A busy chaotic weekend almost made me miss “Hearts Down Under.” But have no fear, dear Hallmark friends. I watched it. Let’s get after it.
We begin with a very…unmodern cooking prep montage. Our lead, Caroline, is a no-nonsense, busy business woman chef. Her…mom? Or boss is wearing a GIGANTIC flower on her dress. I honestly don’t hate it. Caroline is also an extreme micromanager. She is prepping an engagement dessert and only she knows how to do it. She takes the plate from presumably her sous chef Molly and does it herself. PS the music is WILD. Like very 90s New York type show music. The whole staff creeps from behind a wall like they’ve never seen an engagement happen at a restaurant. Caroline is only bummed that the newly engaged woman didn’t appreciate the dessert after her boyfriend JUST proposed. She doesn’t have TIME for ROMANCE OKAY?
Oh, good. Caroline’s mom opens some random piece of mail to discover that Caroline has INHERITED a café in Australia from a long lost aunt. They didn’t even go to her funeral. She hasn’t seen her since she was 10. Her mom talks her in to making a trip down to check out the café. YOU GUYS. This aunt had no one to give this to? Or any plans to make sure that the café would be able to continue to operate after her death? Honestly.
Then, Nathaniel stops by. This is Caroline’s former fiancé. He makes some kind of snippy comment about the restaurant actually doing well. So now we get a back story. He wasn’t supportive earlier but now I guess he is because things are going so well for Caroline. He wants to get back together. She suggests they catch up when she gets back from Australia. He looks to be a solid decade older than her, or am I off? Also, what is that restaurant called? Labratorie? Does NOT sound appetizing.
Anyway, Caroline makes it to Australia. I guess her mom isn’t coming with her. She is greeted by a VERY GOOD PUP. She talks to the dog for a really long time. Then Simon, the owner of the house, creeps up from behind her and introduces himself. Caroline is vague about her intentions for being in Australia.
Guys this MUSIC. It is so wild. I hardly ever notice the music in these movies but I can’t handle this. Caroline pulls out a paper map but just then realizes that the café is right across the street. It is open and busy. None of the workers know who she is and she just wanders around surveying the place. She sits down and a waitress, Beth comes over to take her order. She keeps saying Australian slang like Caroline will finally understand what she’s talking about. Caroline essentially gets one of everything and takes notes. She doesn’t tell anyone what she’s up to. What’s the end game here? Caroline has notes on EVERYTHING. Simon walks up and she tells him all the problems with the menu items. Turns out, HE is the cook at this restaurant. So that is awkward.
Back at home, “Dale” arrives to talk to Caroline, presumably about the restaurant. He is maybe the executor of Doreen’s estate? Or manager of her finances? I’m not sure. Dale says that Caroline’s aunt Doreen talked about her ALL the time. How is that possible if they hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years ago? If that’s true, and Caroline and her mom couldn’t be bothered to ever see this woman in DECADES, what is going on.
Dale talks to her about potential buyers. Their best option is someone who wants to turn it into a race car themed restaurant. No talk about prices or anything. Dale gives her the run down of all the problems with the restaurant. It needs a new roof, namely. She seemingly needs to be there for all of that. I can’t imagine why.
She video chats her mom, who is dressed fabulously again. Caroline tells her about the buyer. She doesn’t see how she could run both restaurants. I mean, I guess that’s fair. Oh and Nathaniel is sniffing around again. Caroline tries to micromanage the restaurant from Australia.
Dale and Caroline stop by the restaurant to tell the staff about the sale. Dale seems to like the head server, Marla. She tells them that she is selling the place. Marla is like, do you really think Doreen would have wanted that? And honestly, Doreen probably should not have surprised Caroline with the burden of a restaurant in her WILL. It is not the gift Doreen thinks it is. Especially a relative who lives all the way across the world that she hasn’t spoken to about this at all.
Meanwhile the restaurant staff panics. Rightly so! Doreen and her family are kind of screwing over all of these people by not having a plan in place for this restaurant.
Caroline chats on the phone with a couple of bags of groceries. Simon happens to be swimming midday at the beach. He notices Caroline. Simon offers to show her some of Doreen’s recipes. Simon mentions Doreen’s dream. Guys. If her DREAM was for Caroline to move to Australia and take over this little café after not seeing her for over 20 years then Doreen is insane.
Anyway, Simon seems to know how to do ALL the repairs around the restaurant so he is going to do it. Why doesn’t he do it in exchange for owning the restaurant? He asks her to meet him at 4 AM the next day.
She shows up in her little chef’s outfit but Simon arrives with fishing poles. She gets to carry them now. They head to a boardwalk and Caroline has wisely ditched the chef’s outfit. It is now fully daylight and Simon has finally offered Caroline coffee. What is Caroline’s hounds tooth pant situation? Would you even want to cook in those?
