This week has just been a dumpster fire on top of a pile of skunks. I’ve been escaping into Jane Austen for most of it, but I don’t have a new iteration of the Pride and Prejudice plot from Hallmark to watch just yet – don’t worry – there are like two coming for Christmas – I’m stuck with Love in Design, starring Danica McKellar and the guy from Appetite for Love, whose name, I’ve finally discovered, is Andrew Walker.
Danica is Hannah, an HGTV type host based in California (we know because we saw the Hollywood sign in the B-roll in the first scene). She’s picked up donuts for her crew – she has a Sassy Friend who is also her producer. Hannah is a) overdressed for a home design show, and b) freaking out that the head of the network wants to see her!
Meanwhile, in SmallTown America, Andrew Walker is Jeff, an architect, who’s back in town after being away for a while. He’s got a new job, and his best friend is married, so you know he’ll be talking about how great married life is.
At the network, her show needs a makeover! The network, without asking her, is moving her show to the same SmallTown America!!! The owner of some big fancy estate in SmallTown wants to convert said fancy estate to a B&B, and wants Hannah to design it. This woman’s name is Margo, and she wants it all done in 5 weeks.
Consumer Cellular is sponsoring this movie. Hannah’s mom has one of those phones, and she tries to tell her that Jeff is back in town, but Hannah’s got to go with SassyFriend to the airport, so she misses that communique. BTW, Jeff has been chosen by the Historic Committee to be in charge for the town of Hannah’s renovation, so he knows before she does that they’ll be reunited.
It’s hard to figure out where this SmallTown America is. This “Estate” isn’t all that “Estatual.” The internal of this house also does not match the external, which is more like a Tudor. Inside, it’s all white and birch, like Ikea. But ta-da! Hannah reunites with Jeff! It’s awkward. They haven’t seen each other in 3 years, and her parents are subtly (i.e, not subtly) thinking that their daughter is both a) going to fall back in love with Jeff and b) move back home because they clearly don’t see her enough and c) give them grandbabies. And what home visit would be complete without Hannah plaintively looking at a box of memories containing her and Jeff? It’s like Appetite for Love, but on HGTV not Food Network. But this time, we get Hannah sitting in a chair, with some kind of country song playing on her record player.
Week 1 – Demo Week at the Manor. She’s still way too overdressed for this. They are also filming her without her knowledge while she’s arguing with Jeff. The head of the network has shown up to oversee and is loving the painful (oh, I’m sorry, Playful) banter between Hannah and Jeff. I’m sorry, but I have to put my foot down and say Network Executive, people and their personal backstories are NOT your playthings and this is a design show. People don’t watch design shows to see people fall in love. Needless to say, Hannah doesn’t like this plan, and she’s freaking out.
I know I’ve said this before, but can Danica McKellar please play someone other than a Type A, highly-strung character? She’s doing way too much of it, and I would love her to play a hippie or something. Anyway, she and Jeff meet while biking and have a moment, but she hasn’t told him that the network wants him to be on camera, but next day, he’s ok with it. I will say that Andrew Walker has much more chemistry with Danica McKellar than with blondie from the previous movie.
I do love that Sassy Friend is getting so much screen time. I am not loving that all Sassy Friend does is prop up Hannah. Seriously, Sassy Friends, Stand Up and Unite! Get your own story!
FYI this “Estate” is literally like 4 feet from another house. I so don’t think this is an estate. The next day, Hannah is in front of a wall of stained glass that she wants to replace, and Jeff is all like, Nope Nope Nope. Arguments flair. They want to settle this with a coin toss, but apparently the entire crew doesn’t have pocket change, so they head out to the back yard for a conveniently set up game of corn hole. (Is that one word or two?) He wins, so she has to take his architectural and design comments seriously. She almost cries. This is so dumb.
FYI – Countdown to Christmas starts October 26 this year.
Called it – Jeff’s friend loves being married and is flaunting his happiness in front of him.
Andrew Walker is like a skinny, poor man’s Chris Evans. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you want to watch a movie with Chris Evans.
But Andrew’s character has expressed his frustration about working with Hannah, and Hannah complains to her mother about how hard it is to make everyone happy (I feel you girl!) and Hannah’s mom says play music, you’ll feel better, so back comes the record player.
Next day on set, more friction, but since we’re halfway through the movie, there is more compromising. Since I don’t believe that this is an Estate, I don’t believe that Hannah’s idea to create a vista to the backyard will be amazing, so I’m ok with her changing her mind and wanting to put a mural on the wall instead of knocking it down. Lucky for her, she already found a great artist selling his wares on the street a few scenes ago. Serendipity! Oooh, Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate. I want to go to there. BTW, Jeff likes her idea, too, and the camera is catching their longing glances to each other.
The network is pressuring Hannah and Jeff to go on a date to a screening of the first episode in the town square. Hannah is super pissed about it. I would be too. But Hannah doesn’t know which sheath dress she should wear. Jeff loves his time sitting in the backyard with her parents, and he’s amazed at her dress choice – it’s a lace sheath with sleeves. Jaws drop. Parents look on smugly.
