Starring Laci J. Mailey and Marco Grazzini
Betty (Mailey) feels cursed. As a teenager, she was hexed by another girl who had a crush on the boy Betty liked. Ever since, her love life has been a disaster. When Alex (Grazzini) moves into Betty’s building, she’s drawn to his playful wit and good looks. She soon discovers that he’s a risk-taking photojournalist who’s travelled the world. However, Betty’s an actuary who’s acutely aware of the statistical likelihood of dying or being injured in certain situations—like being trapped in an elevator. Anxious Betty keeps a watchful eye on Alex, intent on saving him from becoming a casualty of his own behavior, a bad habit that threatens to derail their budding romance.
If you have a taste for the absurd, you’ll probably find this wacky rom-com refreshing. It boasted a clever, screwball comedy-style script by Cameron Johann.
The leads, especially Mailey. I’m still trying to figure out how Mailey did it, but she made wildly neurotic Betty loveable, not irritating. If I knew Betty in real life, her worrying would drive me around the bend. Perhaps what helped make this character work was her good heart. Betty adored Alex and genuinely wanted to keep him safe. Her difficulty was her inability to control anxiety, fed by her actuarial knowledge; her fears spiraled and got in her way. Some might call Mailey’s performance over the top, but she made Betty intensely human–and frequently hilarious. Betty made a klutzy dash to work one morning, only to discover that it was a Saturday. And the roughness of Alex’s rugby match horrified her so much, she barged in to referee the game. In a preposterous camping scenario, she and best friend Mya (Meghan Heffern), who she’d convinced to participate in her nutty scheme to spy on Alex (another misguided attempt to keep him safe), panicked at the sound of a raccoon and sounded a horn as they fled their tent, blowing their cover. Alex was both disappointed and puzzled to see Betty there. Grazzini exuded an easygoing charm as Alex from the moment this character moved into the building with his gong and his dogsled. A cheerful soul, Alex feared nothing and did his best to sooth Betty. Mailey and Grazzini had a fun rapport and were a pleasure to watch together, and their adorable little dance up the aisle made for the cutest Hallmark wedding scene ever.
Thrilling drama. This movie wasn’t all lightheartedness; it contained some surprisingly tense moments. Betty learned that the building that housed a business her firm had acquired on her advice had caught fire. As she looked on, Alex photographed the building, and she begged him to stop. Instead, he heroically rushed inside to rescue someone, and the building exploded. Alex emerged safely with the rescued man, then begged Betty not to push him away for exposing himself to real danger. More tension occurred when he knocked himself unconscious while dancing down the stairs. At the hospital, Betty couldn’t cope with the fact that he’d concussed himself. She blamed the curse, then ran from the relationship.
Freedom from the curse. Betty had paid for a psychic to remove the curse but still felt plagued by it. She tracked down Eleni (Ecstasia Sanders), who had hexed her years earlier, but while they talked, she realized that the curse had never been real and she needed to stop blaming it for her romantic misfortunes. Free at last, she soon lost her anxiety about taking risks. Appropriately, the movie ended on an upbeat note with Betty and Alex playing rugby. It was satisfying to see her now embracing life as fearlessly as he did.
Meghan Heffern. This actress also played the best friend role in Retreat to You (2023). I loved the comic touch she brought to Mya in Betty’s Bad Luck in Love. She fretted over an endless series of wedding planning setbacks and was nearly as much of a worrywart as Betty. The scenes in which the two women chatted loudly about their problems during yoga class were amusing. Heffern is a gifted actress, and it’s time she became a Hallmark leading lady!
David Epstein. This actor played Nelson, Betty’s nerdy coworker who was determined to date her. After Betty decided she needed a safe and sensible man, she took him up on his offer of lunch. Over Chinese food, he revealed a passion for recycling. Later, when Betty was about to reject him, he beat her to the punch, saying that he needed someone who could keep up with his “lively discourse”! Epstein was perfect in this goofy role.
My grade for Betty’s Bad Luck in Love: A+
Caroline Kaiser is a professional book editor who specializes in fiction and memoirs, and she’s been guiding writers toward publication since 2007. Caroline is also the author of two ghostly mystery novels, Virginia’s Ghost and The Spirits of South Drive. Before she embarked on an editing and writing career, she spent many years working in a Toronto auction house as an antiques appraiser. Apart from curling up on the couch and drinking tea as she watches Hallmark movies, Caroline enjoys baking and exploring London, Ontario, the picturesque city she now calls home. Her website is www.carolinekaisereditor.com.