“Her Pen Pal” is our latest Summer Nights offering, and aired on June 19, 2021. The movie starred Mallory Jansen (On the 12th Date of Christmas) and Joshua Sasse (“Galavant”), with a script by Joie Botkin (Project Christmas Wish and Love in Store) and directed by Claire Niederpreum (As Luck Would Have It and Love, Fall and Order). It was filmed in Paris, France and Sofia, Bulgaria. Bulgaria frequently pinch hits for France in Hallmark movies, having also been used for location shoots in Paris, Wine and Romance. The chateau used in the movie was located in Sofia.
Music: The French song playing near the beginning of the movie is a studio track, but it is still available to purchase if you like it. It is called Bien Que Paris Sois Gris (affiliate link), attributed to Selectracks. Later, the song playing during the wedding reception is “The Last Letter” by The Blossoms.
In a nutshell
I liked the movie. While it’s not my favorite this year, it is definitely one that I would watch again, if only for the fabulous chemistry between Jansen and Sasse. The individual scores for the actors and their chemistry enabled this movie to land a spot in the Top 10 thus far for the year.
The Plot of “Her Pen Pal”
Event planner Victoria can’t wait to attend, and plan, her best friend’s Paris wedding. But when she finds out that her ex is bringing a date, she reconnects with her French childhood pen pal.
I had my doubts about this when I initially heard this storyline and saw the preview. I’ve had pen pals in my life, and I guarantee if I called one 12 years after the fact, it would be WEIRD and AWKWARD and they’d be scared. *lol* But in this movie, Victoria and Jacques were not just pen pals, they were experiencing their first love, so it was a monumental relationship, one after which they would always remember each other. And as we learned, he held a torch for her all those years.
Actors & Chemistry
I already gushed about Mallory Jansen in my review of On the 12th Date of Christmas, so I am happy she came back for another one. And not only did she come back, but she brought her “Gallivant” co-star with her, Joshua Sasse. I almost didn’t recognize him without the beard AND with the French accent, but the fact is, these two were great in “Gallivant” together and were ON FIRE with chemistry in “Her Pen Pal.”
There were so many instances where he’d just pause and look at her, and then at some point in the movie she claimed she didn’t notice the Arc de Triomphe and he said something like, “That’s because you were looking at me.” AH, WHAT?!?!? That’s a move right there, Jacques, and I’m here for it. He had a lot of those in the movie, and I loved every single one. He made no bones about the fact that he was still totally into her.
We finally had a “you have something on your face let me wipe it off” moment. We haven’t had one of those in a while. And the newest trope that has become all the rage over the past couple of years reared its head: a venue no longer usable because of a broken pipe or water damage.
Did I Hear/See That Right?
There were a few headscratchers.
First, Victoria and her ex were together for TWELVE YEARS? TWELVE YEARS?
The bride appeared to be buying a dress once they arrived in Paris. Surely not. Surely she bought the dress and was merely trying it on one last time? I bought my dress 6-8 months beforehand and had fittings in the subsequent months. And yes, the bride in the movie was reed thin and could probably buy “off the rack” with no problems, but still. No way.
Same goes with the caterer – there’s no way with less than a week to go before the wedding that a caterer would allow the bridal party to change the menu so drastically. Not without charging more money for the hassle.
This happens in movies all the time, but it drives me crazy when a movie features famous tourist points and implies that everything is within walking distance. I think I’ve mentioned before there was a Will Smith movie about 20-25 years ago set in NYC and he was running after someone and based on the landmarks he ran a 60-80 block distance. This movie did the same, although only a couple times.
All the sights in Paris made me smile. My daughter and I were able to spend one single day in Paris in 2018 while we were in England with my parents on vacation, and it was a whirlwind of a day going to as many places as we could in 10 hours. We fell in love with the Parisian train system (which was VERY easy to navigate), and the fact that we could go everywhere we wanted by taking the train or walking.
As I said already, I loved how Jacques was totally into Victoria from the moment he walked into her champagne tasting. And didn’t hide it. At times it was as though he couldn’t take his eyes of her, because he was so happy she was there. And this is where their chemistry shined the most.
