'The Makeover' Review: My Fair Candidate
David Walton and Julia Stiles (Hallmark)
'The Makeover' (Hallmark).
The Makeover, a sweetly silly new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, debuts tonight on ABC and provides a modern twist on the classic George Bernard Shaw story, but this time with a political twist and a gender swap.
Julia Stiles plays Hannah Higgins, a pedantic cold fish who works at an education consulting firm. Hannah wants to drastically improve our nation's education system, so she runs for her local Boston congressional seat. But she's so concerned with proper language and those pesky "issues" that she loses out to the local weatherman, who lacks depth but knows how to charm him constituents.
Enter Elliott Doolittle, played by the affable David Walton (New Girl, Bent). He's an everyman beer vendor who doesn't know how to "speak good" but has a natural ease with people. At first it seemed like Walton was laying on his Boston accent a bit too thick, but IMDb says he's from there so I guess my ear for the Bahstahn accent is off. Hannah and Elliot meet on the night of her election loss, and it's the anti-meet cute you expect in these types of TV movies. She haughtily refers to him "beer guy," he counters by calling her a snob, you know the drill.
But when a management position opens up at Elliott's beer company, he seeks out Hannah for a little education, and that's when the makeover part of The Makeover comes into play. The weatherman becomes…indisposed after losing a battle with bad weather, triggering a special election for the now vacant Congressional seat. It doesn't take long for Hannah to recognize that Elliott excels at all the people skills she lacks, and just like that we've got a My Fair Candidate story on our hands.
Elliot at first thinks he's just learning manners and elocution to earn the management gig, but surprise: Hannah is actually grooming him to run for Congress. See, in the world of The Makeover blue collar beer vendors with no higher education can run for Congress and everyone just goes along with it because really, why not? It's a Hallmark movie, reason has already been thrown out the window in favor of likable whimsy and that's fine. Don't fight it.
What The Makeover lacks in political credibility, it makes up for in winning performances from the cast. Stiles and Walton are well-cast and have nice chemistry as the modern day Higgins and Doolittle. The always great Camryn Manheim plays Hannah's partner and voice of reason at the education firm, and Frances Fisher hams it up nicely as Elliott's scheming, law-breaking mom (the actress knows she's the film's comedic relief and she milks it). Georgia Lyman also offers a nice turn as Elliott's widowed sister Bonnie.
The Makeover isn't exactly revolutionary, but thanks to a talented cast and a breezy script, it's an enjoyable enough way to spend a Sunday night. You may even find yourself rooting for Mr. Doolittle to go to Washington by the end.
The Makeover airs Sunday, January 27 at 9/8c on ABC.
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