Sarah Drew stars in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' 'Guiding Emily' with Eric McCormack as a Labrador.

Sarah Drew stars in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ ‘Guiding Emily’ with Eric McCormack as a Labrador.

Emily, played by Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), is a successful Type A career woman. Her teammates appreciate her, her fiancé (The Night Agent’s Toby Levins) is Type-A, and she has a fantastic gym with a rock wall for indoor climbing. All that changes when Emily and fiancé Connor go trekking and Emily is temporarily blinded. Emily’s growing dependence overwhelms Connor, who leaves her with her mother (Christine Willes) and leaves.

Emily is unaware that a first-time foster mom/trainer, Sharon Taylor (Altered Carbon), has taken in a yellow Lab pup named Garth (voiced by Eric McCormack). Garth is full of energy and greedy for snacks. Will he improve enough to guide Emily after his dream job? Emily—will her wounded pride and ugly sadness prevent her from recovering her life? Most importantly, when will Emily and Garth become the dynamic team we know they can be?

The guide dog documentary Pick of the Litter hints at inspirational films like Ice Castles and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken and iconic dog flicks like Marley & Me.

Sarah Drew stars in Hallmark Movies & Mysteries' 'Guiding Emily' with Eric McCormack as a Labrador.

Matty Finochio (The Holiday Sitter), who plays Emily’s coworker Drew, is worth watching since I’ll mention Sarah Drew’s performance in Guiding Emily. Considering Finochio is a workaholic nerd with no people skills, his role as a confidant in the movie is surprising. Nice to see Drew get his own story arc.

Eric McCormack as Garth the dog: “That was the first time I saw Emily, and the last time she saw me.”

Our Take: Hallmark trusted Guiding Emily, and not just because they cleared Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” and a quick Funny Face clip. Guiding Emily is mature from start to finish, surpassing what we generally witness in network of networks weekend movie premieres. Eric McCormack voices a puppy who loves potato chips in this film. Its maturity remains increased!

The acting of Sarah Drew as Emily is largely responsible. Guiding Emily effectively conveys Emily’s dread, uncertainty, despair, and helplessness. Losing your sight, fiancé, independence, and livelihood is hard, and the editing and sound mixing make you feel Emily’s pain. One solo journey to a restaurant bathroom is nearly a thriller, with the restaurant noises swirling around Emily.

Drew’s performance makes Guiding Emily exceptional. Because she covers her eyes, an important acting tool, she immerses herself in every scenario. Drew skillfully leads Emily through a lot in this movie, from her stride to her voice. She emphasizes Emily’s stubbornness and pride, which hold her back more than losing her vision. Emily has remarkable nuance.

Garth plays half or a quarter of the movie. I’m not criticizing this dog movie’s dog. Garth’s inner monologue seems odd in contrast to Emily’s emotional plot. Garth’s journey from weird pup to guiding dog, especially his friendship with Katie, felt like it should have been its own movie, one that fit the zaniness of a dog narrator.

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