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Safe Harbor 2: Safer Harbor June 22, 2011

Posted by H$ in 13-16, H$, safe harbor 2: safer harbor.
12 comments

This could not look more like the cover of a crappy, generic first-person shooter.

Did you know that there are actually TWO Lifetime movies named Safe Harbor? And that I have watched them both? I actually asked Rusty if he’d reviewed Safe Harbor before because it sounded familiar. If you’d like to read the first Safe Harbor review and find out how volunteering will get you murdered by street gangs, it’s right here. For the sake of simplicity, I will be referring to the movie below as “Safe Harbor 2: Safer Harbor”.

So. Safe Harbor 2: Safer Harbor is the story of Carly Segan, a tough lady cop who of course has a heart of boring, boring gold. Just once, I’d love to see a TV movie where the lady cop is a lying scumbag that sells crack to high schoolers. The movie kicks off with her and her walrus-faced partner Joe busting into a beat-up looking house to take down a wanted man. There’s some Three Stooge antics where Tracey ineffectively windmills at the brick shithouse of a fugitive and gets dunked in a bathtub, but she gets the upper-hand in the end. The big fella goes to jail, and Tracey gives his family a manilla envelope full of her own money so they can take a bus home. Joe good-naturedly ribs her for being softhearted, and then asks her over to dinner with the caveat that his sister would try to set her up with his cousin. “The landscaper?” she asks. “Landscaper?” he spits. “HE MOWS LAWNS.” Um, isn’t that kind of a landscaping thing, and maybe not deserving of that level of sheer contempt? She says she’s OK being single and she can take care of herself. He replies (and I swear to God this is in the movie): “When God created partners, he created them for one reason: to watch each other’s backs.” Adam and Eve, Jesus and Paul, Starsky and Hutch. Joe isn’t good for much, but he definitely brings it in the arena of non sequiters.

Things get crazy when someone finds a dead body next to Safe Harbor: a mansion that, inexplicably, is also a foster home. Someone painted a spooky devil face on the wall next to the body, so it’s obviously Satanists. There’s a gross conversation where they try to determine whether the woman was raped or otherwise assaulted, but decide that they can’t find anything conclusive because the leaves on top of her would “absorb the evidence”. Gross. But a valuable lesson to all of your aspiring defilers of life: you can do anything you want to anyone, as long as you kill them and cover them with leaves immediately afterward. They approach the staff of the home and ask to see their records on the kids to look for suspicious characters. The foster care staff says no, so they shrug and leave. So these cops don’t know how warrants work, and also think that leaves remove DNA evidence from bodies. Did anyone train these assholes? It’s a miracle that Joe manages to holster his gun without shooting himself in the fucking leg every morning.

I’ll give Casey a pass, since she’s a bit distracted. Going to Safe Harbor is difficult for her because she actually stayed there as a wayward youth, and has a close relationship with Olivia, the owner. Casey’s dad beat her mom to death in front of her and then went to jail forever, so she was basically orphaned and traumatized in one go. Safe Harbor provided a…hey, wait a minute.

I see what you did there, movie.

I like this shot of the devil face kind of playfully peeking over the police car. He's all "Gotcha!"

Anyway, Casey enjoys the chance to reconnect to Olivia, and they catch up on old times. Olivia is also thrilled to reintroduce Casey to her son Sam, who is a baller investment banker and a total creep. Through a series of contrived events, Casey and Joe end up working security for a fancy party at the mansion, which allows her and Sam plenty of time to catch up. Their flirtation is mercifully cut short when yet another lady is found murdered outside. This party is so exclusive, people are DYING to get in!

No Tales from the Crypt fans out there? Really? Fine, whatever.

After the party, Casey decides to do what she should have done all along and starts Googling Satan. Instead of a plethora of disturbing pornography, she finds that the spookyboo devil face is actually the invention of a local artist who applied to the Safe Harbor art fund for a grant (?!). They go and yell at him for drawing spooky faces for a while, until they come to the very obvious conclusion that someone ripped this demon lovin’ sonofagun off. This places the blame square on Julia, an assistant administrator at Safe Harbor who handles the grant applications. Also pertinent: she accidentally hired a child molester, protected him for two months, and then fired him when Olivia found out. Some looking into Julia’s past reveals that she has a bit of a sordid history, including some substance abuse issues and working as a stripper. As Joe puts it: “She ain’t daisy fresh.” Which is ironic, as Daisy Fresh would be a great name for a stripper. Casey’s female intuition tells her that there’s more to this stripper/molester superteam then meets the eye, and the investigation begins.

In the meantime, Casey and Sam manage to go on a date. Casey is late, so she and Sam miss their dinner reservation. He escorts her to a hot dog cart, which I guess the movie thinks is cute but I think would gross out anyone who has ever seen a hot dog cart vendor in action. Also, he’s supposed to be super-rich, so why not just go to another restaurant? It’s fishy. Casey, you don’t need no scrubs, girl. Also fishy is Sam’s willingness to let her walk home alone to her apartment through the shady hot-dog vendor district. Predictably, the murderer assaults her, and begins to choke her to death. Then he, uh…just stops doing that, and runs away. Casey claims it’s because the murderer (who is coincidentally built just like Sam) yelled and scared him off. Hands up, who thinks that Sam is the murderer?

If you didn’t raise your hand, get ready for the PLOT TWIST OF A LIFE TIME. Also, you are dumb.

Hey baby. I got a bunch of these Yankee Candles to accentuate our lovemaking. I hope you like New Car scent.

Olivia is found dead next to a spookyboo face on the foster home’s big-ass veranda. This leads to Sam having a big baby breakdown and scoring some creepy Lifetime sex from Casey. After the booty call, Casey re-pants herself in time to help question Julia and learn that the majority of the home’s residents eventually fell into lives of crime and poverty. The child molester was blackmailing Olivia to keep this information a secret. Casey doesn’t cotton to this bullshit, and tracks him down in his trashy Chinatown apartment and nails his ass to the wall. Actually, to be more specific, she shoots his ass. The movie has another half an hour to go, but it still thinks that it has tricked us into thinking that she got the killer. Whatever, movie. We aren’t idiots, except for the people who raised their hands a paragraph ago.

Casey’s boss is not cool with the fact that she shot some random dude without a warrant or cause, so she’s put on “administrative duty”. This gets her back to what she does best: hitting the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google homepage until it provides her with justification to go rough somebody up. This time, it turns up the fact that her new hubby Sam is actually broke. A secret meeting with Julia confirms this, along with the fact that shortly before she was killed Olivia re-wrote her will to ensure that Safe Harbor would inherit her millions of dollars. Nice of her, but we can see why her primary next-of-kin was not 100% into this plan. Tracy goes and confronts Sam with her Google Search Results. We learn that the molester was never blackmailing his mom, it was just a ruse he concocted to get her off of his trail until he could get rid of the revised will and kill Olivia. She also drops the bombshell that she knows he’s been murdering the hell out of ladies for years, and somehow never got caught. Maybe someone taught him that leaf trick!

He dares her to kill him, she says “fuck you”, he says “no, you”, and then he goes to jail. In the last shot of the film, she’s sitting and reading to some kids at Safe Harbor. Fine by me, let’s see some credits already.

Awesomeness: 5

This movie was confusing and boring. I have no idea if the movie did a better job of explaining anything that I described above, because it completely failed to hold my attention despite it’s murderous wackiness. I got some laughs from the general ineptitude of the police and Joe’s nonsensical ramblings, but that’s all.

