Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Murder, She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery (2015)

I had planned to spend this evening seeing GIANT (1956) at the Academy, but a last-minute complication kept me at home.

Instead I enjoyed watching Hallmark's MURDER, SHE BAKED: A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MYSTERY (2015), starring Alison Sweeney.

MURDER, SHE BAKED initially ran on Hallmark's Movies & Mysteries Channel. In some quarters there are folks who like to put down Hallmark films, which are generally positive and family friendly, as lightweight or sugary. The truth is that, just like any other movies, Hallmark quality is varied, from not so good to solid entertainment to outstanding.

MURDER, SHE BAKED was recommended to me by family members who felt it compared very well with the novel by Joanne Fluke. I found it quite engaging, and I suspect that my fellow classic film fans would enjoy a well-made "cozy" mystery film series such as this one.

In fact, the concept of mystery movies series, which has been revived by Hallmark over the past year, calls to mind favorites series of old such as The Falcon, The Saint, Boston Blackie, or Michael Shayne. Other movie series currently airing on the network include the Garage Sale Mysteries (Lori Loughlin), Aurora Teagarden Mysteries (Candace Cameron Bure), Flower Shop Mysteries (Brooke Shields, with Beau Bridges as her dad), and the Gourmet Detective (Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns).

Sweeney, known to soaps fans as Sami on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, plays Hannah Swensen. Hannah owns a bakery & cafe in the small town of Eden Lake, Minnesota.

Hannah gets the shock of her life when her milkman (Ron Cermak), a longtime friend, is murdered behind her shop. Hannah's cafe is naturally a way station for town gossip and bits of news, and she begins to research the case on her own, which doesn't thrill Bill, her policeman brother-in-law (Toby Levins), or Mike (Cameron Mathison), a widowed big city detective sent to help Eden Lake with the case.

Along with working on the mystery, Hannah tentatively begins to develop a friendly relationship with Mike (at left in photo), and she also begins dating Norman (Gabriel Hogan, at right in photo), a kind dentist who's new in town.

Sweeney, who also served as a producer, makes Hannah likeable and real, whether she's talking to her cat or smoothing out a poor introduction to Mike. I particularly enjoyed her bantering relationship with Mike (Mathison), which successfully matches wary edginess with friendly interest.

Sweeney and Mathison are surrounded by a good supporting cast, which also includes Barbara Niven and Lisa Durupt as Hannah's mother and sister.

The movie is also a visual delight, from the scenes around Lake Eden (filmed in British Columbia) to the colors of Hannah's bakery boxes -- and of course, the beautiful cookies on display in her shop.

MURDER, SHE BAKED: A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MYSTERY was directed by Mark Fluke and filmed by Adam Sliwinski. Minus commercials, the film runs approximately 85 minutes.

MURDER, SHE BAKED: A CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE MYSTERY will be released on DVD on July 5, 2016.

Numerous books have been published in Fluke's series, and to date there are three more TV films in the MURDER, SHE BAKED series, which I'm looking forward to watching: A PLUM PUDDING MYSTERY (2015), A PEACH COBBLER MYSTERY (2016), and A DEADLY RECIPE (2016).


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

We don't get the Hallmark Channel here, but some of their product runs on local stations. On Bravo I have caught "A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery" and "A Plum Pudding Mystery" which I enjoyed very much. My husband even watched them in his man cave and was quite chuffed with guessing the murderer!

I see that next week we are getting "A Deadly Recipe", so somehow I missed "A Peach Cobbler Mystery" and will have to catch up.

Last week I caught my first "Garage Sale Mystery" which appears to be about the fifth in the series. Lots of catching up there. I remember when Lori Loughlin was a teenager on "The Edge of Night".

1:52 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm delighted you've enjoyed this series too! I had a feeling it would be your kinda movie. :). Hopefully our positive takes will inspire some of our fellow movie fans to check the movies out. Sure looking forward to continuing the series soon.

My dad is a particular fan of the Garage Sale Mystery series, I'll be trying that one also down the road. Although I didn't watch EDGE OF NIGHT, I remember Lori Loughlin from the ads for it which ran during GENERAL HOSPITAL, which preceded it in the lineup.

Best wishes,

4:42 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Those were the days.

Check it out, GH vs. EON on "The Family Feud":

PS: Your dad sure knows his stuff!

5:19 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Wow, that's a fun memory! I think I probably watched that FAMILY FEUD.

My dad is definitely a great resource for recommendations!


5:26 PM  

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