Lizzie Borden Took an Ax January 27, 2014Posted by Rusty in 17-20, lizzie borden, Uncategorized.
This movie was a bummer. A shame, since it had all the right components: Massachusetts setting, axe murders, Wednesday Addams. These are all the things that I like very much! This movie was directed right at my wheelhouse! But goodness gracious what a bore. How can you combine Wednesday Addams and axe murders and get something so vanilla?
We’re in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892. You think Fall River is terrible now (spoiler: it is), imagine Fall River before they got their paws on that battleship that all the Boy Scouts visit. But Lizzie only lives an hour outside of Cape Cod, so things can’t be all bad. Lizzie is a preacher’s daughter who lives with her older sister and her stepmom. The dad is a strict skinflint (as The Good Book teaches!) which bothers Lizzie. Lizzie likes the parties and the champagnes and even has a line of credit at the old-timey dress shoppe. She is basically 19th Century Fall River’s answer to Paris Hilton. How will these two resolve their differences?
We don’t get the chance to find out (OR DO WE!?) as Pastor Borden ends up with a terminal case of the face holes. Lizzie finds the body and screams and the maid calls the police. The police are there checking for evidence when, surprise!, they find Lizzie’s stepmom in her room. The face holes were contagious! Lizze had earlier told the maid that Mom got a note saying a friend had taken ill and had left the house to meet her. No note, no leaving. That doesn’t look good for Lizzie.
Of course, no one wants to blame this meek 22-year-old girl for slaughtering her family. And with no physical evidence linking her to the crime, the police spend some time focusing on the Help.
This is a big case, so the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sends down the best prosecutor they’ve got. He immediately concludes that Lizzie Borden is guilty. How else could someone kill a woman, lie in wait in the house for 90 minutes, kill the Pastor, and then ditch all of the evidence? Lizzie’s alibi is fairly weak. She claims she was in a shed on the property clearing our a pigeon coop and eating pears. Three pears. “WHO EATS THREE PEARS IN A HOT AND DUSTY BARN!?” yells the prosecutor in what has to be one of the best sentences ever said on Lifetime. One pear is, normal, I guess. Two pairs is really pushing it. But three? Three pears? What kind of sordid hedonist eats three pairs?
Lizzie starts destroying evidence (like her dress with the mysterious blood-colored “stew” stain) which leads to her being interrogated on the stand. Lizzie prepares for her time on the stand by getting a good night’s sleep, wearing her Sunday best, and doing an ass-ton of heroin. Lizzie doesn’t do a very good job of testifying on her own behalf and gets charged with murder. Oh, also, there’s a one second shot of a bloody axe before we go to commercial.
The movie is guilty of doing tons of that shit. Weird one second shots of axes before commercial, single frames of a woman’s back, and the soundtrack. Can’t forget the soundtrack! The movie is filled with some Black Keys knockoff blues rock band in the background.* It’s atrocious. So, to be clear, the movie is guilty of being boring AND ugly AND loud.
*Someone on the Twitters pointed out that Lizzie Borden has the same soundtrack as Black Snake Moan. Don’t think that was a compliment
Lizzie is charged and then nothing of consequence happens for an hour. Lizzie’s older sister (who has an airtight alibi that doesn’t involve produce) is called to the stand. Lizzie tells Big Sis to tell the truth. Instead, she perjures herself by saying that it was her idea, not Lizzie’s, to destroy evidence. She also says Lizzie never showed signs of having a temper (cut to a flashback of Lizzie throwing a glass at her stepmom). The prosecution is getting their asses whooped, so they go to the oldest trick in the book: entering skulls in as evidence. When Lizzie sees the skulls, she faints and then BOOM another commercial.
I noticed this with Flowers in the Attic too. When did Lifetime forget how to transition into commercial breaks? There’s a “big” “plot” point or “shocking” “twist” and without getting half a second to marinate on it, I am watching a commercial for a prescription drug that helps with post-menopausal intercourse. It’s distracting.
Oh, the skulls are never mentioned again. It is never made clear how they implicated Lizzie in any way.
Lizzie is acquitted after an hour of deliberations and is free to go. She immediately jumps back on the party circuit where she is treated like a carnival act. But, hell, she likes the attention. When Big Sis calls her out for that, Lizzie tells her that she did in fact murder her family. She stripped naked, axed her stepmom, changed back into her clothes, ate three pears, waited for her dad to come home, stripped naked again, and axed her dad before changing back into her dress to “find” the bodies. THE END!
Lizzie Borden ended up becoming a spinster. She never married. No kids. Which is clearly beneficial to Lifetime since no one can sue for libel on the family’s behalf. Can you imagine if they did that to Amanda Knox? Christ. Lizzie Borden was acquitted not because she was a lady and ladies aren’t capable of murder. She was acquitted because she, most likely, DIDN’T DO IT.
Bill James, the father of advanced baseball stats, wrote a book on popular crime and spent a chapter focusing on Lizzie Borden. Conclusion: there was no way that Lizzie Borden could have been convicted of murder. Is it implausible for someone to lay in wait for 90 minutes in a house after killing someone? Yes! You know what else is implausible? “She stripped naked, axed her stepmom, changed back into her clothes, ate three pears, waited for her dad to come home, stripped naked again, and axed her dad before changing back into her dress to “find” the bodies.”
Anyways, BOOOOO. I got your back, Lizzie.
I guess some props should go out to Christina Ricci for treating the material like it wasn’t a big, fat joke. She was clearly a cut above the other actors, so, bully to her. But the rest of the movie was awful. Intrusive soundtrack, a plot that didn’t make sense (they never, ever established a motive for Lizzie murdering her family, but the movie did go out of its way to establish that half of Fall River hated the Bordens), and these stupid flourishes that are supposed to be scary, I guess. They’re just distracting.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 8
Christina Ricci will always have a place in my heart for guiding me through puberty, but she isn’t a big name anymore. What has she been in the last five years? Bucky Larson? Oh, Lizzie’s sister was played by Clea DuVall. Always nice to see her get some work.
The prosecutor was played by Hollis from Scandal. YOU WILL PAY FOR DEFIANCE, SIR!
