As the fall season winds down, and Hallmark’s Countdown to the Holidays gets into full swing, we should take a moment to appreciate the channel’s fall highlight which was South Beach Love.
Let’s start by acknowledging that Hallmark always knows what it does best. Pretty man and woman will meet (or re-connect), face an obstacle that’s not really an obstacle to their love of a lifetime, and then reunite to live happily ever after. It’s what we sign up for every year, and every season now seems to have dedicated entries to continue this trend. Fall is arguably the perfect season to get people comfy and cozy, and turn up the cheese to the maximum.
South Beach Love is based on the Hallmark novel of the same name. In Hallmark’s official summary, it’s billed as a “story about rival quinceañeras, glorious Cuban cooking, friendship, family ties- and romance”. There’s really no better way to summarize the events of this movie, which involve an old flame rekindled, an improbable competition for a magazine feature, and a classic case of miscommunication. All of these are, ahem, hallmarks, if you will of all the best of these movies.
William Levy and Taylor Cole lead this incredibly fun cast, playing Tony and Sara respectively. They are both catering their nieces quinceañeras on the same weekend. They also end up competing not only to be featured in the local magazine, but to take over ownership of a beloved restaurant closing its doors and looking for new life. They have their own history to overcome, and trust to re-establish.
The fact that South Beach Love incorporates different cultures into the same families is a credit to Hallmark. After so often being criticized for showcasing only white characters and stories, it was certainly a refreshing update. Showing families consisting of more than one culture is much more reflective of American society in the twenty-first century. Cuban culture was on full display which was such a joy to watch.
South Beach Love is by no means a piercing look at racial dynamics in modern-day America. There are, however, beautiful moments of cultures coming together, and mainly exploring all the ways food from different cultures can be combined. Food is a great unifier, and there was a lot of fun in considering what a fusion of Cuban and Irish cuisine looks like. This highlighted the beauty of American cuisine and how food from different cultures being combined is a net benefit to really everyone who has the privilege to eat it.
South Beach Love’s B-story unfortunately fell flat. It was a valiant effort to comment on family dynamics and friendships lost. The two families do reconcile by the end of the story, and it’s certainly true that the selling of a beloved home can always cause familial rifts. However, it was never really addressed any more deeply than apologies being exchanged and then the issue being dropped entirely. As long as the resolution happened though, the movie accomplished its purpose in the end.
The story’s final resolution is heartwarming, and exactly what we’d expect from Hallmark’s best. It succeeds in providing comfort when we need it most. Without spoiling the ending, viewers walk away feeling satisfied that everyone in the story got what they deserved and everything came together in the most joyful way possible. Viewers would expect nothing left from Hallmark’s finest.
South Beach Love is ultimately the best of what Hallmark has to offer. It has a bit of a new variation to hopefully open up Hallmark’s fanbase, and attract a whole new crowd to these cheesy yet comforting stories that ask nothing of viewers except to sit back and enjoy.
South Beach Love is now out on Hallmark.