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Lizzie Borden Took an Ax January 27, 2014

Posted by Rusty in 17-20, lizzie borden, Uncategorized.
2 comments

This movie was a bummer. A shame, since it had all the right components: Massachusetts setting, axe murders, Wednesday Addams. These are all the things that I like very much! This movie was directed right at my wheelhouse! But goodness gracious what a bore. How can you combine Wednesday Addams and axe murders and get something so vanilla?

Murder Eyes, they're watching you!

Murder Eyes, they’re watching you!

We’re in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892. You think Fall River is terrible now (spoiler: it is), imagine Fall River before they got their paws on that battleship that all the Boy Scouts visit. But Lizzie only lives an hour outside of Cape Cod, so things can’t be all bad. Lizzie is a preacher’s daughter who lives with her older sister and her stepmom. The dad is a strict skinflint (as The Good Book teaches!) which bothers Lizzie. Lizzie likes the parties and the champagnes and even has a line of credit at the old-timey dress shoppe. She is basically 19th Century Fall River’s answer to Paris Hilton. How will these two resolve their differences?

We don’t get the chance to find out (OR DO WE!?) as Pastor Borden ends up with a terminal case of the face holes. Lizzie finds the body and screams and the maid calls the police. The police are there checking for evidence when, surprise!, they find Lizzie’s stepmom in her room. The face holes were contagious! Lizze had earlier told the maid that Mom got a note saying a friend had taken ill and had left the house to meet her. No note, no leaving. That doesn’t look good for Lizzie.

Of course, no one wants to blame this meek 22-year-old girl for slaughtering her family. And with no physical evidence linking her to the crime, the police spend some time focusing on the Help.

This is a big case, so the Commonwealth of Massachusetts sends down the best prosecutor they’ve got. He immediately concludes that Lizzie Borden is guilty. How else could someone kill a woman, lie in wait in the house for 90 minutes, kill the Pastor, and then ditch all of the evidence? Lizzie’s alibi is fairly weak. She claims she was in a shed on the property clearing our a pigeon coop and eating pears. Three pears. “WHO EATS THREE PEARS IN A HOT AND DUSTY BARN!?” yells the prosecutor in what has to be one of the best sentences ever said on Lifetime. One pear is, normal, I guess. Two pairs is really pushing it. But three? Three pears? What kind of sordid hedonist eats three pairs?

Lizzie starts destroying evidence (like her dress with the mysterious blood-colored “stew” stain) which leads to her being interrogated on the stand. Lizzie prepares for her time on the stand by getting a good night’s sleep, wearing her Sunday best, and doing an ass-ton of heroin. Lizzie doesn’t do a very good job of testifying on her own behalf and gets charged with murder. Oh, also, there’s a one second shot of a bloody axe before we go to commercial.

The movie is guilty of doing tons of that shit. Weird one second shots of axes before commercial, single frames of a woman’s back, and the soundtrack. Can’t forget the soundtrack! The movie is filled with some Black Keys knockoff blues rock band in the background.* It’s atrocious. So, to be clear, the movie is guilty of being boring AND ugly AND loud.

*Someone on the Twitters pointed out that Lizzie Borden has the same soundtrack as Black Snake Moan. Don’t think that was a compliment

Lizzie is charged and then nothing of consequence happens for an hour. Lizzie’s older sister (who has an airtight alibi that doesn’t involve produce) is called to the stand. Lizzie tells Big Sis to tell the truth. Instead, she perjures herself by saying that it was her idea, not Lizzie’s, to destroy evidence. She also says Lizzie never showed signs of having a temper (cut to a flashback of Lizzie throwing a glass at her stepmom). The prosecution is getting their asses whooped, so they go to the oldest trick in the book: entering skulls in as evidence. When Lizzie sees the skulls, she faints and then BOOM another commercial.

I noticed this with Flowers in the Attic too. When did Lifetime forget how to transition into commercial breaks? There’s a “big” “plot” point or “shocking” “twist” and without getting half a second to marinate on it, I am watching a commercial for a prescription drug that helps with post-menopausal intercourse. It’s distracting.