More lady baddies. Weird. Anyways, there wasn’t really anything Lifetimey about this movie other than plot sagging over the final hour.
GRAND TOTAL: 18
WOOF! The movie was bad and I am DISAPPOINTED. I had been looking forward to this for months. MONTHS!
Flowers in the Attic January 20, 2014Posted by Rusty in 30-36, flowers in the attic.
Before Saturday night, I didn’t know a thing about Flowers in the Attic. I knew there was some incest, which, I guess, is kind of a big thing. The incest is notable. Very notable incest. But, beyond that, I just knew that a great many of my lady friends – H$ included – have read Flowers in the Attic and have a special place in their heart for it. And they all told me to watch the Lifetime adaptation because the book was crazeballs. I straight up accused one of lying to me when she told me a character gets tarred. Literally tarred. Well, she made an idiot out of me.
(A quick note: I “livetweeted” this whole shebang at my personal account. It went very well! But the pressure of making dozens of spur of the moment jokes kind of takes away from the whole “pay attention and work on making jokes later” strategy I’ve been using since August, 2007. I might have missed some things while taking screenshots of a grandmother threatening her family with a knuckle sandwich.)
So we meet the, ugh, Dollanger family. All of their names begin with “C.” (Because of this, I am going to stick to calling Heather Graham “Mommy.” Going back and forth to make sure I have the right C-name; this is time consuming enough as it is!) The four blonde kids are called “The Dresden Dolls.” “They call us that because we look perfect.” “We are perfect,” replies the mother in the first of many examples of top-notch screenwriting. Anyways, they’re perfect family does not have a dad with a perfect driving record. The dad dies in a car accident right after getting that big promotion to Head of Sales! Aw, shucks!
So now we start learning some fun family secrets. The family’s wealth was built on credit. Which is to say the bank would like their stuff back, please. Oh, and Mommy and Daddy were also niece and uncle. So there’s that. Mommy and Daddy got disinherited from their family after eloping (THIS IS A REASONABLE REASON TO DISINHERIT SOMEONE!) and now Mommy needs to go groveling back to her wealthy, religious, anti-incest family to get back into the will. In order to do this, Mommy needs to pretend that her kids don’t exist since the kids are the product of Satan or something.
The only reasonable thing to do here is lock them in an attic.
Here’s what we’ve got: Christopher, Jr, probably around 16-years-old. Cathy, probably around 14-years-old. And twins, Carrie and Cory who are probably around five. We can forget about the twins. They are only good for getting pale and eating poison doughnuts. Let’s focus on the older kids, Christopher and Cathy. These two assholes are the stupidest kids in popular culture since Lex and Tim in Jurassic Park. Sixteen and 14 is old enough to know better about incest. And, probably more importantly!, it’s certainly old enough to not get physically abused by your crazy grandmother and old enough to make an escape. By the end of this movie you’d think these kids WANTED to stay in an attic.
Oh, the grandmother. She is played by The Wicker Man’s Ellen Burstyn. She is a national treasure. And she will not take any of your guff or backtalk.
Granny certainly has her talons in this family. She asks Mommy to show her kids what happens when people disobey, and Mommy reveals that her back has been all Kunta Kinte’d up. Granny loves her switch.
The plan here is to hide the kids in the attic, wait for the rich Grandfather to die, and then they can leave with their inheritance. This is a stupid plan. It’s kind of hard to predict when an old man will die. The getting back into the will part proves easy enough though. Grandpa throws a big party celebrating The Prodigal Mommie Dearest’s reunion with the family. Mommy even lets Christopher and Cathy sneak around the house to watch Mommy being showered with congratulations and jewels. They also find out that Mommy is dating a lawyer who doesn’t know about the kids.
So, here’s where I start to get lost. Cathy is complaining that they have been in the attic for over a year and they havent seen their mom in over a month. WHOA! Are we on Downton Abbey time? That was a 2001-esque flash-forward. That brings me back to how these kids are too old for this shit. Punch Granny in the face! Run! Do something!
Anyways, mom was honeymooning in Venice. And Granddad has been dead for months. The attic isn’t about secrets anymore. It’s about convenience.
So, naturally, when Christopher and Cathy escape the attic they spend the night swimming in a lake and handfeeding a deer. The movie has already shown that the train station is within walking distance of their mansion-prison. Go! You stupid fucking kids!
Mom’s new husband is later shown shooting the deer. Someone on Twitter pointed out that he was going “metaphor hunting.”
So while the Christopher and Cathy are doing an incredible job of not escaping their prison, Granny keeps accusing them of having inappropriate feelings towards each other. I mean, if you get burned by the incest bug once, shame on them. Get burned twice, shame on me.
Grandma gets burned twice.
Grandma does whatever she can to separate Chris and Cathy (except for, you know, NOT LOCKING THEM IN A FUCKING ATTIC) and even tries to ugly up Cathy by forcing her to cut her hair or watch the twins get starved out. They call Granny’s bluff, but Grandma win out by TARRING CATHY’S HAIR IN HER SLEEP. Chris helps cut the hair and begins half an hour of awkward touching and stolen glances that culminates in full blown intercourse.
Look, I love Lifetime and the source material here seems a wee bit over-the-top. I was ready for something ridiculous. It’s to Lifetime’s credit (?) that, man, this was GROSS. Ack. I will go out on a limb here and say that the scariest thing about a movie with so much physical abuse and torture was watching these two get completely unmoored and start boning each other. Props (??) to Lifetime.
Let’s wrap this up. All the kids end up sick and the boy twin even needs to go to the hospital. He dies. Turns out Mommy was putting arsenic in their doughnuts. The kids now – NOW! – realize they need to escape. Naturally, the family has built an electric fence around the perimeter of the property, so there’s no way out! Thankfully they run into Mommy’s new husband, explain that they are his secret stepkids, and HE ACCEPTS THIS NO QUESTIONS ASKED and helps them escape. THE END.\
AWESOMENESS: 16 (out of 20)
The dialogue was terrible, the kids were idiots, and the pacing was way, way off. The screenplay was amateur hour. But, man, at the end of the movie, I felt GROSS. The bad guys, Mom and Grandma, were off-the-rails evil and it was awesome. If I was flipping through and this turned up, I would keep it on. It’s like Lifetime-squared.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY! 10 (out of 10)
I mentioned that Grandma was played by national treasure Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn was the bad guy in The Wicker Man remake, so she presumably knows how it got burned. Oh, she was also the lead in my favorite movie ever (The Exorcist) and was the female lead in Requiem for a Dream. Woman knows her way around the creepy.
