Chance at Romance
(but don’t let that stop you)
Erin Krakow - Samantha “Sam” Hart
Ryan McPartlin – Heath Madsen
This movie is particularly terrible, but that doesn't mean I’m saying you shouldn’t watch it. In the case of Chance at Romance, my recommendation is to do what I did. Invite at least 3 of your friends over for a BYOB movie night, put this train wreck on and let the drinking begin. It’s an experience not to be missed.
Samantha, a waitress, is a hopeless romantic (her sister calls her this, so it is legit). Heath Madsen, a photographer, is a lonely widower with a 12 year-old son, Dillon.
The movie opens to a montage of Samantha, and her workday, and Heath, and his workday. You see this in cheesy romances a lot.
Montage: Samantha works at a coffee shop as a waitress and she is so happy to serve bagels!
Heath, (rhymes with teeth, of which he has many), is sitting at a desk editing a black and white photo of a barn on his computer. To be fair at least I think it’s a photo, it could be a page from a coloring book.
This is Heath. He is intent on his art.
Hold everything! Heath just clicked on the bushes AND MADE THEM GREEN. Are you kidding me right now? AND, oh no he did not just choose brown for that barn! This guy is BRILLIANT! He must be a pioneer in High Definition Resolution Photography! (as you will be informed later).
We pop back to the diner for a moment and catch Samantha laughing and chatting with the customers as she effortlessly weaves through the tables refilling coffee. I didn’t know a diner waitress job could be this fulfilling, but I guess I was wrong.
Back to Heath – OMG he’s added a fence! Genius!
Side Note: As previously mentioned, Heath is supposedly a pioneer in High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography which according to the internet is:
“A post processing method of combining images. An HDR image is commonly made by taking three photos of the same scene, each different shutter speeds. A software process then combines all the photos.”
Below are some examples, pretty beautiful right?
This is Heath’s photo
Comments from the viewing group:
‘His photo looks like the ones that come in a new frame.’
‘Does he make coloring books for a living?’
Next - we are introduced to Sam’s older sister. I didn’t catch her name and I am not watching this movie ever again, (sober), so I am just going to call her “Older Sister.”
Correction, we just learned that Samantha does NOT want to be a waitress, “I never want to pour another cup of coffee again,” she says to Older Sister. She actually wants to be a chef and her specialty is pot pies.
Back at her apartment the camera zeros in on a small picture of a horse, awkwardly over-colorized, so we can only assume that it is Heath’s work. This picture will come into play later on.
Samantha goes on a first date with a guy named Joel that she says she has a “really good feeling about.” I don’t know why. I think if you had met this guy for five minutes beforehand you would never consider dating him. In the first 10 seconds of him speaking we find out he is a big NO to cats, dogs, milk, and curry. Any reference to his ex-wife makes him cry, and he blows his nose into the restaurant’s cloth napkin which is a super gross thing to leave lying in wait for your waiter.
The viewing group has a short conversation on which is worse; blowing your nose into the napkin and then stealing it, or leaving it for the waiter to find.
Result: no consensus
Heath Madsen – what a stupid name. The sign on the street for his show looks like it was made by an 8-year old. I don’t normally notice bad font but there it is. Also, all the words are off center. Actually, I change my mind, I’m pretty sure an 8-year old could make a better sign than this.
(I think its Arial…)
Samantha wanders into Heath’s photography show as he is making a speech. She catches him saying that he is always waiting for that perfect moment where something just takes your breath away and you say to yourself, “I’ll take it.” He looks in her general direction as he says this, and she smiles as if his words are meant only for her.
Unfortunately, the fact that she is standing in a rather large crowd and at a distance so far from him that she is actually in another room, makes it pretty clear that he was NOT picking her out. I’m not sure what the script was intending to suggest here, but when you see her so obviously ignoring reality, the words, “crazed stalker,” will 100% flash through your mind. Maybe she and Joel were better suited than I thought.
