A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Love Finds You in Valentine is the third film in a trilogy, all based on romance novels, made for television, directed by Terry Cunningham, and making their way to DVD. This straightforward, familiar story tells of a city "girl" uncovering family secrets, getting caught up in a mystery, and finding love on a beautiful horse ranch. The film extols the values of forgiveness, charity, and rural life. A generations-old family feud sets the tale in motion; a questionable ranch sale provides the initial conflict. A few scenes provide suspense and some action, including a fistfight, a brief hostage situation, and a struggle over a gun. Wholesome in spirit and in execution, the movie offers safe viewing for fans of romance, magnificent animals running through beautiful countryside, and good people doing the right thing.
What's the story?
When LOVE FINDS YOU IN VALENTINE opens, the Blaines and the Morgans have been engaged in a family feud for more than a century. Because Kennedy Blaine's dad married a Morgan girl against the wishes of both families, the two left their beloved home in the city of Valentine, Nebraska, before Kennedy (Michaela McManus) was born. Now Kennedy is coming home to Valentine. Both parents are deceased; the magnificent Blaine ranch is up for sale; and Kennedy's dad has left a request in his will that his daughter return to Valentine before the sale is complete. Having just graduated from law school and studying for the Bar exam, Kennedy is confused and reluctant, but she honors her father's wishes. Unexpectedly, Kennedy finds much more than an exquisite ranch when she arrives. First, the ranch's accountant and sales rep (a distant Blaine cousin) informs her that the ranch has been steadily losing money and pushes her to agree to the terms. Then, she meets June Sterling (Lindsay Wagner) and her son, Derek (Diogo Morado), who've been taking care of the place and insist that Circle Cross Ranch is more than profitable. And, when she learns that her grandfather Morgan (Ed Asner) is still alive, Kennedy's initial curiosity becomes acute interest. She intends to find out what's really going on with the sale and to meet the grandfather she's never known. Kennedy's relationships with a dog, the horses, the handsome ranch foreman, and a questionable Chicago villain complicate her quest -- but only until Valentine weaves its magic and Kennedy sees that her carefully planned life as a big-city attorney may not be what's right for her.
Is it any good?
The story is familiar, but engaging performances and gorgeous rural images offer enough to win over audiences who don't mind a little predictability along with their budding love stories. Particularly appealing is established Portuguese star Diogo Morado, transitioning from playing Jesus in several English-language biblical epics to a modern-day, charismatic hero. Other than some rather poorly executed action sequences (fights, hostage-taking), this film is a solid effort with good messages and good people to root for. It won't disappoint fans, including tweens and teens, who love horses, romance, and happy endings.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about predictability in movies and how sometimes predictability is satisfying. How long did it take for you to know exactly where this story was going and how it would end? Did it lessen your enjoyment of the film, or were you content to "ride along the trail" with the filmmakers?
As in this film, movies often applaud the virtues of rural and/or small-town life as opposed to big-city living. Though it works for storytelling, do you agree with that perception? Why, or why not? What has proven true for you and your family?
To make a love story work well, it's important to clearly show what it is about the two characters that draws them together. Did the filmmakers make a good case for the Kennedy-Derek romance? How did they accomplish that?
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