February 9, 2022
by Carla Hay
Directed by Timothy Armstrong
Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed city in Vermont and briefly in Connecticut, the romantic comedy “Soulmates” features a nearly all-white cast of characters (with one Asian) representing the middle-class and working-class.
Culture Clash: Two female best friends in their late 20s have their friendship tested when one of the friends falls in love and gets engaged to a man, and the other friend gets very jealous.
Culture Audience: “Soulmates” will appeal mainly to people who don’t mind watching silly movies with terrible acting.
The horrendous comedy “Soulmates” was made by people who think it’s cute for women in their late 20s to act like whiny, spoiled and insecure teenagers when it comes to romance and friendship. The movie is such a sappy train wreck, even the Hallmark Channel wouldn’t go near it. There isn’t a single thing that’s funny about “Soulmates,” unless you think it’s hilarious to watch everyone in “Soulmates” embarrass themselves in this amateur-looking garbage. Needless to say, all of the acting in this movie is beyond dreadful.
“Soulmates” co-stars Alexandra Case and Stephanie Lynn co-wrote the abysmal “Soulmates” screenplay, which is inspired by their real-life friendship and experiences living in Vermont, where most of the movie takes place. In the “Soulmates” production notes, “Soulmates” director Timothy Armstrong makes this statement: “It’s a quirky and gentle little film that defies what Hollywood says is ‘commercial’ these days … ‘Soulmates’ really does feel like a throwback to a more innocent time, and Vermont in the fall turned out to be the perfect place to capture that warm nostalgia.”
Apparently, the filmmakers of “Soulmates” think that “anti-commercial” means “a turnoff to audiences with good taste,” and “a throwback to a more innocent time” means “women acting like petulant girls and believing that their lives are worthless unless they can find a man to marry.” Because that’s exactly what you’re going to see for the duration of this 92-minute hackneyed trash dump of a film that has very outdated and borderline degrading views of women.
The two immature whiners who are at the center of “Soulmates” are Samantha “Sam” Templeton (played by Alexandra Case) and Jessamine “Jess” Burr (played by Stephanie Lynn)—two best friends from childhood who live in an unnamed city in Vermont. Sam and Jess are both 29 years old, but they act like they’re 14. They have an extremely co-dependent relationship, so it’s no surprise that they live together. And apparently, they’ve been living together for years.
Sam is a wannabe journalist/writer, who can’t find work in this profession, so she works as a notary for her day job. Jess is the heir to a small maple sugar farm owned by her family. Jess’ widower father (played by Stephen Hauck), who doesn’t have a name in the movie, is ailing, so Jess is expected to take over the family business. When Sam and Jess were children, they made a pact with each other: “I’ll never get married unless you get married.” You know where this is going, of course.
In the beginning of “Soulmates,” Jess mildly scolds Sam for doing public-relations writing work for free for Rusty’s General Store, a local business that’s a popular social gathering place in this small town. (Several scenes in the movie take place in this store.) Rusty’s General Store pays Sam in banana bread, not money. Yes, it’s that kind of movie.
Jess and Sam have a landlord named Rita (played by Alice Barrett), who wants to stage a protest against a Connecticut-based company called Peterson Maple, which is reportedly intent on buying out many of the independently owned maple farms in the area of Vermont where this story takes place. Rita thinks Peterson Maple is a “corporate bully” that will cause economic damage to the area. Sam agrees with this opinion, and she wants to write an opinion-editorial piece about it in the Vermont Times newspaper.
Sam, Jess and Rita join a group of local protestors chanting “Save Our Farm!” on a dirt road where no one else seems to care. The protest is peaceful, but it’s broken up by a local cop named Constable Johnston (played by Sean Moran), who has a crush on Rita. His attraction to Rita is a subplot that goes exactly where you think it’s going to go.
Soon after this protest, a Peterson Maple executive named Landon McKee (played by Mark Famiglietti) shows up in town. Landon (who’s originally from New Hampshire) is at a bar, where he meets Jess and Sam. Landon doesn’t tell them right away that he works for Peterson Maple. Landon and Jess have an instant attraction to each other. Sam notices this attraction and predictably gets jealous.
Eventually, Landon reveals during this first meeting that he works for Peterson Maple, but that doesn’t stop Jess’ attraction to Landon. Landon finds out that Sam wants to write an anti-Peterson Maple article for the Vermont Times and offers to be interviewed for the article. Landon is so socially tone-deaf that he doesn’t seem to care that Sam wants to trash Peterson Maple in her article. Sam is predictably repulsed by Landon’s offer to be interviewed, and she declines the offer.
