Pros: Strong, enjoyable mystery
Cons: Weak sub-plots, Hallmark cheese
The Bottom Line:
Strong mystery, weak sub-plots
Overall, it’s good
“Should I Be Good Cop or Bad Cop?” “Let’s Be Lawyers.” “That Will Never Work.”
Last year, Hallmark introduced us to another new mystery movie franchise with Darrow and Darrow, a movie centering on lawyers. Based on the cast involved, I wasn’t surprised to see them come back with In the Key of Murder, which was a movie worthy of the main characters.
As you might have guessed, this case gets us into the world of music. Early on we meet Phoebe (MacKenzie Porter), a young singer recording her first record under producer Terry. Terry is demanding, to say the least, and when he learns that Phoebe wants to leave him for another producer, he flips out.
It turns out that Phoebe is the half sister of Miles (Tom Cavanagh), the assistant district attorney and love interest to Claire Darrow (Kimberly Williams-Paisley). Claire is still running her father’s small law firm, which is barely making enough money to pay the people who are working there. She can’t help to take on cases against overwhelming odds even if the clients can’t pay.
But she is very good as what she goes, which is a very good thing for Phoebe. Late one night, Terry is shot in his studio, and the evidence overwhelmingly points to her. Miles and Claire team up to clear Phoebe of the crime. But can they do it?
As a mystery, this is a good movie. There were several viable suspects, although some of their relationships took me a little while to figure out. The frame job on Phoebe was masterful, yet we didn’t get bogged down in explanations at the end when everything was solved. The climax is a Perry Mason inspired courtroom scene. I know it would never happen like that in real life, but it makes for a fantastic climax in fiction.
My problem came from the sub-plots. The associates at the law firm were given one about becoming a team, which was fine, but not really handled well. This was disappointing since I loved these characters in the first movie. Meanwhile, Claire’s daughter Lou (Lilah Fitzgerald) is stuck with a sub-plot about trying to get on the school baseball team. I think my biggest problem with both of these was the predictability of both of them. Fairing slightly better was the sub-plot involving Claire’s mom Joanna (Wendie Malick) and her first case back at the firm. It really helped that those scenes were pretty funny.
As you can see, there are some bigger names in the cast than in some Hallmark movies. I felt they all did a good job with their roles, as did the rest of the cast. Of course, this does come with the standard Hallmark cheese warning, but if you are expecting it going in, you’ll be fine.
Once again, Hallmark has produced a light, fun mystery. If that’s what you are in the mood for, In the Key of Murder with more than satisfy.