Mommy Dearest was played by Heather Graham, aka Roller Girl from Boogie Nights. She was great in this. All of her bad actress tendencies were put to good use. The vapidness came off as creepy instead of, you know, vapid.
Cathy was played by Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men. She will be very famous some day and look back at this movie and have a good chuckle.
LIFETIMENESS: 7 (out of 10)
All the bad “guys” here were women. That’s unusual! The family unit was fine until the patriarch died. And what happens when you lose the man of the house? Your kids get locked in an attic! The stepdad was the only non-evil non-hostage in the whole movie. This movie was big on good dads.
GRAND TOTAL: 33 (out of 40)
Still, though. This movie brought the goods. Melodrama, incest, neglect, abuse, deer. I’m guessing Lifetime will rerun the Hell out of this, so set your DVRs accordingly.
And it’s good to be back! See you next week for the Lizzie Borden movie!
What Has Kate Been Up To? July 17, 2012Posted by Rusty in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
So, as you know, this blog took a long hiatus. We were out of commission for months. I can’t speak for H$, but on my end it was just plain old laziness. And Netflix. Oh my God, guys, Downton Abbey is very good!
I will speak for Kate though. Kate was our newest addition, she did a few reviews, including my favorite, and then disappeared from the face of the Lifetime reviewing Internet.
Well, Kate has been busy. She has been in a band, The Outfits, and they just released their first record. Buy it here. Seriously, buy it. I am buying it.
Even if you don’t want to buy it, maybe give it a listen.
Without sounding too much like a lame-o, I can tell you that I am very, very proud of Kate and the other The Outfits (who I met at Kate’s wedding) and I hope they sell tons of records and make dozens of dollars and YAY FOR THE OUTFITS.
The Familiar Stranger July 10, 2012Posted by Rusty in 17-20, 20-24, the familiar stranger.
The Familiar Stranger, aka My Husband’s Double Life.
We’re only at the titles and we’re already in trouble. At no point is the husband a stranger and at no point does he have a double life. An inauspicious beginning.
This was a weird movie for getting back in the swing of things. No famous actors listed in the movie description and a boring sounding plot. But, thank the Lifetime gods, 90 seconds in:
Oh man do I love me some Baby Michael Cera. This isn’t my first go around with Mr. Cera. Never forget Stolen Miracle.
Oh, right, The Familiar Stranger. This review will be awfully short. This movie was totally without conflict. There is no danger, no dilemma, nothing for the audience to care for or worry about. It is exactly how not to write a teleplay. I could distill the entire two hours into two paragraphs. But you, dear readers, deserve more. You deserve three paragraphs.
Patrick is married to Peachy (Oh. My. God.). They have two kids: Ted and Chris. They are the perfect Ohio family. Then Patrick is accused of defrauding a hospital by awarding money to fake grants. He took over $25,000 and ends up serving a suspended sentence. Ashamed by it all, Patrick disappears and leaves a suicide note. His body is never found. (A detective says the currents are too strong to which I respond: “OHIO!”) He leaves behind a wife, two kids, and a cancer ridden mother who immediately kicks the bucket.
Peachy uproots her family, gives away the dog, and moves to a neighborhood that you know is dangerous because there is a siren blaring in the background the entire GODDAMNED time. She begs for a job and gets one despite being crazily unqualified. (For that part of Ohio we’ll just say her skin color was qualified and leave it at that.) We get a ridonkulous flash forward (new kids; Peachy has glasses now!) and see that Peachy has made it. And then she gets a letter from the Social Security Administration asking for all of her kids survival benefits back. Patrick is alive.
Peachy tracks Patrick’s SSN back to Kennebunkport, Maine. Peachy confronts Patrick and has him arrested. He pleads not guilty but after being confronted by his kids he changes his plea to no contest. He is sentenced to four years in Shawshank. Peachy’s kids thank her for being an amazing mom and an amazing dad all in one. They graduate from schools and the family is a pillar in the community.
WHERE IS THE CONFLICT!? There was no dramatic court case, no sense of danger. The filmmakers thought about painting Pat’s new girl as some kind of evil hussy, but the movie veers off that route fast. It wouldn’t be fair and it’s not really that much different than Peachy being happily married to an extortionist.
The big flash forward halfway through illustrates exactly how ridiculous this is. Trying to make something from nothing. Living hard with two kids and a low paying job. Temporary layoffs. Good times. Easy credit ripoffs. Good times. BUT NO! We get five minutes of that. Then, boom, the future! And everything is fine! Even Pat did everything but turn himself in and then he ultimately pleads guilty! Aristotelian unities, my ass!
I think I did a pretty good job of describing how boring this was, yes? More demerits for the sound editing. Why is it that every Lifetime movie fails at sound editing? Ugh, that siren. I hated that siren.
This movie was really bad.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 10
I gave Stolen Miracle a nine in this category for Michael Cera, and that movie had no one else in it. At least I recognized Peachy from Independence Day. She was the white lady. Not the First Lady. The other one.
One of the older versions of the kids was in a few episodes of Veronica Mars. Not a big deal, but I spotted it a second faster than immediately. (Oh my God, he was in the Michael Cera episode of Veronica Mars! Worlds colliding!) (This blog and I used to be friends, a long time ago.)
The guy who played Patrick is like the ultimate That Guy. He is so familiar looking! Looking through his IMDB profile, it appears that I have seen him in like ten things. I recognize him from zero of them.
In order to get the plot summary in at three paragraphs, I left out one of the wildest instances of women’s intuition ever. When Patrick is less than 20 minutes late from work, Peachy goes off the rails and “knows” that Patrick killed himself. The movie plays this like she’s some kind of psychic genius.
Well, what’s the opposite of intuition? Because Patrick used that hysteria to get a TEN YEAR HEAD START on Peachy and the Social Security Administration. Bravo, Peachy.