Star Power: 2

Eh. Casey was played by Carol Seaver from Growing Pains. Who the hell cares about Growing Pains still? Joe was played by somebody whose IMDB bio advises us to “catch him in the upcoming thriller White Noise, staring Michael Keaton”. I don’t know what’s sadder: the fact nobody cares enough about his IMDB page to update it, or the idea of living in a world where that phrase would be met with anything but derision.

 Lifetimeliness: 8

Pretty ovaries-to-the-wall here. You got your tough lady cops, you got your murdered ladies, you got your evil boyfriends. Minor point deduction for the fact that Tracy’s women’s intuition was flat out wrong about 5 or 6 times during the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply enjoyed watching her beat on people who did not deserve it, but that’s usually a role reserved for the inept male sidekick in these kinds of films.

So that’s a 15 for Safe Harbor 2: Safer Harbor. It’s a full 8 points lower then the other Safe Harbor film. I guess sequels rarely eclipse originals. God, Hulu has been a ghost town for good Lifetime stuff lately. How about some crazy murdery incest or something? I mean, damn.

Confessions of an American Bride April 19, 2011

Posted by H$ in 0-12, confessions of an american bride, H$.
10 comments

See how dumb she looks here? This is only a prelude.

Whatup! I did not expect that I would have much time to work on this blog once I moved to Baltimore, and for a while that was true. It took a week to get my cable switched on, for fucks sake. But now that I am settled and as comfortable as one can be thousands of miles away from all they know and love, I am getting bored. Most nights I sit in my quiet one-bedroom apartment and watch the hookers and the rats edge around the security lights in my alley. I drink a midnight mimosa, which is a can of diet Pepsi that I have drank enough of to pour in about an ounce of citrus vodka. I listen to the same Mountain Goats album over and over again (All Hail West Texas, if you’re curious) and wonder if I have irrevocably ruined my life in pursuit of my dreams.

But hey, my place has a washer/dryer in it, so that’s something.

Anyway, there is nothing that ameliorates loneliness more then a movie that makes you hate humanity in general, so I decided to watch a Lifetime movie in the romantic comedy genre. And hey, it worked! I had to watch “Confessions of an American Bride”, and it’s your fault, so fuck you.

OK, it isn’t your fault, but man what a shitty movie. Sam is a perky lady who wants to get married more then anything in the world. As a child, she’s so into the idea of getting married someday that she’s a bride for every trick-or-treat. This allows her to draw a fun word-picture about how “life is like trick-or-treating, and sometimes you have to take a stupid apple instead of candy, but your wedding is the day that you get everything in the world you really want!” This is a stupid metaphor for life, but a great metaphor for Sam. She cruises through life in a hypothetical princess dress, a beggar and a chooser, whining and obsessing over a hypothetical wedding that will never live up to her expectations but still fuels her self-centered idiocy. I’d love to say this all comes back to bite her in the ass, but it’s a Lifetime  movie, so no.

She’s also the most self-conscious, irritating Bridget Jones clone ever. She is utterly incapable of interacting with the world in any way that doesn’t smack of appletinis and snaps for her girlfriends. She’s constantly dropping science like “Dudes have porno, and ladies have wedding websites!” She works for some kind of consulting firm where they make up cereals, and her contribution is low-carb chocolatey cereal for ladies like her. Cause you know, ladies be eatin’ chocolate at breakfast, but ladies also be watchin’ their carb intake.  Everything she does is a cry for attention or a cutesy acknowledgment to her low self-esteem. There’s even a scene where Sam is eating some potato chips, stops, and apologizes to the camera for pigging out.

GODDAMNIT SAM. THIS IS YOUR MOVIE. EAT THE FUCKING CHIPS, WATCH A FUCKING PORNO WHERE SOMEONE GETS MARRIED OR SOMETHING, AND RELAX.
Sam finds a perfect punching bag in Ben Rosen, a dude she meets at a bar and is instantly smitten with. Ben is like the generic best friend of a better dude protagonist in a better movie. He’s affable and charming, but he lacks the charisma and character to be a protagonist in his own right. Since the movie can’t be arsed to give him much to do, he overcompensates with showy dramatic gestures of affection that are kind of unsettling. When he and Sam start dating,

Speaking of love themes: greatest love theme from any movie ever. Recognize.

she tells this lame pity party story about how nobody asked her to a dance. In response to that, he rents out a high school gym and plays a romantic love theme while they slow-dance. He also decorates the place with crepe paper and balloons and even handmade a banner for the whole affair. I guess the movie wants us to think this is cute, and it is to a point, but if you think about it for too long it gets seriously creepy. Why would you want to date someone who is so obsessed with you that he lavishly re-stages your most disappointing memories? And what the hell is wrong with someone who, in their thirties, is STILL obsessing about shit that happened to them in high school? Ben indulges Sam’s worst qualities with no restraint. So, of course, he asks her to marry him.

By the way, he does this be renting out a hotel room and luring her to it by saying he’s her boss and he wants to meet about a client. She shows up and he pops the question. Then he gets out the ‘cham and they presumably bang all day, or at least until late check-out. Sam complains about her job throughout the movie, but if I worked somewhere that was flexible enough to let me take the afternoon off with no warning to nasty up a hotel room, I’d shut up about it.

Later, we find Sam sitting at a desk, scrambling over her laptop and wedding magazines. Ben asks her to come to bed, and she basically calls him an idiot for not immediately beginning work on their wedding plans. Ladies and dudes sure have different priorities, right? It’s like they’re from different planets or something!

So, since this movie apparently takes place in 19th century goddamn Britannia, the kids don’t live together before they get engaged. Cue some wacky misunderstandings! Oh man, she wants an ANTIQUE CHEST, but he wants A MANLY FISHTANK! He wants A BIGSCREEN TV TO WATCH THE GAME, and she wants A GIANT-ASS PORTRAIT OF PRETTY FLOWERS! Golly, these gender collisions tap a rich, deep vein of hilarity.

Another rich vein of hilarity: racism! There is no more time-honored tradition in lazy entertainment than jokes at

Woody Allen: right about anti-semitism, wrong about so many other things.

another culture’s expense. Happily Ben is Jewish, or this movie would have really missed out on a golden opportunity to exploit come cultural stereotypes for cheap laughs. Ben’s mom is an overbearing, whiny monster who flips out because her son is willing to wed in a church and serve shellfish at the reception. You get the feeling that it’s supposed to be funny, but there’s an unsettling implication that maybe the screenwriter really thinks that all Jewish people are bundles of neurosis and spite. Mrs. Rosen would kill if she was the warm-up act before Springtime for Hitler, but she’s kind of out of place here. Anyway, Mrs. Rosen and Sam’s WASP-y excuse for a negligent mom butt heads at every turn, further compounding their stress and misery.

So their families hate each other and  her tampons are all up on his jock strap. What could the possible resolution to this be? Perhaps the reappearance of a college crush, who is put in the movie specifically to lead Sam astray. Fancypants Luke apparently needs some consulting from Sam’s firm, and admits he has a crush on her way back when. She’s all “oh goodness me” about it, and confides to her bridesmaid/girlfriends that she’s into him too. They’re all horrified, but seriously? If having a crush on someone that isn’t your significant other is so lifeshaking that you consider calling off your wedding over it, then your ass doesn’t need to be getting married. To anyone. Ever. Sam “accidently” kisses Luke and lies to her fiance about it, because hell, why not just make things worse.

The hideous mechanism of the movie lurches forward. Sam says Luke’s name during sex, which she plays off OK until he actually shows up at her house to ask about something or something. Ben is suspicious, and they go to pre-marital counseling. They are counseled not to get married, so good call there, counseling guys. They decide to part on amicable terms, and Sam is free to pursue Captain Hotstuff. Ben’s going to, I dunno, see the world or something.

