I don’t know if Royal Caribbean is hurting for customers or just trying out a new marketing strategy, but they have been making a push for their Harmony of the Seas jumbo liner. Love at Sea is the second movie I’ve watched in as many months that features this glimmering monstrosity, and both proved a chore to sit through. I was looking forward to seeing Alexa and Carlos PenaVega since a) I enjoyed their Christmas outing last year, and b-z) I demand more Hallmark movies featuring people of color, but this script isn’t helping anyone.
The husband and wife team play a novice cruise director and event planner, respectively, and find themselves tested when they’re forced to work together. Olivia, daughter of a well known hotelier, is still smarting from a breakup when she agrees to help her friend, Ally (Melissa Carcache), with a job that takes both of them aboard the Harmony of the Seas. Ally, a popular YouTube personality who hosts her own lifestyle channel, will be filming from the ship alongside a Gordon Ramsey-like celebrity chef, and Olivia has to make sure the cruise tour is a success, not only so that her friend can land a network show but also so that she can establish her own event planning business.
First time cruise director Tony might scuttle those plans though. While she’s the type who schedules things to the minute, he’s more of an adventurous, let’s go with the flow and see what the day brings kind of guy. It doesn’t seem like the right personality for a person who’s in charge of a 6000+ passenger cruise liner, but that’s just me. Although he wants to help Olivia he’s also overseeing a thousand other activities and has one shot to get things right if he’s going to secure a promotion.
The ship looks grand and we get some nice sea views, but the first half of the movie is a mess. The script seems determined to set up an Elizabeth Bennett/Mr. Darcy kind of relationship between Olivia and Tony with the two going out of their way to create problems. Olivia doesn’t have sympathy for Tony’s job situation and the fact that he’s a last-minute fill-in for another director, and he feels no obligation to honor the company’s previous arrangements with her. On top of that, Olivia’s former romantic interest (Edward Finlay) is onboard to write an article for a travel magazine, and her mom (Audrey Landers), who looks like she hasn’t recovered from her pills, suddenly has a new boyfriend. There’s a lot of noise and tension, but it’s the kind that makes you want to change the channel and not figure out what’s happening next.
And I did change the channel, until I decided to give the movie another chance. The second half improves, and I credit that to the turn towards a Fanny Price/Edmund Bertram relationship between the couple. The PenaVegas’ chemistry shines when Olivia and Tony start supporting each other. They show off more of their characters, including their vulnerabilities; her edges get smoothed down while he gets a better handle on his responsibilities. There are some clichéd scenes between the two – when they’re forced to cook together, when he serenades her during an evening show – but those give the movie a hint of the real-life romance that is the actors’ strength.
Dir: Mel Damski
Writer: Nina Weinman
Cast: Alexa PenaVega, Carlos PenaVega, Melissa Carcache, Audrey Landers, William R. Moses, Edward Finlay
Time: 83 min
Country: United States