Sunday, October 9, 2016

Movie Review: The Gourmet Detective - A Healthy Place to Die

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun leads in a good mystery
Cons: Set up a stretch
The Bottom Line:
Chef conference death
Turns spa weekend into case
Fun mystery flick

Murder at a Chef Conference

The last thing you expect when you go to a resort is a murder.  Well, unless you are in a mystery story, of course.  Naturally, if you’re in a mystery, the last thing that happens then is the relaxing you wanted when you planned your vacation.  That’s just what gourmet detective Henry finds when in the second Hallmark movie based on the book series, A Healthy Place to Die.

Henry Ross (Dylan Neal) is looking forward to a conference for local chefs just outside of San Francisco.  He’s even giving a presentation the first morning to kick things off.  His assistant had to cancel at the last minute, but things work out when SFPD Maggie Price (Brooke Burns) needs a last minute vacation after being forced by the union to take some time off.

At the opening reception, Henry talks briefly to his friend Kathleen (Lisa Marie DiGiacinto).  Kathleen is a local reporter, and she on the trail of something big – something she wants to talk to Henry about privately.  Before the reception is over, it is clear that Kathleen has made some enemies in the weekend’s attendees thanks to her reporting over the years.

Later that night, Henry sees a body floating in the mineral spa, but by the time he gets Maggie from her room and the two arrive on the scene the body is gone.  A bit of evidence leads Henry to think that something has happened to Kathleen.  But did he really see a dead body?  What happened to Kathleen?

Let’s start by talking about the elephant in this set up.  This is the second movie in the Gourmet Detective franchise, yet Henry and Maggie, who just met in the first one, are going away for a weekend together?  Yes, they have separate rooms, but still.  I don’t buy it at all.  This is what happens when you do the books in random order.  This movie is based on the fifth book in the series, and by that point this would make much more sense.

However, that’s a minor issue for me since the movie is so much fun.  While it may take us a while to find the body, Maggie is actually fairly quick to believe Henry that something is happening, which is nice, and the two once again make a fun team as they work to figure things out even before they know for sure there is a murder.  There are plenty of suspects with a variety of motives, and watching them work the case is plenty of fun.

We don’t get to see much of the supporting characters we met in the first movie here.  Maggie’s co-workers get a bit more screen time, but some of the others basically just have cameos.  Still, the new characters more than make up for that.

The acting is good.  Yes, it has the usual Hallmark cheese, which is a bit of acting and a bit of writing mixed together, but it works if you go into it with that mindset.

And I once again enjoyed the banter between Henry and Maggie.  While not a couple (yet), they have a very fun relationship and great chemistry, and that dynamic really adds to the film.

So if you want a light, fun mystery movie, sit back and enjoy A Healthy Place to Die.  It will entertain you for an hour and a half, and that’s the point of a movie, right?

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