You know where this is going, right? Sam goes on a date with Luke, and he turns out to be kind of a jerk. She also finds a video of Ben learning to waltz for their wedding, proof positive that he does care about all of her stupid girly bullshit. They have a dramatic meetup and re-fall in love. Then they get married. Some more stuff happens but oh my god I am not talking about this movie any more. I am done. DONE.

Awesomeness: 0
That’s right, 0. I dropped the goose egg on this sucker. There was nothing awesome about this movie on any scale. No objective awesome, no ironic awesome, no awesome whatsoever.

Star Power: 1
Shannon Elizabeth probably deserves a point because I knew her name before I watched the movie. Eddie McClintock is apparently NOT the name of a streetwise 20’s pool hustler, but is instead an actor who was in this film. The more you know.

Lifetimeliness: 10
And here’s the sweep. By simultaneously reinforcing every negative stereotype about women and weddings, and throwing in some xenophobia for good measure, this thing is a Roman orgy of Lifetime themes and plot points. But it isn’t the fun kind of orgy. More like one where everyone vomits and somebody dies.

11. I wouldn’t bother. I hated this so much that instead of linking to it, I am linking to the last episode of Parks and Rec. It restores the faith in love that this movie destroys. Cross your fingers that Hulu gets some better movies up soon.

Murder On Trial Is A Stupid Title For A Movie February 24, 2011

Posted by H$ in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

You are probably curious to know where our review of the Amanda Knox movie is. It’s not done yet, sorry. We’re working on a special double review and it’s taking us a minute. Our jobs are not as satisfying as this blog, but they do pay for the internet access, so sometimes they need to come first.

In the meantime, you can see our frantic liveblogging of the mess as it unfolded on our Facebook fanpage here. Rusty also tweeted some commentary here. If you’re feeling up to a challenge, read it while you watch the movie and guess what we were complaining about! You can also read our last reviews by clicking the “Reviews, Ratings and Etc” dropdown menu. Anything 30 and up is worth your time.

Optimistically, the new review will be up by tomorrow evening. Realistically, it’ll be Friday. Hold fast, true believers!

No Ordinary Baby February 18, 2011

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

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.

SHUT UP, DUCK. NOBODY CARES.

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!

Be Our Facebook Friend, Goddamnit February 14, 2011

Posted by H$ in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Just a quick note to let you know that some enterprising soul made us a Facebook fanpage. The reviews will automatically pop up on this page, and we may use it to annoy you every now and then with other nonsense as well. We are hilarious and we crave attention, so please validate our existence by clicking the link above. Happy valentines day!

Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story February 11, 2011

Posted by H$ in 25-29, H$, taken from me: the tiffany rubin story.
16 comments

You may be wondering why this review is late. Well, I’m a reproductive health care advocate, and we’ve been pretty damn busy this week. (Note: I do not work for Planned Parenthood, this was just a good summary of the issues involved.) If you want me on a regular update schedule, please call your elected representatives and tell them to get the hell up out of my legislative vagoo. Thank you.

Anyway, enough about my vagoo. Taken From Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story is a ripped-from-the-headlines melodrama about Tiffany Rubin’s son being kidnapped. It stars a manic Taraji P. Henson, and costars some guy from Lost, a bunch of stereotypical menacing Asians, and Jesus Christ.

(Sidenote: There will not be any Lost jokes in this review because I do not give ass one about Lost. Don’t watch it, don’t care. If there’s ever a bit player from an episode of Dr. Who, I’ll be all over it like a weeping angel on blinking companion. Nerd jokes over.)

The film kicks off with Tiffany and her new husband (who looks so much like a beefy Paul Rudd that it is frankly annoying) at some kind of church picnic. Hot topics of conversation include how much Tiffany’s ex Jeff sucks, and Tiffany’s continued failure to get her sinning butt into church. We also meet Tiffany’s mom, who is concerned about Jeff’s plans to take Tiffany’s son Kobe to Disneyworld. Tiffany reasonably points out that they have a custody agreement that allows Jeff to do that, but grandma doesn’t give a fuck about the law. What matters is motherhood, and Jesus, and foreshadowing. In that order.

Also, grandma’s real name is Belzora, so it’s possible that she is a wizard.  A wizard would have seen this coming a mile away.

Cut to the next day, and Jeff is ready to pick up Kobe. Jeff looks like a Korean Mac from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, right down to the slicked-back hair and leather jacket. There’s a weird scene where he leans down and says hello to his son in Korean, and his son respond in kind. The way the shot is framed and the music implies that something sinister is going down, which is weird because Jeff is Korean and it seems natural that he’d want to teach his son about his heritage. But surprise, this movie is kinda racist! Also, foreshadowing. Jeff tells Tiffany to get off his jock and not to call them on the road. I fee like that part is more sinister then the Korean language lesson, but Tiffany weirdly agrees. She gives her son a tearful goodbye, and the plot arc lurches forward.

We see the next few days of Tiffany’s lame, empty, son-less life. Tiff whiles her time away with teaching, cocktails, playing soccer in high heels, and getting teased by her husband about how badly she wants to talk to her son. Seriously, I don’t have kids, but if my son was on a roadtrip with his greasy deadbeat dad I’d chip him like a dog and track him via satellite. Tiffany is being pretty reasonable. That reasonableness bites her in the ass when she calls Jeff’s celly and he doesn’t pick up. She then calls the hotel where they’re supposed to be staying and of course they haven’t checked in. Tiff is suspicious enough to run over to Jeff’s building and bribe a super to let her into his apartment. Sure enough, the place is cleaned out and Jeff is gone.  Oh, snap! Maybe someone should have listened to magic grandma Belzora and the Jesus brigade.

Is he going to kidnap this kid, or eat him?

Tiffany goes to the police, who are hilariously rude and unhelpful. She explains the situation, and they’re just like ‘Whatever lady, it’s joint custody, nobody gives a damn if some dude stole your kid.’ Jerry Orbach would tear these guys a new asshole. Unruffled, Tiffany hacks into Jeff’s FriendZync account (another awesome LMN imaginary website!) by guessing his super-good password: “steelers”. If your ex-wife can get into your MySpace account, you suck at the internet. She finds a bunch of hoochie emails from hoochi-koochie internet ladies, including one that invites Jeff and Kobe to a sweet condo in Hawaii. Armed with this information, Tiff goes back to the police, who tell her she’s going to jail for stealing her ex-husband’s email. Really? Anyway, Tiff cries and screams at them for a while until the tough lady cop is revealed to be a tough MOM cop, so of course she’ll grudgingly help out.

The news is worse then Tiffany feared- Jeff and Kobe aren’t in Hawaii, but Korea! Jeff also filed a complaint with the police department about Tiffany being a sucky mom, which was apparently his excuse to flee. The police are pretty apologetic about not getting around to investigating things until Jeff had fled the country, but Tiff is unconsolable. She spends the next few scenes searching for answers, but of course there are none to be found. The state department is apologetic but honest about the fact that Korea is under no obligation to get involved with American custody disputes. She tries to hire some private detectives, but they all tell her that her chances aren’t great. Her best plan, in my opinion, is the one where she sets up a fake sexy lady account on FriendZync and propositions Jeff. Her friend puts on some fake boobs and smoothtalks him into almost revealing his address on a webcam chat. Unfortunately, Kobe’s adorable voice in the background makes Tiff come running at the computer and crying, which kind of blows the whole thing. Way to fuck up your plan, super-spy.

