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Summer Villa

Grade: A

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Hilarie Burton - Terry Russell

Victor Webster – Matthew Everston

Full disclosure – this is my favorite Hallmark movie to date.


The movie opens with Terry looking frustrated as she tries to write. She is dressed like a bag lady and is carrying around a jar of fruit loops. I think we can safely assume that all is not well.

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Terry and her 15 year old daughter Abby get into a kerfuffle about a teenage desire that will not be fulfilled. The details don’t matter since teenagers always want a lot of crap they can’t have.

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We find out that Terry has a blind date that night – I hope for her sake there will be a shower and some deodorant planned in there somewhere as well.


Cut to Matthew at his restaurant. He is a minor celebrity, so we see him signing autographs and kissing a lot of people on the cheek. Dude is super smooth.

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Let’s discuss his nickname “Chef Cupid” which makes no sense for this character. The guy is supposed to be a playboy so his nickname should be something like Chef Romeo or Chef Casanova. If he is known for setting up a lot of his friends in successful romantic relationships, then he can be Chef Cupid.


He has a conversation with his manager in the restaurant kitchen. She just got him booked on the Today show and he is starting a frozen food line. He says he needs to work on the dinner menu, and she says, “I’m sure it’s fine”. While they are talking a cook asks him to check a Coq au Vin going out to a table. He barely glances at it and says, “I’m sure it’s fine”.


Get it together! None of these things are fine people!


“Excuse me Chef, but can you check this Coq au Vin?”

“It’s fine”.

“But, I think a bird pooped in it.”

“I said it’s fine!”

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He cuts Manager Lady off because he has to get ready for his blind date that his sister set up for him. Question: Why does he need to be set up if he is obviously a “player”? And why would his sister set up her “ladies man” brother with a single mother romance novelist?


Terry arrives at the restaurant for her date with Matthew and she looks great! Here she goes, fingers crossed everybody! She sits at the bar and orders a glass of wine.


Mr. Smooth comes into the bar. Or rather he “slo mo” glides across the room towards Terry looking custom fitted suit sweet! Terri is obviously interested as we can see from her initial expression.

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Which makes it so much worse when he veers away at the last second to talk to the attractive younger woman to her right. thinking that she is Terry Russell. Whoops!


Below Matthew is talking to the wrong woman while Terry waits for him to realize his mistake.


I cropped the younger woman out in solidarity with women over 35 years old.

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Hmmm, now that I think about it, Terry Russell is famous in her own right and is recognized at the bar right away. Later on, she’ll even be recognized by some random guy in France. I’m just wondering why Matthew didn’t Google her before this. It would have taken about two seconds and he would know what she looks like and her entire bio beforehand. Blind dates don’t have to be blind anymore dude.


Matthew sorts his women out, but not before Terry has a chance to overhear him deliver a few choice pick-up lines to someone else. His first comment to her is, “Sorry, I didn’t notice you there.”


And so, with these words, he takes out his little Chef Cupid arrow and stabs their date in its barely beating heart.


After this remark Terry becomes sarcastic and hostile. Matthew is defensive and rude. She leaves. He drinks. Taxi!


Uh Oh, Matthew! Famous NYT food critic was here during your “date” and you fed him crappy Coq au Vin that was “stale” and “unimaginative”. Everything’s NOT FINE MATTHEW! IT’S NOT FINE!


Bad review! Investors leaving! Restaurant will go under! Wow, that Coq au Vin must have really sucked.


Matthew is so depressed that he starts laying on the kitchen counters in his restaurant with food being prepared all around him…..for crying out loud he has his shoes on! There probably was bird poop in the Coq au Vin.


Matthew honey…this is super gross.

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Terry has her own problems – her creative juices have dried up and if she doesn’t get her book done by the deadline her publishing deal is over. Her book editor, (also Mathew’s sister who set them up), gives Terry the keys to her family’s villa in France so she can get away and write.


BTW these are the keys to the villa – if someone gave me keys like this, I would want to make sure the place had electricity and a toilet.

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FYI here is the villa and it definitely has a toilet. Place is bomb.

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Terry and a reluctant Abby arrive in France. All Abby cares about is her cell reception. At this point I am wondering why a peripheral character who whines has been written into the story.

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Terry is looking out of the window of her bedroom which overlooks the pool and…



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Who is that man flying into the pool? Good God, he’s muscular!

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She and Abby go outside and it turns out that “Muscles” is Matthew who came to the villa to get away from all his restaurant problems.


There is a confrontation with a lot of, “What are you doing here?” “No, what are you doing here?” “You have to go!” “No, you have to go!” and blah, blah, blah.


Matthew calls his sister and she tells them both to take a chill pill and share the Villa.