Oh, and she’s the perfect mom. She had spunk.
GRAND TOTAL: 20
So there was no familiar stranger. Peachy knew who Patrick was the second she laid eyes on him. And Patrick didn’t have a double life. One of those lifes was dead. That’s just one life. This movie was built on a foundation of lies and boredom.
But, Michael Cera!
Drew Peterson: Untouchable January 30, 2012Posted by Rusty in Uncategorized.
Let’s start off with an admission: I did not know very much about Drew Peterson. I remember an Illinois housewife going missing and her significantly older husband being a suspect. I also remember that the husband’s previous wife died suspiciously. And that’s it. Seriously. I had no idea he had been arrested. When Lifetime announced that Rob Lowe would be playing Drew Peterson in a Lifetime movie, I got the Petersons mixed up. I thought he was playing Scott Peterson.
(Also, as an FYI, if you’re going to murder your wife, CHANGE YOUR NAME FROM PETERSON! If I was Rusty Bundy and I had a totally logical desire to kill sorority girls, I would change my fucking name first thing. That would be the first step in my nefarious plot. If your hometown has a homicidal clown problem and you’re named Gacy, people are going to look at you funny. Change that shit up.)
But then that trailer happened and suddenly this was all I could think about. I even wrote a practice post to get my head back in the game. So was the movie worth the hype?
Yes. Mostly. I daresay this is my favorite Lifetime movie based on a true story. Those are usually my least favorite, even worse than the ones about Christmas miracles. But this one rose above type and provided two hours of “OWNAGE.”
Drew Peterson: Untouchable follows the format perfected in one of the best Lifetime movies ever made: Widow on the Hill. The accused murderer is telling his/her side of the story to local media. In both movies, the format makes no sense. It’s filler. At least in Widow on the Hill the last scene of the movie is of the good guys’ turning the TV off. In Untouchable, it’s never clear when or if the interview ends. He is being interviewed and then he gets arrested? When was the interview? What?
Anyways, Drew Peterson is a psycho cop with a hilarious Chicago accent. He is very nasty to his third wife, Karen. Although, to be fair, Karen is kind of a bitch. I get that they need to make Drew Peterson somewhat likable so we can identify with Wife #4, but, uh, Karen was an abused murder victim? Has Lifetime ever portrayed an abused murder victim as such a pill?
Drew gets dispatched to a hotel where he meets a toothsome front desk lady named Stacy. There are sparks! When Stacy realizes that this humble cop is also a rich dude who owns a bar and a MOTHERFUCKING PLANE, she goes all-in and they start a sex affair. He buys her a fancy car and even sneaks her into his basement for sexxx while his wife sleeps upstairs. Smooooth.
Karen gets wind of the affair and a quickie divorce is in the works. She gets half and Drew gets to start over with a new, young, pregnant wife. A reasonable trade. But, ugh, Karen keeps being nasty! What is an ex-husband to do?
Lucky for Drew, Karen doesn’t show up to pick up their kids. Drew has a neighbor go into her house to look for her and lo and behold she is dead. Drowned in an…empty bathtub? That’s weird. Ruled an accident. Because who wants to take an extra look at community icon Drew Peterson? Other than Karen’s family. They think he did that shit.
The Petersons get a new next door neighbor and she takes a shining to Stacy. Stacy even shows her around the neighborhood, reminiscing about the times she snuck into Karen’s house while she was sleeping for quickies with Drew. Whoa. OVERSHARE. The neighbor points out that that is stone cold and Stacy is all, “oh yeah.” Now that she’s married she is starting to see the evil of Drew’s ways.
Drew gets more and more controlling as the years go by. He gives Stacy a cell phone and if she doesn’t answer by the third ring there is Hell to pay. When Stacy catches Drew going through her e-mails, she protests and tries taking the computer away from him. He shoves her into the television. The neighbor walks in on this and Stacy’s honesty is refreshing: “Drew just pushed me into the TV.” Succinct and accurate.
So Drew is totally crazy. Duh. The last straw is the death of Stacy’s sister (which really comes out of nowhere). After Stacy hugs her widowed brother-in-law, Drew accuses them of having an affair. Then he calls her a whore and a slut and tosses her around a little bit. Stacy claims the marriage is over. Drew doesn’t get the memo. He stalks her, breaks into their home, terrorizes her. And then she disappears. Drew claims she phoned* him after finding another man and ran off. Leaving four kids behind. Right.
*I have been watching way too much The Good Wife.
So obviously Drew did that shit. The media gets involved because the local newspaper reporter remembers Drew Peterson from Karen’s death. The neighbor and Stacy’s living sister circle the wagons and put up missing person posters in their yards and generally make Drew’s life hard. Drew, for his part, is acting like a crazy person. He gets engaged to another 23-year-old, starts a dating competition on a radio show, and talks nonsense to national media like Larry King.
The “Stacy took off” story starts to lose some steam when Drew’s drug-addict half-brother (Ethan from LOST!) comes forward and admits that he helped move a mystery barrel from Stacy’s bedroom to Drew’s car. Stacy’s pastor comes forward and claims that Stacy confessed that Drew went missing the night of Karen’s death. Drew gets arrested but doesn’t go sanely. He performs a slow-motion strip tease while changing into his prison oranges. The End. Thank God we at least got five seconds of topless Rob Lowe.
Oh god, I didn’t even mention “I’m untouchable, bitch.” I guess it was sort of anti-climatic? Drew Peterson was eminantly touchable. The police touched him and threw him in jail. Also, watching the trailer 45 times kind of takes some of the novelty away.
Still well worth anyone’s time.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY: 8
I dunno. I don’t want to give Lifetime too much credit for hiring a well-known actor who is actually working on a regular basis. If they throw a ton of money at someone, that’s not really as impressive as seeing someone before or past their prime. That being said, Rob Lowe was the bad guy in two of the funniest movies ever made: Wayne’s World and Tommy Boy. (I guess you could make a case that a post-NAFTA Midwestern economy was the bad guy in Tommy Boy, but whatever.) And the dude banged a 16-year-old on tape and got away with it. Living the dream!
Stacy was played by the lady from The Big Bang Theory. I was shocked to find out that she is younger than me. Either she looks old or I look young. Karen was in Season Four of Mad Men but her character was shitty so no extra points there.
