Darrow & Darrow (2017)

If you’ve come to the law firm of Darrow and Darrow looking for a mystery, go elsewhere. You will not find one here. There is nothing to see. Unless you’re a fan of Wendie Malick who stars as one of the titular Darrows; Kimberly Williams-Paisley isn’t bad as the other Darrow, and, while we’re at it, Tom Cavanaugh is looking pretty distinguished as well. But if you’re expecting an actual case to solve, try any one of Hallmark’s other offerings. This movie’s main conflict is reserved for Claire (Williams-Paisley) and her estranged mother, Joanna (Malick), who makes a sudden and not all too welcome appearance back home.

A smash and grab at a jewelry store gets things started, and one of Claire’s friends is implicated. She offers to help fancy donut vendor and parolee, Dave (Kirby Morrow), beat the charge since she’s pretty sure he didn’t do it. Trying to figure out who did is not her top priority though because oh, the family drama. After getting scapegoated for losing a big case, and loads of money, Joanna has to crawl back to her daughter’s humble practice to ask for a job and shelter. The problem is, Claire is in no mood to offer a helping hand. She blames her mom for abandoning her and her dad’s firm after he died, packing up for city life, fame, and corporate clients instead of staying behind to fight for the little guy.

Claire’s not going to let her mom go homeless though and invites her in, but she comes to regret her largesse when Joanna begins asserting herself. Joanna tries to buy her way into a partnership by representing well-heeled clients, bringing her in direct opposition to Darrow & Darrow’s social justice-minded mission. (I see you, racially diverse law office.) Then she wins over her granddaughter, Louise (Lilah Fitzgerald), by helping her adjust to her new school.

The movie is titled Darrow & Darrow because I suspect while Williams-Paisley gets top billing, Malick is really the star. Her formidable character balances great regret and ambition and is far more relatable than her self-righteous daughter. Williams-Paisley is grounded enough to ensure that Claire is not totally insufferable, and she’s also helped by her chemistry with Cavanaugh, who plays a competing attorney and brewing love interest. But it’s hard to forgive Claire’s stubbornness, especially when she insists that Louise embrace her role as a social outcast just because she enjoyed being a friendless teen.

Louise’s high school troubles, by the way, must have been written by someone who doesn’t know any kids. I love that she’s a science nerd and builds robots in the shed, but her difficulties fitting in are a hodgepodge of teen problems that don’t connect in any coherent way. Then again, the mystery also gets casually shoved into the plot whenever there’s a lull in the domestic drama. Poor Dave does get his date in court, but I doubt anyone cares.

Highlight for spoilers: Oh, there’s a case to solve, and of course it wasn’t Donut Dave. Rather, it was the owner of the jewelry store, Mr. Drescher (Jan Bos), who was up to his eyeballs in gambling debts and thought he could pull off a little insurance fraud to make his problem go away. Drescher frames Dave, whom he knows is on parole and would be an easy target, by planting a watch in his bag and stealing his van to commit the robbery. The motorcycle that some of the characters report seeing and hearing belongs to a Russian mobster sending not-so-subtle warnings to Drescher to repay his debts.

Released: 2017
Dir: Peter DeLuise
Writer: Phoef Sutton
Cast: Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Wendie Malick, Tom Cavanaugh, Lilah Fitzgerald, Barclay Hope, Kirby Morrow, Jan Bos
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries
Reviewed: 2018