Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Movie Review: Murder, She Baked - Plum Pudding Mystery

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun mystery with characters I love
Cons: Some editing and acting issues, but minor
The Bottom Line:
Christmas elf murdered
Fans note differences from books
Still fun to watch film

A Plum Good Christmas Mystery Movie

There was a collection “Huh?” a few months back when Hallmark announced it would follow up the first movie in the Murder, She Baked franchise with Plum Pudding Mystery.  Considering this is the second movie they were going to make based on Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series, why were they going to base it on the twelfth book?  I’ll admit I was among those scratching his head, but I set that aside to watch it when it premiered this past weekend, and I really enjoyed it.

It’s the week before Christmas, and Eden Lake is getting ready for the holiday.  That means that things are really hopping for Hannah Swensen (Alison Sweeney) down at The Cookie Jar where she is creating delicious holiday desserts in addition to her cookies.  Many places in town are buying up those cookies, including Crazy Elf Christmas Trees, the biggest Christmas tree lot in town.  As a special request, Hannah even makes a special plum pudding for owner Larry Jaeger and his fiancĂ©e.

Stopping by after a date with Norman (Gabriel Hogan) the dentist one night to pick up a check, Hannah is shocked to find Larry on the floor, murdered.  Despite warnings from detective Mike (Cameron Mathison), Hannah’s other beau, she begins to poke her nose into the investigation.  Can she find the killer before Christmas?

I must confess that the book is a little fuzzy in my mind.  I mean, I remembered that Larry was the murder victim, but I couldn’t tell you what else happened in the book.  It began to come back to me as I watched the movie and we met the various suspects.  I would wager that the mystery element was pretty close to the original.

Of course, being the second movie, details of the character’s personal lives were different from the book because they had to be.  I’m talking about things with Hannah’s mother Delores (Barbara Nivens) and Hannah’s sister Andrea (Lisa Durupt) specifically, but there are other subtle changes with many of the other characters in addition to characters who haven’t even been introduced yet.  (Truly, the book series has a very large cast of characters.)  While I had fun spotting the differences, even pointing out a huge one from the final scene to my roommate, it really doesn’t matter.  I knew to set realistic expectations going into the movie, so I just took what they presented.

And the reason it was so easy for me to do that is because I was having fun.  As with the first film, the spirit of the books was preserved.  Oh, the characters might behave slightly differently then I picture them while reading the books, but I enjoy getting to see the world I’ve pictured for 15 years come to life.  (Having said that, I do hope they tone Delores down soon.  Yes, she’s overbearing in the early books, but she’s mellowed quite a bit these days.)

My only real complaints come from a technical standpoint.  There are times when the scene breaks are a bit too abrupt, creating scenes that are a bit too short, which made the movie feel disjointed.  The acting was mostly good, but a few moments were cheesy.  Still, these are worth noting only in passing.

So if you are a fan of light mysteries, check out Plum Pudding Mystery.  And if you are already a fan of Hannah, relax and enjoy watching her world come to life.  Just keep your expectations realistic (like you should with all book to movie adaptations) and you’ll love it.

Want to read the book?  Here's my review of Plum Pudding Murder.

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