Secret is in the Cast
Having been an orphan Jonathan (Robert Wagner) along with his wife Jennifer (Stefanie Powers) head to San Francisco for a charity auction at an orphanage. It is there that Stefanie comes across an antique heart shaped locket which much to Jonathan's surprise not only contains a picture of him as a young boy but also that of a young girl. Wondering who the girl is in the locket the Harts start to look into Jonathan's past and any relatives which leads them to Maureen Collier (Marion Ross), a tour guide who could be his long lost sister and her hustling nephew Stuart (Jason Bateman). But whilst Jonathan is highly suspicious there are other problems to contend with as crooks Sarah (Wendie Malick) and Evan Powell (Michael Parks) have their eyes on a collection of gold coins which were discovered by Captain Jeremy (John Beck) who works for one of the Hart companies.
Like in the previous "Hart to Hart" movies "Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart" starts with Jonathan and Jennifer in fancy dress, this time dressed as pirates with Max involved in the pantomime at the same time. I say pantomime because it is meant to be jokey but in reality ends up painfully corny with the only one coming out of this scene with a modicum of credibility being Stefanie Powers as it highlights how sexy she still was when this was made. But it really doesn't bode well for the rest of the movie and considering this would be Lionel Stander's last appearance, passing away after this was made, it is a shame that it ends up such a cheesy one.
Now in fairness no one should watch "Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart" with any real expectations as the original TV series and subsequent TV movies have been built around a formula. We have the fabulously wealthy Jonathan and Jennifer away from home drawn into a mystery where Jonathan is suspicious, people end up in danger and so on and so fourth till the mystery is solved. Now we do have a bit of a variation here because the mystery involves someone who might be Jonathan's sister so to bring in the danger we have some inept criminals and some old pirate treasure. But sadly this mix of mystery and inept criminals is not very good and it really struggles to draw you in like the simple crimes which filled the previous movies.
But what "Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart" has going for it is a surprisingly good cast with Marion Ross showing up as Jonathan's possible sister and puts in this wonderful turn as a talkative tour guide. But the star is Jason Bateman who is comically slick and cocky as her nephew and brings the scenes he appears in to life with so much energy which is needed as at times "Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart" is slow going. There is also a small part of Robert Wagner's step daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner who brightens up a scene mainly by being adorable. As for Wagner and Powers, well they bring what they have been bringing all along with such natural chemistry which is a pure joy to watch.
What this all boils down to is that "Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart" is a let down when compared to the previous movies as the storylines are just too daft. But thankfully "Hart to Hart: Secrets of the Hart" has a good supporting cast which helps to keep this entertaining when it becomes all a bit too stupid and cheesy.