Saturday, October 14, 2023

Field Day: Movie Review

One thing about Hallmark movies that is abundantly true – they know their audience. Field Day is a sweet drama-romance about three middle-aged moms trying to find the right balance between work, love and their kids. Marissa (Carmel Amit) is a work-obsessed mom, struggling to be more present in her daughter’s life; Kelly (Shannon Chan-Kent) is an image-obsessed mom, pretending to be the picture-perfect mom.   2023

Directed by: David Winning

Screenplay by: Julie Sherman Wolfe

Starring: Rachel Boston, Carmel Amit, Shannon Chan-Kent and Benjamin Ayres

Luckily those two characters are balanced out by Jen (Rachel Boston) – arguably the lead although all three are significant – a much more casual, easy-going mom who’s new to town after her husband’s passing. It’s tempting to call the movie light-weight, but the themes for the main character are about grief and depression, and trying to accept loss and moving on. That’s not the light-weight movie that the rest of the story tries to be.

The main plot sees the trio of moms team up to plan the school’s Field Day, a day of outdoor activities, that all the moms try to avoid because it’s a lot of work. It’s a very uneventful story but it gives time to the moms as they each try to navigate a new approach to life – particularly Jen who has a new love interest and is literally starting a new life for herself and daughter. The other moms are exact copies of the stereotypical characters these types of movies have. They are so thinly written that it’s impossible for the actresses to not over-act. Rachel Boston’s Jen provides all of the relatability, provides all of the thoughtful elements to the movie, and manages to carry the entire thing while showing how to not get overwhelmed by intense grief.

It's a tough balancing act that Field Day has created for itself. A lead trio with one really good character and two caricatures, navigating a plot of light-weight obstacles but exploring themes of loss, grief and loneliness. It works because it never gets heavy. It stays on the simple side, keeping it sweet and feel-good. The romance is minimal, but that also allows the movie to appeal to a more wide-ranging audience. However, viewers will have to completely ignore the innate misogyny. All of the parents in the PTO are moms, they don’t even throw in one father just to show the changing times. In the real world, pre-defined gender roles are disappearing, but Hallmark isn’t there yet.