It only follows that a movie about a young girl whose ideas of love and romance come strictly from fairy tales and Disney movies would borrow so heavily from said stories. By invoking themes, plots and even images of everything from “Princess Diaries” to “The Parent Trap,” Hallmark Channel’s “Smooch” is a fluffy, hodgepodge feel-good family film. Better than the sum of its parts, the cast elevates the epic above its tired themes to deliver a little romance in time for the big smooch day.
“Mad Men’s” Kiernan Shipka stars as Zoe, a day-dreaming young girl who prods her highly efficient but rather joyless mom Gwen (Kellie Martin) into finding a new husband. Meanwhile, erstwhile heir and playboy prince to a fictitious country, Percy Summerland (Simon Kassianides), is engaged to a vapid Napa wine heiress (Erin Nicole). He tells his devoted manservant Wilkins (Nicholas Ullett) that an arranged, loveless marriage is just part of his duty, but then skips out of his own engagement party to drown his sorrows in a San Francisco dive bar.
Bumps on heads, lost frogs and an ill-timed reptilian kiss lead the imaginative Zoe to believe that Percy is the frog prince of her favorite fairy tale. Covered in pond scum and no memory to prove otherwise, Percy goes with the story. Zoe’s initial aim is to create a happy ending for her mother, but it turns out they all could use a boost in the love department, especially Zoe, whose Valentine’s Day plans with her school crush are thwarted by a particularly mean girl.
Writers Howard Burkons and Terry Spencer Hesser tend to gloss over the inherent sticky points in the story (Zoe’s father’s death from cancer; a grown man hiding in a young girl’s closet). The biggest stumbling plot point is the hyper-vigilant Gwen not checking the credentials of Flynn, the new male nanny, just because he’s hot. Still, even with her shortsightedness and long working hours, she beats Betty Draper by far in the loving mom department.
Whimsical performances by Shipka and Kassianides manage to overcome most of these bothersome realities and make dialogue such as “into the breach, heart wide open,” a lot less corny.