Ah, the TV movie. That last bastion of campy shlock and overly sentimental schmaltz that allows out of work TV actors the chance to return to the medium that made them a star. But what is a fan of the camp to do when two air on the same night? How does one choose? With Sunday night’s (April 21) traffic jam of “Lovestruck: The Musical” on ABC Family and “Remember Sunday” on ABC, only one can claim victory and earn your attention in 2013’s first Battle of the TV Movie.
Zap2It had the opportunity to screen both films prior to their premieres and, judging them head-to-head in four categories, we’re ready to declare a winner. (Warning: The following contains minor spoilers. If you’re not into that sort of thing — stop reading now.)
1. Outlandish Plot
“Lovestruck: The Musical”: This one’s a doozy. Jane Seymour stars as Harper, a former Broadway star, intent on derailing her daughter Mirabella’s (Sara Paxton) wedding. After drinking from a bottle of liquid meant to dull the pain of an injury, she turns 30 years younger (wherein she’s played by Chelsea Kane). Her plan is thrown for a loop when her ex-husband Ryan (Tom Wopat) arrives, recognizing his ex. Of course, he drinks from the bottle, too (wherein he’s played by Drew Seeley). Harper begins to second guess the damage she’s done and sets out to fix it — but is it too late? Oh, and there’s singing and dancing throughout.
“Remember Sunday”: This one’s a little more straightforward. Zachary Levi stars as Gus, a man who suffered a brain aneurysm three years prior, causing him to lose his short-term memory. Every night, sleep washes away all he’s learned that day, making each day a reboot. Alexis Bledel stars as Molly, the waitress he meets who makes Gus fall in love with her all over again — every day.
Winner: Magic potions? Farcical plots? Musical numbers? “Lovestruck” takes this round.
2. Casting of a Has-Been Actor
“Lovestruck”: Luke Duke himself singing and dancing? That’s the stuff TV movie dreams are made of.
“Remember Sunday”: Larisa Oleynik (“The Secret World of Alex Mack”) pops up in the final act as someone from Gus’ past.
Winner: While the casting of Alex Mack is a rare treat to this former fan, Wopat’s appearance is almost too good to be true. “Lovestruck” for the win.
3. Cheesiest Lines
“Lovestruck”: “So, I’ll just ask you: Do you? I do,” Mirabella to fiance Marco (Alexander DiPersia) in a song about writing their wedding vows. It’s repeated, ad nauseum.
“Remember Sunday”: “We’re all stardust,” Molly, to Gus as he’s explaining the cosmos to her. (He was an astrophysicist before his aneurysm because, of course he was.)
Winner: The lyrics in “Lovestruck” are often terribly embarrassing and nonsensical, but that one sentence in “Remember Sunday” is just so silly that it derails a mostly competent film. “Remember Sunday” takes Round Three.
4. Biggest WTF? Moment
“Lovestruck”: The movie opens with Seymour in a blonde bob wig, holding rehearsal for the new show she’s directing. Giving her dancers a hard time, she admonishes them to just feel it, to “just dance.” And then, you guessed it, she starts warbling Lady Gaga‘s “Just Dance.” Yes, that’s the tone the writers wanted to set in the first five minutes.
“Remember Sunday”: Molly’s presented as a girl who just can’t get her life together; never pays her bills on time, late to work, can’t park anywhere without getting a parking ticket. She blames it on the fact that she’s waiting for an inheritance. About two-thirds into the movie, deciding she’s had enough, she just calls the cousin challenging her rights to the money, yells “I want my money” into the phone, and has a check for $243,000 the very next scene. Sure, that’s how things work.
Winner: “Lovestruck.” Hands down, without a doubt, “Lovestruck.”
Grand Winner: If you’ve been keeping score, you know it’s the ABC Family film that takes the title. “Remember Sunday” is just another in a long line of sub-par Nicholas Sparks schmaltz-fests, wearing its heart on its sleeve, but “Lovestruck” is totally gonzo bananas crazy — just the kind of TV movie we want to see.
“Lovestuck: The Musical” airs on ABC Family on Sunday, April 21 at 8 p.m. ET. “Remember Sunday” airs on ABC the same night, at 9 p.m. ET.