By Jim Clayton –
JL Family Ranch appearing on the Hallmark Channel is a two-part film starring Jon Voight, James Cann, Meg Ryan, Bo Derek, and various newcomers and Hallmark actors who are all outstanding. When I heard these people were in it my wife and I had to watch especially Jon Voight. The movie was made in 2016 and shown just now. It was shot in La Grange, Kentucky.
I really liked this movie that had all great actors /actresses with the story of two old-time ranchers, the J.L. family patriarch, and his daughters, who have to fight an old enemy trying to take their Texas ranch. (although it’s not set in Texas, unfortunately, it still looks quite authentic). Lots of “bad guys” and good guys and old family feuds when even the feds get involved, when his old enemy, (James Caan), alleges John (Jon Voight) does not actually own the family’s Texas ranch.
This film reminds me of a combination of the old show Dallas and a current version of the Martins and the McCoys. Jon Voght and James Cann portray two wealthy rival ranch owners who own their ranches passed down to them by their grandparents. James Cann is a crusty old ranch owner living by himself with the exception of a few ranch hands. Jon Voight lives with his grown daughter her sister and granddaughter and a few ranch hands also.
In the first episode, James Cann claims that Jon Voight’s grandfather stole land from his grandfather and he wants it back. Thus ensues a rival hatred and nefarious deeds like forgery and threats ensue to give him his land back. Jon looks for the original deed and can’t find it. He later discovers it was destroyed years ago. Upon doing some investigation online he discovers his grandfather’s name was forged on the deed and he really owns the land. The episode leaves you hanging with an investigation is to be pursued as they don’t have any real conclusion as to what followed, but by the next episode which is several years later it is assumed that Jon won and the land is rightfully his.
The second part deals with Jon’s daughter who is the mother of his granddaughter who she had illegitimately. Her daughter who is in her early teens wants to know who her father is and her mother refuses to tell her and said she doesn’t even know if he is alive or where he is.
In the meantime, the family agrees to turn the ranch into a bed and breakfast. Jon’s daughter becomes engaged to the young handsome sheriff who’ve known each other since grade school.
Everything seems to be going fine until the granddaughter is so insistent on finding her father she gets one of the ranch hands to reluctantly help her and they just leave in his truck. She refuses to answer her mother’s calls to her.
Meanwhile, James Cann gets a visit from some creditors who tell him his son owes over a million dollars thru loan sharks and gambling and he has to pay up in a matter of days. Cann realizes he has no choice but to sell everything. When Jon Voight hears about this he feels terrible about his old nemesis and rallies all the other ranchers in the area to get together to help him out.
Naturally the granddaughter finds her father and lo and behold it’s Cann’s son and she brings him back with her. Her mother is shocked beyond belief, but after a while she warms up to seeing him again. Her fiancé is hurt and disturbed by this and decides to call off their wedding.
While this is going on two editors from a lifestyle magazine come to the ranch to write about it being a bed and breakfast for their magazine. One editor, Bo Derek who still looks good, takes a liking to Jon and a budding romance ensues, but Jon tells her it is better off they just remain friends.
Jon’s daughter realizes the mistake she’s making with the wedding being called off and gets back with her fiance and everyone gets along in true Hallmark fashion. And just like in “It’s A Wonderful Life” all the ranchers come up with the money to save Cann’s ranch.
I really enjoyed this movie, and would watch it again. The actors are what attracted me to this movie, but I enjoyed the storyline, and seeing some seasoned actors all in the same movie was a treat! Although it was supposed to take place in Texas, it was filmed in Kentucky and the scenes could be from Texas and beautifully photographed.
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