Reviewed in the United States on April 30, 2021
Wouldn't it be cool if this were Hallmark's rebuttal to TLC's advice, "Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls"? It's not, though. Chasing Waterfalls is a rom-com of which plot you'd seen before on Hallmark. In fact, Christopher Russell, who stars in this movie, was also the male lead in Love & Glamping, a similar Hallmark film that originally aired under the title, Nature of Love. And, if you squint your eye just so, Chasing Waterfalls may even resemble bits of Pearl in Paradise or Love on the Slopes, two other Hallmark joints.
Christopher Russell plays Mark North, a rugged, hunky tour guide that borrows much from his character in Love & Glamping, in which he also played a rugged, hunky tour guide. More on Mark North in a bit.
Maybe some plot spoilers.
As ever, in a Hallmark movie, the male lead serves as a prop for the female lead, as the ladies tend to hog the shine. Cindy Busby has done plenty of these rom-coms now that I wonder if folks still remember she used to be the mean girl in Heartland? Busby is Amy Atwater, a software geek for the Seattle-based Explorer Global Magazine. A dedicated shutterbug, Amy has aspirations of someday becoming a professional photographer.
But why someday? Why not now? Amy should thank Lisa Benton, the boss's go-to photographer. Lisa just broke her leg, which takes her out of the running for the waterfall assignment that's supposed to go live next week. Don't fret too much about Lisa. She's not in the movie.
Lisa's loss is Amy's gain. Maybe. If only Amy, software geek, could gather the nerve to ask for the waterfall piece. Shockingly, her boss is open to Amy's ask. Her boss's one criticism, having just eyeballed Amy's portfolio of amateur photos, is that capturing natural objects like waterfalls requires a different skill set than capturing people's personalities. See, Amy prefers to photograph people, nature, not so much.
Off Amy goes on assignment, strictly on a trial basis, challenged by the boss to snap photos of secluded waterfalls that had never been photographed before, specifically the elusive, maybe mythical Redwood Falls.
It's a given that Amy, being a city girl, isn't much of an outdoors girl; it's an ongoing rom-com trope. She's horrible at following directions; she gets easily lost. Having checked in at Pinestone Lake Lodge - because the Pinestone Lake region holds Washington State's most memorable waterfalls - a game Amy sets out for her first hike, gets turned around on the trail, but eventually runs into the tour group and its guide, Mark North (Russell), and his eleven-year-old daughter Kyra (Cassidy Nugent). Soon enough, Amy's bonding with the little girl - who is a photography nut herself - and sweet-talking her dad into giving her a private tour of the rest of the waterfalls. Well, maybe not the much ballyhooed Redwood Falls. Mark claims it doesn't exist. But maybe he and the other locals are simply chary of trusting outsiders and their proclivity for trashing Mother Nature.
Chasing Waterfalls premiered as the first entry in Hallmark Channel's Spring Fling programming for 2021. I rate it 4 – maybe 3.5 – stars out of 5, a solid score despite its predictability. If you're fiending for a typical Hallmark rom-com, this'll suit ya. It checks off most of the boxes, including the last minute dramatic conflict that you see coming a mile away. One pleasant surprise is that we don't get an adversarial relationship between the two leads to kick off the movie. I'd gotten used to the male lead being introduced as a smug jerk. But Christopher Russell is really likable from jump. I still resent him for being slightly better-looking than me.
Two things appealed to me most. One is the little girl's relationship with her dad (Russell) and with Amy. I dunno that her side-plot about her crushing on a boy needed to be, except it did give Amy an in to bond with her.
And I marveled at the scenic vistas, as presented by nature. You can't bag on the movie's cinematography work. Now, none of the waterfalls in here matches the breathtaking might and grandeur of, say, the Khone, Victoria, or Niagara Falls, and I don't think I buy the assertion that each waterfall has its own personality. But it felt good ogling at them.
Sadly, Pinestone Lake isn't a real place. The actual location used is Loon Lake Lodge, a retreat center in Maple Ridge, British Columbia that hosts corporate events and a summer recreation program called Camp Goodtimes. Fact is, the movie was filmed in Canada, and much of it in British Columbia. As for the waterfalls: Shannon Falls near Squamish, B.C. doubles as the Little Betsy waterfall; the Mamquam Falls (also in Squamish) plays the part of Falcon Falls; and Cascade Falls, somewhere in the Hatzic Valley, passes for the fabled Redwood Falls. And I think I'm missing one waterfall, the one that's not quite as mysterious as Redwood but, still, rarely photographed. I just can't remember its name (Angel Falls?).
I love me some Miranda Frigon whenever she plays the sour chief of police in the Aurora Teagarden mysteries. I don't love her quite so much as Tara, another tour guide at the lodge who used to date Mark and wants him back. Tara's jealous act got old quick.
Otherwise, it's a pleasant rom-com with adequate acting all around. The actors don't get challenged much in these Hallmark features. Note that Busby and Russell had paired up before in another Hallmark movie titled Love in the Forecast, but I like them better here. But was that really Christopher Russell singing "Over the Moon" and playing guitar on open mic night? If it was, it's another reason to resent him. Also, did Amy end up quitting her job at the magazine and moving to Pinestone Lake? She got pretty salty. One quibble I have is that, for all that Mark was dead serious about keeping Redwood Falls' location a secret, he sure didn't hesitate to call for a chopper to pick him and Amy up at the site late in the movie So, maybe, that's a continuity break. Or, maybe, the helicopter pilot was a local who's in on the secret. yeah, that's gotta be it, never mind.