Movie Review: Sugary “Soulmate(s)” will rot your you-know-what

Career bit-players Stephanie Lynn and Alexandra Case wrote themselves into leading ladies with “Soulmate(s),” a rom-com in which they play the two best-looking single thirtysomethings in all of Vermont, “besties” with a pact that one won’t marry without the other marrying the same day.

It’s every bit as cutesy as that sounds. “Vermont” alone could be the giveaway, promising a movie of maple sap-sucking and roadside syrup stands, cow-milking, bell choirs, string bands, covered bridges and tiny houses. Yup, so “sweet” it makes your teeth ache.

Guitar-picking farm daughter Jessie (Lynn) and blogger, notary and aspiring op-ed writer Sam (Case) have been friends since five, share a tiny house and pretty much everything else in their lives.

But Big Maple is moving in and squeezing out small farmers, and that’s the perfect reason for Jessie to fall for a Peterson Maple exec, hunky Landon (Mark Famiglietti). But that “pact” gets in the way of her future happiness. Or so Sam hopes.

Sam aims to be “Vermont’s Erin Brockovich,” sounding the alarm about this corporate takeover and the “shortcuts” that could undermine “real” maple syrup. Think “Chinese honey.”

But Jessamine’s swooning over the hunk who lives on a 40 foot ketch on Lake Champlain interrupts their idyll. Sam desperately realizes that the only thing that can slow-Jess’s roll to the altar is invoking their “pact,” and the only thing Jess can do is resolve that she’s “gonna find you a man.” Queue the “speed-dating” montage. If only the “speed-dating montage” was the sum total of it.

“Soulmate(s)” is a Hallmark Channel holiday romance without the snow, aka “insipid. The jokes are treacly, the situations warmed-over from scores of better movies and the whole thing plays kind of 1943.

“This is Vermont. It’s always a bit ‘1943.’”

There’s a protest, a brief mention of “GMO” battles and the region’s ever-widening “warm spells.” At least those causes don’t face the sell-out the script seems to be angling for.

The perfectly-turned-out (Such hair!) leads give themselves a fine showcase, if they’re angling for recurring roles on a sitcom. Case’s drunken, interrupt-a-string-band with her rap about “used to have a buddy, now she’s a duddy” is one of the least cringe-worthy moments in it.

The supporting players are experienced and professional, but not people who add spark to a movie that sorely needs it.

It’s a little late to be pointing this out, but just because your romantic comedy’s set in Vermont is no reason to make it sappy.

Rating: unrated, inoffensive in the extreme

Cast: Stephanie Lynn, Alexandra Case, Mark Famiglietti, Di Quon, Zachary Spicer and Alice Barrett.

Credits: Directed by Timothy Armstrong, scripted by Stephanie Lynn and Alexandra Case. A Vertical release.

Running time: 1:32

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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