Tiff spends a lot of time crying and looking at discarded shoes and toys that are scattered around the house and yard. You know what? Kobe is kind of a slob. Tiff might be better off starting over with another kid who knows how to put his damn crayons away. Belzora disagrees with me, and urges Tif to get in touch with someone at her church who deals with missing kid cases. Tiff replies that everyone at her church is bullshit and she isn’t too happy with God at the moment, which is a fair point. WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW, BELZORA?!

Tiff eventually cracks and goes to see Mark, who is not just an amateur but the legit president of the American

Look who plays Mark! It's the guy from LOST! LOST, everybody! Remember LOST? LOST!

Association for Missing Children, a group that works to reunite kidnapped children with their legal guardians. Maybe if Belzora had mentioned this information along with the fact that he loves Jesus a ton, Tiff might have been more excited to speak with him. But golly, does this guy love Jesus! He says that faith is what keeps him going, and that any time you give money to a church sometimes it goes to people like him! Wink-nudge, folks at home. Sometimes it also goes to Chick Tracts though, so caveat emptor. Despite the mighty Jesus powers bestowed to him by faith, he says Tiffany’s case is impossible and that she should just give up. So much for faith. He encourages her to post Kobe’s information on an international teacher’s website to see if anyone spots him, and then scoots her out of the way so some more attainable lost kids can be serviced instead.

Tiff takes his advice, and is soon contacted by an American teacher named Simon who is working at the school Kobe attends. Here’s where the move gets racist- every shot of Korea is dimly lit, crowded, and gross, the school sucks, and every one there picks on Kobe because he’s an outsider. I’ve never been to a Korean school, but are they all little-kid versions of prisons? That seems off. Simon says that Korea is a bad place for Kobe and he should go home to the good ol’ USA. Tiff uses this info to convince missing kid guy to go with her to Korea and steal Kobe back. Tiff invites Belzora’s prayer group over and they have a sing-songy come to Jesus moment where Tiff is redeemed from, uh, not going to church I guess. They also read the parable of the prodigal son, which makes no sense whatsoever unless Kobe has another brother we haven’t seen yet in the film who resents the hell out of him. It’s from the Bible, though, so it must be relevant somehow.

This is every shot of Korea in the movie. Not pictured: joy.

The end of the movie is kind of like a fun spy movie. Tiff learns enough Korean to get around customs, and her and Mark take off for Korea. They land, make fun of Korean hotels for a while, then they go to bed. In the morning they put on goofy disguises and head to the school. Mark distracts the cop outside so Tiff can pick up Kobe. Tearful reunion, blah blah blah, everyone goes to the US Embassy so Tiff can get a passport for Kobe and get him out of the country. The customs lady, no doubt a tough customs lady mom, agrees to turn a blind eye to the whole reverse-kidnapping thing and makes a temporary passport. Wait, wasn’t a customs person not doing their job correctly a factor in the original kidnapping? Why do we even have customs officials if they’re just letting kids be whisked away to other countries all willy-nilly?

It wouldn’t be a real Lifetime movie without a final tearful confrontation. This happens when Jeff finds Tiff at the airport and demands custody of Kobe. Tiff isn’t impressed, calls him a dick, and hops a jet. Goodbye Korea, hello Brooklyn. USA! USA!

Awesomeness: 12

Real talk: I liked this movie. It dragged a little in the middle, but it was cheesy and fun. It toed the line between lurid tabloid flick and Lifetime movie pretty effectively, and was whack-a-doo enough that I got some laughs out of it too. I am knocking off 8 points for the movie’s contention that Jesus is the world’s best problem solver and Korea is gross and terrible, because I don’t like it when movies try and tell me what to do.

Star Power: 5

Taraji P. Henson is honestly awesome in this movie. She knows she’s in a campy melodrama and she plays it for all she’s worth. Not since A Little Thing Called Murder have I seen a lead actress so gleefully embrace such a ridiculous script. 4 points are for her, and 1 point is for the guy from Lost, since nobody will shut up about how this movie has a guy from Lost in it.

Lifetimeliness: 10

Uh, women’s intuition turned Tiffany Rubin into the goddamned Batman. I’d give it an 11 if I could.

27 seems fair. If this review made you want to watch this movie, you could kill your time in worse ways. Or you could wait until next week, when I’m going to tell you all about a movie where someone clones their dead baby.

Yeah, you heard me. What?

The Bad Son February 2, 2011

Posted by H$ in 30-36, H$, Uncategorized.
20 comments

I couldn't find a poster or trailer for The Bad Son. Eh, this is probably close enough.

Birthday week! Birthday week! Wait, if it’s birthday week, why do I have to watch a crappy movie? Shouldn’t someone watch it for me, and then send me a card with a nice summary and a $10 check I will never actually cash?

Well?

Huh. Look’s like it’s up to me. Luckily, The Bad Son was worth it. Here’s how we begin:

“You don’t beat, strangle, and burn the face off of a teenage girl just to kill her. Rage. The cause of death was rage.”

This line, uttered in the first 5 minutes of this unlikely joyride, made a promise. That promise was that this movie, a convoluted tale of a hardass mom-cop going head to head with the world’s dumbest serial killer and his mama Bates, was going to be vintage TV movie schlock. The movie went to great lengths to keep that promise, and I am here to thank it.

The movie starts with the discovery of a teenage girl’s corpse in the woods. The cops debate her cause of death for a while, and eventually land on rage. The cops in this movie are complete idiots, as we will learn very soon. For now, just remember that they found a dead teenager, decided rage killed her, and called it a day.

Next we’re introduced to Ronnie McAdams, the archetypal hard ass mom cop. When we meet her, she’s arguing with her teenaged daughter about whether it’s a good idea for the kid to drop out of school and move in with her boyfriend, a scummy tattoo artist. The daughter storms off, and Ronnie gets one second to sigh dramatically and stare out the window over the sink. Kids, am I right?

Seriously, am I? I own an old, incontinent dog. I don’t really get these mommy angst subplots.

Ronnie goes to work, where a distraught father has traveled across state lines to try and find his daughter. Ronnie is equal parts nurturing and badass as she coaxes the story out of him. His daughter Colleen was a runaway who fled to Seattle for…uh, some reason with her baby son in tow. When she arrived there she hooked up with her creepy fiance Finn and fell off the face of the Earth. Dad hasn’t heard from her in two weeks, and is understandably concerned. Ronnie agrees to take the case. Wait, are cops allowed to pick which cases they work on?

Being a super-great cop and all, Ronnie goes to question Finn. First we meet his uncle Jerry, a muttery slumlord that could not look more suspicious if his hands were constantly covered in blood and viscera. Next we meet Finn’s mom Frances, who apparently saw One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest at a formative age. She storms through the movie equal parts hostile bitch and controlling know it all, and you will constantly want to throw something at her. Mom’s iron curtain of icy rage doesn’t prevent Ronnie from getting to Finn, who’s pretty “aw, shucks” about his fiancee’s disappearance. Dipshit, you murdered her! Try to act concerned or something!

Felicia, you're doomed. Alyson Hannigan will probably be OK as long as she keeps up that trashy dye job. Seriously, she looks positively Snooki-esque these days.

Back at supercop HQ, Ronnie learns that Finn’s been investigated before. His previous fiance disappeared and died too. She looked the same too: petite, red-headed, sassy-

OH GOD! THE KILLER IS JOSS WHEDON! RUN, FELICIA DAY! RUN!