And Ethan! From LOST! He knows a thing or two about making pretty blondes disappear.
As previously mentioned, the Karen character was pretty problematic. Demerits. Everything else was spot on. Women being terrorized and abused but nothing can be done because of an evil man and his evil police force buddies.
GRAND TOTAL: 28
This movie wasn’t great, but it flies by fast enough and Rob Lowe does a nice job. Twenty-eight is usually a slam dunk recommendation, but, I dunno, it could have been more.
I do think the best possible outcome is that Stacy Peterson shows up after spending the last year in Tahiti and Drew Peterson sues Lifetime for a jillion dollars. If he gets acquitted, Lifetime might be in some trouble.
Sexting in Suburbia January 17, 2012Posted by Rusty in 25-29.
Tags: sexting in suburbia
It’s time for another one of our patented January pushes as Lifetime burnout is replaced with the optimism of a new year. And, let’s be honest, I need at least one practice review to get back in the swing of things before Untouchable comes out. I mean, have you seen this?
That is obviously the highest priority. But Sexting in Suburbia wasn’t bad either!
Dina is walking down the halls of her high school. People are staring and pointing and laughing. I suspect bullying! Dina opens her locker and a bunch of condoms fall out. Totally burnt, Dina. A boy, probably an ex-boyfriend, offer to help her clean up the prophylactic avalanche, but he is rebuffed. Dina storms off.
Hey, Dina. Why did you open your locker? Was it just to have condoms spill out and then put them back? Because you clearly didn’t put anything in or take anything out of your locker. So why open it in the first place, right?
Dina goes home, emo vlogs, and then hangs herself.
What is with these Lifetime movies and the vlogging? NO ONE VLOGS.
So now Dina’s mom, Rachel, must get to the bottom of this horrible tragedy. Clearly everyone is to blame for her daughter’s suicide except for her daughter. No lead will go unfollowed, no sext will go unanswered for!
The trail gets hot when Dina’s field hockey friend tells Rachel to check Dina’s phone for scandalous evidence. (“Most dirty laundry is offered up for public consumption” ~No high schooler, ever.) Rachel finds a sext.
We flashback to homecoming. Dina is looking fine and tonight’s the night she gives her virginity to that dude from earlier, Mark. Except Dina has second thoughts. She just isn’t ready! So she skips the afterparty. Mark is clearly upset at losing out on nookie and not even getting an apology beej, so Dina tries to keep things spicy by sending him a naked photo. Via text! A “sext,” if you will. Mark doesn’t really need the pick-me-up since he is knee high in high school poon when Dina sends the photo.
From a filing standpoint, this is a disaster. The movie hits the first commercial when Mark starts boning Dina’s rival, Skylar. But the first scene back from commercial is the sext. That’s the more dramatic scene! That needs to be pre-commercial. And then after the sext there is a fade out! Implying a commercial break! Did the good people at Activia Yogurt not want to wait an extra 90 seconds for their product placement? Ugh. Come on, Lifetime editors. Get it together.
Obviously the sext “goes viral” the very next day. Dina’s life is ruined.
Rachel is going on a witch hunt. The school administrators won’t help her look at everyone’s Facebook accounts and texts out of “privacy concerns” so she writes an op-ed that gets published on the front page of their podunk newspaper. The community needs to act. Since Dina sent her sext to Mark and only to Mark, he is arrested on suspicion of child pornography distribution.
Skyler is acting like a total B and is being set up as the obvious bad guy. Flashbacks show she was the lead bully in the anti-Dina crusade. She stole Mark, took the field hockey captaincy from Dina, and she had access to the sext since Mark received it when his penis was inside of her vagina. Motive and opportunity!
Rachel is the subject of some neighborhood terrorism after her op-ed and Mark’s arrest. Dina’s grave is vandalised (Dina Van Slut! Ya burnt!) and someone put a bunch of pictures of a noose in her mailbox. Things culminate when someone throws a brick through her window. (The brick throw is supposed to be surprising. It is telegraphed from a mile away by the camera angle. Another poor job of editing and composition.)
Mark and Rachel have a tete-a-tete and they both think that Skyler was responsible. Rachel just happens to be besties with Skyler’s mom so she goes in for the confrontation. Skyler denies any wrongdoing and the moms hug it out. But then Rachel finds evidence of the vandalism and intimidation stuff in Skyler’s bathroom! Skyler later admits to sending the text to one person, a mutual friend, Claire. Skyler’s mom points out that she didn’t tie Dina’s noose so not to worry.
Rachel asks the police to drop the child pornography charges on Mark (something she has no right to do, obviously) and prosecute Skyler instead. The police, and I have no idea how they did this without violating the Fourth Amendment, show Rachel evidence that the text “went viral” when Claire sent it to 40 classmates.
Rachel speeds home and finds Claire inside Dina’s room (?) watching some vlogs (??). Claire apologizes for ruining Dina’s life. But not for sending the texts. Wait, huh? It turns out that Skyler convinced Claire to narc on Dina for her sextapades to their field hockey coach. Dina is cut from the team and loses her field hockey scholarship (ahahah) to her fictional college of choice. That was the final straw for Dina.
Awesomely, when Dina confronts Skyler and Claire about this, Dina grabs Skyler’s field hockey stick and beats her in the face with it. That is the highlight of the movie right there.
Claire tells Rachel that she couldn’t have sent the texts since she lost her phone at homecoming. Who had it? SKYLER’S MOM! Rachel’s bestie sent it out because Dina kept beating out Skyler for all the varsity letters, scholarships, and boyfriends.
But Skyler’s Mom makes one crucial and TOTALLY INEXPLICABLE mistake. She kept a naked Dina pic on her personal phone. Like, as a trophy. Think about how stupid that is. Skyler finds the pic, puts two and two together (this also makes no sense, but whatever), and confronts her mom. Skyler’s Mom comes clean.
Skyler freaks out, storms out of the house, and is texting her mother that she “will never forgive her.” While she’s driving. And you know what that means! BOOM! Head-on collision! Yesssss. What a great throwback to the mid-90’s Lifetime playbook. So good.
