“Hi Rob-not-Ray.”

Rob (Christopher Russell, Flashpoint) works as a lawyer for the prestigious Higgins firm. However he is overworked due not to an overly developed sense of ambition but rather because his boss’ sons Emmett (Damon Runyan, On the Other Hand, Death) and Andrew (Danny Smith, Fugget About It), are out for their own self-interest before anything else and thus they dump all of the work their father assigns to them on Rob. And their father Carter Higgins (Chris Gillett, Turbulence) is hard-nosed and while blind to his sons’ ways he’s also a bit ruthless. So Rob lives for work and his family and that family is his sister and niece Ruby (Helen Colliander, Heartland). And it’s while taking his niece out bowling that he meets Elyse (Autumn Reeser, The Big Bang). Aside from being an avid bowler Elyse happens to be a high-powered executive who is doing business with Rob’s firm. Elyse’s father is retiring from the candy business and she will be taking over.

So Elyse and Rob meet and hit it off outside of work though they do interact whenever Elyse comes into the office. The drama comes when a masquerade ball is announced. Convinced this is the chance he’s been waiting for to ask Elyse out Rob is excited, planning out his costume and everything. However when one of Higgins’ sons demands that he stay behind and fix the mistake he himself made Rob protests but when his job is threatened he capitulates. But it’s worse — Rob will be getting a check-in from the Higgins in question at midnight, like a petulant teenager or some other such nonsense. So what can Rob do? Well with Ruby’s help and a mask Rob can sneak to the ball and sweep Elyse off her feet.

Which is exactly what he does and in true Cinderella fashion he takes off before midnight without leaving his name. That leaves him in a bit of a pickle in more ways than one. Now not only does Elyse not know who he was but during the last minute panic session he was forced to deal with Rob discovered that the Higgins’ appear to be cheating Elyse and her father. But without rock solid proof Rob is afraid to go to Elyse because there’s no saying for sure she’ll believe him. What is for sure is that if he does go to her he’ll lose his job and considering he helps support his sister and niece? Well let’s just say becoming a tattle-tale loses a lot of its appeal.

So there are a few balls in the air to juggle as we wind down to the conclusion which you will guess at long before it arrives. But that’s not why you watch these types of movies, is it? Cool if that’s what your reason is but I simply enjoy watching initial romances unfolding. And while the nods to Cinderella made me laugh at their cheesiness, Midnight Masquerade is a sweet film. You don’t have to watch it at Halloween, for starters. The holiday elements are in the background for the most part. Even the masquerade itself doesn’t really scream of Halloween. While Rob may be a bit too much of a goody two shoes or come off as a pushover (depending on your tolerance level for that particular personality trait) he’s earnest, which helps balance it out. But what helps even more is Russell’s chemistry with Reeser. Her Elyse is very personable and harbors a nice level of romanticism and humor.

The technical specs are a combination of the expected and a welcome surprise. In terms of the expected we have a 1.78:1 video transfer with a clean look. Minimal processing and color timing it nonetheless looks natural and free of debris or other distractions. The other side of the coin is where we find our surprise. The audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track where we would expect a Dolby 2.0 and it bumps up the soundscape to be sure. However it’s overkill no matter how welcome. There are no special features.

As with most films like this you have to dismiss the often one-dimensional villains and focus on the leads, as their story is the one you’re there for. Midnight Masquerade makes that easy.

THE VERDICT

Not guilty.

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