If Cinderella was a hunky lawyer with a killer jawline.
The chiseled prince is Rob Carelli, a young and eager lawyer working for a family-run law firm, Higgins and Sons. He’s a super friendly dude, and the human equivalent to a golden retriever.
The evil stepsisters, I MEAN HIGGINS’ SONS, are Emmett and Andrew. Emmett played a gross cowboy in One Starry Christmas this year, and Andrew haunts me from playing this character when I was a kid:
The Higgins’ boys are up to no good, always getting work from their pop, Carter, and making Rob do it instead. The latest case is one about an heiress named Elyse Samford; her candy company Samford Candy is involved in a trademark infringement lawsuit. The crux of the lawsuit is that a rival candy company just changed their name to Sanford Candy, put out similar packaging, and are cybersquatting.
I don’t know, but I will admit to you that this is the only time I closely paid attention to a Hallmark movie’s legal-based plot, not that you care. If I wanted to watch sexy legal drama, I’d watch The Good Wife! (Not really, I tune out really hard during boring legalese).
Anyway, Rob gets handed the Samford file to finalize the details over the weekend without caring that Rob has plans to bowl with his precocious tween niece, Ruby! He throws caution to the wind and goes bowling anyway. Ruby’s huge on bowling, but not as much as she’s into Rob getting a girlfriend. So when she spots a cute lady bowling with an older dude across the alley, Ruby gets a Brilliant Idea. She basically throws Rob at the woman, and tells her he’s a single lawyer. Rob totally fumbles his introduction, and the young woman leaves. Ruby kindly admonishes Rob for being a pushover in his personal and work life.
Dude, your 12-year-old niece is literally teaching you life lessons. Also, in absolutely NO UNIVERSE would the dude playing Rob actually ever be bullied. He looks like Christian Bale as a cologne model.
The next day, the office is all a-twitter because Elyse Samford is coming in (I feel like this is actually nbd at all, because a law firm would see many prestigious clients on a daily basis, no?) Anyway, Rob’s legal secretary Merry explains that Elyse has just taken over as CEO of Samford Candy from her father, Howard.
Right before the meeting, Emmett googles Elyse – who is very shockingly revealed to be BOWLING GIRL! – and reads that she’s big into sustainable business, organic farming, going green, etc. It should be noted that throughout the entire movie, Emmett has an open glass bowl of green olives just sitting out on his desk. I have a lot of questions about this.
In the meeting, Rob and Elyse recognize one another, have a laugh, and then he corrects her that Ruby is his niece, not his daughter (as she assumed). But back to business: Elyse sees the trademark lawsuit as a potential profit, since Sanford is blatantly ripping off their shit (legal jargon, of course). She quickly realizes that Emmett has no idea what he’s talking about and is bluffing his way through this meeting. Rob’s the real genius!
After the meeting, Rob gets drunk with two friends that fill Hallmark’s diversity quota – an East Indian male named Dylan and a black female named Briana – bringing it up to a total of three POC (Merry is also black, but she doesn’t even get a last name on her office name plate) in this movie. He admits he already has a huge crush on Elyse, but he knows it’s unethical to ask her out, since she’s his client (sort of). Meanwhile, Emmett has been texting Rob, badgering him to tell him where he is, all so he can show up and dump his own paperwork off on him. Then he drinks Rob’s martini in front of him! This is a very Biff Tannen thing to do.
Elyse has invited the entire law firm to Samford Candy’s annual Halloween ball. Rob is hilariously ECSTATIC about this.
Howard is staying at Elyse’s mansion, because his house is under renovations. While this movie falls victim to a lot of lame tropes, what I do find refreshing about it, actually, is that Elyse’s wealth and power are never cast in a negative light, not even through another character’s eyes. Her dad is her #1 cheerleader and totally supports her business decisions, and Rob’s a newborn puppy.
Forgetting that pesky conflict of interest, Rob confides in Ruby that he’s planning to dress up for the costume ball because he likes Elyse and wants to make his move? Ruby’s mom (Rob’s…sister, I guess? The dad is not in the picture at all) is a professional costumer and has agreed to make his costume, so that works out very conveniently for him. They also take him dancing (on a Sunday night?) to learn the waltz.