Rachel confronts Skyler’s mom in the hospital. Skyler won’t walk again. There goes that field hockey scholarship! Then Rachel goes home to watch Dina vlog in happier times. Claire starts a movement with Mark to ban cell phones for the rest of the semester. Right, because it was the cell phone’s fault.
The movie was so delightfully stupid and over-the-top. The editing was bad to the point of distracting, but, hey, it’s Lifetime. And I love it when a movie about one thing also takes the time to use melodramatic tragedy to teach you about another thing. Like in When Friendship Kills, a movie about anorexia where one character drinks and gets hit by a car. Sexting is bad, but texting while driving is also bad! So many lessons!
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 1
All newcomers here. Rachel was played by Liz Vassey who was Captain Liberty in The Tick. I guess she was in Dr. Horrible too, but, and I apologize in advance, I thought Dr. Horrible sucked.
You read the review, yes? This is some pretty Lifetimey stuff. Had to take one negative point because Mark and Skyler get a pass for having sex in high school. No one gets mad. No one gets pregnant. It’s a welcome change, but it’s a clear deviation from the Lifetime formula.
GRAND TOTAL: 26
This review was all foreplay for the Rob Lowe awesomeness premiering this Saturday, but it was pretty good foreplay. It will be re-airing Saturday, January 28 at 6pm eastern. Set your DVRs accordingly.
Hey, Lifetime Jokes on SNL! October 18, 2011Posted by Rusty in Uncategorized.
Holy mother of God it’s difficult to embed Hulu videos on WordPress. Sorry, you have to click to see this great SNL sketch.
Worst part: Describing Lifetime as “television for white women.” Uh, have you seen “Sins of the Mother“? And how could you miss that Lifetime is remaking Steel Magnolias with an all-black cast? (To be fair, if you have diabetes you are probably black or Southern, so that makes sense.)
Best part: “She named the baby Tanya.” “Yes.”That is a perfect description of movies like Sins of the Mother, The Pregnancy Pact, and Fifteen and Pregnant where the physical act of giving birth turns a little girl lost into a strong and forceful mother who puts family first.Makes me want to puke.
Invisible Child September 20, 2011Posted by Rusty in Uncategorized.
Wow, five weeks since our last post. Even in the bad times, that’s a pretty bad stretch of inactivity. Truth be told, the inactivity was especially unplanned. I started watching Invisible Child two weeks ago. But I couldn’t finish it. It’s not just bad, it’s a special kind of bad. Drop Dead Fred bad. Awkward. Not good awkward. Bad awkward. Just a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach for two hours.
So now that I’ve set the stage, let’s do this:
We meet Annie Beeman posting a help wanted ad at the local college for a nanny. She has three kids and needs some extra help.
A British student, not Louise Woodward, just shows up at the Beeman house a few days later and asks for the job. That’s right, our nanny, Gillian, just appears at this house looking for work. Shows initiative, I suppose.
But lest you think Gillian is a nutso, wait until you meet the Beemans. The architect dad, Tim, has no idea that his wife was looking to hire a nanny. Oh, and one of their kids doesn’t exist. Not even a little bit. This isn’t a “pretend the dead kid is still alive” dealio, this kid is a straight-out invention courtesy of Mom. The husband and the precocious 10-year-old daughter (Her?*) play along for the sake of keeping the family together. The four-year-old son is convinced this fiction, Maggie, is real.
Gillian is way too comfortable with this and takes the job immediately. As in, she moves into their crazy home right away. The mom posted this position in secret a few days ago and they already have full nanny quarters? That is weird? And she immediately starts giving an invisible child a bath! What is going on here!?
So, not to skip ahead, but obviously the nanny is evil. OBVIOUSLY. None of this fazes her and she keeps doing weird things. Her only previous nanny experience is raising her siblings, but she refuses to discuss her family under any circumstances. And she keeps undermining the whole charade! She keeps giving the fake kid seconds on its food knowing that the 10-year-old (Her?**) is going to have to eat it (and it’s always vegetables, not, say, a hard boiled egg and mayonnaise packet***). And, then when the 10-year-old starts to crack, Gillian tries to get her to move to England with her! It’s as 10-year-old as the nose on plain’s face**** that the nanny is crazy!
**** You get what I’m doing here, right? I can stop. Please let me stop.
When the 10-year-old refuses to move spend Christmas in England with her nanny’s family, Gillian goes to a shrink who confirms the effed-upness of the situation. Next step: Social Services! Social services is very interested. Too interested? They start asking too many questions. Green card talk is bandied about. Gillian leaves. Probably because too many questions will reveal her background as a kidnapper, right?
It turns out the movie was playing it straight all along. Gillian is normal. Annie is crazy for some reason that is purported to be legitimate (it is not), so she isn’t looking to cause any problems. The husband just loves his wife so much that he won’t do anything to break the spell. The kids? Well, fuck the kids. They don’t have to deal with adult shit yet. So, if everything is so great, who’s the bad guy?
Social services. They are the bad guys. They show up at the Beeman’s with armed officers. They need to speak to the kids or they will be taken away! I am pretty sure this is not how that works, but, why not. The dad’s lawyer even confirms it.
Gillian admits to being the snitch, but because she is such a good nanny, the family (sans Crazy Mom) decides to work around it. They set up a meeting with social services and deny everything. Gillian even claims she never brought up an imaginary child to the county in the first place. The daughter even goes as far as to claim the imaginary child is like Martin Luther King: She isn’t alive, but she lives in our hearts. The black social service worker is very impressed. (In case this wasn’t clear, that was not a joke. There really is a black case worker who sympathizes with the Beemans once they mention MLK.)
Coaching a pre-teen to lie to the authorities works and they all high-five in the street. The mom is so inspired by her family and nanny working together to trick people dedicated to look out for the welfare of children that she pretends her fake daughter died of a fever in her sleep. THE END.
(What’s amazing about this ending is that there are all of these horrible scenes where the mom is pretending she has an extra daughter and it is so awkward. Hospitals, schools, the boardwalk, etc. But when she “dies,” fuck protocol. THEY BURY IT IN THE BACKYARD.)
