Mail Order Bride (TV Movie 2008) Poster

(2008 TV Movie)

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6/10
Entertaining, If You're Willing To Accept A Lot on Faith
beachmeisters8 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a story about a woman named Diana McQueen, who is trapped in a toxic relationship with a con man named Tom Rourke, who more or less forces her to live a life of cheating men out of their money. She's sick of it and would like to escape, but she's been with him for so long, she really doesn't know how to get away, plus she knows he'd follow her and hurt innocent people in the process. A friend of hers has been corresponding with a rancher in Wyoming and plans to go there to be his mail order bride, so when the friend dies of TB, Diana decides to impersonate her friend and take her place. Consequently, she has to perform a con of an entirely different nature - that of being the girl the rancher has fallen in love with through her letters. The premise is intriguing and naturally the rancher has difficulties of his own to deal with, plus Tom Rourke isn't going to just forget about Diana without searching the entire West, so there's that to throw into the story line as well. What you have to accept here is that Daphne Zuniga is 47 years old and seems kind of old for what one would think of as a mail order bride. Not that she doesn't look good. Other things one must take on faith are the ability of Rourke's man to be able to track her down, and how willing other men are to break the law and ride with Rourke when he's a complete stranger to them and they have no reason to trust that he will actually pay them, yet they're willing to risk their lives for him? But if you can overlook obvious questions such as those, then you may very well enjoy the subtle humor that this charming Hallmark presentation offers.
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4/10
Daphne Zuniga does her part for sociology
MBunge26 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I would like to start this review by thanking Daphne Zuniga for serving as a reference guide to exactly how much cosmetic enhancement is used by most women in Hollywood. Zuniga is a beautiful woman who's allowed herself to age more or less naturally and, as such, stands in great contrast to other actresses who've used every nip, tuck and injection they could to pass for 33 as long as they can. I mean, when you look at Zuniga in this Hallmark Channel flick and then take a look at, say, Jennifer Aniston, it becomes clear that Aniston must bathe in the blood of virgins every night. If the burden of most actors is they look too young to play grown men (I'm looking at you, 50 year old Tom Cruise), so many actresses get themselves their own Dorian Gray painting at 29 and after that, the only thing that ages on them is the look in their eyes. The result is that American pop culture has lost all sense of perspective when it comes to women and appropriate age. Whenever there's a 20something actress playing a daughter and a 40something playing the mother, there's this Judd-effect where they look more like sisters. They say there's no great roles for women over 40 but even if you came up with one, where would you find an actress who looks the part?

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.
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