Plot: Laurel (Emily Kinney) is driven to break into the fashion design world and her work is quite good, but as she struggles to get noticed, that also means her finances aren’t in an ideal position. She needs to find some work in order to make ends meets and when her new roommate gives her a lead, Laurel follows up, only to discover the agency has no positions available. That changes however, when temperamental football star Danny (John Reardon) fires his previous personal assistant and needs a new one, though he isn’t thrilled to be assigned a female assistant. Laurel tries to be helpful and prove herself, but Danny simply dismisses her efforts at first, while she slowly wins him over with her charm and work ethic. But can these two polar opposites make the partnership work, even when romance starts to sneak in?
Entertainment Value: This Hallmark romance tries to mix up the formula a little with some sports elements, but for the most part, Love on the Sidelines falls in line with the channel’s usual tropes and conventions. The narrative follows a nice, likable woman as she gets raked over the coals by a rather unlikable man, but of course, romantic comedy hijinks take hold in the end. I wish more was done to make Danny a little less of a jerk, as he is not likable for most of the movie’s duration, which lessens the romantic texture more often than not. I know the “I can change him” approach is a popular one, but I prefer a less abrasive take, especially when Hallmark is so known for light, brisk style romantic pictures. The odd couple dynamic works well enough, I just don’t think Danny had to be such a douche, you know? The sports elements do freshen up the Hallmark cliches somewhat however, which is welcome and helps Love on the Sidelines stand out from the pack. So if you like the Hallmark style romances or a little sports mixed with your romance, give this one a spin.
In this odd couple, Emily Kinney is our likable, sweet side of the movie, while John Reardon is the rude, entitled half of the equation. As I said before, I don’t know why Reardon’s character was made so over the top unlikable, as it does make you question both the romance and Laurel’s sanity in general. Perhaps because he’s rich and famous, combined with her enabling slant, she is able to overlook how mean she can be to her at times? In any case, Reardon’s performance is fine, but Kinney tends to steal the show in this one. I think she has terrific screen presence and while she feels restrained, some natural charm and humor still shine through. I’d like have seen her able to open up a little more here, as what sparks we are given work so well, but again, it feels like she is holding back in some ways. The two have a good banter, but I didn’t think the romance anchored in well enough. The cast also includes Hayley Sales, Luisa d’Oliveria, and Patrick Sabongui.
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