09 November 2013

Movie Review: "The Good Witch"

Rated: TV-PG (US)
Starring: Catherine Bell, Chris Potter, and Catherine Disher
Released: January 18, 2008 (Hallmark Channel premiere) / January 5, 2010 (DVD)
Synopsis: Cassandra "Cassie" Nightingale (Catherine Bell, JAG) recently moved into a supposedly haunted house in the quiet town of Middleton, raising all kinds of suspicion, especially by "concerned citizen" Martha Tinsdale (Catherine Disher), who also happens to be married to the town's mayor.  The town's police chief (Chris Potter, Heartland) is intrigued by her, and his kids immediately make friends with her.  Still, there's something different about her: She makes potions, talks to animals, and has a strange shop called Bell, Book, and Candle.  Who is this woman? Will Martha and her minions force her out of town?
The first in a series of telefilms from the Hallmark Channel.

Artistic Merit

Plot: 3.5/5
Since this is the first in an annual series--that will apparently continue at least to next year, according to IMDb--this movie alone leaves you with a lot of questions, almost like a TV series' pilot.  However, the story, although nothing terribly special, was good enough to draw me in, though it seemed to drag slightly towards the end.

Production Values: 4/5
Though there wasn't anything excellent in this department, it still worked well.  The acting was great, and so were the sets.  The soundtrack was decent, but nothing special.

Moral Content (Warning! Spoilers in this section!)

Positive Elements: 4/5
Martha and her minions discriminate against Cassie, and are vilified for it.  A boy learns to love his enemy and that revenge is not the answer.  Cassie also shows forgiveness towards two young men who vandalize her shop.

Sex: 3/5
There was kissing, but that wasn't a big issue.  What was shocking to me was Cassie selling a woman a aphrodisiac potion; Cassie tells the lady that, since she doesn't have any kids, she doesn't have to worry about "sending them off to Grandma's." Later, the two meet again, and the customer says, "It's like a second honeymoon, but this one is so much better." Towards the end, the customer tells Cassie that, after years of being barren, she is now pregnant; it is implied that the potion had some sort of effect.

Nudity: 4.25/5
Cassie wears a gown that shows her shoulders and her cleavage in one scene, and a translucent shirt that shows her bra in another.

Language: 4.5/5
Mild name-calling.

Violence: 4/5
Surprisingly, there isn't the kind of fantasy violence like you get from Harry Potter.  A girl trips and gets a mild scrape on her knee, and two windows are smashed through.

Drugs: 3.5/5
Cassie sells potions, and she and others use them.  She and the police chief are also seen drinking wine.  It is mentioned that a boy has a father who is a drunkard.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 3.5/5
A dog chases two kids, but is stopped by Cassie before he can hurt them.  A boy's father--not the police chief--is implied to be abusive.  The same boy is seen bullying the police chief's son, though he learns the error of his ways.

Other: 4/5
Though the movie doesn't show her actually casting spells, the ending implies that she will show further magical abilities in later films.

Final Score: 3.75/5
Believe it or not, Catherine Bell was one of my earliest celebrity crushes, before anyone even knew who Hilary Duff, Anne Hathaway, or Victoria Justice were.  Though I've since moved on--come on, I was only eleven when I had her on my desktop!--there was still a lingering attraction there for me.  Though the movie wasn't terrible, it wasn't spectacular, and the surprising addition of sexual dialogue put a slight damper on things for me.  Still, this is just the beginning, and the makers were apparently intentionally making a series.  Hallmark Channel fans should catch this either on the network or on DVD.

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