When Jesse catches her husband Chaz cheating on her, she immediately files for divorce. But as they are trying to finalize the details, Chaz’s father dies, leaving his mother in turmoil as she fights against an evil company trying to buy her house so they can tear it down. Jesse feels an obligation to take care of her ex-mother-in-law as her ex-husband tries to hurry her out of her own home. As she helps her ex-mother-in-law pack up her belongings, Jesse finds herself falling for Ben, the local pastor, who is actually her ex-brother-in-law and used to be married to her ex-husband’s sister. But as the two of them grow closer, Chaz works to stir up the small town of Bethel Grove against them, possibly threatening to end their relationship forever.
Production Quality (2 points)
In-Lawfully Yours checks the box of having a nice surface appearance. Money was obviously spent on camera work, video quality, and audio quality. The soundtrack is a silly ‘small town’ composition, but it’s obviously a jab to stupid Hallmark soundtracks. The sets and locations are pretty good for this type of movie and obviously showcase the ‘small town’ elements this movie is trying to make fun of. The biggest problem here is the editing. Even if you’re creating a satire, this does not mean that editing should be ignored. In-Lawfully Yours is just a random collection of spliced together ‘funny’ scenes with little continuity between them. In short, this film meets the minimum production standard Christian films should meet, but this does not mean that it’s flawless.
Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)
In-Lawfully Yours is obviously an attempt at satirizing a stereotypical Hallmark small town romance film. The problem is that the satire is not completely committed to. At times, the satire is painfully obvious, though not always funny, yet at other times, satire is arbitrarily abandoned. Dialogue is purposely nonsensical, ripe with offhand swipes and nods to cheesy movie concepts. But sometimes meaning is awkwardly forced into the dialogue. Characters are noticeably empty, but they don’t live up to their full comic potential. Satirical scenes and concepts, like the infamous interrupting-church-services bit from Hidden Secrets, are vastly overused to the point of embarrassment. This aside is actually the entire purpose of this plot, and its overuse is cringe-worthy. In the end, everything is neatly fixed in purposefully childish ways. Essentially, In-Lawfully Yours is a poor man’s Christian Mingle.
Acting Quality (0 points)
Unfortunately, satires still need good acting. Throwing your cast members into scenes without giving them coaching is no better than Hallmark. Had the acting been better, this film might have actually been funny. Emotions are either stale or over the top. Line delivery is mostly lazy. It’s disappointing that the acting wasn’t better, because I think there was potential here.
Corbin Bernsen has become somewhat infamous for creating subtle parodies of Hallmark movies, but In-Lawfully Yours tries a bit too hard. Where Christian Mingle was organic satire, this new film wears out the same concepts over and over again and forces comedy down your throat. It could have been interesting—tongue-in-cheek references to small town movie clichés are perfectly adequate when executed properly. But when it comes to satire, familiarity breeds contempt. Silly Hallmark concepts deserve to be made fun of, but this one is just too repetitive to be funny.
Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points