Oh, the skulls are never mentioned again. It is never made clear how they implicated Lizzie in any way.

Lizzie is acquitted after an hour of deliberations and is free to go. She immediately jumps back on the party circuit where she is treated like a carnival act. But, hell, she likes the attention. When Big Sis calls her out for that, Lizzie tells her that she did in fact murder her family. She stripped naked, axed her stepmom, changed back into her clothes, ate three pears, waited for her dad to come home, stripped naked again, and axed her dad before changing back into her dress to “find” the bodies. THE END!

Lizzie Borden ended up becoming a spinster. She never married. No kids. Which is clearly beneficial to Lifetime since no one can sue for libel on the family’s behalf. Can you imagine if they did that to Amanda Knox? Christ. Lizzie Borden was acquitted not because she was a lady and ladies aren’t capable of murder. She was acquitted because she, most likely, DIDN’T DO IT.

Bill James, the father of advanced baseball stats, wrote a book on popular crime and spent a chapter focusing on Lizzie Borden. Conclusion: there was no way that Lizzie Borden could have been convicted of murder. Is it implausible for someone to lay in wait for 90 minutes in a house after killing someone? Yes! You know what else is implausible? “She stripped naked, axed her stepmom, changed back into her clothes, ate three pears, waited for her dad to come home, stripped naked again, and axed her dad before changing back into her dress to “find” the bodies.”

Anyways, BOOOOO. I got your back, Lizzie.

AWESOMENESS: 6

I guess some props should go out to Christina Ricci for treating the material like it wasn’t a big, fat joke. She was clearly a cut above the other actors, so, bully to her. But the rest of the movie was awful. Intrusive soundtrack, a plot that didn’t make sense (they never, ever established a motive for Lizzie murdering her family, but the movie did go out of its way to establish that half of Fall River hated the Bordens), and these stupid flourishes that are supposed to be scary, I guess. They’re just distracting.

HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 8

I just finished Season 2. No spoilers!

I just finished Season 2. No spoilers!

Christina Ricci will always have a place in my heart for guiding me through puberty, but she isn’t a big name anymore. What has she been in the last five years? Bucky Larson? Oh, Lizzie’s sister was played by Clea DuVall. Always nice to see her get some work.

The prosecutor was played by Hollis from Scandal. YOU WILL PAY FOR DEFIANCE, SIR!

LIFETIMENESS: 4

More lady baddies. Weird. Anyways, there wasn’t really anything Lifetimey about this movie other than plot sagging over the final hour.

GRAND TOTAL: 18

WOOF! The movie was bad and I am DISAPPOINTED. I had been looking forward to this for months. MONTHS!

The Familiar Stranger July 10, 2012

Posted by Rusty in 17-20, 20-24, the familiar stranger.
4 comments

The Familiar Stranger, aka My Husband’s Double Life.

We’re only at the titles and we’re already in trouble. At no point is the husband a stranger and at no point does he have a double life. An inauspicious beginning.

This was a weird movie for getting back in the swing of things. No famous actors listed in the movie description and a boring sounding plot. But, thank the Lifetime gods, 90 seconds in:

Hey, Nephew

Oh man do I love me some Baby Michael Cera. This isn’t my first go around with Mr. Cera. Never forget Stolen Miracle.

Oh, right, The Familiar Stranger. This review will be awfully short. This movie was totally without conflict. There is no danger, no dilemma, nothing for the audience to care for or worry about. It is exactly how not to write a teleplay. I could distill the entire two hours into two paragraphs. But you, dear readers, deserve more. You deserve three paragraphs.

Patrick is married to Peachy (Oh. My. God.). They have two kids: Ted and Chris. They are the perfect Ohio family. Then Patrick is accused of defrauding a hospital by awarding money to fake grants. He took over $25,000 and ends up serving a suspended sentence. Ashamed by it all, Patrick disappears and leaves a suicide note. His body is never found. (A detective says the currents are too strong to which I respond: “OHIO!”) He leaves behind a wife, two kids, and a cancer ridden mother who immediately kicks the bucket.