On the offchance that the killer is not Whedon and there’s still an investigation to do, Ronnie gets a partner. Detective Petrocelli (sp?) was on the case for the last murdered fiancee. While Finn was the main suspect on the fiancee murder, Petrocelli couldn’t make the charge stick, and Finn walked. Since then, he’s been obsessed with proving that Finn is a murderer. Petrocelli introduces himself to Ronnie by randomly bursting into her house while she’s fighting with her daughter. Petrocelli has about as much patience for subplots as I do, and immediately begins sharing gristly murder details with the feuding family. Ronnie tries to stay and talk to her daughter, but Petrocelli isn’t having it. The bratty kid picks up her suitcases and hauls ass, and Petrocelli spreads some dental records out on the table. I love this guy!

Further fuckery ensues when Ronnie bumps into Frances at work. See, Frances works for a magical department called “Master Information” or something, which means she can control all of the case file information for every criminal case ever. Natch, she’s been killing any files that involve her son. Frances also hates Petrocelli, referring to him as a “nosy Italian” and a drunk. This behavior would concern me, but Ronnie lets it go. Hey, why draw attention to your unstable racist co-worker whose directly connected to the murder case you’re investigating? Ronnie and Petrocelli discuss this development over the discovery of Colleen’s corpse. Time to kick it into gear, supercops, before Finn once again slips through your grasp!

Time for some backstory. Finn is a security guard at a bus station, a fact that the movie seems to think is a legitimate achievement as opposed the only career where you’re allowed to carry a taser and still receive minimum wage. He targets young runaways at bus stations and woos them with big dreams of basements for rent and 3rd shift jobs at the bus station coffee shop, and then they come home to meet Mom.  Frances HATES these girls, calling them trash and basically taunting Finn into killing them. Then the cycle starts anew.

Of everything this movie has asked us to swallow, the idea that a guard at a bus station is an unstoppable pussy magnet is definitely the most confusing. Murder, I buy. Crazy mom, I’m on board. But a woman going ‘Hooray! The security guard who works nights at the bus station wants me to move into his basement!” and immediately boning him in the back seat of his car? No, movie. I call shenanigans.

Ronnie decides to show off her mad sleuthing skills by questioning Finn’s new girlfriend, a young redhead named Rebecca who works at the Cinnabon at the bus station. Their ensuing verbal chess match is stunning to behold. Allow me to summarize:

Ronnie: Hey, what’s your name?

Rebecca: I don’t have to tell you that.

Ronnie: Fair enough. Hey, your boyfriend might be a serial killer. Have you noticed him doing any murdery stuff?

Rebecca: What? Uh…no.

Ronnie: Seriously, he’s probably going to murder you.

Rebecca: Uhhh…there was a blanket stained with blood in the backseat of the car, and he smacked me when I asked about it. Is that serial killer stuff?

Ronnie: Yeah. I’ll look into that. OK, gotta go, try not to get murdered. Ronnie out!

In case you think I’m exaggerating for the sake of humor, that conversation really happened. Ronnie told Finn’s new girlfriend that he is a serial killer and then just wandered off. I’m beginning to see why the cops have had so much difficulty with this. I’ve seen parking tickets taken more seriously.

Ronnie and Petrocelli impound the potential murder mobile, but fail to find any evidence to link Finn to the murder. From here they just sort of start randomly harassing the family and hoping they’ll find something they can get Finn and/or Frances in trouble for. Somewhere in here, and don’t ask me why, the DA approves a bunch of warrants for Ronnie and Petrocelli to tap the family’s phones and search their records. Instead of doing the logical thing and, uh, doing that, they instead go to Finn’s house and “muscle him”. Unfortunately, their whole ability to muscle someone is based on making vaguely threatening statements about getting arrested, maybe, if they have some evidence eventually. Unfortunately for Rebecca, she spills the beans to Finn about the serial killer thing, and Frances connects the two pieces of data (as anyone with any sense would). The family decides that she has to be killed to protect them. Please note that they make this decision via a phone call that the wiretap warrant would have picked up and recorded. Seems like this call would probably be enough to put two people that are connected to two unsolved murder in custody.  Apparently not.

EVERYONE IN THIS MOVIE IS AN IDIOT.

So, Rebecca gets led into the funtime murder basement, where she is chained to the ceiling and beaten and threatened with rape and all kinds of other nastiness. Just in case you weren’t sure that Finn was a creepy murderer, I guess. Luckily for her, Ronnie gets some kind of call that is apparently a “go”. We don’t know what that is, but that’s all we get: she yells “It’s a go!” and then they jump into a police car with armed backup and invade the house. I don’t know what a “go” is, but it apparently trumps all kinds of material and circumstantial evidence, so it’s good Ronnie got one. They get there in time to save Rebecca’s life, and find the files that Frances has been hiding in an upstairs closet. Murderous son, awful mom, and creepy uncle go into custody. Game over! Right?

Apparently if you're a hardass mom cop, this slogan is no joke.

Wrong! Let me tell you how stupid the end of the movie is. We get a final shocking reveal that all of Finn’s victims look like his mom when she was younger, which is gross. Finn is a complete jerkoff in questioning, and claims that he was just having rough sex with Rebecca in the bloody tarp-covered basement. Well, that’s airtight. Frances claims they have no evidence to prosecute them with. Well, let’s see:

  1. A surviving victim who is willing to testify
  2. Circumstantial evidence that ties both mother and son to two murdered fiancees
  3. Files connected to both of the cases, that had been missing from the file room, located in mom’s closet
  4. At least one recorded phone conversation where mother and son allude to murdering the surviving victim
  5. The fact that the fucking cops walked in on Finn beating someone to death

Yep, sure looks like they have nowhere to go from here.

Ronnie can’t tolerate that, so it’s time for some badassed mom justice. She walks into the uncle’s holding cell, picks him up and slams him into the ground.  She hits him, screams at him, and browbeats a confession out of him. Fuck real police work when you can use police brutality!

PS: all of this is recorded on a surveillance camera. Guess how long that confession is going to stay on the record as evidence after a lawyer sees that?

Anyway, that’s our happy ending. Petrocelli and Ronnie decide to become permanent partners and pledge their eternal bro-hood. Ronnie’s daughter moves back home to the relief of nobody. Fade to black. OK then.

Awesomeness: 15

This movie was legitimately entertaining, and completely insane. I spent the whole time I was watching it on the edge of my seat, excited to find out what stupid twist would take place next. It was like the script was written on Bizzaro World, and they brought it here to film it. Super-cheesy, super-dumb, hammy acting, an impossible plot and non sequiters like “I love boxing. It’s like chess except…you know. They fall down.” from my man Petrocelli. Thumbs up. I can’t go full 20, because it’s not actually a GOOD movie, but an ironic 15 seems fair.

Star Power: 8

Everyone in this movie has been in everything. Frankly, googling them was kind of an ordeal. They’re all actors that get bit parts in TV shows and movies that Americans film in Canada, so they will look familiar to you. Notable actors include Catherine Dent as Ronnie, who as a lead in The Shield, Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles, and that awful Natalee Holloway movie; Ben Cotton as Finn, who was in every iteration of Battlestar Galactica and had recurring roles in Harper’s Island and Stargate Atlantis; and Marylin Norry as Francis, who had a bigger role in Battlestar Galactica and won Miss Congeniality 1976. Congratulations to her. I am too tired to google more, so if you recognize any of these people from anything more exciting, shout it out in the comments.

Lifetimeliness: 8

Hmm. On the surface, it’s a perfect 10. Badass cop mom relying on badass cop mom skills to bring a murderer to justice. BUT, there was also a mom on the wrong side of the law, AND badass cop mom was also kind of an idiot. So, I’m deducting 1 point for murder mom and 1 point for dumb mom. It seems fair.