Sam is in a large crowd of people so maybe Heath likes this guy.....
Heath just finished his speech and she is nowhere near him
Or maybe Heath likes this weird girl
Samantha looks spellbound by him and the photos on display. She turns around for a moment and… Oh no, Heath is LEAVING!!!
I swear I can hear the director saying, “Look sad that he is leaving!” so she looks sad.
Next up, she has a bewildering conversation with a rando Woman at the show. They’re both staring at an over-colorized coloring book picture of a horse in a meadow.
(FYI Our group has decided that Heath is actually Lisa Frank).
Samantha: “What’s my painting doing here?”
(remember she has a smaller picture of this at her apartment)
The woman looks at her questioningly, so she explains, “I have this photo.”
Rando Woman: “Really?”
Samantha: “I never knew who took it.”
Rando Woman: “I’m sure you’re mistaken.”
Samantha: “Oh no, it’s smaller but it’s the same.”
Question: Why is this lady disputing the existence of a smaller version of a computer enhanced, paint by numbers photo? Ever heard of Thomas Kinkaid? You can buy his paintings as a set of earrings for crying out loud so get with the program absolute-stranger-who-will-never-appear-in-the- movie-again.
Next, Samantha sends some fan mail to Heath, and his son, Donnie, answers her email, (a la Sleepless in Seattle).
This is hilarious in that 12-year old Donnie seems to think it is completely normal to write entire emails using capital letters even though, in the world of email, this essentially means you are screaming at someone.
Example: ENOUGH ABOUT US – TELL US ABOUT YOU ☺
He also signs everything with:
What 12-year old signs emails “Cheers”? Is he from England?
Now we meet Celeste who is Heath’s manager. She is condescending, rude, and she likes to call out the punctuation in her conversation for example;
“I think the retrospective went great! Exclamation point!”
“To be continued… dot..dot..dot.”
“Heath, don’t give everything up for a 72 hour relationship quote unquote”
Comment from the viewing group;
“This is not a thing.”
Back to Donnie-pretending-to-be-his-Dad’s email to Samantha:
“No plans for L.A. but I am showing here next week. Would you consider coming out for it? I could buy you a ticket and book you a room at the local hotel. That way you could see the show and maybe honor us with one of your pot pies! It’s the least I can do for my horse meadow enthusiast. What do you think?”
Samantha, don’t be stupid, no one does this for a strange fan. If you go, you’ll be just like all those idiot victims in the slasher films who feel compelled to investigate every strange noise in their house.
And how would she “honor” him with a pot pie? Is she schleping one to wherever he lives, or is she supposed to whip one up for him in her hotel room?
Samantha tells Older Sister about Heath and that she will be going out to meet him. She admits that they have never met, but she says there was eye contact (she says they had a moment). Since we saw there was no “moment,” she sounds like a fruit loop.
So she travels to the small town 500 miles away and gets picked up by Donnie and the town’s bar owner, Jackson. Can someone please tell me why any adult would help a twelve-year-old with this scam? Later on, we’ll find out that his housekeeper is in on the whole thing as well. Is Donnie a wizard? Ah, screw it…I don’t care enough.
Heath meets Samantha for the first time outside his house wearing jeans with flip flops.
Comment from the viewing group:
“Uh oh, he’s one of those.”
He asks Samantha who she is and she reminds him that they have been emailing and he bought her a train ticket.
Heath then admits that Donnie runs his web site. WHAT?? How checked out is this guy from his profession? He apparently hasn’t made any new photos since his wife died and a kid in elementary school controls his web site? Good grief, now I get why Donnie AND Celeste AND Jackson AND his housekeeper make all his decisions for him.
Heath apologizes and offers to drive her back into town, but then finds out the next train back is not until tomorrow. Oopsy!
She is unhappy.
They drive into town to get her a room at the hotel and comedy ensues! Car door won’t open! Paint on her jeans! No rooms in the hotel! Her clothes and suitcase get stolen! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Heath says he needs a few items from the General Store so they stop there. He is so obviously not attracted to her since he shows her toilet paper and asks her if it is one ply or two.
