Back To You and Me:
Your typical Hallmark movie is all about figuring out relationships. In real life, that's a tall, tall order, but in these movies, relationships are as easy to figure as your ABCs. It's a comfort, and that's something we could all use once in a while. For instance, my spouse doesn't like me writing these reviews; she feels it's a waste of time. So every now and then I try to grab something I think she'll like to watch. She absolutely loves Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, when they're on TV - I guess it has to do with anticipation and stealing time. Because when I bring a Hallmark screener home, she's casually dismissive of the thing, showing no interest at all. Go figure! I wish my life were as easy as a Hallmark movie, then maybe I could figure it out, too.
As far as details are concerned, Syd (Lisa Hartman Black) is a successful Los Angeles doctor in a go-nowhere relationship. She's avoiding her mother (Rue McClanahan) whom she feels abandoned her late father in his time of need, yet decides to return to her small hometown for a high school reunion. Bloomington is trying for the 'healthiest city in America' rating, though sadly the town has recently lost its only doctor! What's more, Syd's old flame, widower Gus is still there in town, with his son, who is sick all the time from an illness no one can figure out. I'm guessing you can figure out how everything will settle - how everything should settle - with more than relative ease.
Inasmuch as nobody ever really 'figures out' life, Hallmark movies are for those who would desperately like to be able to do just that. There's something quite soothing about being able to watch the clockwork click inevitably towards its righteous solution, and generally Hallmark movies present such stories with buttery smooth precision. Back To You and Me is no exception, every part purrs delicately to the dulcet strains of soft piano-and-strings music. Music is just part of the machinery, pacing is of vital importance too, with You and Me hitting all the marks with regularity. I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't a Syd Field-styled template for Hallmark screenplays, a specific template that - when used correctly - is nearly foolproof.
Since these features are engineered to be engaging, (even for an unenthusiastic viewer such as myself) it's best to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Solid performances will make this much easier, and from McClanahan on down everyone performs quite well. Hartman Black not only looks fantastic, she brings a level of emotional truth to her conflicted role, something that Dale Midkiff as rugged Gus manages to pull off believably too. Throw in a little comedy, a romantic subplot, and a resolution that sneaks in just under the wire, and you have a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. You probably won't need a hanky, but you'll leave satisfied. Now if only I could figure out why the wife rejects such stuff when I offer it to her, even when she'd most likely sit inside on a sunny day to watch this, if it were offered without recourse by our faithful old television.
This widescreen 1.78:1 ratio presentation sports a crisp, clean picture with warm, rich colors and good detail levels. My set-up produced a little bit of motion blur when tracking shots highlighted cars zooming past orchards, but otherwise, no compression problems were present.
Dolby Digital Stereo Audio is mixed with precision, and sounds quite pleasing to the ear. Dialog never competes with the lush soundtrack, and nominal stereo separation creates a mildly enveloping atmosphere.
Extras are limited to Closed Captioning and Scene Selections.
Back To You and Me isn't your typical shamelessly-tear-jerking Hallmark presentation, but its romance-at-risk DNA is programmed expertly. That is, you'll guess exactly what will happen, you'll even beg for it, and if you're so inclined, you'll enjoy every minute of this slick, reassuring production. If life were as easy to navigate and understand as Hallmark would have it, we'd all be dancing around in the sunset in the midst a blissful, perpetual idyll. And sometimes, whether you're in a relationship or not, that kind of simple utility seems unbearably desirable. Minus any extras, this delightful, romantic effort merits a solid Rent It.
- Kurt Dahlke
~ More of Dahlke's DVD Talk reviews here at DVD Talk I'm not just a writer, I paint colorful, modern abstracts, too! Check them out here KurtDahlke.com