I was intrigued when I thought that the nanny was evil. Once that went by the wayside, woof. I repeat, this movie took me three weeks to watch. It’s that bad.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 10
The Beeman Dad is the ultimate “that guy.” Ladies and gentlemen: Victor Garber. BOOM. Mid-level parts in Titanic, Legally Blonde, and Milk? Garber is in the That Guy Hall of Fame.
Annie is played by Rita Wilson. She is married to Tom Hanks. More importantly, she is in one of my favorite movies of all-time: Now and Then.
Obviously the daughter is Ann from Arrested Development. That was clear, yes?
Surprisingly un-Lifetimey! The demonization of local authorities is pretty spot on, but the movie is about a married young dude and a younger, suspicious nanny teaming up for something other than kidnapping or adultery. That’s nuts.
GRAND TOTAL: 15
Just watch the trailer. It tell you all you need to know and you can save yourself 98 minutes or so of misery.
Devil in the Flesh August 8, 2011Posted by Rusty in 0-12, devil in the flesh.
I may have been too hard on Magic Beyond Words. Sure, the movie was pointless and terrible. But at least I got through it in one sitting. That didn’t happen with Devil in the Flesh. This film was a slog.
A shame, too, since I was kind of excited for it. Rose McGowan stars in one of her patented bad slut roles from the late 90s. And, sure Jawbreaker was terrible (despite my persistent crush on Fern Mayo), but it was glorious schlock. It’s the kind of terrible that you find yourself watching at 2pm on a Saturday while you’re fighting a hangover. So Rose McGowan plus Lifetime should have been a formula for something even grander. Instead, woof.
The movie opens with a slow shot of Rose McGowan (Debbie) with some late-90s post-grunge blasting in the background. It’s dark. Suddenly there is an explosion. Firefighters rush to the scene and ask Debbie if there is anyone else in the house. She doesn’t answer.
We jump forward a few days later and Debbie is being sent to her grandmother’s after the death of her mom and stepdad. They died in an accidental fire, although the police are awfully suspicious when they find a huge knife in what used to be the living room…
Debbie’s grandmother is a real piece of work. She is extremely religious and makes Debbie clean out all sorts of garages and attics. She also attacks Debbie with her cane if she gets any sass mouth. And, of course, it wouldn’t be on Lifetime if the grandmother didn’t give one of the worst performances I’ve seen in the history of TV movies. This is just brutal.
Debbie is forced to go to a new school in a dowdy dress that goes all the way down to her knee! With no bare midriff! This is clearly a death sentence in the late-90s – I refer you to the unpopularity of the gorgeous Alyson Hannigan in the first two seasons of Buffy – because Debbie is immediately picked on by the tough guy jocks and the blonde queen bees. Right. That is a thing that would happen.
While being mercilessly picked on, Debbie watches a teacher, Mr. Rinaldi, challenge a jock to a basketball game over a grade. So we already know this teacher has boundary issues. He doesn’t have issues TAKING IT TO THE HOLE, so he wins the game. Debbie is smitten.
Debbie makes a fellow alternative friend named Jane (the official name for people who befriend outcasts on their first day at a new school) and they decide to go shopping. And by shopping I mean steal some clothes and drink champagne on the bed of a pickup truck.
Somewhere in there Debbie has a fever dream where she is greeted at her grandmother’s by the charred corpses of the people she murdered. It’s weird.
Now when Debbie goes to school she brings an alternate outfit to change into. It is basically underwear. Suddenly Debbie is popular! So popular that the head queen bee, Meegan becomes her arch-rival. (Yes, seriously, Meeee-gan.) Both have obvious crushes on Mr. Rinaldi and both volunteer to help at his annual garage sale with proceeds going towards the school’s art department. This angers Debbie so she pushes Meegan down some stairs and fractures her leg. Jane seems concerned.
Mr. Rinaldi has sex with his girlfriend and she reminds him they are going on vacation that weekend. Sorry, toots, but this garage sale is just too important! She goes without him and they are fighting.
So the garage sale is as inappropriate as you imagined. First, Debbie shows up at her teacher’s house in hot pants and some kind of devious combination of sports bra and bikini top. And Mr. Rinaldi kind of checks her out. It’s gross. He also allows her to walk in his house without supervision and answer his phone. All the dudes on the block buy shit from Debbie because of that sports bikini and they end up with a grand total of $170. DEFINITELY WORTH DITCHING YOUR GIRLFRIEND ON VACATION, RINALDI.
Debbie comes home to only to be confronted by her grandmother. Her grandma discovered her diary (complete with love poems and flower drawings) and is going to beat the wicked out of Debbie. But not so fast! Debbie defends herself, grabs the cane, and beats her grandma to death. She kills grandma’s dog too.
From here on out, Debbie just amps up her inappropriate behavior. Taking showers at Mr. Rinaldi’s, buying him flowers, stuff like that. At some point she tells a jock that she and Mr. Rinaldi are in love and he tries to sexually blackmail her with that information. Then he tries to rape her. So he gets impaled to death. She makes a lot of snide remarks while staring at his corpse and digging a hole in the backyard. It’s played for humor. It doesn’t work.
Here’s what I don’t get about this movie: Debbie is clearly an insane bunny boiler who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. She is a psychotic. But killing her grandmother and her rapist neighbor are heroic killings. They were both abusive and she was defending herself. So why does the movie do that? Who are we supposed to be rooting for? The psychotic avenger or the tattooed, basketball playing teacher with no sense of boundaries? It turns out to be the latter, but then why have every single one of Debbie’s murders be justified?
The coppers finally figure out that Debbie’s parents were murdered and they learn that Debbie has always been infatuated with teachers. When Debbie shows up at a restaurant where Mr. Rinaldi had a date, a fight breaks out. This is the final piece for the cops to figure out Debbie is evil? Somehow?
Debbie barricades herself in her house with a shotgun and shoots a cop. Mr. Rinaldi tries to talk Debbie into surrendering but instead we hear a gun shot. It appears that Debbie has killed herself. Anyone with a brain would know better. I don’t know why Jane was hanging out during a hostage situation, but Debbie shot her face off to fake her own death (VERY X-Files Season 5). Rinaldi figures this out on the drive home and rescues his girlfriend from Debbie’s clutches. But only after Debbie slits a cops’ throat and stabs Rinaldi a couple of times. Debbie gets arrested and that’s that.
