A Defense of Hallmark Movies: "Recipe for Love"

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The Hallmark Channel. If you have ever been subjected to one of the many movies put out by this specific company, you’ve experienced, both the joys and the pains of a stereotypical romantic comedy. I mean, Hallmark movies are about as basic as it comes in the film industry. They feature very safe plots, with little to no risk or creative exploration. They tackle no complex themes and require few coherent thoughts from the viewer, in fact, many critics would not even consider Hallmark-esque movies films at all.

Photo Courtesy of IMDB

I admit that I was once a part of that majority, maybe not so far into that overly judgmental mindset to strip them of their classifications as films, but definitely I was not the type of person to enjoy this style of movie. It would be so incredibly easy for me to sit here, and list all flaws present in these cheesy, predictable films, but where is the fun in remaining complacent in ideas that have already been talked to death. 

While my conviction holds true, that these are not, by any stretch of the imagination, remarkable films, I believe that there is value to that conformity, that beyond the basic and stereotypical plots, viewers can still find enjoyment in sitting through a Hallmark love story. 

As I previously stated, in the past, I would have never imagined myself writing a defense for Hallmark movies, in fact, when I decided to write this story I was already thinking of the thousands of ways I could make fun of these movies. My goal was to find a movie, so appalling, so undeniably repulsive, that I would have no choice but to cook up a bad review for it. The movie I found was “Recipe for Love” and just by looking at the box art I knew that this would be an easy target. I forced my roommate to watch it with me and neither of us expected what would happen next, we enjoyed ourselves. In fact, it was one of the happiest times I’ve had watching a movie in a long time. 

The decision to watch this movie was in order to write a Valentine’s Day movie review as it is that time of the year. Plenty of new releases came out covering the holiday, and there are always a plethora of decent movies I could have chosen that would have fit the bill, but as I was sifting through the overwhelming amount of movies I could watch, “Recipe for Love”, directed by Ron Oliver, jumped out at me. I mean it checked all my boxes: bad cover art, cheesy plot, and obscure enough to capture my attention. 

It follows Danielle Panabaker’s character, a young chef who needs money to go to chef school in Paris, as she is tasked with ghost-writing Shawn Robert’s characters cookbook. Roberts plays a hunky TV chef who has secretly desires to go back to a simpler life. How perfectly predictable. Of course, they start the movie kind of hating each other and out of that hatred blossoms a beautiful love; I mean it really is the same thing you’ve seen a million times before. Where this movie breaks the mold, however, is in the fact that the love plot is honestly a side plot. I mean this movie mostly focuses on writing that cookbook. It was so hard to watch at times, but it was like a train wreck that you could not look away from.  

Now, do not attribute my ironic love for this movie to its plot, or acting, or themes, or really anything the movie did well. I mean, they really didn’t even get the whole romance part of the romantic comedy down. I have truly never in my life seen two people with less chemistry than the main characters in this movie, but that’s what makes it work, that’s what makes it a Hallmark movie. My hypothesis is that most critics go into these movies with the wrong mindset. If you go into one of these obviously low budget movies, with few or no big-name actors, and mostly unsubstantial directors, you are obviously going to find flaws in the movie. This is where, I believe, a lot of critics get it wrong. They conclude that because of the flaws present in the film, and its mostly unoriginal plot, the movie is therefore bad; I argue that these same reasons are what makes them so much fun to watch. 

So yes, “Recipe for Love” is not a good movie, but it most definitely is a fun movie. It is not a movie that I would nominate for an Oscar, but it is an experience that was probably more memorable to me, than most Oscar nominees. If you are looking for a heavy-hitting movie that forces you to think and presents intelligent themes, then you are looking in the wrong place; but if you want something fun, something you can sit down and watch with your friends or family and just laugh, then this might be the place to turn. It is not substantial in and of itself, what is substantial is the joy it brings tons of people everywhere. 

So the next time you cast condescending judgment on a Hallmark movie, I challenge you to sit down with a group of friends and try to contain your laughter or your smiles; I can almost guarantee you won’t be able to.

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