The Worst Male Lead in a Hallmark Movie I’ve Ever Seen
So my mom wanted to watch this Hallmark movie “Like Cats and Dogs” because of the cute animals. I watched with her because…again, cute animals. Normally I only watch Hallmark Christmas movies to get into the holiday spirit. To me their regular romances are too predictable, boring to the point of putting me to sleep, and this did not disappoint. What surprised me was how awful the “romance” was. By the end I cared more about the dog and his new kitty cat friend than I did the two human leads.
Spoilers ahead — but is that even necessary for a Hallmark movie?
“Like Cats and Dogs” used one of Hallmark’s standard formulas where the two leads are forced to share a space, except this time it’s a woman with a dog and guy with a cat. Get it? A cat person and a dog person! How will they ever get along? He books a lake house to work on his psychology thesis — about love, of course. She books the same house because…she’s visiting her friend? She feels lost? I still don’t understand why she booked a huge house when she could’ve bunked on her friend’s couch for two weeks and spent more time with her. (The one night she does sleep on their couch is kind of ridiculous. There’s a bunch of short scenes where she’s trying to keep the medium-sized dog on the couch with her. Really? Make the dog sleep on the floor or give him a pillow.) Actually they both could have booked a much smaller house. To be fair maybe this was the only one that allowed pets.
Not that their names are important, but she’s Lara and he’s Spencer. Now you know.
The house is “accidentally” double-booked so Lara and Spencer, plus Frank the dog and Mozart the female cat, have to live with each other for two weeks. The rental questionnaire asked them really personal questions like favorite movie, etc. Yeah, like that’s not weird and obvious. Frankly I’d ask the owner what any of this had to do with renting a house. Are they going to stock my favorite movie in the DVD cabinet or something?
I’ll get right to the point. Spencer is the most unlikable Hallmark movie male lead I’ve ever seen. He a judgmental, snobby perfectionist who lies to his girlfriend. The girlfriend — who we see on video chat — is no gem either but he’s an outright liar. From the beginning he tells the girlfriend that his roommate is a “smelly old guy with a dog.” As a “joke” he tells his cat not to judge him. I’m right there with you, Mozart. I’m judging him already.
When he inevitably develops feelings for Lara, does he bow out gracefully? Does he go home to work on the fragile relationship he has with his girlfriend? No, this schmuck plays the “act like a jerk” card to drive Lara out of the house. He lays down household rules he expects her to follow without discussing them with her. He also puts tape down the middle of the fridge even though it’s been working out fine so far.
Here’s where I’m not a fan of her either — Lara goes along with it. She gets out of the bathroom when he asks and only uses two bath towels with minimal argument. What the hell, Lara? Tell him he’s being a condescending asshole and make rules you’re both comfortable with. I think we’re supposed to accept this as part of her “go with the flow/pushover personality,” reinforced when she sleeps on the floor so the dog can have the sofa. Maybe some viewers sympathize with this but my gut reaction is “OMG have a backbone! Give him hell!”
Anyway, Lara doesn’t rebel until her friends tell her to drive him crazy by hosting her friend’s baby shower. At least when he finds out about her scheme and has the nerve to throw a hissy fit after what he did, she tosses his own behavior back in his face.
That’s when he kisses her even though he has a girlfriend. Seriously, we’re supposed to root for these two?
As he’s *finally* planning to say good-bye, the girlfriend shows up to the house — which we knew would happen eventually, I’m surprised it took this long. The girlfriend Susan finds Lara stepping out of the bathroom. Instead of dumping Spencer’s ass or freezing him out, Susan leaves with him and never speaks of the incident again. In following scenes she supports him before his thesis presentation and appears more upset about him wanting pizza (not part of his “raw diet”). What’s with the women in this movie?? Are we supposed to believe that the girlfriend doesn’t actually care about the relationship and is just dating him for appearances? …I’m probably giving the script more credit than it deserves here. Moving on.
Inevitably he ditches the girlfriend and comes back to the house, yada yada yada. Frank and Mozart and Lara and Spencer live happily ever after. This movie really needed to focus more on the dog and the cat. “All of My Heart” (2015 movie starring Lacey Chabert) did the two-strangers-living-together trope so much better.
Oh, there’s also the fairy-godmother-type home owner named Helen who set the whole thing up because she wants there to be love in her house. The situation is so perfect that it borders on creepy. What bothers me most here is that she set the two people up when one had a significant other. Did she bother asking on her oh-so-personal questionnaire if candidates were already in a relationship?? Did she see Spencer’s status and think “hm, no, I think Lara’s a better fit based on these questions.” She also starts Lara’s photography career and gives her a job at the end. If this were one of Hallmark’s fantasy stories I’d expect Helen to be an angel or maybe related to Good Witch’s Cassie Nightingale.