Love in Design (2018)

Proving that Hallmark’s not the only superficial one, I admit that I only like Love in Design because it stars Danica McKellar and Andrew Walker, two of my favorites. The story, insomuch as there is one, struggles to get off the ground, and I really have to scrape around for something positive to say. Nevertheless, it squeaks by because of my affection for the actors. They show that a little charisma can go a long, long way, and with less appealing leads, this is a film that I wouldn’t have even bothered finishing. That still didn’t stop me from dumping it straight into the DVR bin before the credits started rolling though.

McKellar and Walker play former lovers reunited when her home improvement show needs his architecture expertise on a historic mansion remodel. Hannah’s popular program is due for a redesign of its own, and the head of the network suggests she take a longer term project in her hometown. It’s different from her usual renovations, which are sleek condo updates and the like. Instead, her task is to turn the home into a modern B&B while still honoring the building’s past. On hand to assist but mostly to approve of any major changes is Jeff, her ex-boyfriend and the historical society’s architect.

The thinking seems to be that McKellar and Walker’s synergy will be enough to overcome deficits in plot and character, and that is somewhat true. The two make the most of what they have and power through with relentless optimism. Hannah and Jeff enjoy each other’s company, they’re perky, and it’s hard to find anything to dislike about either one. The pairing radiates positivity, putting the focus on the characters’ personalities rather than the story.

That turns out to be a good thing because there’s not much story there. It’s minimally interested in redesign, both of the house and of Hannah and Jeff’s romance. The writers seem to think they can get away by playing loose with the details, such as the mansion makeover timeline. Without a plan in hand, Hannah arrives at the site and immediately begins demo. She has five weeks to fix the place up and just kind of adds ideas as she goes along. We don’t see much of the renovation or the remodeled house or even the behind-the-scenes aspects of Hannah’s show. It’s as if this movie was a failed trial run for the similarly themed but much more enjoyable and focused Flip That Romance, which recently premiered.

The couple’s relationship is an afterthought too. Despite being on screen the whole time, Hannah and Jeff remain a mystery. They may be pleasant, but they’re that couple you always make small talk with without ever really knowing. We don’t even get their backstory until it’s too late to care, not that it’s that compelling anyway. I just wish McKellar and Walker had a better vehicle to show off their chemistry.

Released: 2018
Dir: Steven R. Monroe
Writer: Nicole Baxter
Cast: Danica McKellar, Andrew Walker, Alvina August, Jan Skene, Eric Pollins, Brenda Gorlick, Paul Essiembre
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2019