Empty9-11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Sentimental and highly improbable, Hallmark Channel's "The Note" screams emotional manipulation from practically every frame. And yet you have to have ice in your veins not to fall for it. There's a lot of credit to be shared for that accomplishment, but most of it belongs to the leads, Genie Francis and Ted McGinley.
Francis plays newspaper columnist Peyton MacGruder, whose ill-defined column, "The Heart Healer," is in trouble. A survey shows readers don't much care for it, and Peyton's boss has given her a few weeks to turn it around.
This is a good place to pause and note that, aside from "All the President's Men," there probably has never been a movie that accurately depicts working for a newspaper. "Note" is no exception. Peyton has her own office and an assistant. She writes only when she has something she feels like writing about. And when Peyton disagrees with a corporate decision to foster synergy, she gets her own way. I was waiting for a scene in which she gets a bonus for good work, but I guess they are saving that for the sequel.
Back to the review. While mulling her situation as she walks along the shore, Peyton notices a note washed up in a plastic bag. It was written by a passenger on a plane that caught fire and plunged into the ocean, killing everyone aboard. Peyton decides to find the person who was to receive the note and write about her experiences.
Meanwhile, she edges toward romance with sports columnist King Danville (McGinley), whose backstory neatly dovetails with her own.
There's nothing particularly witty or sophisticated about Paul W. Cooper's dialogue, based on Angela Hunt's novel, but that doesn't stop Francis or McGinley from developing enormously appealing characters. McGinley lends the movie charm and warmth. Francis gives an understated but particularly effective performance that keeps the emotional highs and lows in check.
The film has a fairly generic look, but in this case it works out for the best. It keeps things focused on Peyton's quest and the tantalizingly slow development of her relationship with King.
Just remember to dim the lights and keep a couple of hankies handy.
A WildRice, Lightworks Pictures and Doone City Pictures production
Executive producers: William Spencer Reilly, Joel S. Rice
Co-executive producers: Cindy Bond, Karen M. Waldron
Producer: Steve Solomos
Director: Douglas Barr
Teleplay: Paul W. Cooper
Based on a novel by: Angela Hunt
Director of photography: Derick Underschultz
Production designer: Kathleen Climie
Editor: Cindy Parisotto
Music: Eric Allaman
Casting: Shana Landsburg, Tina Gerussi, Megan Conacher
Peyton MacGruder: Genie Francis
King Danville: Ted McGinley
Truman Harris: Rick Roberts
Mandi: Genelle Williams
Christine: Katie Boland
Nora: Maria Ricossa