Gilbert Gets Sketchy
I will put my hand up and admit that if a movie stars Melissa Gilbert I will watch it even if I have an inkling that it is going to be poor. Yes that does mean I have watched a few TV movies which perhaps I would have avoided if it wasn't for Gilbert but occasionally one has surprised me by how good it is. Unfortunately "Childhood Sweetheart?" is not one of those good movies with its attempt to mix intrigue and romance ending up unrealistic and melodramatic.
Greg (Michael Reilly Burke) and Karen (Melissa Gilbert - The Christmas Pageant) were Childhood Sweethearts that is until one day she is kidnapped as she walked home from Greg's. For 17 years Greg never gave up on seeing his sweetheart again to the point of having visions of her appearing outside his bedroom window like she did as a girl. And that is exactly what happens when one stormy night he looks out and sees Karen standing there. Over the moon to have his sweetheart back he teaches her to dance and drive but not everyone is convinced that this woman who says she is Karen is who she says she is as she is so sketchy on what happened to her in the intervening years.
So there are two things going on in "Childhood Sweetheart?" a romantic storyline about Greg and Karen and then the mystery surrounding Karen and her past. Now the whole romantic side of the movie whilst important as it also covers Karen's parents who were on the verge of splitting up becoming closer is of the mushy variety which to be honest is not my cup of tea. You can sort of guess it will be during the opening scene as we see Greg with his toned torso get out of bed and in the moonlight walk to the window, it is that sort of cheesy/fake romantic fairytale styling.
Then there is the more interesting side to the movie which is of course whether Karen is Karen and if she is what happened to her during the past 17 years and how did she get away. It's not overly realistic because one minute Karen seems incredibly worldly then the next extremely naive as if she has spent her entire life locked in a basement. In fairness this builds mystery as do certain scenes from Karen sneaking off to get a passport to the possibility that she may be a wanted woman but it is as subtle as a brick and quite cheesy as well which means that you can predict the outcome before it arrives.
The thing is that the cheesy romantic side of things dominates the movie and so the performances especially those of Melissa Gilbert and Michael Reilly Burke border on the cheesy. Now some might enjoy this but as I pointed out it is not my cup of tea and at times border on the excruciating. It isn't a great deal better elsewhere as the softness of the movie also affects the performances of Ronny Cox and Barbara Babcock who play Karen's parents.
What this all boils down to is that if you enjoy soft romantic movies where it borders on being almost fairytale like you will probably enjoy "Childhood Sweetheart?". But if this sort of fake romance is too cheesy for you then "Childhood Sweetheart?" will be it a struggle to watch.