31! It’s on Hulu, and I recommend it. If you’re snowed in with a bottle of cheap wine and want to really lady it up, you could do worse.

The Craigslist Killer January 24, 2011

Posted by H$ in 13-16, H$, the craigslist killer.
17 comments

In "The Etsy Strangler", Zooey Deschanel plays Sabrosa Manchego, a woman whose obsession with handmade luna pads drives her...to murder.

So, first off, I want to be real with you guys: this movie wasn’t that good. I know we all had high hopes, and there was a lot of potential here, but it just didn’t deliver. To be perfectly frank, if you all weren’t so interested in hearing about it, I would have turned it off halfway through in favor of an Iron Chef rerun. The Craigslist Killer is just a paint-by-numbers true crime drama that happens to seem  more interesting then it is because it has the name of a website in it. Observe: “The Etsy Strangler”.

See? You’d watch it!

Let’s stop talking about what could have been and focus on what we’ve got. The Craigslist Killer is the incredibly fictionalized story of Philip Markoff, a spoiled little sociopath who got off on terrorizing sex workers he picked up via Craigslist. The  movie begins with Phil hanging out outside of Fancy Medical School University with a friend, who has some questions about how to locate something on the human body. Philip obligingly illustrates a little circulatory system on a passing lady. He treats objects like women, man!

Turns out that Philip is the hot new god of the med school, and he has his pick of the mortal ladies that surround him. He sets his sights on Megan McAllister, an all-american sweetheart with rich folks and a brain that is apparently made of packing foam.  She knows nothing about him, but that doesn’t stop her from agreeing to marry him about a week after they meet. This never-questioning-her-fiancee thing may come back and bite her in the ass later. In the meantime, the wedding preparations begin!

While Megan is daydreaming about weddings, Philips dreams are a little darker and more brutalizing-women-centric.  Philip’s hobby is finding cute “masseues” on Craigslist who he ties up and threatens at knifepoint.  You know, my problem with Philip isn’t the creepy domination fetish or even the prostitution. Human sexuality is weird, and it’s sort of pointless to get pissed at people from getting off on weird things. What sucks about this guy is that he’s on Craigslist, in the exact section of Craigslist where you could probably find a woman who would happily consent to acting out a weird fetish for a couple hundred bucks. But Philip doesn’t get any joy from consensual sex, so his fantasies have to be acted out on women he’s comfortable using as objects. Philip is a creepy misogynist douche, and while the movie seems to agree he’s reprehensible, it also spends a little too much time objectifying the women he assaults to not be creepy as well. Every one of his victims is a cute girl in slutty clothes, and they also spend a lot of time gasping and writhing around on the ground with their boobs pointed at the camera.  If you’re going to make a movie about a reprehensible dickbag who objectifies and assaults women, maybe objectifying them mid-assault isn’t a good way to make your point. This movie was like a Brian DePalma joint.

The movie also has an incredible issue with tonal shifts. One person who requested this film noted that the twee indy soundtrack didn’t make a great backdrop for the murder preparation montage, and I have to agree. For every 5 minutes of murder, we have 10 of cutesy banter between the couple. Is this movie supposed to be funny? Ironic? You tell me.

Megan is blissfully unaware of her fiance’s double life, and the movie spends a lot of time comparing and contrasting her escalating wedding preparations with his escalating murder preparations. She’s on a whirlwind tour of poofy dresses and fancy cakes, and he’s on a whirlwind tour of gun shops and hardware stores. It helps that Megan is the fucking queen of not noticing stuff. Your fiancee hides a lot of stuff under the bed? Eh, why look at it. Your fiancee comes home late every night with no explanation? So what?. Phil doesn’t pay the rent for 3 months? Everyone makes mistakes, especially busy doctors. Dude comes home smeared with blood and provides an explanation that a 5 year old would question? Whatevs, it’s bed time. Get off Megan’s back already.

"Yes, I'm a Baldwin. No, not the 30 Rock one. Not the Jesus freak, either. I was in Flatliners? Backdraft? A couple of episodes of Gossip Girl?...you know what, forget it."

While Megan sucks at noticing stuff, the Billy Baldwin does not. When Philip slips up and finally kills one of the women he’s been waving a gun at, Billy the Wonder Cop is on the case! And by “on the case”, I mean he spends a lot of time muttering and pawing at his awful laquered hairdo. I know he has a bald spot, but that’s no excuse. Have some dignity, Billy. Anyway, the cops have a blurry photo, but the leads are cold by the time they piece the crimes together.  The case is at a standstill until- and I am not kidding here -they find Philip on Facebook. Philip’s unlocked profile provides all of the information needed to tie him to the crimes, which is incredibly convenient to say the least. But whatever, let’s roll with that. Facebook fills Billy with muttery dismay.  “467 friends. Who the hell needs 467 friends?” Good question, Billy. Good thing you’re so comfortable with yourself and your life decisions that you would never do anything desperate to generate interest in yourself and your fading career, like be in a sensationalistic TV movie. Ahem.

A blurry photograph and a print-out of a facebook profile is all that you need to justify a full-scale police surveillance of an apartment building. Take  note, internet perverts! Philip notices the tightening noose of unmarked state cars and convinces Megan to go on an impromptu couples weekend, preferably in another country. The cops pull him over and nail his ass, of course. Hey genius: if you think the police are after you, maybe don’t load your car up with suitcases in front of them and speed off towards the highway.

With Philip in custody and the state building a case against him, it’s time for Megan to come to terms with her monstrous fiance. The cops raid the house and find a bunch of murder paraphenalia, but she isn’t buying it. Her parents try to help her understand that Philip isn’t coming back from the chokey, but she isn’t listening. She’s not ready to face the music, so it’s time for some tough love from Officer Billy. In one of the best scenes in any Lifetime movie ever, Billy reads Phil’s online profile to her in an effort to get some corroborating evidence:

Billy: “It says he was born in 1987-“

Megan: “LIARS!”

Billy: “Blonde, athletic-“

Megan: “FILTHY LYING LIARS!”

Billy: “8 inches, uncut-“

Megan: “OH GOD ITS ALL TRUE.”

Yes, that’s right. The gun under the bed, the blood on his shirt, the underwear he stole as trophies from his victims- none of that is enough to convince her. The accurate dick sizing, however, is too much to ignore. When you find out that Megan was getting ready to marry a hot doctor with a huge wang, her forgiving nature makes a lot more sense.

We’re 15 minutes from the end, so here’s a quick rundown of the conclusion: Megan visits Philip in jail and informs him that she don’t want no scrubs, and drops their engagement ring off in the waiting room. Megan, that was a huge rock, and you are going to have crazy legal fees to deal with shortly. Pawn that shit! Anyway, Philip kills himself in jail while staring at a photo of Megan. The movie ends with a dreamy soft-focus scene where they discuss their bright future and general lovey-doviness while things fade to black.  I guess we’re supposed to feel bad for the future they lost, or something? I’m pretty sure he brutalized those prostitutes on his own initiative, so it’s hard to feel too sorrowful on his behalf.

Scores:

Delete? Female sign? Oh. I get it.

Awesomeness: 5

This movie had much higher production values then your standard Lifetime  movie. It was relatively well-written, and except for Baldwin had a pretty decent cast. Unfortunately, raising the production values is a good way to take a movie from entertainingly cheesy to pretty-but-boring. This movie erred strongly towards the latter. 5 is the bare minimum for “not good but still functioned as a film”. Its like an IKEA futon f a film.