6 pack Soda, 1 bag potato chips, 4 rolls of toilet paper – WTF, this is why he needed to go to the store? And why is the total $74.21?
He forgot his wallet so she pays his bill.
Heath says, “Thanks, I’ll pay you back” to Samantha in a pretty annoyed voice even though she just paid for his toilet paper. What a loser!
As they are walking through town, Celeste, his manager, cuts them off on the road with her car.
During introductions Heath forgets Samantha’s name so this is like strike twelve for him in the romance department. Also, it is now super-duper evident that he is NOT physically attracted to Samantha at all. Really Hallmark we got it…no need to have him ignore her when a prettier woman approaches, or slap her on the back and call her “buddy,”…we got it.
They go to Jackson’s bar for lunch and Heath reassures her that he can take care of the bill this time. Then he tells her he was named after a candy bar which is not surprising since he seems about as smart as one.
So, Jackson is obviously NOT that good of a friend since he tells Heath his tab is due and they have to work off their lunch after they have already eaten. He also does this right in front of the new girl in town. What a douchebag friend. The crazy thing is, Samantha ends up doing all the work while Heath just sits there watching her. Good grief are all the men in this town douche bags?
Creepy and unhelpful
At this point Heath owes her money for:
A train ticket
All the clothes in her suitcase
A new pair of pants
$74.21 for unnecessary food items
The lunch bill
Heath is one of the most apathetic moochers I have ever seen.
So she is stuck at Heath’s house and Donnie struggles to make her an apology pot pie. She “helps” him out by rolling the pie dough exactly twice and then turning the reins back over to him. Thanks Samantha you are the best teacher ever!
Oh no! The highway is washed out in both directions! She is trapped!
Heath and Sam have a conversation and open up to each other. Heath says he is worried about Donnie, and Samantha tells him that ever since her dad left she has been waiting her whole life for a guy on a white horse. She says she needs to accept the fact that she will always be alone, (her words not mine).
Celeste, Heath’s manager, enters in a nightclub outfit at breakfast time. She is very demanding and does not want to hear Heath say the word “retrospective” anymore.
Next, we find out that Donnie has set up a pot pie order with Jackson’s Griddle. Normally, I would be really surprised by this entrepreneurial effort from a pre-teen, however, since his Dad has basically pulled out of the workforce, I guess I can see the kid’s motivation.
Samantha helps Donnie to make the pies for the Griddle and then puts them all outside to cool and for all the flies to land on – honestly if she wants to be a chef she will need to learn some basic food sanitation practices. Also, maybe take a basic science class as well, since inside air is just as good as outside air for cooling pies.
Heath gets inexplicably inspired by her pot pie placement and starts taking pictures of her. Terrible synthesizer music underlays this scene.
Summary: Stupidest photos ever. Heath says she can use the photos for her Pot Pie of the Month Club brochure. But I question how many people would buy food from someone who apparently puts it outside for any length of time as shown in the brochure. Stop trying to think Candy Bar, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Later we see Heath working on her photos. What is he doing to them that requires so much mouse clicking? It’s pretty apparent he only knows 4 tools to use for photo enhancement so just color something brown and color something green and move on.
Heath is asleep on the couch exhausted from all his “work” on the Samantha pictures.
Jackson comes in, wakes him up and basically says, “Hey she’s here, so just go for it bro.”
So Heath “goes for it” and asks Samantha to come with him to a “special place.”
Hallmark jingle jangle terrible music plays while they golf cart to his “special place”… happy laughing! Golf cart so fun so fun! Don’t go too fast! Wheee!
Heath takes to her to the horse meadow spot in her photo and tells her he does not want fame and fortune, and he wants to put the people he loves first. Then he finds a porcupine quill and says he makes necklaces out of them.
Question: Is there a name for people whose hobbies include making necklaces out of body parts? Because I’m leaning towards bats*** crazy.
