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No Ordinary Baby February 18, 2011

Posted by H$ in 20-24, H$, no ordinary baby.

Another week, another late review. Why does H$ lie about when the blogs will go up? Is it because she’s a flaky, deceitful shrew?

Well, yes, but that’s not the only reason.

Official programming note: H$ is packing up her shit and moving to Baltimore!

Isn't he the mayor, or something?

Yes, Baltimore, land of crabcakes and crystal meth. Due to a tight timeline with my new job, I have just about a month to relocate to a city I only know from John Waters films. I will post when I can, but please expect delays as I cram my entire life into a UHaul and schlep it to the East Coast.

Anyway, on to the movie. No Ordinary Baby is one of those disappointing Lifetime movies with an awesome premise and a boring execution. I mean, clones! Baby intrigue! Mad science! Should have been amazing. Unfortunately for us, the cloning aspect is pretty straightforward and the focus is more on mommy issues and the oppressive weight of the paparazzi.

The movie starts with Dr. Gordon, a reproductive health specialist who is all about making babies happen through science, or making science happen through babies. She gets do a little of both when she implants a healthy cell from a dead child’s cornea into a zygote, which produces a cute lil’ cloned fetus for the Hytner family. The cloned fetus, who is named “Amy”, has about 9 months to kill in the womb before anyone plans on releasing any information on her existence. Unfortunately for Dr. Gordon and the happy family, a nurse at the Rerproductive Health Center (could the name be anymore generic?!) thinks that Dr. Gordon has cloned a fetus by peeing in the face of God. She decides to release the deets to the media in order to, uh…just be a dick about the whole thing, I guess. Her motives aren’t really explicable besides “BOO CLONES,  YAY TV”.

The reporter who gets the news is Linda St. Clair, a woman who favors trashy journalism and Hillary Clinton pantsuits over substance and style. When we first meet her, she’s editing footage of rats into her restaurant reporting and bemoaning her inability to find a great story. Good thing Nurse Ex Machina gets her number out of the yellow pages. Linda gets the documents, cutie-pies a hunky doctor into reading them for her (gag), and confront Dr. Gordon with the evidence.

This is the part of the movie where we get to know Dr. Logan, who may be my favorite bit player in any Lifetime movie ever. Dr Logan is a Russian doctor who loves cloning and babies and has no time for your bullshit. When Dr. Gordon runs over to let him know the story is going to leak, he gleefuly asks if they’ll get their Nobel Prizes in the slammer. When a review board member asks why they used their own funding to pay for the research, he asks what kook or cult he should have approached for funding. When Linda chases him into a bathroom looking for a quote, he dries his hands on her jacket and calls her a parasite. This dude is my hero. If him and Petrocelli from The Bad Son starred in a procedural drama, I’d run it’s fan club.

Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell, the story leaks and Drs Gordon and Logan end up in deep shit. They lose their funding and are hounded by Jesus freaks at every turn. The Hytners are able to keep their identities safe for a while, but eventually Linda starts hounding them too. Linda is all about the story, which is soon picked up by Network Dan for his News Hour. In case you were curious, Network Dan is not a pimp, but a thinly-veiled caricature of Dan Rather. Why does this movie insist on having Dan Rather in it? Who knows, but Linda is all up on his jock 24-7 and wants network play, so she’ll get the story…at any price.

Actually, nothing that bad happens. Dr. Gordon and Dr. Logan have a press conference where they call everyone who doesn’t like cloning a big pack of pussies and say they’ll  continue their research forever. You go, girls! The press gets a little harsh on Dr. Gordon, who has a sad little scene where her diabetic son asks if she would have bothered keep a kid with diabetes if she could have bred a superchild instead. Dr. Gordon is too polite to say what I would have, which is that if  I could custom breed children  they’d all have gills and breathe fire and protect my underground fort. So she gives hi a hug and tells him all kids are precious, forever, and he is a special little snowflake of love. Whoo-hoo.


In the meantime, the press is also getting to the Hytner family. The Hytners are a middle-class, middle-aged couple who chose to clone their previous child because they were too old to conceive and wanted a child that was exactly like the one who died in a car accident. Seems healthy. Tired of being demonized as monsters and egotists to a world that doesn’t know who they are, Mr. Hytner approaches Linda to tell their story. At first Linda is all “ew, cloney” but then she hears the story about the dead kid and softens up because her husband died of cancer and she understands what it is like to want to bring back someone you’ve lost. I can’t really diss this subplot, because can’t fault a Lifetime movie for being emotional and sentimental any more then I can fault a duck for quacking.

