The Green Oak Guardian is a Lifetime-style romantic comedy that should please fans of sweet, straightforward tales about headstrong women meeting kind, handsome hunks who slowly break down their barriers through kindness and generosity (despite a few little roadblocks along the way).
This iteration stars Abi Van Andel as Joanne McSween, the secret creator of the hit comic-book superhero, the Green Oak Guardian. Although she’s the sole writer and artist, Joanne uses a male pseudonym of JT McSween and has studiously defended her privacy with the help of her father, Earl (Duffy Hudson). Or she has until the day Grayson Kane (Houston Rhines), a movie star with a tattered reputation in need of repair, buys the rights to play the Guardian in a blockbuster movie and must gain approval from “Mr.” McSween for public-relations purposes. One thing leads to another, and Joanne finds herself confronting her life, her art and love from a new perspective.
For what it’s worth, Guardian does everything it needs to do and does it well. Writer Duane Abel doesn’t exactly rewrite the book on romantic comedies, but he does create characters who don’t feel like a waste of time to live with for a few hours. Director Lana Read makes the most out of the country setting. The cavernous, modern “log-cabin” interiors of Joanne’s house are particularly amusing, lacking anything close to a lived-in aesthetic. I don’t think I’ve ever known an artist of any kind to have such a clean studio. While that sounds like a dig, the artifice of everything feels charming; it’s not like either Joanne or Grayson are particularly lived-in characters, either.
It’s hard to find a whole lot to say about Guardian. You get what you expect: Joanne slowly warms up to Grayson while he warms up to her lifestyle and the town she calls home. Eventually, some Hollywood types interlope and cause rough misunderstandings that the lovebirds eventually patch up. Joanne even has a precocious daughter whose quick friendship with Grayson signals his worthiness as a new made. There are some tragic secrets revealed and dealt with, and Joanne even finds the courage to take credit for her own hard work. It’s as cut-and-dried a comedy as you can get, and it’s pleasant enough for what it is. Just don’t expect anything in-depth. Why would you?