Date of airing: May 27, 2019 (Hallmark Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 1.786 million viewers, 0.21 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.11 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.31 rating with Adults 25-54, 1.31 rating with Adults 50+
Beaches, sunshine, a family-owned inn which seems to have been closed for a year, romance behind every tree, and maybe even an interracial romance. LOVE IN THE SUN was definitely both a typical Hallmark film and a different Hallmark film, and for that I kinda loved it, even if it happened to get through all the predictable story points and even became more and more rather unrealistic over time, especially after the 50-minute mark. That’s when Alana broke up with her white fiancé from Chicago who decided to come to Florida and surprise his future wife, but what he went back home with was the ring he gave to Alana, and the realization that maybe he should have been talking about that thing that has always been missing in their relationship. Because if he would have talked to her about it at one point before he decided to get engaged to her, then maybe his life wouldn’t have been such a waste in the previous year. Anyway, the 50-minute mark was when things got a little curious. Alana broke up with her fiancé and the next 31 minutes were spent on bringing Alana and Kai back together, as if Evan was never part of Alana’s life. As if her relationship with the white kid was nothing but an ongoing plot device to have Alana be the creator of a dating app. As if Alana was never supposed to be in love with Evan, and in all this time she never really loved Evan and decided not to listen to her heart in that regard.
It’s not the first time that a Hallmark film is this ludicrous with a threesome romance. Quite recently the partner of a love interest was already in her wedding dress before things were ended, so it’s pretty obvious that the Hallmark Channel loves stories in which people are engaged to the wrong person and the only thing they need is a break-up, just so they can get back to the right person and marry that one. LOVE IN THE SUN is not different from that Hallmark Channel film premise, so the only two ways this romance novel on television could have wowed me was through its cast and maybe its setting. The beach atmosphere definitely did it for me, and Safety Harbor, as boring as the name of the town might be like, reminded me of my very own aspirations to retire into age on a beach, with a house behind me to call my own which is cut off from human civilization. Just me on the beach, a house to sleep in, in case it rains, and no neighbors for miles to the left and the right. Maybe a surfboard or a sailboat on the harbor.
The cast looked good enough, although I do have to pick a bone with Kai’s portrayer Tom Maden, who could not have been more unenthusiastic about the role he was playing. It almost seems like the producers realized that during filming as well, which is why Kai always felt like he was more of a supporting character than the male lead, as Alana’s father Micah turned out to be more than just the supporting character he was destined to be. So, next time I see two male characters switch positions from main character to supporting character and vice versa, does it mean something wasn’t going well during filming and the directors decided to redo the film slightly to accommodate the bland performance of one of its cast members? Has that ever happened with the female leads of Hallmark shows? Because it must be much harder to shoot around unenthusiastic actresses when in the lead, because they truly are in the lead of Hallmark Channel films. I have not seen a single film yet in which the male character was the lead figure of the story. When is the time right for that — at the same time it’s the perfect moment to actually have a black character kiss a white character, let alone black characters making out? Will that be before or after humanity dies off in this catastrophe that is global warming?
The story was nothing to write home about. A career woman goes back home for some family business and falls in love with the homegrown guy — it’s the premise of every second Hallmark Channel film, and while Emeraude Toubia was close to pretty great in this film, she was essentially the only reason to even watch all the 81 and a half minutes. There is no other reason (except of course you love watching the same Hallmark film every week) and if it weren’t for the somewhat interesting beach scenes, LOVE IN THE SUN would be a forgettable film with a forgettable premise and an interchangeable title. A film that could have been slightly more interesting if it had focused on the other two relationships in the mix: The one that was interracial and the one that was wished for by Alana’s father. That brings me to say, why hasn’t there been a Hallmark film yet in which more than one couple gets together by the end of the summer or Christmas adventure?
Best part of the film: The lantern float sequence was surprisingly great. At best it reminded me of KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, which I want to see again, at worst it was just a moment to elaborate a little bit on some of the characters’ back story about having lost a dearly loved one.
Worst part of the film: Evan was so bland, I was actually surprised he wasn’t completely plain and white all throughout the movie. Evan and Kai could have been best friends, judging by how bland they were as characters. They were even less bearable than unseasoned chicken legs for dinner
Weirdest part of the film: Alana left her laptop and her phone at the beach when she went on an all-defining walk with Kai. Not only does that say Alana doesn’t need her phone, or tells the people who want to ring her that she is busy, but also that Safety Harbor delivers on its name: There are no thieves in town. Not even animals who might come by to catch a little beach sun and decide to ransack Alana’s lounge chair on the beach.
Non-white players of the film: Emeraude Toubia leads this film, and while she looks white, her parents are Mexican and Lebanese-American. Ashley Jones played Renee, who is Alana’s friend and co-creator of the dating app, and Frank Oakley III plays James, one half of the interracial couple of this film.