Eat, Play, Love (2017)

Eat, Play, Love is as lazy as the title suggests. The film recycles a plot about former high school sweethearts who reunite and find that a second chance at love may have already passed them by. It’s not the familiarity of the story that weighs it down but the lack of details that would make it seem new again. We’re not counting Jen Lilley’s clear plastic frame glasses either, which are cool but which also looked like someone fished them out of the prop bin.

The movie’s best assets are its two stars. Jason Cermak plays opposite Lilley and at last gets a chance to move on from his usual bit roles. He has the look of the humble kid next door, and that’s why I had trouble buying into his character’s relationship with the hottie TV reporter who is his also occasional colleague. Dan and Kristi (Emily Maddison) host a weekly segment at the dog shelter where he works with his sister, Michelle (Lucie Guest). They encourage pet adoptions, except Kristi hates dogs and Dan can’t live without them. Anyone can tell the couple is doomed, but that doesn’t stop them from getting engaged and making plans to move to New York for her new job.

The plot depends on this relationship, so it’s unfortunate that Dan and Kristi have no chemistry. Carly (Lilley), who’s back in town and has plans to take over her grandfather’s veterinary practice, feels that old spark the moment she sees her former boyfriend though. The childhood friends haven’t lost their touch, and years later, they still share the same laidback styles, sense of humor, and, most importantly, love of dogs. With only a month before he leaves for the city, time is running out for her to make him see the light.

You could call this a situation a love triangle, but one side is so damn weak, the whole thing is about to collapse. Dan doesn’t offer a single reason for why he loves Kristi. He looks like a confused boy every time she speaks, and when Carly confronts him, all he has to say is, “ You don’t know her like I do.” Weak sauce. If the writers want some drama, they should have at least made this a fairer fight.

A consolation of sorts is the romance between Carly’s grandfather (Lee Majors) and a widow (Lindsay Wagner) who just can’t seem to connect with the right dog. Their relationship doesn’t come together very elegantly either, but at least it’s not the one driving the story. If only the dogs featured more prominently in the movie, there might be something to enjoy.

Released: 2017
Dir: Christie Will Wolf
Writer: Joel Canfield, Lisa Canfield
Cast: Jen Lilley, Jason Cermak, Lee Majors, Lindsay Wagner, Lucie Guest, Emily Maddison
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel
Reviewed: 2019