Caroline catches a fish so she and Simon have a MOMENT while they try and reel it in. Caroline has caught…a HAT. How did that bend the rod like that? Caroline the good sport takes a picture of her first catch.
Well, those two bozos must have caught enough fish for the restaurant and they do some taste testing in the kitchen. Caroline messes with his seasoning. Marla thinks Simon is up to something to save the restaurant. He says he isn’t. BUT HE DEFINITELY IS RIGHT?
Caroline learns that Beth kind of likes to cook too. Them Simon realizes that Caroline has reorganized the kitchen a little. He isn’t super stoked about that. He lets Caroline know that all the repairs will be done by the end of the following week.
Later, and by later I mean MIDNIGHT, Caroline can’t sleep. She blames jet lag. But she’s been up since 4 so shouldn’t she just be tired enough to go to sleep at a normal Australia time? Maybe I don’t get how jet lag works. She digs into a casual plate of macarons on the counter.
Then Caroline decides to do some baking. And somehow BURNS a pan of bread. There is no smoke and yet the smoke alarm is going off. Very touchy apparently. Simon runs in to turn it off, which startles Caroline even more than the smoke alarm. Caroline is experimenting but nothing is working. Simon says sometimes less is more. I guess this time he’s right. I don’t really know what he did aside from dip a berry into a bowl of powdered sugar but I guess that settles that.
Simon is about to ask her something when Caroline’s mom calls to facetime. Doesn’t realize it’s 1 AM in Australia. This mom as per usual has NO CHILL. He shows up on facetime and introduces himself. The mom tells her that the inspection of her New York restaurant is next week. They apparently only have this one date next week or not until NEXT YEAR. What about the original date? Ugh. That makes no sense.
The next day, Caroline stumbles in to Simon baking her aunt’s bread recipe. She jumps in to help him. Caroline tells Simon that she has to go back to New York early so HE NEEDS TO START THE ROOF TODAY. Apparently some kids are coming to the restaurant that day too so Caroline makes them entirely TOO fancy of sandwiches. She’s serving KINDERGARTNERS lettuce, tomato and cheese sandwiches on WHEAT buns. What is she thinking.
She heads out to give Simon some iced tea and he asks what she’s doing later. Apparently it is restaurant related. I’m not so sure! Caroline hopes they’re not going fishing. Apparently they only had fish at the restaurant that one day.
Simon and Caroline take that little pup, “Spatch” on a walk. Glad he is getting more screen time. Simon has decided to take Caroline “clamming” but he uses the Australian word for it. Caroline tries raking or whatever and falls back and Simon catches her. WHAT A MOMENT. Then we learn that “Spatch” was Caroline’s Aunt Doreen’s. Simon took him when she died. Caroline asks Simon what he will do when the cafe is sold. Spatch lays down in the mud and whimpers. Simon doesn’t have a solid plan.
Then Simon shares an unconventional approach to clamming. Caroline gives it a try. I could never. SO MUCH MUD. I’m dying. Spatch couldn’t be happier. Oh good, now a splashing fight. Mud and water and splashing while wearing regular clothes. My nightmare.
Later, Beth tells Caroline the clams she made her a big hit. And then Simon asks Caroline on a date! Beth makes up an excuse about…washing her cat. I do love that. Why is everything Caroline wears straight out of the Babysitter’s Club movie?
Anyway, that night, Simon takes Caroline to his house boat, where he lives when he rents out the cottage. Which is apparently HIS OWN HOUSE. Is he really hurting for money? I mean, he has this boat. Why rent out his entire house?
Caroline shares how much she loves New York. They have a moment and I kind of tune out. They are about to kiss but Caroline pulls away. She doesn’t think this is a good idea. Well what was all this about then, Caroline!! He recovers quickly and asks if she wants ice cream. What a good sport.
They sneak into the restaurant to get some ice cream. But Marla overhears them and comes in. They pretend they are cooking and not looking for ice cream? I am not sure how that is any better. Marla and DALE are also hanging out watching a movie. So what’s up with that? Anyway, all that commotion has blown a fuse and now the whole breaker box has to be repaired? But we can’t call that one guy because his wife just had a baby. So they’ve got to figure something else out I guess.
The next morning, the Seagull is having a straight up backyard bbq. Caroline needs to blend her bronzer a teensy bit. Simon decides to repaint the restaurant’s sign right in the middle of where everyone is eating. Then Simon pitches letting the existing employees run the restaurant instead of selling. Honestly, like, why can’t she do that? Then Caroline and Simon argue over the flavors of meat pie. I think it will probably be gross, regardless.
Then Caroline rage cooks in the cottage kitchen while she vents to her mom.
Later, Marla, Dale, Caroline and Simon are all headed somewhere dressed very nicely. I think they are having a party. I don’t remember anyone mentioning the purpose of this party? Are they just having a party for the sake of having a party? Marla and Dale head off to dance. Caroline is holding a small basket of maybe 10 meat pies so like, who all is coming to this party? Caroline suggests they don’t talk about work and then Simon asks her to dance. I thought she said them dating was a bad idea? Also, need to point out this wild music again. Caroline hears it too and she says she loves the song.
