Movie Review: Lisa Whelchel springs into our hearts in Hallmark’s “Hearts of Spring”

Lisa Whelchel and daughter Clancy Cauble

Lisa Whelchel and daughter Clancy Cauble

Lisa Whelchel springs into our hearts in Hallmark’s “Hearts of Spring.” This TV movie shows us that it’s possible to turn those potential nightmares that come with raising teenagers into sweet dreams.

Lisa Whelchel, best remembered for her role as sweet and fashionable Blair in “The Facts of Life,” is a mother of three, a blogger, an author, and now she’s also an Empty Nester. Whelchel took a long acting hiatus to raise her three kids and also wrote 12 books between 2000 and 2008!

Many of us are either authors, bloggers, parents, or homeschool our kids, and have this in common with Whelchel. But not this: Whelchel was also a contestant on “Survivor Philippines,” one of, if not THE, most physically demanding and mentally challenging reality TV shows today.

I spoke with the “Survivor” contestant about “Hearts of Spring,” her latest project with the Hallmark Channel.

“Hearts of Spring” is part of the Hallmark Channel’s “Spring Fling.” The network is celebrating the start of the new season with a few original movies featuring love and blossoming romance.

Hearts of Spring stars Lisa Whelchel and Michael Shanks

Hearts of Spring stars Lisa Whelchel and Michael Shanks

“Lisa created and co-produced “Hearts of Spring.” She is a mother of three and one of the first parenting bloggers to begin sharing her experiences with other mothers online in 2000. Lisa is a passionate believer in the influence mothers can have on new mothers, children, those looking for answers, and mothers who just need to know they are not alone on the magical journey of motherhood.”

Whelchel’s voice is sweet, just like her personality. In her gentle southern accent, she told me that she likes the Hallmark Channel’s branding because they’ve done a good job of attaching positive emotions to the name.

“When you say Hallmark movie, you automatically feel all the things you feel when you watch a Hallmark movie,” Whelchel said. “There’s value in uplifting spirits.”

For me, Hallmark automatically means warm and fuzzy, feel-good stories.

“Hearts of Spring” is one such story. It’s also special because it stars Whelchel and her daughter Clancy Cauble as her daughter, Sadie, in this movie.

Whelchel didn’t allow her homeschooled children to go into acting as kids – though she started acting at 8 years old. Clancy went to college, but always wanted to be an actor.

Mother-Daughter Acting Duo Lisa Whelchel and Clancy Cauble

Mother-Daughter Acting Duo Lisa Whelchel and Clancy Cauble

“I knew she was going to be fabulous!” said the proud mom about her daughter’s acting career.

Now 23, Clancy is hitting up Hollywood and getting advice from her mom – but Whelchel has learned to give it only when asked.

“She has always been open to my advice, but just not open to me volunteering it,” Whelchel laughed.

I had to ask Whelchel if there were any awkward moments on set working with her daughter. “We had our awkward moments when I tried to step into my mother role as opposed to my friend role that happens to share a blood type,” she said.

I watched the mother-daughter acting duo in “Hearts of Springs” from the comfort of my computer. In short, my review of this movie is that it’s heavy on the positive and optimistic side of parenting. A refreshing change from the usual bad-teenager-vs.-weak-parent scenarios we often see on screen.

Something that also caught my attention about his story was the topic which is especially close to my heart: blogging.

Movie Synopsis by Hallmark: “A famous mom blogger, and single parent, finds herself being attacked by a reader who has conflicting advice. While she deals with him online, offline she finally meets a great single dad and sparks start to fly. When she finds out that they are in fact the same person, her whole world gets turned upside down.”

A mom blogger at the center of controversy is nothing new – I’ve had my share of bad comments and media firestorms, too.

However, in “Hearts of Spring” it’s the in-real-life relationship that is threatened because of a blog. Yes, those anonymous opinionated comments can have a negative impact if not careful!

However, this movie is also about two single parents raising teenagers and their different ways of parenting. Like the movie shows us, it’s quite common these days to come across varying parenting techniques and advice online, and quite another to try to mesh them together into a real-life relationship without compromise.

At the heart of “Hearts of Spring,” there’s two single parents used to having complete control over their kids, and who now face letting go and allowing their grown children to act on their college dreams.

“Hearts of Spring” provides a good example about the conflicting emotions for those of us in the throes of parenthood and on the threshold of that dreaded Empty Nest. (As you know, I’ve been an empty-nester for three and a half years — so far so good!)

With only a few minutes left before our interview ended, I snuck in a question about Whelchel’s experience on “Survivor.” I had to because our household hasn’t missed a single season of this show!

I asked her what it was like to have all the daily and basic necessity stripped away all at once; things like TP and toothpaste.

“Oh, that wasn’t hard at all,” she said. “I’m pretty rugged. I can go days without washing my hair.”

She then said the hardest part about being on “Survivor” was the internal stuff she had to suffer.

As for the movie, I’m sure you’re curious about how simple blog comments affect the plot (especially if you’re a blogger), but you’ll have to watch “Hearts of Spring” to find out.

And there’s a little bonus to watching this light-hearted movie. As Whelchel pointed out, “Hearts of Spring” “is one of those rare times when we can watch television in the evening, and go to bed and have sweet dreams instead of nightmares.”

Hearts of Spring,” premiers on the Hallmark Channel Saturday, April 9, at 9pm ET/PT.











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