Saturday, 17 August 2013

No.203 : Where There’s a Will

Where There's A Will at the IMDb

 More schmaltzy Hallmark made for TV fodder now as we get a predictable ,but perfectly decent comedy drama, the plot of which can be guessed from the punny title.

Familiar character actor Frank Whaley gets the lead in an undemanding role as con man Richie who is in debt to a local heavy. As luck would have it he’s been traced as the sole relative of an old lady in Texas, whom we’ve already witnessed checking her bulging bank book. Hard up Richie heads straight to Texas in his Trans-Am making us wonder why he doesn’t sell that to save his legs instead. Still they’ve put some filler on the fender to make him look like he’s on his uppers, so that’s OK then.

The old lady is playing it for laughs with pratfalls off her reclining chair but we know she’s as sharp as a tack and certainly a match for the gormless grifter. Grandma is played by the mum off ‘Happy Days’ and has a blonde helper who looks like Sharon off ‘Eastenders’. Frank and the help hit it off and enjoy a  small kiss but he still has designs on the family fortune and engages a lawyer to have the old bat declared incompetent.

Elsewhere the heavy has tracked Frank down offering a tiny bit of danger that’s soon seen off by far too nice Sheriff Keith Carradine. Frank also has a rival in an aged granny grabber who has designs on the old lady’s bloomers and has sussed our hero for what he is. But wait, the small town friendliness has changed Frank and he has gained love for Granny after her makeover and he's started to look at his own abandonment issues.

Can Granny and Frank both find happiness and will the house go to the most worthy beneficiary?

This was low key stuff but totally inoffensive with a couple of touching moments - or moments of mawkish sentimentality if you’re a cynic like me. Whaley does OK in the lead but I was never convinced with his bad guy persona or of his plans to swindle the old woman. We know from the off that she was more than his match and the only question was whether Frank would fall in line or be chased off the claim by the wily widow.

The romance angle was tacked on and the kisses exchanged looked awkward and unconvincing. Frank’s about turn, which literally happened overnight, was completely unheralded although they did try to use the metaphor of an unfinished jigsaw left by his absentee mother and some sepia shots to convince, I wasn’t buying.

Marion Ross as the Granny was likeable but her slapstick was a bit overdone and scenes with her chair and with a map just looked silly and unconnected to the rest of the drama laid out before. Carradine as the no nonsense but overly wise Sheriff was underused in an underwritten part and his only real scene was unconvincing as he talked the gangster out of knee capping Frank.

To be fair if you are watching a drama on the Hallmark channel about people vying for a will you can't complain about ‘Where There’s a Will’ as it was almost to the moment what I expected.

Best Bit : Vows of Last Rites?  15/23


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