So I have a confession to make – I didn’t know a THING about this particular movie until I saw @DrunkAusten on Twitter. To be fair, I had a very busy weekend, but thank goodness for DVRs – and for streaming capabilities, because now I can enjoy this new-yet oh-so-familiar Royal Matchmaker, starring two people I don’t know, plus the guy who played the butler on Crown for Christmas.
After the requisite New York overhead establishing shots, we meet Kate Gleason, who is a matchmaker to the stars. They call her “Queen of Hearts.” She has an assistant, Britney, who is great at math, wears statement glasses, but who doesn’t have the gut instincts of a true matchmaker. Whatever those are. Kate is unattached, which makes everyone wonder what type of matchmaker she is, if she can’t find her own one, right? She does read Jane Austen (one of those huge omnibus publications that is NOT comfortable to tote around) so maybe a constant loop of Pride & Prejudice hones those matchmaking instincts. God knows, she’d suck if she kept re-reading Emma.
Cut to King William, (butler from Crown) who is dealing with his rebellious, playboy son, Prince Sebastian. Tired and true – he’s not ready to settle down, there’s a ball coming in 30 days, and he’s got to have a girlfriend (read fiance) by then. And so the King and Sebastian’s trusty valet Victor contact the matchmaking services of Kate and Britney. (In passing, is it val-lay, or val-et? Downton Abbey says val-et. But this movie (and others) are all about the val-lays. Which one? Please comment.) Kate freaks out that she’s got 4 weeks to find true love for the Prince, but Britney convinces her to take the job by these words of wisdom: “He’s a king. Like an actual king.” Ah. Writers. So amazing.
Now they are off to Voldavia, which is the same country as “Castlebury Hall” as seen in A Princess for Christmas. It’s the same castle minus all that fake snow. Way to recycle.
Prince Sebastian doesn’t know that Kate is coming, and he acts like a spoiled, annoyed, petulant dick because he doesn’t want to work with a matchmaker, because he doesn’t believe in true love, because he’s been hurt before, because all the girls he’s ever met are just interested in his title and money and no one really wants to get to know him. I’m guessing to the backstory – he just acts stand-offish and insists on her calling him “Your Highness.” Oh, and by the way, I don’t find this Prince charming or handsome, so BAD CASTING, Hallmark!
Kate needs to know the real him so she can find him the right sort of match, and he cynically remarks upon the fact that she’s not married, reiterating my point from a few paragraphs ago. They have what passes in this move as “sparks” though, and before long, Kate is in a cafe with Britney expounding on how he’s the most obnoxious man she’s ever met. Two things here: 1) she’s there doing a job for the royal family and discretion is always important when doing those types of thing, and I don’t think they would appreciate her being super loud in a cafe about matchmaking for the Prince. 2) She can safely promise that she will never to dance with Mr. Darcy. I.e., duh, she’s gonna dance with the Prince at some point. I mean, there is a ball in this movie.
They have a reluctant truce and get to know each other the following day. They get along fine. She finds out he builds houses for charity in Third World Nations in the most photoshopped prop picture ever, and takes him to see the Voldavia Community Center, that is on its last legs in terms of funding. He can’t guarantee funding (WHAT IS THE POINT OF BEING A PRINCE IF YOU CAN’T RAISE MONEY, SEBASTIAN?) but he can fix the heating, as he his mechanically inclined. We also see Valet Victor, who has a dead wife and a living 8 year old son, have some sparkage with Lorraine, the lady who runs the center. I was rather hoping that Britney and Victor would hit it off, as I like it when the 2nd wheels hook up with each other, but I’m ok with this development.
Matchmaking skills revolve around maps, push pins in the maps, and a lot of photos. Their ‘favorite’ is Petra Petrovitch, which is the most Russian name ever, and only ever appears in movies. She’s unavailable to meet Prince Sebastian because she’s traveling, but since she’s the only one we actually see a photo of, I’m guessing she’ll show up in some way, shape, or form.
More questions about why Kate is not married! But this time she’s answering: the closer she gets to finding other people matches, the farther away she gets from knowing what she really wants. Sebastian then fixes more stuff at the community center, because he likes to be hands-on, and Kate starts vetting the girls for him, and it’s like the weirdest job interview ever. And all she does is drink tea, and give inspirational speeches to Valet Victor, about getting back on the horse after his wife died. With Lorraine, the lady at the center. (She’s just saying, is all).
