Strawberry Summer (2012)

This movie doesn’t have much, but it does have Trevor Donovan singing so that counts as a minor win. At the same time, it’s also a generic, lackluster story about a small town girl with big dreams so I’ll be watching it again never. Donovan plays Jason Keith, a country star who’s risen to fame with his song Easy Heart. His reputation has taken a hit after a string of festival no-shows, however. That doesn’t deter music teacher Beth (Julie Mond) from choosing him to be grand marshal of this year’s Strawberry Festival, which her mother (Shelley Long) is organizing. The town isn’t hot on the idea and neither is Jason, but his manager agrees to the gig, seeing it as a pretty foolproof way to win back fans.

Heading up this fruity event is trying though, and I get why Jason wants to stay holed up in his hotel room with his guitar. Frankly I’d rather do that than subject myself to endless pie tosses and baking competitions. When the Strawberry King bails, Strawberry Queen Beth shames Jason into filling in, and he has to live with the indignity of wearing strawberry regalia. At least he matches his queen, who has her very own themed get-up that resembles a doll’s dress.

As tempted as I am to knock the Strawberry Festival, I can’t totally dismiss the idea; my high school years were spent marching in town parades celebrating various food stuffs and wild animals. Even so, the cheese factor is a bit much, and I’m embarrassed for everyone when the glee club breaks out with their local twist on When the Saints Go Marching In. If you want to get to the film’s better parts, however, you’re going to have to accept things like that and Jason’s atrocious cowboy attire. I’m sorry, but California boy Donovan looks like he’s cosplaying a country star. Wardrobe could have given him a faded flannel and a pair of cowboy boots, and I would have believed it just fine.

In a way, that gets to the heart of the story. Behind his arrogance and bad attitude, Jason is weighed down by superstardom. His healing comes in the form of Beth, whose desire to achieve her own unfulfilled dreams should take precedence but whose struggle seems one-note. Mond, as a result, doesn’t have much to play with. Her character is generically sympathetic but lacking in dimension. Donovan, however, actually seems more comfortable in this role than in recent ones, perhaps because there’s some real depth to this character. He taps into Jason’s insecurities and brings complexity to the otherwise obnoxious singer. He’s too passive an actor though to make this performance stand out.

“Easy Heart” by Trevor Donovan:

“Taming the Horse” by Trevor Donovan:

Alt Title: Easy Heart
Released: 2012
Dir: Kevin Connor
Writer: Gary Goldstein, Jim Head
Cast: Julie Mond, Trevor Donovan, Shelley Long, Cindy Williams, Dagney Kerr, Meagen Fay, Jilon VanOver
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movie Channel
Reviewed: 2020