McCarthy Gives Polo a Chance
Having been with Edward (Greg Evigan - After the Fall) for 5 years, New York photographer Jordan (Teri Polo - J.L. Family Ranch) is disappointed when on her birthday he asks her to move in with him but has no intention of marrying her. Upset she agrees to take part in the match-making that her best friend sets up for her and heads out to a ranch in Wyoming to meet Tyler Ross (Andrew McCarthy - A Father for Brittany) who in turn has agreed to the match-making after some pushing from his sister. Despite a less than brilliant start, over a few days Jordan and Tyler get to know each other and they start to fall for each other. But Tyler's past, the death of his wife, is holding him back and with Edward still on the scene it seems that their relationship may never really get started.
Viewing the Hallmark movie "Straight from the Heart" with a critical eye it would be easy to rip it to shreds. The storyline surrounding a rancher in Wyoming struggling to move on after the death of his wife and a city girl who is in a no good relationship feels all too familiar and slightly reminiscent to "Message in a Bottle". It follows a simple path that these two are brought together and although initially struggle to get on it is not only obvious that they will end up in each others arms but also that beneath all the antagonism there is chemistry. And to just make it more interesting, although it doesn't, we have issues on the ranch with the removal of wild stallions and also back in the city where the boyfriend tries to make amends. In all honesty there isn't a single original idea in "Straight from the Heart" and as such it is seriously easy to predict.
But being obvious is not that much of a problem as director David S. Cass Sr. works these storylines beautifully to make "Straight from the Heart" ooze charm. He helps create characters that through their own weaknesses and turmoil's are appealing and as such you champion them. And he also crafts scene after scene of beautiful shots, from capturing the wide expanse of the Wyoming open range through to the more intimate moments between Jordan and Tyler, capturing the emotion they are struggling with. It does all feel and look rather cliche with scenes where they become close but are separated by their own turmoil's, but at the same time it oozes romantic warmth.
All of which is good and means that whilst "Straight from the Heart" is obvious and often very cliche it works and achieves the warm romantic glow intended. But it goes one step too far, one step which turns this pleasant romantic tale into something seriously cheesy. I am talking about the ending, an ending I would love to say never happened but it did and is so out of keeping with the rest of the movie that I was screaming for the director's blood. Let's put it this way, a bit of cliche is acceptable as long as it is reasonably realistic but the ending to "Straight from the Heart" is so unrealistic that it is painful and fits more with a Mills & Boon book.
What is nice is that the performances in "Straight from the Heart" were surprisingly good and prior to this having only watched Andrew McCarthy in various 80s movies his performance really impressed. McCarthy not only looks the part of a rancher, ruggedly handsome, but he also finds the emotion of a man unable to move on from the death of his wife, blaming himself for it. It's a sensitive performance from McCarthy and it makes me wonder why he's not getting more main stream roles. Opposite McCarthy is the delightful Teri Polo and not only does she deliver the intentional beauty but also the conflict when it comes to the big decision she has to make when it comes to her future. It's a performance and character which again feels like you've seen it before in other movies but Polo delivers it perfectly.
What this all boils down to is that "Straight from the Heart" is very much what you expect from a Hallmark movie. It is beautifully shot; it has warmth and makes you feel good when it's over. But at the same time it all feels very obvious and doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out not only where it will end but the significant moments along the way.