Hannah confesses that she’s super nervous, because everyone needs to be happy. Why? Because if her show fails, a bunch of people will be out of a job, and she feels that pressure. Jeff’s advice? Block it out. Don’t worry about what people think. I don’t think he gets it. But the entire town has turned out to watch it – and no one minds that Hannah and Jeff sneak off during the screening. They get to sit on swings, and he confesses he likes her show. Some kind of momentous thing happened while they were on the swings, but Husband and Child have come down, so I missed it. But the whole town loves the episode!
Jeff and his friend decide to go out to celebrate, and they say the name of the restaurant like 6 times – Sparrows. Husband thinks it’s Sbarro. I don’t think SmallTown America has a Sbarro. But Jeff, Best Friend, Hannah, and Sassy Friend all have alcohol, and no one can think about anything to say other, but they are all saved by Trivia Night. Ah, Trivia. It saves the day every time.
End of the night, more soulful glances in his vintage Mustang that apparently doesn’t have seatbelts.
Older Son wants a 3D printer to make his own Honey Bear that looks like Colonel Sanders. Sometimes, I just don’t even ask.
Hannah finally wears her parents down so she can renovate their backyard. I have no idea why this is important. Their backyard seemed fine, but at least it gets Hannah and Jeff to hang out over the weekend. She is wearing stacked heels to install a pergola in the backyard. Costume Designers, why do you do this?
She has apparently gotten all the backyard work done, so they can have more soulful glances over takeout. Older Son has asked if anyone has hit The Sad Times. Not yet. Their conversation goes back over their break-up – he didn’t want to break up, but he had to let her go. Kiss blocked by her parents – who are SO happy that they are together.
The deck reveal feels like it was sponsored by Lowe’s. There’s a fire pit and some wicker. She couldn’t replace their weathered deck that looks like it’s going to fall apart?
Husband is looking for The Sad Times, too. Where are they?
Hannah gets a win over some kind of wall sconces, and Andrew loves that she kept the stained glass. But she heads to the town council to beg to be allowed to put up a pergola in the backyard of the house. I don’t know why this is such a big deal. Pergola Schmergola. Jeff asks her to go out on a Saturday, and does that thing where he pushes her hair back. Is that a thing? I know it’s written in everywhere, but do people really do that?
On their trip, he calls out a Tudor built in 1872, that is clearly NOT built in 1872. Come on, location scout.
Ugh, Jeff did that thing telling her that she got permission to build her pergola by saying “I’m sorry” insert big pause here “we’re going to have a lot more work to do.” I HATE THAT CRAP. Simon Cowell does it all the time, and it’s dumb.
How does Hannah have all this time to go bike riding and stuff when she has 2 only 1 more week before the grand opening? It’s the power of montages. I also don’t understand where the budget is going into this project -whose paying for the surround sound that she put into the backyard? The power of music – they get to dance, and they get to stare at each other until they are interrupted by the crew.
Grand Opening Time – he’s going to pick her up in the Mustang again. Time for another sheath dress – this time it’s red. Mom brings in another record for her record player. WHAT IS IT WITH THE RECORD PLAYER. And it’s the same song that they were just dancing too. Does Mom have spies everywhere that she knows this?
Mom says, “It’s a wonderful thing when someone ‘gets’ you, and when they challenge you, too.” I heartily agree, Mom. Shout out to Husband who sits through Dateline with me and watches all of it even when I fall asleep.
Jeff brings Hannah a grocery store bouquet as they head off to the grand opening. Back comes Sassy Friend for the end of the movie, and Network Executive too, who tells Jeff (but not Hannah, oh, no, don’t tell the star of the show) that the format of being on location works, and they want her to travel all over and do the same thing. SO HERE are the Sad Times for Jeff, as he ponders how he’s going to let her go again to follow her passion – except Hannah is clearly so over Network Executive and his douchebaggery that she’s gonna quit soon. Even Sassy Friend gets it. And Hannah stands up for herself and tells Network Executive to suck it. Yay!!!!
Jeff is clearly not taking The Sad Times well – he’s out by the corn hole. GOD FORBID Jeff, you talk to Hannah about your feelings, and you flake out and blame her job by saying “I don’t want to hold you back.” Ugh, stop being a martyr, Jeff. You’re being a dumbass.
Older Son Whispers “Sad Times.”
Hannah packs up to leave and has to take her record player, too. Girl, they won’t let that be carry on. Jeff is trying to outrace his Sad Times on his bicycle, but even his clueless married best friend can see that it’s not working and that Jeff needs to be with Hannah. He also calls Jeff on his bullshit, and does that thing about love isn’t supposed to make sense, and he should go get the girl.
Sassy Friend and Hannah are back in LA, and Sassy Friend is super worried. Hannah is also miserable, but she fixed up her balcony, and she’s getting take-out, and she’s got her record player. And Jeff arrives carrying food – both her take out and donuts. And he wants to start over, because he finally owns that he’s been a coward not to go after her before. Duh, Jeff. Duh.
Awww, Danica McKellar cries amazingly. But yay, they are out of the Sad Times in time to watch the sunset from her balcony. And we’re done!!!!!!!
Oy. I’m all for design, but there was precious little of it in this movie. I am also all in for historic houses, but it was so clear that there were like 6 different locations filmed for that one house, so whatever. But, it was nice to sit in the quiet of the morning and escape to SmallTown America for a bit. Not sure if you want to escape there, too, but lucky you, I did it, just so you don’t have to.