Friday, February 1, 2019

Movie Review: Mystery 101

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Twists and turns to the mystery, fun characters
Cons: A Hallmark movie, but light on the usual cheese
The Bottom Line:
Campus mystery
Filled with twists, clues, red herrings
Lots of fun to watch

“You and I Are Used to Mysteries That Live on the Page.  This is Different.”

Of the two new Hallmark mystery movies in January, I was looking forward to Mystery 101 more.  The premise of the movie – a college professor who is an expert in fictional mysteries getting involved in a case – intrigued me.  Then I found out that Lee Goldberg co-wrote the script, and I was sold since I’ve enjoyed his books for years.  I was not disappointed.

Amy Winslow (Jill Wagner) teaches English, but her favorite class is the one that focuses on mysteries.  One of her star students this semester is Lacey, but on this particular Monday, she isn’t able to focus.  Her boyfriend, Rex, has been missing all weekend.  Amy is concerned, but when Lacey then also goes missing, Amy begins to try to track the students down.

Unfortunately, Detective Travis Burke (Kristoffer Polaha) doesn’t seem too interested in the case until Amy uncovers a threat made to Rex.  Will the two be able to figure out what happened before tragedy strikes?  Or are they already too late?

The mystery is twisty, with plenty of suspects and motives to go around.  In fact, there are so many events, clues, and red herrings that they kept making me forget my theories.  It took Amy to explain how everything that happened fit together, and things did tie up neatly.

Amy loves mysteries.  It helps that her father, Graham, writes a bestselling series.  As a result, we get occasional references to some of the classics of the genre.  I thought the movie might have more references than it did, but it really didn’t need them.  They were sprinkled throughout in a fun way without overshadowing the current case.  And we don’t need anything taking away from the case Amy and Travis are investigating.  Trust me, the film needed all that time for the plot to unfold.  Travis isn’t a fan of mystery novels, so any references people might not get are explained in a natural way (which I appreciated a time or two).  This difference of opinion over mystery novels also adds even more to his relationship with Amy.

And their relationship was a fun element in the movie.  Amy claims to have no interest in Travis, but the rest of us can see the sparks flying.  I want to see more of them together, but all the characters are charming and I hope we get to visit all of them again soon.

This is the spot where I typically enter my Hallmark cheese warning.  To be honest, it was kept to a rock bottom minimum this time around.  The writing was sharp and the acting good.  There were still a few moments, but this is definitely on the light side.

So if you’ve missed the movie, now is the time to enroll in Mystery 101.  Personally, this is one class I hope is in session for years to come.


  1. I have this recorded and like you this was the one I was most excited about. Glad to see it lived up to expectations. I'm really looking forward to watching it!

  2. I agree with your analysis. Jill and Kris made the movie so interesting to watch. The story was well written. It was not easy to guess the perpetrator that made it interesting. Hallmark must make this movie a series.

  3. I love Jill and Kris and their characters, certainly not the usual character types. I do hope this will be a regular series, as the script was so well-written.