Incidents & Ingredients
Jenny (Alison Sweeney - Christmas at Holly Lodge), a single mum of two, works at a 911 call centre where she is known on the radio as 23. It is through her job that she has a fondness for Jeff (Greg Vaughan - A Very Country Christmas), a fire-fighter who she refers to as Cowboy over the airwaves even though they have never met. But circumstances end up bringing them together as when Jenny's hours are cut she is forced to put her spare room up for rent whilst Jeff is in need of somewhere on the ground floor to rent as having broken his leg during a call out has prevented him from returning to his third floor apartment. Jeff moves in and soon has become part of the family, helping Jenny's children who confide in him that they have been secretly reading to old people to earn money to help their mum out. But whilst Jenny grows fond of Jeff she is scared as she knows how dangerous it is to be a fireman especially when she speaks to Jeff's friend Chief (Edward Asner - Generation Gap (2008)) who was a fire-fighter with Jeff's father who died in a fire.
What happens when you make Macaroni Cheese and you use Red Leicester instead of a Mature English Cheddar, you end up with a recognizable meal with a slightly different flavour. It is the same when it comes to Hallmark movies when you use the same story ideas but switch around the actors you end up with a familiar, even predictable movie, which is only different because there is a different attractive actress or hunky actor in a main role. That brings me to "Second Chances" an entertaining but frankly entirely predictable romantic Hallmark movie made for the afternoon crowd.
So as to those familiar aspects of "Second Chances"; we have the pretty but harassed single mum with two cute children who fears not only falling for someone again but especially a fire-fighter who puts himself in danger. There is also the wise old friend who offers sage advice, a perfect role for Edward Asner who sadly ends up under used. Plus of course there are some amusing moments such as the pranks the fire-fighters play on each other. It is all incredibly typical although at the same time there are some rumblings of different aspects such as Jeff fearing that his broken leg will not heal enough and he won't be able to return to the job he loves.
As for that cheese analogy well the difference here is simply we have Alison Sweeney instead of say Teri Polo and Greg Vaughan instead of say Dean Cain. Sweeney and Vaughan work well together, they have the right look for this sort of movie and it is not their fault that their characters are generic and forgettable. It is the same with young Benjamin Stockham and Charlotte Labadie, who play Jenny's children, as the characters are too good to be true, too sweet but it is what this sort of movie calls for and the young actors play their parts well.
What this all boils down to is that "Second Chances" is typical for a Hallmark movie with familiar story elements, characters and actors. But alongside a lot of familiar there are moments of originality and depth which lift this from being completely ordinary and in to something worth watching at least once.