Garage Sale Mystery (2013)

When you’re dealing with antiques and other old castoffs, it’s best to leave some breathing room. Garage Sale Mystery, Hallmark’s series about a consignment shop owner who rummages at garage sales, doesn’t quite let in enough air, and though some light and levity break through, the mystery suffocates under the dust and dark shadows. There are hints of a Victorian English country manor whodunit in this – plenty of stashed valuables, dark cellars, mystery boxes, shady strangers, and fancy estates. But the movie is a by-the-book mystery that never finds a distinct voice.

The case, a woman found dead at the foot of her grand staircase, is easy to solve and offers few red herrings to occupy the hour and a half run time. Her friend, Jennifer (an ageless Lori Loughlin), discovers her, and while the police are convinced it was an accident, Jennifer has her suspicions. In particular, she suggests that the death may have something to do with a string of robberies at homes that have recently hosted garage sales. Then again, it might be related to a secret that the deceased was about to share with Jennifer just before her death. Once these potential leads are introduced, they seem to run on autopilot with nothing to shake them from their monotony.

Loughlin is a calming and reassuring presence in this guessing game, though I may be channeling that from all the episodes of Full House I watched as a kid. She isn’t given much to do as Jennifer, however. Aside from a knack for spotting treasure amidst the trash and keen observation skills that she might as well offer to the police department, she’s a bore. She has a blissful home life and an unusually large house that she shares with her supportive husband, son, and daughter. At work, she dishes out relationship advice to her partner, Dani (Sarah Strange), who has a talent for attracting the wrong kind of men. Without a more dynamic protagonist, the movie rests entirely on plot, which is lacking in this installment.

The one bright spot is the first spark of romance between her college graduate daughter (Sara Canning) and the young police detective investigating the case (Andrew Dunbar). Their flirtations provide a diversion and deepen the dynamic between the two characters and Jennifer. Unfortunately, the internet tells me that their appearance is a one-off, and they won’t return for subsequent episodes. There goes the best thing on offer.

Released: 2013
Dir: Peter DeLuise
Writer: Walter Klenhard
Cast: Lori Loughlin, Rick Ravanello, Andrew Dunbar, Sara Canning, Cameron Bancroft, Sarah Strange, Brendan Meyer, Anne Marie DeLuise
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries
Reviewed: 2017