The story runs on Network Dan’s Funtime News Variety Hour, and instead of short-circuting the paparazzi it intensifies their focus by revealing where the Hytners are hiding out and what they look like. A bomb threat at the hospital where Mrs. Hytner is staying frightens her into premature labor. Amy is born early that morning, and appears healthy and relatively cute for a newborn. However, she soon develops respiratory problems and goes into an incubator. In the meantime, the press continues to hound the Hytners, haunting the lobby of the hospital and sneaking a hidden camera into a “congratulations” bouquet. In the climax of the film, a tearful Dr. Gordon addresses the paparazzi to inform them that baby Amy died of respiratory failure, it wasn’t because of her cloniness, and everyone should just go the hell home already. A weepy Linda shares this news with the world via camera, and the media circus grinds to a halt.

Or does it? (It doesn’t.) Cut to one year later, and Network Dan Riley is asking Linda to track down the Hytners for an baby death anniversary interview. Man, the press are jackals, huh? Linda women’s-intuitions her way to a cabin in the woods, where she thinks the Hytners may be hiding out to avoid the press. Surprise surprise- a very alive baby Amy is celebrating her 1st birthday. Turns out they faked the crib death scenario to get Linda off their back. Dr. Gordon, who apparently follows this family everywhere they go, confronts Linda and begs her not to tell. Linda replies that Dr. Gordon was kind of a bitch about the whole thing and that she should have trusted her not to spread the news. This would be a more compelling argument if she had not followed a blind tip into the middle of nowhere to ask the Hytners how they felt about their dead clone baby for a national news network. Blah blah blah, Linda keeps their secret, good for her. The end

Awesomeness: 10

The DVD cover is misleadingly awesome.

I actually want to applaud this movie for doing something I didn’t expect: it was pro-science, pro-cloning, and pro-women all the way. Linda is a shitty person, but Dr. Gordon is a science hero who sees cloning technology and gene therapy as a way to help parent have healthy, happy kids. She’s an accomplished doctor that is competent, smart, and dedicated to her patients. When a crackpot on the street approaches her about using her science for eugenics, she shuts him (and critics of the film’s premise) down with logic and tact. OK, she’s kind of a distracted parent, but who the hell isn’t in a Lifetime movie? The thesis of the film seems to be that medical science and reproductive health are A-OK things for ladies to enjoy and pursue, and that people who are scared of science are a bunch of assholes. I agree with both of those ideas, so I appreciate this movie for that. However, it was also boring and treacley. A lot of things happened in this movie that I did not bother to talk about, simply because they were too dull to be funny. So 10 points for message and Dr. Logan’s awesome hand-wiping trick, but 0 points for anything else.

Star Power: 8

Man, remember when Bridget Fonda was famous? That was weird. You’ll also recognize Mary Beth Hurt as Dr. Gordon and Mrs. Hytner as George Costanza’s girlfriend from a season 3 episode of Seinfeld. None of these people are currently famous, so a full 10 points would be unwarranted, but 8 seems fair.

Lifetimeliness: 5

I’m cutting it in half because there were positive female role models and reproductive freedom was tacitly approved of. However, motherhood made cloning OK. That’s gotta be worth 5 points.

23 seems right.  Dont waste your time on this one unless you really miss Bridget Fonda. Rusty’s up next with that Amanda Knox thing. Should be worth a read!


1. Norman Greene - February 19, 2011

Lifetime should stay away from the “moral ethics of science!” movies. It’s not what they do well. And I wonder if the audience is left scratching their heads– get back to the teen sex, anorexia, and murder!

Monday is the Amanda Knox movie. I have a reason to live!

2. The Crusher - February 20, 2011

I love that Network Dan is what they actually refer to him as in-story. I only wish we had seen him do a newscast.

3. hrh king friday xiii, ret. - February 22, 2011

Man, cloning your dead baby sounds like a lot of work. They shoulda just gone to Pet Cemetery.

H$ - February 22, 2011

Yeah, Gage was OK! He was a little spirited, sure, but it’s good when a kid is curious. It’s just less good when that curiosity involves a scalpel.

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