Heath takes more terrible photos of her and she hides behind her hands so he can waste his time.
Then with the sun blazing down on them Heath says that it will be dark soon so we should get back. But…oh no!...due to Donnie’s machinations, the golf cart runs out of gas and they are stranded together for the night.
Seriously?? Okay, this kid is way too adept at financing, fraud, and sabotage. Heath needs to lose the flip flop attitude pronto and pick up a parenting book, because his kid is one pot pie away from away from becoming Dr. Evil.
Sam and Heath have a nice conversation around the campfire and eat old Halloween candy since that is all that Donnie gave them. Then they go to sleep so far from each other they are in different time zones.
We get it – they do not have sex.
In the morning we see Health pouring a cup of coffee for Samantha. Where did he get coffee? Did he boil up some tootsie rolls? Heath says to Samantha, “I want to be more than friends.” This is when you are going to declare yourself? When your lady is completely cut off from civilization and completely dependent on you for survival and escape? Geez, you are as dumb as a candy bar.
Next, they go to Karaoke night at Jacksons Griddle and Heath orders them a couple of sodas, so it looks like Samantha will be paying for her own for drinks if she wants to be an adult. Then Heath leaves her there to go set up for his show. I am guessing their date lasted about 10 minutes.
I literally don’t know what more Heath could do to show her what a useless, train wreck of a boyfriend he will make, but all she does is look goofily star struck around him. I guess he had her at “horse meadow enthusiast.”
Samantha has decided to create a Pot Pie of the Month Club and I couldn’t care less.
Back at his studio, Celeste views the new photos, (all of Samantha), and declares them to be “brilliant,” “American retro” – I love it.”
No Celeste, they are bad close ups of a mediocre model.
Holy Batman, he used the photo where she covers her face with her hands.
I know we are supposed to suspend our disbelief for the hundredth time here, but this is ridiculous. If I accept this horrible art as art I will be insulting myself.
Heath makes a porcupine necklace for Samantha and Celeste whines so much he gives it to her. Why so many people seem to want these things I do not know.
Then he goes home and sits next to a sleeping Samantha. In the morning they are both sleeping sitting up on the couch next to each other which is weird.
When Samantha goes to his show she is overwhelmed that all the photos are of her. Then she overhears that Heath is leaving for London tomorrow and looks upset. Celeste corners Samantha at this point and tells her Heath only needed her for the photos. This upsets Samantha even more, so she runs outside and looks like she is going to throw up. Sadly, she doesn’t, (this would have been good), instead she comes back in just in time to see Celeste force a kiss out of Heath.
Samantha runs away, (for good this time), and finds a ride out of town.
Heath is looking for Samantha. Where is she? Then he runs into the kid who drove her out of town. The kid says, “She saw you mackin’ the art babe broseph.”
Seriously, that is what he says.
Next, we see Samantha back at her apartment checking her voicemail. Interestingly, although she has tons of messages from all the townspeople, her voicemail recorder says zero. Now she is laying dejectedly on the floor of her apartment holding the painting of the horse to her chest.
As she inexplicably lays on the floor, (the couch is literally right there), she tells Older Sister that she is done. Done with what? Accepting invitations from strangers?
Heath looks pensive in a black tee as he sets of for his big show in London.
Samantha is serving sad coffee. No more happy bagels.
Then Heath rides up to her coffee shop on a small white pony. Samantha complains “This is not how I pictured it,” which seems a bit ungrateful - maybe she is “done” being a nice person.
Heath asks her to go to London and then holds up 2 tickets that say “Travel tickets for London” on them. Once again with Hallmark the props have been made by someone’s personal inkjet printer.
Last scene (finally) lots of lukewarm kissing at the meadow.
Pros: This movie is a freaking keeper! (hic!)
Cons: Heath’s photos
Credits: All photos, unless otherwise indicated, have come from the Hallmark Movie “Chance at Romance” which can be viewed on the Hallmark Channel