"Playing Cupid" Is Based On A Book & Features Leads From Outside Hallmark World

Starring:  Laura Vandervoort, Nicholas Gonzalez, and Mia Quaranta De La Rosa 

Released:  2021

Summary:  A 13-year old student is assigned to create her own small business and decides to start a matchmaking service for her "clients." 

Image:  Crown Media

The Movie Is Based On A Book


When Hallmark strays outside of their own little world to find new stories to tell in their movies, it's always a breath of fresh air.

It might surprise you that Playing Cupid  isn't based on an adult romance novel, but on a juvenile fiction book targeting tweeners--kids ages 8-12.  In author Jenny Meyerhoff's version, the focus is on Clara being a new student at Austen Middle School, but when she finds she has a talent for matchmaking, she uses her skills for a 7th grade class project.  Clara isn't looking for a match for herself, but she ends up with a secret admirer.  The book is filled with all the boy-girl drama one expects from middle school! 

You can purchase this Scholastic book for your own student reader here:


Hallmark adapted the novel to appeal to fans of adult romance, and it was a perfect selection for their Love Ever After 2021 line-up.  


Nicholas Gonzalez Is A Hunk You've Seen Before, But Not On Hallmark   


Nicholas Gonzalez is best known for his role as Dr. Melendez on The Good Doctor and recurring role on The Flash, but he's been in a ton of other shows, including Pretty Little Liars, and even on the big screen opposite Jane Seymour in  Pray for Rain.

Here are some other fun facts you may not know about this newest Hallmark hunk:
  • He was born in San Antonio, Texas, and was a star on the track and cross country teams at Central Catholic High School in Texas.
  • He majored in English at Stanford University and even studied literature at Oxford in London.
  • His father and brother are surgeons, and his mom is a bookkeeper in a radiology office.
  • He married a co-star from The Good Doctor, Kelsey Crane, in 2016, and welcomed a daughter, Ever Lee Wilde, in 2017.
Photo by Braedon Photography

One thing's sure, Gonzalez brings a sexy and appealing Latino charm to the role of "David Martinez" in Playing Cupid that will cause your corazon to pound!


Who Is Laura Vandervoort?


Laura Vandervoort, who portrays teacher Kerri Fox, is a very versatile actress with an impressive resume.  She is most recognizable as "Super Girl" from the hit TV series, Smallville, as well as the sci-fy series' V and Bitten, though she has guest starred in a variety of other TV shows. 

Vandervoort enjoys working behind the camera too, both as a developer and producer, and her production company has three films in the works for the coming year.

Like her co-star, Gonzalez, she studied English along with Psychology as her areas of concentration while at New York University.  

Impressively, she holds a second degree black belt in karate. 

Image:  Crown Media

Mia Quaranta De La Rosa


Born to a Mexican mother and an Italian father, Mia is a very smart young lady who speaks English, Spanish, Italian, and is currently learning French.  She is a very hard-working middle school student who loves reading, writing, drawing, and painting.

Playing Cupid is Mia's first acting debut, and she hopes to become a successful actress.

Image:  Crown Media


Something New With Hallmark


Playing Cupid is one of the first movies where Hallmark includes the ex-spouse in on the action.  Typically, the male and female leads have broken up with a boyfriend/girlfriend or fiancee, a spouse has died, or their ex-spouse has abandoned the family and is never seen again.

This time around, Clara's mother, Eva, returns home.  Kerri assumes Eva and David are reconciling, so she considers leaving town.  As much as Clara is elated to have her mom back, even she recognizes her parents aren't meant to be together.

Of course, in Hallmark land, Eva isn't at all jealous, spiteful, or venomous to Kerri in any way and even helps Kerri's students buy her the desk, chair, and laptop she wants for her classroom. 

Hallmark also spends more time in the classroom with students than they have in past movies.  Usually, viewers learn the lead is a teacher, but their interactions with students are brief or non-existent.  Playing Cupid is really a hat-tip to all the dedicated teachers who invest their hearts and souls into helping their students grow and achieve success.  In fact, Kerri credits her former teacher for helping her overcome a stutter, which inspired her to become a teacher as well.  She wanted to impact young lives the same way hers had been.

