Hallmark's 'The Vows We Have Made' Review: Will trusting the timing work for the to-be couple?
Shane and Oliver are prepping for their wedding but an emergency forces them to come to a halt
'The Vows We Have Made' is Hallmark's newest feel-good, family movie. The film is directed by Linda-Lisa Hayter, produced by Charles Cooper, and written by Martha Williamson. The phrase "Trust the timing" made its very first appearance in 'Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Lost Without You', and eventually became a common catchphrase used by our main four postal workers, in a new adventure in their lives.
As Shane and Oliver's wedding preps are in full swing, the rest of the team helps a sick boy reunite with a lost friend, which we find out in time, is actually a soft toy! Having said that, 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To The Altar' aired over three years ago, and between then and now, fans have been wanting to see more of the franchise on Hallmark. Well, a genie must have been hard at work on this one, since the said wishes did come true! 'Trust the timing' is also the crux of 'The Vows We Have Made' as well'.
The movie starts off with a very concerned Robin rushing her son, Owen, to the hospital; he had just collapsed. She finds a drawing of him and “Ferd” (probably Fred) in his pocket, who is Owen’s best friend. As a saving grace, Robin attempts to track down Fred, and writes a sincere letter with the drawing enclosed, in hopes of having someone she thinks can help locate him. A solid ten years later, the still undelivered letter enters the custody of our POstables.
Since it's been over a decade, a bunch of undelivered letters are in their worst shape; illegible and ripped in parts. The team's initial investigation of the letter reveals that Owen has Leukemia (or rather, had. 10 years is a long time). Aside from this one fact, they can't retrieve any other useful info, due to the lack of information or details they have access to.
Incidentally, Shane’s mother, Sharon (played Sherry Miller), although quite a handful as a person, happens to have a keen understanding of first graders, thereby interpreting the drawing as Owen with a firefighter named Fred. This finally gives the POstables their first clue! From hereon, the team uses up all of their resources to the maximum; from Norman’s long network of cousins through the powers of postal discretion, they are determined to find more about Fred, who is actually a stuffed doll, and was a favorite of everyone in the line!
Throwing a little light onto the backstory helps us with the context here. Through word of mouth and some really helpful people in the firefighting department, the team is able to track Fred back to his origins. We see that he was sent out with Owen’s father, who lost his life while saving a fellow firefighter during a large fire incident several years ago. The story leads them to Robin, Owen's mother, as well, who is now a firefighter herself.
Having said that, in due course of time and after a whole lot of digging, the POstables are not only able to return Fred to his owner, but they also bring along firefighters, who were inspired by Owen's drawing, to honor him as he embarks on his clinical trial. Fred did get there a tad late with his friends, but right on time, incidentally! Trust the timing.
The movie has you wondering about a lot, throughout. If Owen hadn't let go of Fred in the first place, Fred wouldn't end up in Oliver's hands. Fred played the reflective mirror for him, through which Oliver realized he hadn't healed completely from his past. That empty feeling he still carries with him stems from the self-proclaimed held identity that he was “not enough” and could be easily left behind. In this context, the mirror was Dumbarton Oaks, the stuffed bear given to Oliver by his mother, which he left behind at the altar of a church he frequently visited when she left the family for the second time. Right then, Oliver realized that he lost something that couldn’t be replaced, in more ways than one, and this was what drove him with the intent of restoring what was lost to Owen.
We also get a better understanding of Oliver's character here, in regard to his childhood difficulties. As a result of which he thinks twice about the his marriage to Shane, begins to panic and spiral downwards into old habits.
Having said that, the upside to all of this we come to understand, is that Oliver's fit of panic was actually covering of love and understanding that surrounded him as he navigated through his pain and suffering. His fiance, Shane, has always been by his side; patient as ever, whilst addressing his difficulties. Something that stood a class apart here was the unique and comforting process of Oliver’s growth and healing. Somthing this warm and realistic is hard to spot in most movies today but 'The Vows We Have Made' struck the chord so perfectly. So much of his behavior was drawn from the women in his life, the ones who stayed and the ones who kept him hanging by a thread but most notably, Mrs. Genzinger, who has kept Dumbarton Oaks safe and sound, all these years.
My favorite woman, of course, was Shane’s mother, Sharon. From her first few moment being introduced with Oliver, it was obvious that she could see right through him like a X-ray. Hell, she could even complete his sentence after just having met her future son-in-law! Although Shane had was brutally honest when she said that her mother and her don't have anything in common, it was clear to that the mother and daughter shared more than just a shoe size! Perhaps the greatest thing that they have in common was their decision to choose to love Oliver, wholly and unconditionally. (like they say, warts and all!) Sharon, always being a step ahead, even offered to be the mother that oliver deserved, something he deeply missed out on growing up. You might want to keep a bo of tissues on standby for this one; she adds "If you'll have me", when she asked Oliver the same. Wow!
In addition, the wedding gifts Oliver and Shane exchanged was a literal "aww" moment; mirroring the concept of time and forever. Shane was gifted a vintage timepiece, and Oliver, in exchange, was reunited with Dumbarton Oaks, who was a honored guest at the wedding!