All Yours (2016)

Some Hallmark movies are fiery affairs filled with bickering couples tearing each other apart, and some are milder ones content with keeping the peace while the couple fumbles its way towards a happy union. All Yours is the latter kind, a slow burner of a romance in which one small step leads to another which leads to another. Cass (Nicollette Sheridan) and Matthew (Dan Payne) never engage in a war of wills even though there is an uneasy history between the former high school classmates. Instead, they just kind of accept the changes that the other brings into their lives and come to realize they’re in love by movie’s end. The low impact plot makes for dull viewing, but it’s passable fare for a Tuesday afternoon, especially if one is unemployed and snacking her way through the cupboard.

Sheridan looks the part of committed career woman, Cass, a lawyer who prides herself on her fierce courtroom reputation. She has little time for two young children, Emma (Genea Charpentier) and Quinn (Kiefer O’Reilly), and even less time now that she’s in line for a partnership at her firm. The kids don’t make her life any easier. They’re cut from the same cloth as the little rascals in Parent Trap and Nanny McPhee and delight in terrorizing their nannies. They even have a trophy wall dedicated to the ones they’ve forced out. Cass isn’t sure her children’s latest caretaker is up to the job, but she has no other choice.

Family friend Matthew is recruited by Cass’s desperate mother, Vivian (Jayne Eastwood), and his father, Charles (Michael Kopsa), who agrees to reconsider a marina redevelopment deal if his son shows that he can commit to something. Matthew, for his part, accepts because he wants to save the residents and business owners from his dad and because he’s just come off a months long high seas adventure and has nothing else to do. He’s also filthy rich thanks to his internet fortune and has a law degree from Stanford, something that comes in handy later on.

The movie is less interesting for its plot than for the way it navigates gender. Cass has the more stereotypical part of an overworked single mother who needs to find a more socially acceptable balance between career and family. Her position at the firm is threatened by her duties at home, responsibilities that her male colleagues and clients either do not have or do not care about. Henry (Lochlyn Munroe), another lawyer, nags her about work at the same time he shames her for things like picking up the kids. As always, the feelings of guilt are on Cass alone, and she gets saddled with the burden of choosing her job or her family.

Matthew, meanwhile, has it easier since he gets to have it all. He is wealthy enough to take his time finding whatever job suits him, and he gains a fulfilling relationship without sacrificing anything in the process. Matthew’s relationships with Cass and her children go through the necessary growing pains, but his big existential struggle is overcoming his “manny” job title. It’s one he wears with shame and tries to shed, preferring something like “male childcare-giver.” It sucks for him to not have agency over this, but also welcome to the club, dude.

Since I’m one for overanalyzing Hallmark movies, I’ll add that this is all reflected in the characters’ lawyering and work styles. Cass sees things as a zero sum game while Matthew tries for a win-win scenario in every case. This mirrors reality, even if nothing else in the movie does. Until Cass reprioritizes, gives up some professional fulfillment, and chills the fuck out, she won’t, or can’t, truly be happy.

Released: 2016
Dir: Monika Mitchell
Writer: Brian Sawyer, Gregg Rossen, Ari Posner
Cast: Nicollette Sheridan, Dan Payne, Kiefer O’Reilly, Genea Charpentier, Jayne Eastwood, Lochlyn Munro, Mark Brandon, Michael Kopsa
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark
Reviewed: 2018