Everybody is super pi$$ed.


BTW in the shot below Matthew just exited the pool and he is completely dry. Hallmark does not believe in physics.


Here ladies…I made this photo extra big for you.

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The next morning they all get into a fight at breakfast. Matthew is mad because the kitchen is dirty after Abby destroys it making breakfast.

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She offers him pancakes but he says they are inedible without even trying them. Matthew judges a lot of food without tasting it apparently.


“When I cook I just go with what I’m feeling. These are teen angst pancakes with a whine glaze and a grumble bumble topping.”

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This is where we find out that Abby likes to cook and is good at it, while her mother lives off of foods like fruit loops, pop tarts and fake mocha mix coffee. Abby is probably one of those kids who had to learn to cook to survive.


Terry still has writer’s block, so she walks into town to get out of the house. Meanwhile, Abby very nicely makes Matthew a sandwich and delivers it to him by the pool. This chick is growing on me.


After criticizing her food presentation, Matthew grabs the plate and takes a bite. He is disgusted by how good the sandwich is, given it was made by a teenager with no training. Matthew is not growing on me.


Matthew is out-sandwiched!

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Terri stops in to eat at a restaurant and meets Jean-Luc who is a big fan of her books. He says he is a chef and that he has won the Flavor of France competition, which is coming up, four years in a row. Really? You’re going to slip that into the first two minutes of meeting someone? FYI Jean-Luc, smug is not the new sexy.

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Matthew rides up on a bike and he and Jean-Luc face off a bit. Then Matthew judges Terry for the amount of ketchup she put on her eggs.


Side Note: In my opinion, if Terry wants to sprinkle jelly beans and caramel corn on her eggs she can do it since she is an adult and can make her own food choices. Secondly, how can Matthew be sure her ketchup-y eggs don’t taste better than his crappy Coq Au Vin? He never tasted either one.


And thirdly, this restaurant makes terrible omelets. What is that on her plate? A slice of raw potato and a wedge of lemon? WTF?

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Next, Matthew tests a dish that he is dissatisfied with, so he gives up and takes a nap. Terri comes into the kitchen, sees the plate of food on the counter and takes a bite of it.

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Side Note: FYI I am not okay with this. At this point in the story she and Matthew are acquaintances at best, and as such it is not normal to share food without permission. If you don’t agree with me then let’s change the scenario. Is it acceptable to walk around your workplace taking bites of your co-workers sandwiches when they’re not around? No. It is not.


That night neither Terry or Matthew can sleep and they both end up in the kitchen. They apologize to each other and make amends. Matthew offers her some hot chocolate made from his great grandfather’s secret recipe. She tries it and says, “I mean it’s good, but you know what it needs…” and then she walks over to the cupboard.


I swear I thought she was going to pull out a Pop Tart to dunk in her drink, but all she did was add some normal marshmallows.




Next, Abby starts helping Matthew in the greenhouse where she opens up and confides her teenage woes. Matthew gives her a pep talk about “friends” and all’s well.


Terry still hasn’t written a word yet and she is starting to freak out. Matthew gives her a glass of homemade lemonade and a pep talk about “pressure” and all’s well. Hey Muscles, what gives with all the patient listening and emotional lemonades? What happened to all your smarmy-ness and self-involvement? Oh, I forgot, it’s called a character arc. My bad...please continue.


Jean-Luc shows up and brings Terry flowers and a big heavy double oven full of Beef Bourguignon. First off, this is way too many gifts to give to someone you barely know, especially when you are just showing up at their house like a stalker. Secondly, Jean Luc did not think this through at all, since it is super clumsy to receive flowers in one hand and a weirdly heavy pot in the other. Thirdly, if Terry doesn’t like him, that sucks for her, because she’ll have to see him again to give him his $300.00 pot back. Fourthly, even after all this effort by Jean-Luc, notice that Terri didn’t ask him in at all, and only gives him an obviously reluctant “maybe” to a date.


Oh s***, are you serious?

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Jean-Luc says he’ll take the “maybe” date then he literally dances away with happiness because a woman, who originally refused him outright, said he might meet her standards…maybe. This guy is way needier than I originally thought. Also, he reminds me of an elf. Also, did I miss his car in the driveway or did he schlep all the way from the town with a pot of beef stew?

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Matthew takes a big angry bite of Jean Luc’s beef bourguignon. Dang, it’s delicious! Matthew is super mad because he never thought of using chanterelle mushrooms instead of white button.


Question: What high level chef still uses white button mushrooms?

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I guess Matthew is growing on her, because Terri asks him to accompany her into town, or into the village, or wherever all the other people live. They walk around a farmer’s market there for a while and then he runs into the butcher shop for some meat but that’s not all he gets!


