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Dying to Belong April 4, 2011

Posted by Rusty in 25-29, dying to belong.

So know that we have this Lifetime, Wow Facebook page, I can put faces and names to people who might read our humble website. We get a lot of collegians and former collegians. Any Greeks out there? Because I am going to make fun of sororities now. Please do not be offended.

Dying to Belong opens with a bunch of ladies in robes waking up a lady and dragging her out of her dorm room. Sorority hazing! The pledge isn’t taking this very light form of hazing very well. To be fair, she didn’t get to bring along her asthma medication and is having trouble breathing. Haha, what a nerd sorority. Asthmatics are nerds!

This movie is a bit ridiculous

The pledge freaks out enough to get kicked out of the sorority van and she is hit by a truck while walking back to campus.

One year later! Lisa Connors pulls into a college parking lot in her mom’s vintage Mercedes convertible. Oh, great. Rich people problems are always so compelling! Lisa’s mom was in some fancy shmancy sorority and really wants Lisa to pledge.

Oh, freshman year of college. A wonderful time to meet new people from different backgrounds.  Horizons are broadened and we develop relationships with people from outside our comfort zones. Unless you drove up to school in a Mercedes convertible. Then eff that noise. Lisa is horrified to find out that her college-assigned roommate listens to punk music. And – AND! – she has BLUE HAIR! Oh my stars!

While in line at registration, Lisa meets Shelby. Shelby’s hair is flat, but it isn’t blue. Therefore she would make the perfect roommate! Lisa kicks Blue Hair out of their room and Shelby moves in.

Hey, a gratuitous shot of Shelby changing. Neat! But, oh man, 90s jeans. Shame on you 90s people. Why do people’s jeans go up to their bellybuttons? Who made that decision?

Lisa isn’t just a sorority type though. She also has a brain! She was editor of her high school newspaper and the college paper beckons her. Her persistence lands her a job. Her student editor is a muckraking junior who despises Greek life and is convinced that a sorority killed a girl hazing last year and that the university was complicit in a cover-up. He is also very handsome.

So the first time we see this editor, Steven Tyler (SERIOUSLY!?), the movie has “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins playing in the background. And that’s fine. I truly love that song. But then the second time we see Steven, guess what song is playing in the background? And a third time? You know it!

Steven and Lisa go on a date to see Carl Bernstein speak. In a line that I found truly funny, Steven complains that Bernstein “hardly even mentions Woodward anymore.” And then there is some ice cream and making out.

So Shelby and Lisa are rushing Pi Beta and with Lisa as a legacy and Shelby connected to Lisa at the hip, the two of ’em are pretty much shoo-ins. During one kegger outside, Lisa gets to challenged to some rope-tow drinking contest. The rules: Pull yourself up the mountain, drink a shot, then get back down the mountain. And it’s a race. And “anything goes.”

Lisa wins! She and a sister literally get into a brawl halfway down the mountain, but Lisa rolls down first. The losing competitor is given the nemesis treatment but we really don’t see her for the rest of the movie except in the background. So, that was a fun ten minutes we all just wasted together.

So now Lisa and Shelby are pledges and that means Hell Week. Oh noes! Shelby and Lisa have to clean the kitchen floor with toothbrushes. And then they have to prance around in their hilariously high waisted underwear while the sisters circle all the flaws on their body. Shelby, who has proven to be very stoic about Hell Week, totally cracks. She remains standing in place as everyone draws circles on her and starts shaking and bawling. It was so funny that I could feel tingling in my extremities.

There are Six reasons why I love this picture

This is too much for Lisa. Her grades are slipping. She got kicked off of the newspaper staff for shoddy work, and now her friend’s humiliation is the last straw. Who cares if she pierced her finger and bled on a white rose while vowing to fight for her new family? She is OUT!

Next haze is the old hang a banner from some clock tower. Shelby falls to her death and has a bunch of blood and brain goo coming out of her ears.

The sorority’s official story is that Shelby went up to the tower by herself all drunk and whatnot. We know that she wasn’t really drinking and we also know that a bunch of the older sisters were with her on the tower. The sorority learns a valuable lesson about lies that are very easy to disprove. When there’s no alcohol in Shelby’s blood/brain goo, attention turns to the sisters.

Meanwhile, Steven finds the girl who was “hit by a truck” at the very beginning. Showing exceptional journalism skills, Steven finds a student with – wait for it – an UNLISTED NUMBER! Clearly this person was hazed and assaulted!

Steven and Lisa visit the girl who it turns out was only almost hit by a car. But she got PTSD or something and had to drop out of college? And the school dean (a woman with an all-time mullet) cut her a check to buy her silence?