Soon after Jess and Sam meet Landon, the two pals have this idiotic conversation: Jess says, “I really like the name Landon.” Sam replies with annoyance: “Please! You with the flatlander! I can’t!” Jess then says, “At least he’s a flatlander sent from New Hampshire.” Sam begrudgingly responds: “Agreed.” Get used to more mind-numbing dialogue in “Soulmates,” because this movie is full of it.
The rest of the movie continues with formulaic tripe: Landon and Jess start dating each other. Sam gets even more jealous because it means that Jess is spending less time with Sam. And it infuriates Sam, who thinks that Peterson Maple is the “enemy” and believes that Landon is a corporate meathead. She’s not entirely wrong about that opinion: It’s later revealed in the movie that Landon is someone who thinks Sylvester Stallone should’ve won an Oscar for starring in the 1985 meathead action flick “Rambo: First Blood II.”
Sam wails to Jess: “I don’t even know why you like this guy! He’s not even your type!” Jess is emotionally torn because she’s starting to fall in love Landon, who could be responsible for her family losing its maple farm business through a corporate takeover. Even though Landon promises that Peterson Maple won’t interfere with this family business, you just know that promise won’t be true.
Meanwhile, Landon courts Jess by taking her on romantic dates, and they eventually profess their love for each other. He’s a sailing enthusiast and takes her out on his boat. The name of the boat? Sir Docks-A-Lot. Did we mention that Jess sings and plays guitar? Because Jess does some courting of Landon too, when she brings out her guitar while she’s on a date with Landon, so she can serenade him with a ballad. The cringeworthiness of this movie knows no bounds.
It should come as no surprise that insufferable Sam is estranged from her family, which explains (but doesn’t excuse) why Sam is ultra-clingy and possessive of Jess. It’s mentioned that some of the local people think Sam and Jess are so close, there’s gossip that Sam and Jess are secret lovers. However, the movie makes it clear that Sam and Jess are heterosexual and have traditional heterosexual views of love and marriage.
That’s because when Jess and Landon get engaged after knowing each other for just two months, Sam goes into full meltdown mode, because the engagement means Jess will break her pact, unless Sam can find a man to marry too. And that’s where the worst parts of “Soulmates” kick in: Jess tries to set up Sam on a series of dates, so that Sam can find a potential husband. Jess and Landon getting engaged is not spoiler information, because it’s in the movie’s trailer, which reveals about 80% of the movie’s terrible plot. In addition, the poster for “Soulmates” shows Jess in a wedding dress—another big reveal of one of many clichés in the movie.
Jess’ matchmaker plan for Sam leads to the expected montage of Sam on bad blind dates, with mismatched men like a guy named Dumbbell Dave (played by Andrew Justin Smith), who’s even more idiotic than his nickname. Another miserable date is with a guy only listed in the end credits as Man Bun (played by Clayton Frey), who’s too much of a freak for Sam. A guy nicknamed B.O. (as in “body odor”) Brad (played by Peter Collier), a former classmate from high school, is brought into the mix too.
And what do you know: B.O. Brad is now a fourth-grade teacher in the fictional Ridgeport, Connecticut, and he’s teaming up with Landon for a regatta, which leads to a time-wasting sequence for this subplot. Brad being a schoolteacher is just a flimsy excuse to have another scene of Jess playing and singing guitar. It’s a badly filmed scene where Jess performs for Brad’s students in the classroom, as if she thinks she’s a modern-day Maria von Trapp from “The Sound of Music.”
In the midst of all this matchmaker/blind-date hell, Sam volunteers at a soup kitchen managed by landlord Rita. And that’s where Sam meets “nice guy” Colin (played by Zachary Spicer), who is attracted to Sam, but she won’t give him the time of day because he’s nervous and a little awkward with her. Sam is also preoccupied with wallowing in her self-pity because she thinks Jess is betraying her by getting married to Landon. Colin’s role in the movie is exactly what you think it is.
Sam’s shrill griping and Jess’ vacuous emoting go on and on, until the movie makes you want these two irritating pals to stay away from each other, for the sake of everyone’s emotional and mental health. Of course, dreck like “Soulmates” finds a way to make everything look like an “only in a movie” fairytale in the end. However, watching this time-wasting insult to real female friendships is low-key torture for anyone looking for even the most basic levels of competent filmmaking.
Vertical Entertainment released “Soulmates” in select U.S. cinemas, digital and VOD on November 12, 2021.