Now that he’s living with her temporarily, Howard realizes how much of a homebody Elyse is. He wants her to get out and have fun. He tells her he lost himself after his wife died and he doesn’t want her to get lost in business and have life pass her by. Here’s where I started rooting for Howard to hook up with Ruby’s mom, but it NEVER HAPPENS. Hallmark does a terrible job of wrapping up sad loose ends for widowers!
Meanwhile, back at the firm, Rob’s basically the monkey in the middle with the Higgins’ boys. Andrew throws him under the bus to Carter about something, and then steals all his billable hours (is this a thing?). However, this backfires when Andrew, while presenting the preliminary case to the judge, fumbles his way through and needs Rob to help him out. They do get a temporary injunction until the case can be heard.
Rob sees Andrew flirting with Elyse later (why is she around the firm so much?) and Charlie-Brown-walks back to Sam at the security desk. He asks Sam, “Do you ever think about a woman?” Sam says, “Not since ‘98”(!!!) when he became a realist. OOOOOOKAY. Rob thinks Elyse is out of his league, which is probably true. We find out Sam used to be a lawyer back in the day, but quit when his wife/law partner dumped him for a senior partner. You coulda just switched firms, buddy!
It’s the day of the Halloween ball. Carter finds out that Sanford Candy registered samfordcandy.com (I feel like we already knew this though, thus the cybersquatting) and lashes out at Emmett, who blames Rob. But the truth is that Emmett was supposed to register samfordcandy.com and accidentally registered sanfordcandy.com instead. WHAT A WACKY MIX-UP! My complaint is that this seems 100% the fault of Samford Candy itself, because what company doesn’t register their own domain name in the first place?
What they need to get is a motion to set aside, which again falls on Rob to do, because Emmett wants to par-tay at the ball instead. He even threatens to fire Rob if he sees his handsome Disney face at the ball! Everyone leaves, and Rob is left alone in the building. Ruby and Sam work in cahoots to help him get to the ball to see Elyse; the building locks at midnight, so as long as he can get back in time, he can work overnight to get the motion to set aside done and the Higginses will be none the wiser. Ruby gives him a simple black eye mask, which hides his identity as much as Hilary Duff’s hid hers in A Cinderella Story. To wit:
Rob shows up at the ball and seeks out Elyse, who’s decked out as a princess (naturally). He calls himself her Mystery Date, and then apropos of nothing, asks her if she likes bowling. Rob’s as subtle as a charging bull, but Elyse is oblivious as can be. She can’t walk in heels (remember this) and kicks them off so they can dance a waltz together. After, they go out to the balcony for some fresh air. He helps her put her heels back on, revealing them to be THE MOST HIDEOUS LUCITE “GLASS SLIPPERS.” This is a very upsetting scene. Rob is fine with her disgusting choice of heel, and kisses her.
But then! He spies Carter and Emmett at the bar, and overhears Carter ordering Emmett to go get something back at the office. It’s almost midnight! If Rob doesn’t make it back to the office BEFORE midnight and BEFORE Emmett gets there, he’s totally screwed! Aw man, it’s like he’ll never ever ever see this girl ever again!…
He asks Elyse if she wants a drink, and then totally bails, leaving behind his dumb prince crown and leaving her waiting for her drink. Of course she finds the crown and of course Rob gets back right in the nick of time.
Rob super presumptuously signs Security Sam up for a continuing education law class so he can re-certify his law…license? Degree? Anyway, he gives him a stack of law books and happily walks off, having done his nice deed of the day, even though Sam might be perfectly content with his current job. WHATEVER.
Elyse is on a serious quest to find her mystery date, so she calls Carter and asks about the prince at the party. He gets schemey and decides to throw Emmett’s name out there, because Emmett was in full disguise as a knight (to spy on the staff!) so Elyse would have no idea he wasn’t the prince.
Emmett calls Elyse to ask her on a date, now pretending to have been her prince. Rob overhears this conversation and is a big sad face.
On their date, Emmett orders a $1,400 bottle of wine and oozes sleaze from every pore of his body. At no point does Elyse quiz him to make sure he’s the real prince that stole her heart until he left her for paperwork, or ask why he keeps an open container of olives on his desk. We do find out that Carter’s main mish in all of this is so Emmett can woo her and then convince her to sell her company to Sanford.
