The hook’s in the title, the title tells the tale and if you’re reading this review, you too must have been lured by the bait of “Plus One at an Amish Wedding.”
This sunny, PG rom-com is free streamer Tubi’s answer to a Hallmark romance, a mild-mannered fish-out-of-water story set in Pennsylvania Amish country.
The budget’s modest, so there’s no barn raising scene. We’ll leave that to “Witness.” There’s a hint of Rumspringa, a young Amish person’s late teens “break-the-rules, test-the-waters” taste of life as “The English” live it to decide if the devout, unmechanized, Luddite lifestyle they grew up in is for their them. But this isn’t a sensationalized ratings-bait TV documentary about Amish Kids Gone Wild, or Netflix’s “Rumpspringa.”
And yes, it’s got an Amish wedding — which isn’t really shown. That’s kind of a hallmark of this Hallmark-lite comedy. A lot isn’t shown, the conflicts are minimal and predictable and there’s little that would pass for particularly romantic or comedic in these 86 minutes.
But it’s sweet. There’s a fresh-out-of-med-school New York doctor (Galadriel Stineman) whose trademark is her unhurried, listen-to-the-patient bedside manner — not popular with her “work flow” boss. She falls for a handsome, considerate veterinarian (Kevin Joy). And Dr. April is about to find out Dr. Jesse’s secret, just as he’s about to pop the question.
“He could be hiding a lot worse,” counsels her sister May (Mary McElree) when she tells her.
Can this relationship among “You Englishers” survive a trip back in time amongst The Amish, where Jesse’s brother (Travis James) is about to marry and grow one of those Biblical beards?
April must hear how the Amish don’t “put much stock in English medicine.” And she’s got to hear it from Jesse’s myopic, widowed Mom (Pamela Daly, a stand-out in the cast). She must find out that Jesse is not-quite-shunned for having left, gone to vet school and moved to New York instead of sticking around and marrying Naomi as his mother wished.
Naomi’s (Summer Mastain) newly widowed herself. She gives April a taste of what an Amish mean-girl is like.
And then there’s Jesse’s spirited little sister Rachel (Mercedes Marcial, fun), of Rumspringa age, curious about the big wide world and what life among The English, as the (movie) Amish refer to the modern world.
The situations hold promise, albeit of a limited and low-hanging comic fruit variety. And the players are pleasant enough.
But the three credited screenwriters figure it’s enough just to mention (not really show) the assorted eccentricies of the lifestyle, as if we haven’t seen the buggies, heard about the volleyball, the passion for baked goods and that the traditional wedding “creamed celery” delicacy.
OK, I hadn’t gotten wind of the celery thing in any documentary or news report about the traditional farmers and their traditional, primitive religous sect. But “German cooking,” come on.
It’s not the mere mention of things about this culture that make a movie set in it promising. It’s what you do with those differences. A little modern medicine intervenes in medical crises allows April to shine. I was waiting for a Jesse-the-modern-vet moment, but no. He’s kind of left in the background (VERY Hallmark). And we get a bit of contrived soul-searching about whether these judgmental folks will ever “accept” her.
That’s all she wrote for “conflict” here, and for novelty in the story. It’s just not enough.
Cast: Galadriel Stineman, Kevin Joy, Pamela Daly, Mary McElree, Summer Mastain, Travis James and Mercedes Marcial
Credits: Directed by Richard L. Ramsey, scripted by D.F.W. Buckingham, Miralee Ferrell and Kimberly Rose Johnson A Tubi release.
Running time: 1:26