A movie that ties together cupcakes and fatherhood should be pretty sweet.
But while "Operation Cupcake" (8 tonight, Hallmark Channel) goes for all the sappy notes, the lingering taste isn't sugar but vanilla. Not the fancy fragrant vanilla bean, but the tasteless artificial stuff.
Dean Cain plays Griff Carson, a military man who has been a mostly absent father and husband to Janet (Kristy Swanson) and Kim (Galadriel Stineman) and Ollie (Alec Gray). In his absence, Janet has started a cupcake business, opening one shop and ready to open a second one with an oily partner. The kids have gotten used to relying on mom.
When Griff comes home on an extended leave while awaiting word on whether he'll get promoted to general, he disrupts the family's routines, and struggles to figure out what to do with himself. Janet invites him to help out at her dainty pink cupcake shop with her ornery baker (Donna Pescow). Griff takes a militaristic approach, mucking things up and straining his marriage.
Will Griff figure out how to be a full-time father or will he lose his family and his sweet life?
The premise of the film isn't bad; after all, the readjustment to civilian life is a real issue and a good way to explore the notion of fatherhood. The problem though is the level of acting. Cain is military stiff, which is appropriate, but that's all he is. A little warmth is needed. And he and Swanson have zero chemistry. Problem two is that the script doesn't give enough proof that the family needs dad to be whole. They acted like they want dad around, but they seem fine without him.
If "Operation Cupcake" is a Father's Day gift, it's definitely a tie.