But why would he want to do that? It’s not interesting, but this is the reason:
Carter is a terrible lawyer and immediately shows his hand by hinting a sale to Elyse, who’s 100% not interested, but she does pretend to think it over. Later, Andrew gets tasked with the buyout package that Carter wants Elyse to look over, but Andrew just pawns it off for Rob to do instead.
Rob consults with his friends because he thinks some shady business is going down. I am never going to say no to sneaky detective work in my movies! Sure enough, he sneaks into Carter’s office and breaks into his laptop with a super dumb password of “150%,” because it’s something he always says. My little spy eyes discover some GEMS in Carter’s inbox, like Andrew telling his dad about a hot French barista, Emmett talking about a spider decoration he calls Alfred, Rob winning a playoff bet with the sons, and Rob also sending his BOSS a blonde/brunette/redhead joke at some point. It’s a thankless job to do the little details on a movie of this calibre, but it delights me when someone does a thorough job of it. Anyway, for all that work, Rob found absolutely nothing.
He confides in Sam that he suspects Higgins Sr. of doing Elyse dirty with this buyout package. Sam advises him to look into the major stakeholders to see who would benefit from this deal, because he thinks Carter could be buying stocks under a different name or corporation. Sam’s back in the game!
Rob employs literally his entire circle of family and friends to do this research with him. They find out that some guy that went to college with Carter has been buying up large stocks of Sanford (the bad company) in the last few months under his holding company.
Rob and Ruby are bowling together again, when they spot Elyse. She joins them and she’s super flirty with Rob and never once cluing in that the SQUARE-JAWED HUNK WHO LIKES BOWLING WITH HER AND ALSO WORKS AT THE LAW FIRM might be the prince. Anyway, Rob can’t work up the nerve to tell her his suspicions about Carter’s nefarious wrongdoings, and she leaves. Ruby is disappointed in him for being afraid of doing the Right Thing.
Incensed, Rob makes a secretive and urgent phone call to Elyse the next day, even though he’s not saying anything except, “It’s Rob, I need to see you. Call me!”
They meet at her office and he tells her everything. She’s pretty doubtful, but he urges her to just look into it. He knows he’ll lose his job if she exposes him as her snitch. When she asks why he’s doing all this, he ALMOST reveals that he’s the party prince, but changes his mind at the last second.
Later, Elyse finds an invoice wherein she finds out Emmett registered sanfordcandy.com. I can’t remember why this is a silver bullet for her, but just forget about it because this shit is literally never important. All of a sudden, Ruby shows up (???) to tell her Rob was the prince, and takes her to confront Carter about his lie (about Emmett being the prince). Carter denies that Rob was there at all (technically, nobody knows Rob showed up incognito). Ever so bold, Ruby demands to have Rob and Emmett come to his office to sort out the truth in front of everyone.
Why is this even important!!!
Elyse is horribly unprofessional and has taken off her heels, because she’s so free-spirited and green, which is so inappropriate when it is NOT YOUR OFFICE. Just don’t wear heels! Rob kneels down to put her heels on for her, and Emmett hilariously says, “Ew” at this very gross spectacle. Rob decides this is the best possible place to reveal he’s the prince and then they kiss.
Andrew tries to fire him, but Elyse turns on him for hiding information from her, and fires the law firm! She then hires Rob as her new lawyer (I’m sure this can’t be a Thing at all, right?). Oh, and in a flash-forward, we see Sam is his associate lawyer. Glad that got wrapped up, I was totally on edge about Sam’s future.
So, Rob and Elyse get married. In the fucking bowling alley. They have a totally horrifying kiss in which Rob looks like he’s being forced to make out with a rotten squid instead. They live happily ever after.
This was a fairly cute re-imagining of the Cinderella story we’ve seen so much. It managed to avoid a lot of shitty stereotypes, but I’m not sure I’ll remember having watched it in a year’s time.
Top IMDb Comment:
I thought he was gorgeous, and reminded me a bit of Christian bale in American psycho he was HOT!
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