Star Power: 5

Eh. 5 for Baldwin. He’s not THE Baldwin,  but he’s A Baldwin, so I guess that counts for something.

Lifetimeliness: 3

The emphasis on Megan’s point of view aside, this was just a true crime movie. It could have been on any network. There weren’t even any tough lady cops. 3 points, and only because LMN made the movie to begin with.

13 for The Craigslist Killer. I know. I was hopeful, too. If you still want to watch it, it’s streaming on the LMN site, so feel free.

On Thin Ice January 17, 2011

Posted by H$ in 36-40, H$, on thin ice.
18 comments

So here’s a question: what’s your favorite Lifetime show, and would you like for me to make fun of it? In an effort to produce more content for the new site, I want to start reviewing Lifetime’s TV shows. Unfortunately, I don’t have cable, so I could use some audience suggestions. Does anyone have anything they’re just dying to see me make fun of?

This movie is also known as "Breaking Through", but for some reason Hulu knows it as "On Thin Ice". Whatever.

Speaking of content, I decided to review the film “On Thin Ice”, which is currently available on Hulu. Is it worth watching? Read this premise: Diane Keaton on meth.
If you didn’t immediately launch Hulu in another window, you’re reading the wrong blog.

On Thin Ice is, in theory, a movie about a single mother who starts dealing drugs and gets addicted to crystal meth, and cleans up for the sake of her kids.It’s a harrowing story of addiction, recovery, and the redemptive power of love. In theory. In reality, it’s 1.5 hours of Diane Keaton running around high as a meerkat, screaming at the top of her lungs and smoking crystal meth. Good job, Lifetime Movie Network!

Patsy is a single mother who is struggling to make ends meet. The movie starts with her slumped over asleep at a desk, where she dozed off while taking a break from her cleaning lady gig. She zooms home to an apartment in the bad part of town, where she wakes her kids up by making monster faces and screaming at them. Suitably horrified, they obediently pile into the car and are off to school and/or daycare. At daycare, Patsy apologizes profusely for a bounced check while her child hyperventilates and is tended to by staff. Finally, she makes it to her waitress job, where she loudly complains, cries at her boss, and chainsmokes while handling people’s food.
Keep in mind that she isn’t on drugs yet.

Patsy learns that the restaurant will be closing in 2 weeks. After another crying jag, she goes to pick her youngest son Kevin up from daycare. They go to the grocery store, where we get to see her son cruelly denied crunchy peanut butter due to a lack of coupons. This is supposed to be tragic, and maybe it is if you grew up in a family where a small child’s condiment whims were considered with the same gravity as law. Kevin is, of course, an asthmatic cherub who would give Tiny Tim a run for his tearjerking money.  He also constantly requires medication, which makes him feel just terrible about himself. “Mommy, I’m sorry I’m sick” he pouts at the pharmacy counter. What a little angel!

Patsy meets up with her friend Carrie, who is gaily purchasing the hell out of some expensive groceries with her own sickly adorable son. She sees her friend in dire straits, and offers to buy Kevin some shoes. Carrie’s explanation for her new stack of cheddar are vague, and seem to be related to her new boyfriend, who we see hanging out in a pickup, itching foodstains off of his wifebeater and having really unsubtle conversations about crystal meth to everyone who comes up to the car. Carrie quietly offers to make Patsy a part of the action, but Patsy sensibly declines.

Shortly thereafter, Patsy covers a newspaper delivery shift for her eldest son Jason while he’s at basketball practice. For some reason I am not clear on, this causes her to throw the worlds biggest tantrum at Jason when he meets them at the car. This causes Kevin to choke on his own tongue and pass out in the backseat. The family jalopy is busted, so Patsy runs to Carrie’s place to get a ride to the emergency room. Carrie’s house is full of users, boozers, and losers- but Carrie still has the means to drive them to the hospital and even pay for the visit. This is enough to convince Patsy to become a dealer. Just for a little while, until she finds a new job. What could go wrong?

Pictured: What could go wrong. Good tiiiiiiiiiiiiimes!

Patsy takes to drug dealing like she was born for it. She’s quick, efficient, and keeps an itemized book of receipts for every transaction. Good idea, Patsy. Keep all that evidence on you. Anyway, she’s such a super-achiever that she soon runs out of her own supply and has to go meet a supplier named Spider for dinner and a hookup. Spider says he doesn’t trust a dealer that doesn’t use their own product, and before you can say “trailer fire”, Patsy is sparking up the meth.
Fade to black. When we return to the story, Patsy is a serious tweeker. She screams at her kids, grovels for a fix from Carrie, and generally cries and flails her arms like she’s being chased by coyotes at all time. Weirdly enough, this doesn’t change her performance at all. I cannot emphasize enough how AWFUL Diane Keaton is in this film. She spends the entire time chowing scenery and screaming. You should probably just see it for yourself:


She’s a full-blown addict at the 7 minute mark. Can you spot the difference?

Anyway, her kids get fed up with this shit and threaten to move to Chicago for…some reason? The movie doesn’t really explain why this is an option for the kids, but it doesn’t matter, because their mom gets on the bus and cries and screams for them to come home. Those dumb kids follow her home, lock her in her room, and leave her in there until she gets over her addiction. Important information for crystal meth addicts: you don’t need rehab or any of that baby shit. Just get yourself a locking door and a wheezing toddler and wait it out.

Cleansed of her sins, and remarkably still fully be-toothed, Patsy tells Carrie that she’s getting out of the business. Carrie says that she’s cool, but that their crack house isn’t really a crack “home”, and she begs Patsy to take her angelic child to somewhere safe. Patsy declines, which surely will not come back to haunt her. Meanwhile, Spider get angry that Patsy’s threatening to leave the game, and comes around to threaten the kids. He mentions someone is skimming off the top, and he definitely wouldn’t mind shooting some kids to find out who it is. Patsy cries until he leaves, then cries some more. The kids go back to school or whatever, and she pays a visit to her friend’s house to let her know she’s clean and available to babysit. In a truly gruesome scene, she discovers her friend and her friend’s dealer/boyfriend/whatevs drowned in the bathtub with “thief” and “thief’s wife” scrawled on their backs in blood. She also finds her friend’s son dead in his racecar bed. Yeesh.

Scared out of her wits, moron Patsy does what she should have done all along- turns state evidence to protect her family and bring Spider down. She leaves her kids alone with a shotgun (?!) and heads up to his charming drug bungalow to get the info to bring hm down. There’s some confusing chase kinda thing, and the cops sort of give up on her. She goes back home to check on the kids, and they’ve been kidnapped- but the shotgun is still there. Time for Patsy to get some payback.

It's kind of like Coffy, if you replaced Pam Grier with a 50 year old white woman.

Patsy tracks down her dealer and her kids at the old meth mill. She waves her arms and screams wildly while firing a gun in the air. She’s really a master strategist. The cops, no doubt summoned by everyone in listening distance of the 30 gunshots that were fired, tell Patsy not to shoot him. She agrees, and then shoots him in the stomach. That’s how Patsy rolls.
The film concludes with Spider being rolled into an ambulance and Patsy taking her kids home, assuring them that no matter what happens next, things will be better. I’m sure she was just trying not to think of the fact that her screaming and shooting outside of a meth producing facility was a pretty good tip to everyone inside that she was a narc, and that everyone saw the police come and get Spider, and that she will no doubt be held responsible by the multitude of gun-happy criminal low-lifes to whom he owed money or drugs before he was arrested. Sleep tight, Patsy!

