Falling for Vermont (2017)

The soundtrack of my mom and I watching this movie is ninety minutes of us cackling about how ridiculous everything is, and we always watch Hallmark movies. So you can imagine how much hokier Falling for Vermont is than the usual fare. Julie Gonzalo and Benjamin Ayres are champs for getting through it all with a straight face, and their dedicated performances make this cheesy movie at least tolerable. Still, it’s a film about a woman who experiences a temporary bout of amnesia and falls in love with the town doctor, so expect lots of bewildered expressions.

Gonzalo plays Boston-based writer Angela Young, who is about to go J.K. Rowling on the world with her Time Visitor young adult book series. Her boyfriend and manager, Brad (Peter Benson), overcommits her during her latest publicity tour, leading to some serious anxiety attacks. Just before a television interview, she bolts, taking her sister’s car for a drive to who knows where, which turns out to be the small town of Hopedale, Vermont. One bad rainstorm and car crash later, she’s found wandering along the highway with no memory of who she is or how she got there.

The only way the rest of the movie works is if you believe that the sheriff who found Angela took two damn weeks to find her car. But then, she would have been promptly shipped back to Boston, and we wouldn’t have a movie with this dumb title. We are going to suspend our disbelief, however, because there is a love story to tell, and it is one between Angela and the one doctor in town. Widowed Dr. Jeff (Ayres) agrees to take in Elizabeth, as she is now called, and she stays at his guest house to the delight of his two children.

It’s a funny town, this little Hopedale, but Angela doesn’t seem to mind the oddities. She doesn’t care that she has to walk around in scrubs for a few days because no one has the decency to lend her real clothes. Nor does she notice the fake autumn trees that pop out like desperate extras hoping for a cameo. Most importantly, she doesn’t notice that Jeff barely works considering he’s the only doctor in town.

Actually, Angela does remark on this on one occasion, but thank goodness everyone in Hopedale is healthy because that gives the two young, attractive people a chance to get to know each other. Jeff’s precocious daughter, Emily (Lauren McNamara), encourages the relationship and forms a bond with Angela when she asks for help writing a short play for the upcoming fall festival.

I have to hand it to the two leads who make the most out of this inane script. Gonzalo especially finds moments of humor, some intended and others not. She wears the earnest look of an improv artist, capturing Angela’s sense of constant surprise and willingness to just go with the flow. Ayres, who reminds me of a tamer Jason Sudeikis, also gives his character enough seriousness to keep up appearances but retains a lurking cheekiness. That’s not to say the movie is good or even worth watching, but it’s not entirely without merit.

Released: 2017
Dir: David Winning
Writer: Jay Baxter, Shaun Zaken
Cast: Julie Gonzalo, Benjamin Ayres, Peter Benson, Larissa Albuquerque, Lauren McNamara, Barbara Kottmeier, Christian Michael Cooper, Jenn Griffin, Anthony Bolognese, Doron Bell
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark
Reviewed: 2018