Real Murders: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery full movie review - Completely miscast and overly sanitized adaption of popular series
I am actually a fairly big fan of cozy murder mystery books series, so I am certainly not against the Hallmark Channel adapting them for TV.
However, one would assume that they would make certain that the series in question is a good fit for the channel. The Flower Shop Mysteries (with Brooke Shields) and the Bake Shop Mysteries (with Alison Sweeney) are a fairly good fit. Hallmark's modus operandi seems to be taking a fairly innocuous book series with a hopefully built in audience, hiring a familiar actress of a certain age who can play cute with some familiar veterans in the supporting cast, and usually pairing said actress opposite a blandly handsome borderline asexual love interest (the Flower Shop mysteries Brennan Elliot is actually an exception here in that he seems to have a pulse and sex appeal) in the quest to find out whodunnit.
By contrast, Charlaine Harris's Aurora Teagarden mysteries are most definitely a questionable fit for Hallmark. Centering on a likable heroine with a morbid hobby of researching and sometimes getting embroiled in real life murders, the series is often ghoulish with its violence, motives and supporting characters. The first in the book series focuses on very gruesome murder perpetrated on members of a Real Murders research group. When watching the TV version, red flags that this series will be an adaptation failure crop up almost immediately. First, gruesome murders that happen to likable characters in the book are prevented in the film to give it that homey feel that Hallmark loves. Second, Aurora's family background is changed around to give her a much more traditional family presentation to make her more cuddly to Hallmark viewers.
Last, but certainly not least, is the complete misfire in casting. Aurora's mother is supposed to be a society doyenne realtor and force to be reckoned with. The books likens her to Lauren Bacall, the film series gives us a distracted Marilu Henner (probably wondering how to wring her agent's neck and get away with it). Robin Dunne is cast as the love interest here, a visiting novelist who is either the killer or a target. Naturally, he shares absolutely no discernible chemistry with the leading lady and has apparently been directed to play everything in such a low wattage fashion so that viewers can be assured that nothing but the most chaste of flirtation is happening.
The worst decision is the miscasting of Candace Cameron Bure in the lead. I am completely puzzled as to how anyone in the sublimely talentless Cameron family keeps scoring acting gigs. The Aurora Teagarden of Harris's novels is described as a short, pleasingly plump, bespectacled librarian-type with a lusty sex drive and a borderline unhealthy (but fun) morbid curiosity. There is not one characteristic of this character that comes through in Bure's performance. Physically, she is completely wrong for the role as she bears absolutely no resemblance to Harris's character. Indeed Bure's performance sanitizes pretty much anything that would have given Aurora flavor as a character and replaces it with an over-caffeinated, hyper-cute nonsense performance that seems more like Bure's audition reel for the Full House reboot than anything that demonstrates an actual performance or an attempt to prove she can...well, act at all.
Just when you think it cannot get worse, the climax where Aurora outsmarts the villain(s) arrives (which is completely different from the book by the way) and you realize just how utterly clueless and foolish this whole endeavor was from the start. Aurora seems less like a resourceful and brave character, then a childish moron with the IQ of a 12-year-old with ADHD and some highly questionable luck.
A complete disaster, even by Hallmark standards, and a total waste of time.