“Personally Yours” airs as the “CBS Sunday Movie,” 10/8/00 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT). This new TV-movie was inspired by actual events about a couple who separated to pursue different dreams but found themselves drawn back into each other’s arms through a clever plan of their three children.
Two years after their parents divorce, the children sense their dad may be lonely. So, unbeknown to him, they send a personal ad on his behalf to Alaska Love magazine – which lands him on the cover as “Bachelor of the Year.” When bags of letters begin pouring in, good old dad gets a bit frustrated. Bemused by her ex’s dilemma, Susannah (Valerie Bertinelli) introduces Jesse (Jeffrey Nordling) to a young woman she has just met. But when a relationship blossoms between Jesse and this younger woman, old feelings of love begin to rekindle in Susannah. Not able to tell him how she feels, Susanna writes letters under a different name. Jesse responds to the letters, realizing whoever this woman is, she understands him like no one else. At this point, the kids realize that dad isn’t just lonely — he’s lonely for their mother.
“The Awful Truth” was a Cary Grant/Irene Dunne screwball comedy about a divorced couple who discover that they are still in love, despite the fact that they are about to marry other people. “The Parent Trap” concerns twins trying to reunite their divorced parents before Dad marries a younger woman. Combine these two movies and you have “Personally Yours.” Well, sort of. The magic that makes a film a classic is seldom evidenced in this made-for-TV romantic comedy. Rather than “screwball,” most of the situations are dim-witted, with the main characters behaving rather insensitively toward the women who have responded to the magazine article.
Actually, it is rather sad. Lonely ladies from all over the country have flown up to Alaska to meet this handsome bachelor. He’s so annoyed, however, that the slightest courtesy towards these poor souls never seems to occur to him. At one point, he even embarrasses a woman by shouting at her in front of strangers on the street. The writer, director and actors treat these lovelorn people as mere props to further the story. Neither the kids nor the adults seem concerned in the slightest with the well-being of anyone not in their immediate circle. True, anyone who has been dumped unceremoniously can relate to this type of indifference. For that matter, apathy toward others seems rampant in our hectic society. But in Philippians 2:3-4, we are instructed, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
Then we have Valerie Bertinelli’s pepless performance. Although Ms. Bertinelli has demonstrated a certain enthusiastic charm in past movies-of-the-week, here she seems drained of energy as if she had been listening to far too much Van Halen. The film does contain good relationships between the siblings; a positive message about being fortunate if you realize what you have; and a thoughtful discussion about sex as mom and daughter discuss the subject, with the girl realizing love should come first. Also, there are several beautiful shots of Alaskan vistas, and the story has a happy ending. Plus, I think this film and others are re-examining family breakups. Perhaps this generation is discovering that it hates divorce nearly as much as God does.