I mentioned in my review of “12th Date” that Mallory Jansen had an aura of Audrey Hepburn about her, and I loved that they brought up Hepburn in this movie, and quoted “Sabrina.” I love that movie, and loved the quotes.
To the pen pal thing. I had 3-4 pen pals in my life. All male, but all just friends. Once in high school I met a guy from Pennsylvania at Young Life camp and we swapped addresses and wrote letters for about a year.
In the early 1990s I met a guy at a nightclub in Washington, DC a week before the Army was sending him to Japan for three years. We went on one date before he shipped out, and then wrote letters back and forth for two of the three years he was in Japan. Coincidentally, a few years after I lost touch with him, I bought some Fiestaware from a seller on eBay that had the same last name (it was an unusual last name). Turns out, my pen pal was his son! I found out that in his last year in Japan he met a local woman whom he later married and brought back to America once the Army relocated him.
Also in the 1990s I met another guy at a party, also from Pennsylvania. We swapped addresses and wrote letters every now and again, and then at some point he joined a commune in Costa Rica and I lost touch with him. However, we later got back in touch and I was able to invite him to my wedding. We lost touch after that, but reconnected about 5-6 years ago on Facebook. He is now married and living in Philadelphia, where he was originally from.
I think pen pals can be a wonderful thing, albeit today it would be through emails, FaceTime or Skype. Not the same as writing letters and putting them in the mail, which is a lost art.
I’d totally watch “Her Pen Pal” again. I can’t stop saying it enough: the chemistry was ridiculous in the best way.
“Her Pen Pal” would have ranked a bit higher if it had more tropes, but it still made the Top 8! It was a fun script with a stellar leading lady and leading man.
- It Was Always You (air date: Feb 27) – 668 pts – weighted score: 114.2 (80.1%)
- You Had Me At Aloha (air date: June 5) – 675 pts – weighted score: 111.4 (78.1%)
- Sweet Carolina (air date: May 15) – 648 pts – weighted score: 110.1 (77.2%)
- Taking a Shot at Love (air date: Jan 2) – 641 pts – weighted score: 108.9 (76.4%)
- Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (air date: Mar 27) – 636 pts – weighted score: 108.5 (76.1%)
- Right in Front of Me (air date: Apr 18) – 637 pts – weighted score: 108.0 (75.8%)
- As Luck Would Have It (air date: Apr 10) – 638 pts – weighted score: 107.7 (75.5%)
- Her Pen Pal (air date: June 19) – 636 pts – weighted score: 107.1 (75.1%)
- The Baker’s Son (air date: June 13) – 637 pts – weighted score: 106.3 (74.6%)*
- A Winter Getaway (air date: Jan 23) – 620 pts – weighted score: 104.4 (73.3%)
- Mix Up in the Mediterranean (air date: Feb 20) – 590 pts – weighted score: 102.5 (71.9%)
- Two For The Win (air date: Jan 16) – 603 pts – weighted score: 101.8 (71.4%)
- Chasing Waterfalls (air date: Mar 20) – 570 pts – weighted score: 100.3 (70.4%)
- Hearts Down Under (air date: Apr 24) – 547 pts – weighted score: 95.2 (66.8%)
- Fit for a Prince (air date: Mar 6) – 546 pts – weighted score: 94.6 (66.4%)
- A New Year’s Resolution (air date: Jan 9) – 516 pts – weighted score: 90.5 (63.5%)
- Baby, It’s Cold Inside (air date: May 8) – 495 pts – weighted score: 85.6 (60.0%)
- Playing Cupid (air date: Feb 13) – 466 pts – weighted score: 82.6 (58.0%)
- Beverly Hills Wedding (air date: Feb 6) – 431 pts – weighted score: 80.6 (56.5%)
- Snowkissed (air date: Jan 31) – 402 pts – weighted score: 76.0 (53.3%)
To see where this movie lands in my overall rankings of Hallmark movies, visit my Hallmark Movie Rankings page!
What did you think of “Her Pen Pal”? Comment below and let me know!