Playing Cupid offers small but refreshing changes to Hallmark's business as usual approach, so let's hope the trend continues.

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Four Different Personality Types in Hallmark's "Snowkissed"--Which Character Is Most Like You? Plus, a Movie QUIZ!

Starring:  Jen Lilley and Chris McNally

Released:  2021

Summary:  A journalist with a distaste for traveling gets the opportunity to tackle her dream assignment and unwillingly mentors an attractive bed-and-breakfast owner.

Image:  Crown Media

This fun and wintry movie follows Kate, Jayne, Noah, and Simon.  All four characters are "polar" opposites in so many ways, but they end up blending well together, like the cheese, wine, and chocolate they sample in the movie.

Which movie character do you relate to the most?

Kate 


Kate does not like adventure.  She creates a routine for her daily life, and she doesn't deviate from it.  She has no desire to explore other areas of the world because she thinks Manhattan has it all.  She's deathly afraid of heights, and she doesn't enjoy the outdoors.  When it comes to exercise, she prefers a temperature controlled gym over a hike in nature.  She feels safer with absolutes and a sure thing.

Jen Lilley as "Kate"

Kate's personality is very intense.  She doesn't know how to sugarcoat the truth, so her words often land like bombs on the recipient.  She's blunt and brutally honest!  Plus, she can work hours on end with little sleep.

When Noah practices his tour speech, she quickly points out the errors in the information he's conveying because she's well-read and has researched so many diverse topics throughout her freelance writing career.  She's a smart lady, and she has a big heart.  When she realizes Noah will have to sell his business if his pitch to market influencers doesn't garner their support, she shows more patience and compassion in offering him tips that will help him be successful.

Kate likes to bloom where she's planted, until she realizes she's not really living life to the fullest.


Noah


Noah has a number of diverse interests, but instead of focusing his energies on one thing, he hops from job to job, idea to idea, and ends up as a sort of Jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none.

Noah's adventures have allowed him to explore the world before landing him in Banff, where he hopes to finally settle.  

Although his comedic efforts at joke-telling usually fall flat, Noah can be a funny guy when he lets his genuine self shine through and stops following a script.  He can be surprisingly vulnerable and easily wounded by constructive criticism.

Chris McNally is "Noah"

The minute Noah meets Kate and Jayne, he manages to gab with them for three solid hours, so he's clearly a people person and a great conversationalist.  It's a gift that guarantees him the recommendation and promotion of the B & B--he has to agree to be the one to guide the tours because he's the best.

Noah is an outdoorsman who enjoys sharing his love of his scenic location with others.  Only an outdoorsman would want to drink hot chocolate outside in the cold after midnight!  

Once Noah sets a goal, he devotes all of his energy to it, which is why he plans to fly to Manhattan to let Kate know how he feels, but she's one step ahead of him.


Jayne


Jayne is a risk-taker who loves the thrill of the unknown, which is why she enjoys how her freelance photography takes her around the world.  When her risks don't pay off, she's a little disappointed, but she quickly shakes it off.  She doesn't spend time regretting the "what-ifs" in life because she goes after what she wants without hesitation, come what may.

Jayne doesn't box herself into a corner, but she's open to all types of new experiences.  She learns she loves snow shoeing up a mountain, but she hates playing chess.  There's nothing she won't try, at least once.

Amy Groening is the great BFF, "Jayne"

Jayne is a very independent woman, which is how she's able to handle maintaining a long-distance relationship with Simon.  She gets that sick feeling in her stomach like you do when you fall in love with someone, but she's quite capable of continuing her own life with well over 2,000 miles between them.  She doesn't pine.

Jayne goes after what she wants, even if it looks forward and aggressive to someone else.  She literally throws herself at Simon, yet she somehow manages to keep the upper-hand, even when he doesn't initially reciprocate.  

Even though Jayne will go where angels fear to tread, she doesn't judge Kate who seems like a scaredy-cat about everything, which means she's a supportive and faithful friend who doesn't judge.


Simon


Noah might be the face of their business, but Simon is the brains behind it, and it's his impressive business plan that ultimately seals the success of their B & B.

