Until someone matches the travails endured by Elizabeth Shue during her epic shift (see Adventures in Babysitting), don't talk to me about your babysitting blues. The gal in Three Weeks, Three Kids doesn't even get close to the horrorshow Shue experienced in Chicago that one awful night.
If you'd been kept up nights wondering what ever happened to Anna Chlumsky - who was such a promising child actress in 1991's My Girl - well, here she is, mugging it up in a made-for-tv rom-com. She plays Jennifer Mills, 25 years old and a free spirit in St. Louis, Missouri, "free spirit" being a euphemism for "commitment-phobic" or "shirker of responsibility." I mean, girl's just been offered a partnership in a graphic art company, and she's hedging. Her mom aims to do something about Jen's flighty ways. Her mom be the sneaky sort.
Maybe some plot spoilers.
Jennifer has an older sister, Mandy (Chelah Horsdal). Mandy and Jennifer are polar opposites. Mandy married young and right away started a family. Many years later, she and her hubbie had saved enough money now that they can afford a second honeymoon, a three-week vacay in Europe.
Their three kids - ages ranging from elementary school to high school - were to be in the care of their grandmother (Susan Hogan), except nana backs out at the last minute, citing some injury to grandpa. Then the light bulb comes on for grandma. Hey, why not have Mandy's sister babysit the kids? This is grandma engaging in a bit of social engineering.
Jennifer is down with it. She loves being the cool aunt. She thinks it'll be a breeze. "It's not astrophysics," pooh-poohs she. "It's a million times harder," someone retorts. Jennifer's about to find out the difference between minding a gaggle of kids for hours versus for weeks.
Three Weeks, Three Kids is a fun Hallmark movie that first aired in 2011, and, no, I haven't seen Anna Chlumsky since. But I liked her in this one, with her light, jaunty touch and her flair for exaggerated facial expressions. The plot points are basically tick 'em off the box. You and I suspect Jennifer's bitten off more than she can chew, that it'll eventually dawn on her that she can't always act the cool aunt and their best bud, and that at some point she has to come down like a ton of bricks on her mutinous charges, make 'em follow rules.
As expected, the three kids are going thru their own ish. The oldest daughter - she's fifteen - is having boy problems. The younger daughter has mean girl problems. The boy - he's seven - is a neurotic mess who is being bullied. Whoa! That's a lot of emotional angst to wade thru.
Luckily for Jennifer, she gets an assist from the obliging across-the-street neighbor (Warren Christie). Does it help you to know he's a former restaurateur? No? Sorry.
To give us a break from them babysitting blues, there's the B-story of Jen's sister and her husband and how they're undergoing their own bit of domestic crisis while honeymooning. Mandy, it seems, has lost her romantic side. And, while away, she's fretting too much about having left her children with her sister whom she feels is incompetent. Ouch.
But it's Hallmark, so things are bound to end well. That's the best and worst thing about Hallmark: it's predictability. But I guess there's huge comfort in knowing this channel is a safe place. So, does grandma's scheming pay off? After three weeks, is Jennifer Mills more of a grown-up, now willing to settle into responsibility? Did Mandy and her hubby - whose name I never learned - rekindle that lost spark? And are the kids more well-adjusted now? I won't spoil it any of it... but c'mon.