Awesomeness: 20

If you have Diane Keaton smoking crystal meth and gunning people down in your movie, it’s awesome. That’s just science. That’s just facts.

Star Power: 10

Did Diane Keaton run a bus full of Special Olympics kids off of a cliff, or something? Is she atoning for her own meth habit? There must be some ugly skeletons in her closet if she’s doing a movie like this.

Lifetimeliness: 6

The moms make terrible decisions in this movie, and we see a child’s corpse, so I am going to knock a few points off here. Still, she tracked down her dealer with her women’s intuition. That’s worth something.

36. It’s on Hulu. You’ll probably enjoy it!

The Boy She Met Online November 10, 2010

Posted by H$ in 25-29, H$, the boy she met online.
Tags: ,
7 comments

What ho, true believers! Haven’t done one of these in a while. We now have another fantastic writer to supplement Rusty’s sporadic bursts of productivity, so the pressure is off ol’ Liz Lemon to do this with anything even resembling consistency. Oh well, let’s give it a try. For my bi-annual contribution to the blog, I chose to confront a primal horror of mothers everywhere: the internet.

The Boy She Met Online starts with our teenaged protagonist Cami studying a computer monitor, then making a printout of a profile from a dating site called Insta-Mail.net. My boyfriend– who, full disclosure, was an eBay purchase –didn’t understand why she needed a copy of a screen she was looking at, and could presumably look at again in the future. Obviously, when you are dating someone online, you print their profile off and carry it with you like a lock of hair from your civil war beau. Printoffs of dating profiles from a website that sounds like an email service for seniors? As always, Lifetime has their thumb on the pulse of teenupsmanship.

Cami seems to have struck gold with her inter-dude Jake: he’s hot, good at writing lame kissy-kissy emails, and an achiever at some college somewhere. But her dude has a deep secret: he isn’t in college, HE’S IN JAIL! You may think that whatever he did couldn’t have been that bad since he still has internet access, but you’d be wrong. DEAD WRONG. Also, the prison doesn’t seem to be that good at being a prison. There is some bullshit story about how he got framed for something and he’s a really good guy in his dumb little heart, but you don’t care about that. Do you? Because I don’t care enough to try and remember it, so you’re out of luck.

Meanwhile, Cami’s mom Tori is struggling to reconnect with her amid the hormonal monsoon of her teenaged years. She tries everything- yelling, whining, yelling and whining, sulking -with no luck. Since none of that works, she resigns herself to being a frumpy gargoyle in the background of her child’s life, scowling in judgment of all she says and does. Oh, and there’s a woman named Kendra who just hangs around for some reason. I’d say that will be important later, but its not, which really begs the question as to why Kendra is even in this stupid thing.

In the chokey, Jake’s luck goes from bad to worse. First his sister shows up to tell him hes not welcome in the house when he’s out of jail, then a time conflict in the prison computer lab makes him miss a cyber-date with Cami. His decision to punch the guy that is using the computer he wants lands him in solitaire, a move the movie seems to argue is unfair for some unfathomable reason. His sentence finally ends, and before you can say “unemployable ex-offender”, he’s on the streets and at loose ends with only an old friend who happens to be a drug dealer to give him shelter.

Being utterly out of options, he makes the classic decision of the mid-twenties slacker and decides to channel his energies into a highly dramatic relationship with a hot moron that is doomed to fail. He moves enough dope to buy a fancy suit and asks his girl if they can finally meet face-to-face. They agree to meet up at a local coffeeshop, and off we go on a whirlwind of romance! I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a date with someone you met on the internet, but
no matter what you two lovebirds are bringing to the table, it’s gonna be awkward as shit. And that’s if you aren’t lying about your criminal background. Despite all that, they still hit it off and manage a shmoopy moment, followed up with the promise of further shmoopiness. Im going to be honest, I just zoned the fuck out whenever they talked to each other unless one of them started crying.

The really uncomfortable thing about it is that these guys cry a lot. Every time they have more then 5 minutes on screen together, Jake manages to either yell at his girlfriend for being a naive child or share some kind of horrific story about his life. This always results in Cami stoically accepting his abuse, which is horrible, or escalating intimacy, which is worse. This effect culminates in an implied sex scene after he tells her that he was actually in jail instead of at a kegger for the last 2 years. It’s kind of ironic that he went to such length to hide his identity from her since emotionally unstable criminals are apparently such a turn-on. Oh well. Thats love!

Tori is getting more and more suspicious of her daughter’s behavior, and with the help of Kendra the Spy, she learns that Jake isn’t the teen dream Cami portrays him as. This leads to numerous dramatic conversations that crescendo in shrieking and general misunderstandings. We’ve watched about 3 billion of these goddamned films together, so I shall summarize the next 4 hours of it as follows:

Mom: Why did I find a condom full of coke in your gym bag?
Girl: OMG I AM AN ADULT WHY DON’T YOU TRUST ME I WILL NEVER LOVE YOU
AGAIN BLAAAARGH *vomits Arbor Mist and shame all over the living room*
Mom: WTF, grounded forever.

Blah fucking blah, you know the drill. On the more interesting side of the story, Jake’s cellmate Dawayne makes bail and comes to stay with the worlds tiniest apartment-based crime syndicate. They don’t have much manpower, but those kids are scrappy! Which is good, because it isn’t long before Cami inadvertently witnesses a drug deal gone wrong and they’re all targets of a rival gang. In a sequence I can only call Scoobyesque, Dawayne walks into a darkened house and is brained by a big ol’ dude with a baseball bat. After Jake and Cami drop him at the emergency room and contemplate revenge, it is decided that the best option is for the dummies to flee to a cabin in the woods and wait for shit to blow over. Fine. Whatever. Moving on.

Since its a Lifetime movie, it is now time for the traditional 3rd act women’s intuition gambit. Smug mothers are the Chekov’s Gun of Lifetime movies, and it only takes a matter of time before they get to say “I told you so” to whomever they rescue from the brink of death. Tori manages to get the location of the cabin where the kids are hiding from Jake’s sister, and speeds up there to rescue Cami from her lame boyfriend. Unfortunately, the guy that messed up Dawayne’s brainpan has the same idea, and there is a showdown in the works!

Things go all Reservoir Dogs in the cabin, and things end about how you’d expect. The mom gets shot, natch. The evil guy dies, somehow. Jake goes back to jail, and Cami and Tori bond over the whole mess. The movie ends with Cami and Kendra having a fun party and Tori slicing cake with one arm in a sling. It’s like the weird continuity re-set at the end of a sit-com, except nobody got shot in Boy Meets World. That I am aware of.

Awesomeness: 15
I am going to give this movie some credit for a really awesome concept, and the best worst-case-scenario I’ve ever seen in one of these scared suburban mom movies. Obviously, if you daughter meets someone online, he is a criminal and you will get you shot. Why not? It was also overwrought and cheesy in the best ways. However, all of the interactions between Cami and Jake creeped me out. I kind of wanted to see the movie ending with her taking a self defense class. Since it ended with a birthday party instead, -5.

Star Power: 4
Alexandra Paul (Tori) was on Baywatch, which explains why she has been reduced to this now. Thea Gill (Kendra) had major roles in Queer as Folk and some show called Dante’s Cove that looks absolutely AMAZING. Jake was in Saw 3D, so the jury is out on whether this score will be increased when I watch that shit at the dollar theater. That’s about it.

Lifetimeliness: 10
A-yup. Mothers, lock up your daughters. Only you can save them from the marauding dudes of the internet.

29 seems fair. I’d DVR it if I were you. Lemon out.