Simon is the stereo-typical stuffed shirt--a no nonsense, numbers kind of guy who isn't adept at expressing his emotions, even to those closest to him.

Viewers knew Simon and Jayne would end up together, but it was hard to see how.  Even when Jayne set the stage and made it easy for Simon to return her interest, he still remained at a friendly distance.  Jayne kept trying to get Simon to herself, but he invited others along, completely oblivious to her feminine wiles.

"Simon" was born in Brazil and ended up in Canada, just like Rodrigo Beilfuss!

It is shocking, then, when Simon surprises Jane with a room full of the flowers she wanted to see and lets her know he does have feelings for her.  Knowing she will be leaving, Simon agrees to plan a date on the calendar when they can see each other again, but Jayne is the one who takes the lead texting Simon and making sure they stay connected.

Simon is a nice and smart guy, but he's someone who would be difficult to get close to because he doesn't know how to open his heart and let people in, which makes him seem emotionally cool and detached.  
 


Which Character Is Most Like You?


Do you see your personality in any of these Snowkissed characters?  Vote in the poll below for the one you find most relatable.  

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Take This QUIZ on Hallmark's "Taking a Shot at Love"

Starring:  Alexa PenaVega and Luke MacFarlane

Released:  2021

Summary:  A former professional dancer is using ballet to help a hockey player get back on the ice.

Taking a Shot at Love premiered January 2, 2021.  Image:  Crown Media

Do Stud Athletes Really Take Ballet?


Ballet is such a delicate and overtly feminine art form that seemingly has no place for excessive testosterone from buff athletes, but if men can dodge the jabs, jeers, and stigmatization, it offers them a unique form of cross-training to give them an advantage over their competition.

What do you think of Luke MacFarlane in ballet shoes?  He's still a hunk!

Ballet improves an athlete's agility, coordination, flexibility, balance, footwork, core strength, and lateral movement.  Learning the jumps in ballet is extremely cardiovascular.  With it's precise movements, ballet strengthens muscles and tendons a person might never use otherwise.  This is beneficial, not only to hockey players, but to those involved in karate, soccer, basketball, baseball, and football.  The bodily awareness athletes gain from ballet leads to greater self-control and self-discipline out on the field, especially as it relates to quick starts and stops as they easily shift their center of balance.  


Which Movie Line Do You Agree With More?


An air of mystery surrounds Jenna's departure from professional dancing.  Every time Ryan broaches the subject, Jenna pivots or they are interrupted.

Jenna experienced the same injury as Ryan, and while she was unable to perform, her boyfriend, who was the creative head of their dance company, replaced her with her understudy.  To make matters worse, he and the understudy were engaged a year later.  

Rather than continue her professional dancing career with all those painful memories, Jenna shifts gears and opens her own ballet studio.

When Jenna asks Ryan what his back-up plan is if he can't return to hockey, he replies:
Back-up plans are for people who expect to fail.

Based on her own personal experience, Jenna has a different take on having a Plan B action plan ready.  She argues,

Back-up plans are for people who know even if they do everything right, sometimes things change that they can't control.  


Do you think Ryan or Jenna is right?  Share your reasoning in the comment section!




Fun Movie, But These Two Scenes Are Laughable


At one point in the movie, Ryan puts "tu and tu" together and realizes he had seen a professional performance of Jenna's dance company four years previously when he first started dating his ex.  He whips out his phone, and BOOM, the picture is right at the top. 

Come on.  People take pictures with their cell phones at breakneck speeds.  A picture on your phone from four years ago would take a ton of scrolling to find.

When Ryan checks on Jenna during the power outage, she invites him to sleep on her couch for the night, since the living room is the only room with heat.  They fall asleep while a million candles burn throughout the house.

Who does that?  We've all heard the horror stories of houses burning down from a single unattended candle.  

Regardless of those two unrealistic scenes, the movie is fun.  There is a lot of playful banter between Ryan and Jenna, like when he makes fun of the arduous process she goes through to make her own coffee.   When she offers him a to-go mug, he asks if it first had to made on a pottery wheel!

The movie is also sweetly poetic.  Jenna helps Ryan heal physically, and he helps her heal emotionally. 

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