Hallmark Channel pulls off a bit of a “first” this month with one of its original films. Comedian Bill Engvall, who’s been doing standup routines about parenting for decades, steps into his first dramatic role in Kiss at Pine Lake.
The film is about Luke (Barry Watson), a young philanthropist trying to save the summer camp of his youth, and Zoe (Mia Kirshner), the girl who haunts his camp memories, representing the development firm that’s trying to wheedle it away from him. Engvall’s role is of Zoe’s father, though they’re largely estranged since her parents’ divorce.
It’s a small part in the film, Engvall admits, but it’s one that he feels is very integral to the theme and story of Kiss at Pine Lake. “She’s kind of gotten caught up in the business world, the hustle and bustle of it. She’s trying to get back to where she [once was]. … If you’ve ever done a puzzle, you get to a certain point when you’re missing a couple of pieces, the picture’s not complete. And I was one of the two pieces of the puzzle that she needed to get rectified and found, and placed in their position for her life to be complete.
“I don’t care what kind of relationship you have with your parents,” he continues, “as we get older, toward the ends of our lives, and as we become adults and move on into our senior years or something, you almost tend to go back home. It’s like, everything’s great, but if I don’t have a father, or I don’t have a mother, or a relationship with them, it’s still not quite complete. And it’s a very important part, because I think, no matter what your age is, you still want to maintain that connection to your family roots.”
For Engvall, who has made a career out of pointing out the humor in his own family life, this connection to family roots was central to how he approached his role in Kiss at Pine Lake. “When I was young, my parents got divorced, which was what I called upon in this role,” he explains. “As a child, when your parents get divorced, you’re not quite sure what the circumstances are. You just know that Mom’s leaving or Dad’s leaving, and you don’t understand why they’re leaving. And while there may be very legitimate reasons, you still have to have that relationship.”
Even as Engvall branches out into the world of Hallmark Channel in Kiss at Pine Lake with a more dramatic-styled role, he’s also diversifying in another new direction. As we spoke, he was about to head out the door to a meeting with the people at History.
“I’m doing a show there called Back In My Day,” he says. “It’s a pilot we’re going to shoot — me and a guy named Reno Collier. … I pitched this idea out to the History Channel about ‘Whatever happened to drive-in movies? And parking? Electric football games?’ I feel like our country has gotten so — what’s the word? — electronic. Kids and entertainment today, it’s all prepackaged for them in this little box. When I was a kid, you had to make your own fun. You had to go ride your bike. You played in the dirt. You did this and that. I think it’s a show people would watch, because it gives them that kind of trip down memory lane — like, ‘Oh, my God — I remember when we used to go to the A&W Root Beer stand and the girls would come out on roller skates. We’d get a root beer float; or going parking with my girlfriend, where you’d just kiss for hours — and that was enough.’ And so I think it’ll stir some nostalgic feelings in people.”
Kiss at Pine Lake debuts on Hallmark Channel this Saturday, May 19 at 8pm ET/PT.
Photo: ©2012 Crown Media Holdings, Inc. Credit: Katie Yu