First Date! It’s a cocktail party. Princess Lilian, Duchess Juliet, Sasha, no title, all on deck. Kate gives Sebastian a pep talk but we don’t get to see anything of it because we hit a commercial break. Way to save on actress salaries! But feedback the next day is…no butterflies for the Prince, so Kate is freaking out that she can’t get him to commit. And YAY! Valet Victor and Lorraine have a date! Lorraine needs to rethink her bangs.
Kate needs to find Petra Petrovitch, or her career is over, and the Jubilee Ball is just DAYS AWAY. Whatever will we do? (King not happy, but he does think Kate is cute, so that’s a nice bit of foreshadowing). Petra made it to Voldavia. She’s delicate and pretty, and Kate looks at them fondly from the door, until the music tells us that she is totally regretting this set-up because she’s the one in love with Prince Sebastian. I’m so glad that the music was there to tell us, or else how would we recognize all these different plot points we didn’t ever see coming?
I just realized that assistant Britney is played by a woman named Brittany. WHAT ARE THE ODDS? Britney Brittany also knows that Kate is in love with Sebastian, and Kate just confirms it by babbling like a crazy person, and then walking around the palace, eating cookies in her pajamas. And now, Kate is super jealous that Sebastian totally hit it off with Petra Petrovitch, and is taking her on a horse-drawn carriage ride to a picnic lunch. But they have the most British sounding conversation ever, despite coming from countries that sound like they are on the Eastern Block.
I also refuse to believe that Kate (Matchmaker to the Stars) presence in this tiny country is not going unnoticed, and that Sebastian’s need of a matchmaker are not being reported in the press.
Sebastian and Kate have a conversation about how Petra is nice, and how he’s more open-minded, and he kisses her hand, and dang if he’s not now super confused, and the King, who is creepily watching it all from a window, is more than a little amused. Methinks the King won’t care who Sebastian marries, as long as a baby comes along in 9 months.
Kate is in bed, because she’s in love with Sebastian. Britney is giving the really stupid advice of going after what Kate wants, and let her feelings be known. That’s not good in terms of running a business, but great if we want to have some drama in the last 30 minutes of a Hallmark movie.
Boring Subplot about the community center update: the roof is falling apart and the Prince needs to step in and solve the problem! If Sebastian can’t fix it, no one can, apparently.
King and Prince have a little heart to heart – King likes Petra, but also says don’t let love get away, and that is a veiled reference to the fact that he likes Kate. And this confuses Sebastian to no end. So, now Prince is so much in a tizzy, and he asks Kate what to do – he’s about to make the biggest decision of his life. And she so wants to scream out she’s in love with him, doesn’t, and just says she wants what’s best for him, which means that he announces he’s going to propose to Petra. That is some very, very fast decision-making, my friend. But we still have the ball to get through. (Continuity problem: when Kate is in bed, Britney announces it’s just a few hours to the ball. When Sebastian and Kate have their conversation, it’s night, and he says the ball is the next day. WRITER. I’m looking at you.)
Finally, it’s Ball Time. Kate has some kind of gift for Petra, that she doesn’t want to give to her herself. It’s a gold broach of butterflies that clashes completely with Petra’s silver dress. Sebastian is all dressed up and Kate is heading to the train station so she doesn’t see the engagement. Sebastian is really looking for Kate, but he makes a speech anyway about how he fixed the community center. During this speech, though, Petra realizes that he’s not in love with her – maybe because he keeps looking at Kate’s empty chair.
What do you know, the KING showed up at the train station! She promised to help his son find his happily ever after, and King Dad knows it’s with her, not with Petra!!! How’s that for a great dad! And Petra and Sebastian have a delightful bloodless break-up, since they are missing that one special thing – butterflies in their tummies! She hands back that ugly broach and then we’re at the final scene, because we can’t have a royal movie without the requisite entrance by the heroine in a stunning ballgown.
Sebastian has to make a big announcement at this ball, and what he does is basically say I love Kate, does she like me? It’s a dumb speech and he totally asks her to marry him and seriously they’ve known each other for a month and they’re engaged. Jeez. One final waltz, and Britney is beaming, and Valet Victor is with Lorraine, and everyone is happy. The End.
So thanks, @DrunkAusten, for letting me know about this. Not sure if it’s the same as this book, but I also know that I don’t want to find out. Do you think it was written before or after this movie?
Kind of annoyed that she reads Jane Austen for a hot second – like, the first line of Pride & Prejudice, and that’s it. Didn’t love this one, gotta be honest. Happy to do it for you, though, you know, just so you don’t have to.