The French butcher shop girl who waits on him taunts him with lamb sweetbreads. Can he handle it? It is tres difficult to cook no? Better stick with the chicken!


Because she is beautiful and skinny he asks her out as a result of this taunting. No offense, but guys are f*****g idiots.


“Bonjour, I am Dominique. Look at me! Don’t look at me! I hate you.”

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When they get home the kitchen is a mess. But I think the set designers went a tad overboard on setting this up because, if we believe everything we see here we would definitely NOT think Abby was a naturally talented cook - we would think she had some kind of psychotic break.


In this shot Abby apparently put batter in a coffee pot.

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Ah yes, here an entire leek has been thrown into a dirty Cuisinart and forgotten. Also, Abby cannot crack an egg.

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Last up we learn: Abby apparently doesn’t understand the concept of a “spout” for pouring, she is using cut up Pop Tarts as an ingredient, and she cannot crack more eggs over on this counter.

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Matthew decides to take Abby under his wing to teach her to cook properly and they work on the sweetbreads together. Terry comes into the kitchen and…super cute food fight!


Also: Holy crap, how much fresh bread do three people need?

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Ding dong! Who’s at the door? It’s Butcher Lady! She’s come over to be prettier and younger than Terry! Not cool Muscles!


Terry is sad and food fight flour-y

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Matthew and Butcher Lady go outside to eat by the pool. Abby comes into the bedroom to comfort her sad floury Mom. Abby says, “All that down there? That’s just an old habit.”


Huh? Did Abby read Matthew’s secret diary and I missed it? How does a teenager know anything about Matthew’s “old habits”? I don’t get it. However, kudos for trying to cheer up your Mom, kid.


Terry nods off for a bit and wakes up having dreamt about her book with a photo of her and Matthew on the cover. Now she knows what she will write about!


Next, she attempts to eavesdrop on Matthew and Butcher Lady on their date. I have absolutely no idea why she tries to do this. And furthermore, she sucks at it, since she is wearing bright pink flowing clothes at night to sneak up on people. If the writers are going to make her out to be this unbelievably nosey or stalker-like, then at least give her the intellect to dress in black, put her hair in a baseball cap and crawl on her stomach like a highly trained marine.

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Then she falls into the pool like a dumb***.


In the next scene, Matthew makes good on his promise and teaches Abby to prepare swordfish …or rather how NOT to prepare swordfish since he overcooks it. But wait! Abby says she has a “special ingredient” that can “fix things.” I’m thinking she means Vodka, but sadly, it ends up being a super seedy raspberry sauce that she spoons on top of the overcooked fish. Gross. Matthew tastes it and says it’s delicious.


Yeah…this looks super delicious.

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Terry walks into the kitchen in a pretty dress and informs everyone that she is going on a picnic with Jean-Luc. This annoys Matthew to the point that he decides to enter the Flavor of France Food Competition.


I’m going to beat that little French elf if it’s the last thing I do!

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Conversation snippet from Terry and Jean-Luc’s date:


Terry: Tell me about you?

Jean-Luc: I like to travel, I’m a car enthusiast, and I study languages.

Terry: How exciting! I love all that!


Do you Terry? Do you love “all that”? Because you just clumped three very large general interests into the category of “all that” and then asked absolutely no follow up questions about any of them, so it sort of sounds like you politely could give a rat’s ***. Look, just eat his weird salad, giggle periodically, and try not to check your watch.

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When Terry gets back from her date, she and Matthew fight about something called ZAZAZOO, which I am not going to try and explain since I don’t want to. Just know that both of them are upset that the other is out dating, so a fight was going to happen no matter what, and could just as easily have been about the weather or maybe a bologna sandwich.


Abby tricks them with fake invitations and hot chocolate so that they will talk to each other. And although Terry looks super freaked out in the photo below…this actually works.


“I’m super freaked out right now. What’s in your pockets?”

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Hey, Abby-eavesdropper! Thanks for all the lies!

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Next, Jean-Luc asks her to go wine tasting, and she says she’s too busy. Immediately afterward, Matthew asks her to go for a walk and she says she would love to. Translation: Jean-Luc, please pack your knives and go.


Matthew asks her out for dinner at his favorite restaurant, Evangeline’s, which is run by his mentor Rene, and she agrees, so they leave his multi-million dollar villa, and travel to the restaurant in this $150,000 car. Congratulations Hallmark, your male lead just turned into Christian Grey.

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After their date they almost kiss but are interrupted by Abby’s teen angst. Mean Girls! Cyber bullies!... Yadda, Yadda, Yadda…Blah, Blah, Blah…Tears! Stupid Villa! Cue Dramatic Exit.