At the dinner portion of the party, Beth gives the toast. She is wearing a very cute space-inspired dress. Caroline eagerly awaits Simon’s reaction to her meat pies. She does need to blend that bronzer a teensy bit again. Everyone else loves them. Simon agrees. He thinks Doreen would have liked them too. Later, Simon plates everyone’s cheesecake. What a disappointment. I mean, it’s fine. But I’m never just dying for cheesecake. Caroline realizes that Simon used her cheesecake recipe.
After all of that, everyone is just dancing and having a good time. Then a slow song comes on. Simon and Caroline slow dance. The music is SO LOUD. Just me? They are just staring at each other. Is it weird? I think it’s weird. Then Simon tells Caroline he made her something. It is a GIANT shell necklace. It is pretty I think but it’s also giant. It seems like they might kiss; like their noses are even touching. When NATHANIEL arrives.
THE BOYS! The BOYS are going to Bali so Nathaniel had the jet drop him off in Australia to talk to her. Dude what is this guy’s deal. He says he misses her. Then she says she misses him too. But does she? He seems like a giant tool. Somehow, Simon overhears this from outside! Like dude give her a minute to talk to this guy, sheesh. Anyway, he obviously only hears her say she misses him but doesn’t hear the rest of the speech. But he basically admits he wants to get back together because she has the trendiest restaurant in town. She’s like, girl bye. And he’s like, I don’t have anywhere to stay. That was a pretty presumptuous.
Caroline catches up with Simon outside. He doesn’t want to talk to her about any of it. Spatch decides he wants to stay with Caroline that night. What a good boy. Then Caroline looks through her aunt’s recipe book. This poor old woman saved newspaper clippings of Caroline, saved old photos…I mean, how sad? And neither Caroline or her mom see this woman in decades? Then Caroline appears to get an idea.
Caroline sprints down the stairs the next morning in the first cute shirt I’ve seen so far. She has finally decided to keep the restaurant and let the gang keep running it. Caroline overhears Marla talking about trying to trick her into keeping the restaurant. So then she comes in all huffy. She has now changed her mind and is selling the place. Caroline asks to get a walk through and then Marla locks Caroline and Simon in the pantry.
Guys, I am not a fan of these high waisted pants. Caroline gets mad at Simon for trying to trick her into keeping the place. But he wasn’t! Marla was but she did a terrible job. Oh great. Now they’re having a food fight. Oh I hate this. I hate food fights. They are going to make such a mess. Oh no. Not the flour. Ugh. It’s going to get everywhere.
Caroline gathers herself in the bathroom. Okay is she done with her little temper tantrum?
Caroline walks out and talks to the gang again. She tells them she isn’t going to sell. So there you go. Caroline tells Beth she wants to see a new dessert menu next month. I thought we kind of all agreed that Beth’s ideas were bad? I guess not. Then Marla apologizes for her mischief.
Then Caroline and Simon finally get to talk again. She apologizes to him. And then she’s like, okay well I guess I’ll see you later.
Caroline is back in New York. Caroline studies the prepared sample plates back at the restaurant with her mom and Molly. She tells poor Molly that everything is correct, but it’s all wrong! They need last minute specialty items and to rework the menu. Are we talking for THAT NIGHT? Or what?
Suddenly the kitchen is just TONS of fun. We have some truly wild music happening and even mom’s hair is a little looser. Then Caroline lets Molly plate the dessert with her! WOW. Big moment for Molly. Doing more smoke infused desserts. Honestly, so weird. Then they both peek at the reactions of the guests. Are these inspectors or critics? Why would they be inspecting the food? I don’t know what is going on here.
Later that night, Caroline and her mom split a tiny plate of food. Guys, I hate this restaurant. It looks like each plate is just a tiny slice of something with a bunch of inedible garnish on the edges. Oof I’d be so disappointed at this restaurant. Caroline’s mom tells her she is back mentally. So that’s good I Guess. As they prepare to dive into this tiny plate of weed scraps, she sees the clam shell necklace on the plate. Then Simon pops out! Always SO DRAMATIC. Honestly.
He is finally ready to tell her how he feels. So he gives her his speech. How will they make it work though?! He wants to keep going with his speech but they kiss instead!! WILD MUSIC again. The whole kitchen staff peeks from behind the curtain again. Then the picture of Caroline as a child and her aunt Doreen comes to life. So that’s weird. And also-no plan in place for making this relationship work. So yeah, I don’t see this working out.
Whew. Guys. I don’t know about this one. I really don’t. I liked parts of it. But dang there were some really dumb moments too. I think this had the potential to be a super cute destination movie but I just don’t think they quite pulled it off. What did you think?