“Back to You & Me” marks the end of a seven-year hiatus for Lisa Hartman Black, and the actress eases back into the game with a softball of a movie for Hallmark Channel. Pic, also featuring Dale Midkiff and Rue McClanahan, is the intellectual equivalent of a paperback read on the beach — it’s an inoffensive, mildly entertaining distraction unremarkable in just about every way.
Director David S. Cass Sr. takes more time establishing his picture-perfect fictional locale than providing his characters with emotional depth — not that writer Tom Amundsen gives him much to work with. Instead of letting the story of small-town lost love unfold slowly, every scene is a narrative designed to further a predictable plot. Who needs foreshadowing or character development when the dialogue spells out all of the crucial plot points in the first scene?
Dedicated female doctor (Hartman Black) with a great bedside manner dates co-worker and insensitive jerk. Hasn’t talked to mom since dad died. Blames mom for something. Pines for something better, perhaps a missed chance. Returns to quaint hometown for school reunion and possible second chance. Still wears the same size as in high school.
This is all well and good for a slight summer romance movie, but what is supposed to be small-town charm comes off as petty and intrusive. The man-hungry women in town viciously defend their territory, while the local minister keeps an alarmingly close watch on everyone. That’s just the filler for what is supposed to be the film’s emotional core — an ongoing fight between our good doctor and her mother. But when all is said and done, theirs is an issue easily resolved with one simple phone call or a well-worded greeting card.
Yet it’s these meager moments that offer the viewer anything resembling real life. McClanahan and Hartman Black, looking as if they could be mother and daughter, have an interesting dynamic but hardly any onscreen time to explore it. Hartman Black doesn’t stretch too many acting muscles, but she does make the most of her lovely, bouncy hair. Midkiff seems a little worn and wimpy for the love interest but is clearly the best that this small town, and the movie, has to offer.
Clint Black provides the movie with its twangy soundtrack, but other tech credits are rough.