Mail Order Bride (2008 TV Movie)
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Putting all that aside, Mail Order Bride is a by-the-numbers romance that's effectively clichéd until it erupts like a geyser of suck at the end. Most of the movie is extremely predictable and dramatically shallow. That doesn't mean it's unenjoyable. If you like this sort of formula, watching Zuniga and Cameron Bancroft act it out is not a bad way to spend an hour. That last half hour yeesh, it is so bad. You can almost literally see the filmmakers grabbing at straws to try and keep the story going until the end credits blessedly arrive to put them out of their misery. If you can make any sort of logical sense out of the 24 hour long siege at the conclusion of Mail Order Bride, you're a lot smarter than I am.
Diana McQueen (Daphne Zuniga) is a thief in 1888 who flees from her criminal master (Greg Evigan) by impersonating a dead friend who was the mail order bride of Beau Canfield (Cameron Bancroft), a lonely rancher who has spent way too much time with his crotchety cook (Tom Heaton). Diana makes her way from Boston to a small frontier town and fools Beau for a while. He eventually figures it out and puts Diana to work as a farm hand. Then Diana's boss shows up to reclaim her, she and Beau admit they really love each other and I hope I don't shock you by admitting they live happily ever after.
Zuniga and Bancroft are perfectly charming and the relationship between their characters, while old hat, is soothingly simplistic. If you've ever seen a Hallmark Channel movie before, you pretty much know what you're getting here. Except for the finish, which gets to be almost laugh-out-loud funny at seeing all these previously random plot points brought back up just to kill time and stretch this thing out to fill two hours with commercials.
Maybe with those breaks at the end to keep the increasingly silly nature of the standoff between Diana and Beau vs. Diana's boss and his hired guns, Mail Order Bride didn't come of quite as ridiculous on TV. When you see it all run together at once, there are so many "what the hell" moments that it almost appears as if something happened to make their original ending scenes impossible to do, so the cast and crew had to improvise something else at the last minute. Whatever the reason, the last half hour of Mail Order Bridge is so bizarrely incompetent that it knocks an otherwise mediocre flick into the "skip it" pile. Unless you're doing a term paper on "Female Aging in Early 21st Century American Entertainment", that is.