends' with Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart), only that he isn't. Chris really has been secretly in love with Jamie for who knows how long, unbeknownst to her. And while poor Chris did try to make his 'more than friends' feelings known to Jamie in her yearbook, as his luck would have it, Jamie's ex-boyfriend gets a hold of the yearbook instead and reads the meant-for-Jamie's-eyes-only love confession to everyone in attendance at Jamie's house party. Needless to say, Jamie thought Chris' words were sweet, but not sweet enough. Nothing really came of it. Fast forward ten years later and Chris is a highly successful record producer living in Los Angeles with a long list of conquests and even thinks he knows a thing or two about how to handle the opposite sex, that is to get what he wants. But when he ends up back in his hometown, despite being stuck with his ex-girlfriend on the trip and a couple of ego setbacks, Chris finally manages to confront Jamie with his feelings, feelings that never quite went away despite time and distance, to the tune of a storybook romantic ending.

While this movie is definitely a lighthearted romantic comedy, it's also a great reminder to us all that sometimes we aren't 'just friends.' That's ok. The only thing is everyone should be on the same page or else things can, and probably will, get weird. Like Chris in the movie, confronting your friend with more-than-friend feelings can be liberating and maybe even rewarding. It just depends. And while your confession shouldn't at all be based on a higher likelihood that you'll get to strike up a romantic relationship with the object of your affection, at the very least it should help you to move forward, no matter which direction that is. So, go forth and be 'just friends' or not, just follow your heart and be honest about how you feel because how else are we all supposed to be happy in this thing called life? Good luck!

February 21, 2016

Live Like There Are No Second Chances: Double Jeopardy (1999)

It's tough making decisions sometimes, am I right? Don't you just want to ask someone else to make a decision for you, especially when it's a big one? Who am I kidding, we all (or at least those of us who are being honest about it) actually do try and defer decision making to someone else sometimes, whether we know or trust them. Anything to avoid doing the hard work ourselves. Why? Because it's exhausting and we all know after the decision comes the consequences, and if you didn't make the decision, well, you can blame somebody else when it all goes south. Right? All jokes aside, it's hard to the make all the right decisions all the time. Sometimes we don't have all the facts, sometimes we're preoccupied or otherwise under pressure, but in the end even with all the "right" tools to make a decision, it's still hard a job that almost no one wants, particularly when your heart is in the right place and you're trying to do what is right. The movie Double Jeopardy (1999) is a great reminder of the important life lesson that we all shouldn't waste our chances, because you're not always promised another one.

In the movie Double Jeopardy (1999), Elizabeth "Libby" Parsons (Ashley Judd) faces some pretty big decisions that can ultimately impact the rest of her life and the life of their son, Matty (Benjamin Weir) as she attempted to regain his full-time custody after being falsely imprisoned for her husband Nick's (Bruce Greenwood) fake murder. Libby was framed by the man that she loved and wanted to spend the rest of her life with and when she couldn't convince the jury that she didn't kill her husband she went to jail for it, no thanks to her incompetent lawyer. While in prison, Libby not only learned that Nick was still alive but also that there is a thing called "double jeopardy," which basically states that no one can be charged for the exact same crime twice. Libby wanted revenge, sure, but more importantly she wanted to be with her son. After being paroled, however, Libby never lost her priorities, even when being confronted by Nick, who wanted to eliminate her from the picture permanently. In the end, despite everything that Nick had put her through, Libby never lost her perspective and maintained her goal of getting her son back in her safe hands. And while some, like her ex fellow inmate, would have contended that she could have pursued Nick with ill-intent, Libby knew that ultimately doing so wasn't worth it. She wanted to move on with her son and her second chance.

Although this movie is an entertaining crime-thriller, it is also a great reminder to us all that we shouldn't waste our chances in life. Like Libby, even when faced with terribly difficult decisions, we should all be mindful that we may not get another shot to do things differently, which is often the case. Sometimes we do get second chances, sometimes we don't, but why waste a shot when given one? So, go forth, set your priorities, and live like there are no second chances, making the best possible decisions you can the first time out. Because as we all find out at some point, time is too precious to waste. Good luck!