Steven tries writing a story about this but for his trouble the school has him fired from the paper. Steven goes on some First Amendment rant, but for such a smart guy you’d think he’d be more aware of the Hazlewood case. Oh, and some frat boys beat him up. That happens too.

Lisa goes back to the sorority house to plead her case and she runs into some obstacles. The frat boys threaten her with sexual violence and the girls plant weed in her car. Because she is wealthy, Lisa gets by with only a warning. But Lisa’s mom is really on the warpath going as far as to accuse Lisa of making up her sorority hazing accusations and demanding she go into rehab for her marijuana addiction (haha).

Eventually Lisa is straight up kidnapped and thrown into a frozen river. Steven finds her by – I shit you not – driving around randomly honking his horn. Thankfully that works and Lisa is found unmurdered. Also, the soundtrack is no playing a country song written for the movie called “Dying to Belong.” I miss Ms. Hawkins.

You’ll never believe this, but this movie’s ending makes no sense. Lisa confronts the sorority with proof of the asthmatic cover-up and the girls admit they were with Shelby when she fell. Shelby wasn’t pushed or anything like that. And peer pressure isn’t really a crime so the sorority is guilty of some minor hazing and maybe trespassing? Anyways the sorority president and vice-president acknowledge that things got out of control.

Flash forward to a press conference where the dean admits two sisters came forward and the sorority was being shut down. The End. So, the bad guys turned themselves in? That seems unlikely.


The first half of the movie was a lot better than the second half. once Shelby bit it, the rest of the movie devolved into really shitty things happening to sort of unsympathetic characters. Threatened rape, assault, drug arrests, kidnapping, ATTEMPTED MURDER… That stuff got old. And it wasn’t really that fun or enjoyable.

Not like Shelby crying on a table in her ugly underwear. I could watch that on loop for hours.

HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 1,000,000

Ok, a movie can only earn ten points in this category, but if this were on a million point scale, it would earn the million.

Lisa was played by two time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank. Steven was played by Zach from Saved by the Bell. The most villainous sorority sister was played by Sarah Chalke from Scrubs and Roseanne. The perfect-10 was a shoo-in. But, my goodness gracious, is that a Jenna von Oy sighting? It is! Shelby was played by Six from Blossom! Perfect!

I kind of hate how it’s like a thing where people debate whether Hilary Swank is attractive or not. The Office (one of the few shows to get booted from my DVR…and I DVR Perfect Couples) devoted an entire B-plot to whether Ms. Swank was attractive. Well, she is a famous actress so she is obviously a knockout. They rarely let people star in movies if they are not gorgeous.

Basically, what I am saying is, she can come inside my jungle book anytime.


It was melodramatic enough. But, the bad guys: sorority sisters, mom, female dean. Allies: boyfriend. That isn’t right. There are no sympathetic female characters besides the protagonist!


Isn’t it insane that Hilary Swank has two Oscars? Her career had peaked by the time this movie came out. She wasn’t some up-and-comer when this movie came out. She was reduced to this! And then, one indie movie later, BAM. So keep your chin up, Hayden Panettiere!


1. Kim - April 6, 2011

This is tied with “Death of a Cheerleader” for my ALL TIME FAVORITE LIFETIME MOVIE EVER IN LIFE(TIME?)

I don’t know what it was with these movies, but the “Dying to Belong” song sounds EXACTLY like the “No One Would Tell” song. If I would’ve known that it was possible to have a career writing terribly shitty music with Lifetime movies in the title, that obviously would have been my major in college.

Also, in the interest of disclosure, I’m a former sorority girl, and pretty much every sorority girl I know is in pink puffy heart love with this movie. So glad it was finally reviewed!

2. lorrie - April 8, 2011

holy crap, what a score. anything with mark-paul is something i have to see, especially coupled with sarah chalke being evil rather than cutesy.

3. hrh king friday xiii, ret. - April 14, 2011

My biggest problem with this movie seems to be the flashback sequence. Girl #1 got hit by a bus while walking back to campus but didn’t actually die. Clearly a sorority-wide cover up was necessary here to protect… who exactly? None of these girls had a rich daddy lawyers that could argue the liability was, oh I dont know, the truck driver’s?

4. http://www.5z5.com/Directory/Science/Academic - May 3, 2012

Men reason to strengthen their own prejudices, and not to disturb their adversary”s convictions….

The tender passion is much overrated by the poets. They have their living to earn, poor fellows….

5. allison lyons - August 18, 2013

What is the name of the song in this movie that actually says “dying to belong” in the song? It’s played in two different clips, I can’t find it, it’s my a male, kinda relaxing:calm sounding. Help me find this song please! It’s a great movie and freat song!

6. gimmeshelter2013 - September 22, 2013

Great review! I agree with the ending it was like “Yeah. We did this bad stuff. But we promise not ever do it again.”

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