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Matthew and Terry cheer her up by having her work at Evangeline’s in the kitchen where she learns how to chop a zucchini. Life is good.


Next, we get a montage of everyone getting along. Cooking together! Typing! Gelato! More cooking! More typing! So fun! So fun!


BTW Terri types in purple flowy script font (???)

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Fun times when you have no television…

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Terry and Abby talk Matthew into making Coq au Vin, (or as Matthew calls it, “the dish that destroyed me”), for the competition. They tell him, “Hey, just reinvent it”. Thanks, people-who-know-nothing-about-food…for this sage advice.


The day of the competition arrives and Matthew’s manager shows up with the NYT food critic in tow. Will Chef Cupid redeem himself? Or will he simply be “unimaginative” in France?


Holy sweet breads! Jean-Luc is making Coq au Vin as well! Chef Cupid, you need to think outside the box and fast!


Um, excuse me Matthew, but why are you in a zucchini chop off with Jean-Luc right now? There’s no zucchini in Coq au Vin! Focus man!


All of the sudden Matthew has a brainwave (or brain fart depending on how you look at it), and he tells Abby to make her “special ingredient” STAT!


Yum! Seedy raspberry sauce on classic Coq au Vin. Better serve this with a side of toothpicks!

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NYT Critic: “Raspberries on Coq au Vin? A bold choice.”

Matthew: “Whatever, just try it.”

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Just before the winner is announced, Rene tells Matthew that he wants him to take over Evangeline’s. However, the scene was really loud and the actor spoke this one line so fast, I at first thought he was talking about tangerines. It took me three rewinds to figure it out. See what happens when I care? Valuable life seconds are wasted.


They’re announcing the winner! It’s Matthew! Yeah! Come get your whatever-you-get!


Super awkward positioning for the award ceremony.

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As Matthew goes up to the front, Jean-Luc says to Terry, “I guess the best man won,” and Terry responds, “Yes he did.”


Yowch, lady. For his sake I hope he got his freakin’ pot back so you can’t drop kick his manhood any more than you already have. Poor little elf.


At the celebration that night, Manager Lady tells Terry that Matthew sweeps women off their feet and then he moves on, that’s just who he is, and he’s not going to change anytime soon. Terry seems upset about this rando statement out of nowhere.


Also, Manager Lady has no sense of party protocol.


Terry finishes her book, which is really about her and Matthew, and it is one of the thinnest books I have ever seen.


FYI these pages are single-sided and double spaced so this is basically a pamphlet.

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Great news! Matthew got a television job offer to go around the world and cook for a different single woman every week! He tells everyone “I’m Back!”

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Terri is sad. She does not show him her love pamphlet.


She calls her book editor/Matthew’s sister and tells her that she finished the book and fell in love with her brother. Terry tells her that Matthew will be going around the world while she is going back to her apartment to die of fructose and preservatives.


Hey, if you are what you eat then, yeah, this is probably pretty accurate.

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She and Abby pack to leave and Matthew realizes that this is it. He says, “That’s it between us?” She says he is going back to being Chef Cupid and she is going back to writing about romance.


She and Abby are going to have one last dinner at Evangeline’s before they leave and oddly, she does not invite him to this dinner.


Abby and I are going out to your favorite restaurant in the whole world and you are not invited. You can see what we eat on my Instagram.

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She leaves him a copy of her pamphlet for him to find. Good thing he was snooping in her room, good thing he can read it in less than an hour.

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He reads it and then runs to find her.

Go Matthew Go!

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As she and Abby are saying goodbye to Rene at the restaurant, Terry sees Matthew standing down the pathway. She walks over to him and we get this bizarre shot of her shoes as she is going down the uneven stone steps.

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Now a shoe shot coming down stairs works in a big makeover reveal storyline like in She’s All That, or A Cinderella Story, but here a shot like this just makes me nervous that Terry is going to slip and fall.


I read your pamphlet and I love you!

Let’s stay in France and run Evangeline’s together!

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Then they all celebrate with some champagne, but apparently the crew couldn’t take the time to cut this freaking branch for this shot. Really? Guess who the unimportant character is here.

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Sorry Abby no champagne for you…..underage.


● Hilarie Burton can act, and Victor Webster is very suited to this role

● This movie is staying on my DVR.

● Terry likes Pop Tarts as much as me.

● This movie actually inspired me to make my own Coq Au Vin (which was quite easy and tasty)

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● Terry’s out-of-character eavesdropping scene

Credits: All photos, unless otherwise indicated, have come from the Hallmark Movie “Summer Villa” which can be viewed on the Hallmark Channel

Vector Art Link: <a href="">Illustration credit:</a>

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