I wasn’t expecting much from The Convenient Groom, but sometimes fortuitous casting makes all the difference. The movie turns to the old fake fiancé trope and sees a popular relationship vlogger partnering with a childhood friend when her real fiancé dumps her. While there are not many surprises in the way of story, I found myself growing attached to the phony couple because of the unexpected chemistry between stars Vanessa Marcil and David Sutcliffe. I wouldn’t have thought to pair Marcil, whom I still remember from her General Hospital days, with Sutcliffe, who really slips into his carpenter-next-door role, yet the casting works in everyone’s favor, eliciting some surprising emotions from characters and viewers alike.
As Dr. Kate Lawrence, the woman behind the Just…No relationship advice site, Marcil nails the vlogger sound and look, including some distinctive Ali Wong eyewear. Watched by thousands who are trying to figure out whether their partner is The One, Kate thinks she’s found her answer in fiancé Bryan (Aaron Craven). She wants to share the happy news via livestreamed engagement party, turning the gathering into a media event that could generate loads of advertising money and lead to a plum book deal, but Bryan is not hot on the idea. Ignoring her own advice about red flags and egged on by an insistent publicist, Kate goes ahead with the plan anyway, and it ends in disaster when Bryan dumps her just before she reveals his identity.
In steps Lucas (Sutcliffe), Kate’s high school crush until he spoiled their first date by inviting a bunch of his friends and breaking a precious gift from her late mother. Though they’re on friendlier terms now, all is not forgiven and the last thing she wants is for him to make amends by pretending to be her fiancé. That, however, is exactly what he does, inserting himself into her livestream and announcing to her viewers that he is the soon-to-be Mr. Lawrence. Too stunned to set things straight at first and then later really desperate for that book deal, Kate decides to roll with it. That means following through on some actual wedding planning and documenting the progress online.
As much as I love Sutcliffe, aka grown-up Steve Lund, I have to say that it’s a jerk move on Lucas’s part to try to save Kate. She never asked him to intervene, yet his action puts her in an untenable situation and leaves her to bear the brunt of the fallout. Sure, his carpentry business might get dinged, but it’ll be nothing compared to the troll attack she’s in for. Lucas redeems himself over the course of the movie though with small gestures and some much needed honesty, showing that he’s not there to pity Kate but that he really cares for her.
Likewise, Kate isn’t initially all that sympathetic. For someone who makes a living off of telling others what they should and shouldn’t do in a relationship, she’s pretty blind to her own failings. I don’t blame Bryan for bailing since she completely disregards his desire for a more private engagement. Marcil puts in the hard work to win us over to her character though. At her core, Kate is a kind and generous partner, her defensiveness and drive for perfection scars from her parents’ divorce. That she and Lucas butt heads and argue over things both frivolous and serious forces them to grow together.
Dir: David Winning
Writer: Julie Sherman Wolfe
Cast: Vanessa Marcil, David Sutcliffe, Karen Holness, Aaron Craven, Larissa Dias, Karen Kruper, Austin Anozie
Time: 84 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Channel