Ugggggggh.This movie was directed by a guy who cut his teeth directing Billy Joel’s music videos. The man clearly has no taste. Everything about this was bad. Seriously. Everything. The two points are mostly inflationary since I’m sure I’ve seen worse. I just don’t remember when.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 6
Rose McGowan isn’t nearly as famous as you’d think. After Jawbreaker and before Grindhouse, the woman was in nothing. But Death Proof is so good that I’m ok with not penalizing her too much.
It was also fun to see a Twin Peaks alum (Nadine/Super-Nadine) as the principal and a Seinfeld alum (Jackie Chiles) as a no-nonsense cop.
Only points come from an understanding minority police officer. The antagonist is a woman. (I think? Again, I never figured out the good guy here.) And even though she is physically attacking a woman, she is stalking and harassing a man. And that man wasn’t pulling a Fatal Attraction. He never slept with Debbie. He never led her on. He may have behaved inappropriately, but certainly not so badly as to earn getting stabbed twice.
How did this get on Lifetime?
GRAND TOTAL: 10
Never watch this. It left me with face:
Magic Beyond Words July 25, 2011Posted by Rusty in Uncategorized.
I have always been and continue to be a contrarian asshole. This is not a news flash to anyone who has made my acquaintance. But like Jules in Pulp Fiction, I’m trying. I’m trying real hard. I want to be a better man (mostly so I can bang the chick from the song, Better Man). I recently made a huge step in my path towards not being so unpleasant: I started reading Harry Potter.
Harry Potter came out when I was 14. Really the perfect age for a boy to avoid Harry Potter. I was reading Stephen King (scary clowns! swear words!) and Kurt Vonnegut (he sees right through the bullshit, man). A book about an 11-year-old British wizard? I knew even then not to use the word “gay” in a derogatory manner, but that is the gayest shit I had ever heard.
I watched Harry Potter become more and more popular and soon enough a new book coming out was a national event. Because I’m an asshole I ruined a character’s death from the sixth book and had “Hermoine dies” as my status message 48 hours before the final book was released in 2007. I don’t know why I treated Potter fans so scornfully, but I did.
Now I’m an old man. Twenty-eight. That means I work with people who are between the ages of 23 and 26. Jesus Christ, they LOVE Harry Potter. And I would never say this to their face, but they’re all nice, kind, intelligent, quick-witted people who are a pleasure to work with. So I convinced myself that I missed out. A friend lent me the first Harry Potter and I started it a few days ago.
It’s awesome. It’s so good. It’s not perfect (it is a kid’s book for Christ’s sake), but I am very happy and, frankly, excited to enter into this world.
So why five paragraphs of me (figuratively)(you hope) jerking myself off over my life story? Because I just watched a movie where a woman writes, has her mom die, and then writes some more. Then she becomes famous. I can’t imagine anyone other than a typewriter fetishist enjoying Magic Beyond Words. Not a lot of noteworthy stuff happens, and I have to write about something, amiright?
So let’s hammer out some notes on the movie:
1. JK Rowling is unpopular in high school. This makes no sense. She is slender and has a rich girl rack (a big B, think Paltrow and Lively). Her accent is sing-songy and she is obviously brilliant. Still, she is picked on by the Queen Bees of her school. But the Queen Bees are all brunette, overweight, have split ends, and speak in a Cockney accent. Um, the reason Queen Bees have power is because everyone wants to fuck them. There is no school in the entire world where the gorgeous blonde (and I prefer brunettes!) would be lower than these bullies on the social ladder. It’s ridiculous.
But still worth it to see Rowling get beaten down in a hallway.
2. Rowling meets a boy in Portugal and she catches him going through her stuff. His defense: “I am falling in love with you.” Relationship escalates.
Rowling catches boy in Portugal cheating on her His defense: “Marry me.” They get married.
I know Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature, not the Nobel Prize for Good Decision Making, but for a supposedly brilliant person, what the fuck, JK Rowling?
3. Rowling ditches Portuguese husband after he gets abusive. She moves to England and applies for benefits. She protests she can’t live on 69 pounds a week. The caseworker’s response: “You should have thought about that before you left your husband.”
My job is signing people up for benefits, so I pay attention to how these things are portrayed in media. I am happy that the movie goes of its way to make receiving benefits look honorable. But no caseworker in their right mind would ever, ever say that to a woman coming out of an abusive relationship. Has it happened before in the history of time? Yeah, maybe. Probably. But, no.
4. So JK Rowling is apartment hunting and she finds a place that costs 300 pounds a month. She needs to provide an employment history to prove she can afford the place. Obviously that’s a problem. But the landlord lets her stay anyways because “it’s clear you love your daughter.” Wait, what? She makes 297 pounds a month. The place costs 300. But you’ve known this lady for five minutes, so she is obviously Parent of the Year. Another no.
5. The movie ends with a big Harry Potter movie premiere. Rowling leaves and thinks about her life and her (dead) mother. She looks at her own daughter and starts reading to her. Because no matter how successful you are, your worth as a woman is defined by your mothering abilities.
Not the worst thing in the world, just boring. It’s a story of nothing with occasional Sorcerer’s Stone references sprinkled about to keep the Harry Potter nerds in line. “Oh my God, that page says “The Sorting Hat.” This is where she wrote about the sorting! A talking hat! How droll! How whimsical!”
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 0
Nope. Didn’t recognize a single name or a single face. I think this is the first “0” ever.
I don’t know all the details of JK Rowling’s personal life. So maybe this was accurate, but the way her first husband is portrayed is fantastic. It’s like Lifetime panicked that there were no men in the movie and someone had to be the bad guy. Not just bad. Adulterous and abusive. Evil. Welcome to Lifetime!
Sort of off-topic, but I do think it’s awesome that she made it big while living off of the system. That is what the system is around for. I also love that she’s repaid the favor by supporting high taxes for the social safety net and not being a tax exile asshole like Bono or (I’m sorry) Freddie Mercury.
GRAND TOTAL: 13
Woof. I hope Ms. Rowling isn’t offended. She should know that even if her life story is whack, her first book is amazing.