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.
Starring Rachel Boston and Benjamin Ayres, with Carmel Amit and Shannon Chan-Kent
Jen (Boston) is a single mom who’s new in town. At her daughter’s school, she meets charming PE teacher Dan (Benjamin Ayres), as well as two moms, Marissa (Amit) and Kelly (Chan-Kent). The three women are roped into signing up for the field day planning committee by a manipulative PTO president, Suzanne (Jocelyn Gauthier). Dan offers Jen his assistance, and the two develop an attraction. But Jen, still mourning the loss of her husband, flip-flops over whether she’s ready to date Dan, and Dan is pessimistic that any romance can ever end happily. Meanwhile, the women’s plans for a successful field day are threatened by Suzanne’s sabotage and some foul weather.
The leads. Rachel Boston is a versatile actress who elevates every movie she’s in, and Field Day is no exception. She’s great in comic roles as well as dramatic ones, and here, Boston had the opportunity to play both. Opposite Ayres, who also shone in this movie, she was a delight. Their banter was playful and clever, and I instantly felt a strong sync between their characters, Jen and Dan. The two had many great scenes together, including a wonderfully honest first date. When their conversation shifted from joking around to serious matters—Dan getting dumped by the woman he was about to propose to, and the heart-wrenching death of Jen’s husband—they felt as if they’d shared too much of the wrong sort of information for a first date, and they joked awkwardly about it being the worst first date ever. The scene was full of mixed emotions; what began as fun and flirtatious morphed into a baring of souls that made each of them uncomfortable, and they admitted that discomfort. Jen and Dan’s hesitation to get involved with each other, in spite of their undeniable attraction, was beautifully conveyed by Boston and Ayres.
A tear-jerking scene. Get out the Kleenex. After the date was over and Jen concluded she wasn’t ready for romance, her mother gave her a video that her late husband, Nate (Matt Clarke), had made in case Jen felt stuck and couldn’t move on after he passed away. Nate’s video showed how perfectly in tune he and Jen had been with each other. He anticipated what her responses would be to what he was saying, joking about the Live, Love, Laugh sign, for instance, which he knew she’d find cheesy. But most importantly, he urged her to continue living and to seek happiness. The video blended poignancy with humor, and it was exactly what Jen needed to see before she could embrace the possibility of a future with Dan.
A women’s buddy movie. The friendship between the moms was as important as Jen and Dan’s budding relationship. All three moms were different in terms of personality and background; Jen was a down-to-earth web designer, Marissa a tightly wound workaholic lawyer, and Kelly a bubbly social media star. Yet despite these differences, and their bickering, they became good pals during the course of planning for field day. Many of the film’s liveliest moments came from the scenes between the women—for example, the pumpkin baking competition in which they botched their cake, and the pop-up bar dance scene in which they let loose. And the moms supported each other in overcoming their issues: Jen’s reluctance to date, Marissa’s difficulty in relaxing and asking for help, and Kelly’s inability to just be herself. It was an enjoyable depiction of female friendship that allowed for the reality of some conflict.
A couple of stereotypical characters. Though I mostly liked this film, and I have no doubt that Shannon Chan-Kent is a capable actress, I found her character, Kelly, to be annoying for too much of Field Day. It’s not the first time Hallmark has portrayed influencers in their movies, and the personality type isn’t appealing. They’re always shown as overly perky, superficial, and self-absorbed, obsessed with posting every moment of their lives. Kelly was no exception. At least the source of Kelly’s phoniness became clear: her online friends were so valuable to her because she associated friendship in real life with being hurt. And at least she gradually became open to exposing her real self. The bully of the story, Suzanne, was also a stereotype—all smiles on the surface, but underneath that, twisting the knife. Although Suzanne was a minor character, it would have been refreshing if she hadn’t been so one-dimensional.
My grade for Field Day: B+