Peachy uproots her family, gives away the dog, and moves to a neighborhood that you know is dangerous because there is a siren blaring in the background the entire GODDAMNED time. She begs for a job and gets one despite being crazily unqualified. (For that part of Ohio we’ll just say her skin color was qualified and leave it at that.) We get a ridonkulous flash forward (new kids; Peachy has glasses now!) and see that Peachy has made it. And then she gets a letter from the Social Security Administration asking for all of her kids survival benefits back. Patrick is alive.

Peachy tracks Patrick’s SSN back to Kennebunkport, Maine. Peachy confronts Patrick and has him arrested. He pleads not guilty but after being confronted by his kids he changes his plea to no contest. He is sentenced to four years in Shawshank. Peachy’s kids thank her for being an amazing mom and an amazing dad all in one. They graduate from schools and the family is a pillar in the community.

WHERE IS THE CONFLICT!? There was no dramatic court case, no sense of danger. The filmmakers thought about painting Pat’s new girl as some kind of evil hussy, but the movie veers off that route fast. It wouldn’t be fair and it’s not really that much different than Peachy being happily married to an extortionist.

The big flash forward halfway through illustrates exactly how ridiculous this is. Trying to make something from nothing. Living hard with two kids and a low paying job. Temporary layoffs. Good times. Easy credit ripoffs. Good times. BUT NO! We get five minutes of that. Then, boom, the future! And everything is fine! Even Pat did everything but turn himself in and then he ultimately pleads guilty! Aristotelian unities, my ass!

AWESOMENESS: 3

I think I did a pretty good job of describing how boring this was, yes? More demerits for the sound editing. Why is it that every Lifetime movie fails at sound editing? Ugh, that siren. I hated that siren.

This movie was really bad.

HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 10

I gave Stolen Miracle a nine in this category for Michael Cera, and that movie had no one else in it. At least I recognized Peachy from Independence Day. She was the white lady. Not the First Lady. The other one.

One of the older versions of the kids was in a few episodes of Veronica Mars. Not a big deal, but I spotted it a second faster than immediately. (Oh my God, he was in the Michael Cera episode of Veronica Mars! Worlds colliding!) (This blog and I used to be friends, a long time ago.)

The guy who played Patrick is like the ultimate That Guy. He is so familiar looking! Looking through his IMDB profile, it appears that I have seen him in like ten things. I recognize him from zero of them.

LIFETIMENESS: 7

In order to get the plot summary in at three paragraphs, I left out one of the wildest instances of women’s intuition ever. When Patrick is less than 20 minutes late from work, Peachy goes off the rails and “knows” that Patrick killed himself. The movie plays this like she’s some kind of psychic genius.

Well, what’s the opposite of intuition? Because Patrick used that hysteria to get a TEN YEAR HEAD START on Peachy and the Social Security Administration. Bravo, Peachy.

Oh, and she’s the perfect mom. She had spunk.

GRAND TOTAL: 20

So there was no familiar stranger. Peachy knew who Patrick was the second she laid eyes on him. And Patrick didn’t have a double life. One of those lifes was dead. That’s just one life. This movie was built on a foundation of lies and boredom.

But, Michael Cera!

Student Seduction April 29, 2011

Posted by Rusty in 17-20, 20-24, student seduction.
8 comments

Fact: I have never seen an episode of Saved by the Bell. I saw a Saved by the Bell TV movie where they all went to Vegas or something, but not a single episode. I guess there are Zach Attacks and Slater is a jock with a heart of gold. And we all know about Jessie’s drug freak out and Screech and all of that. Whatever. That show passed me by.

But oh my goodness do I love Elizabeth Berkley. You know why. Showgirls is one of the greatest movies ever made. If Black Swan (which I also loved) is a dancing movie on PCP, then Showgirls is a dancing movie on a glorious cocktail of cocaine, ecstasy, and boner medication. I know that the line between liking something ironically and liking something legitimately gets very blurry around these parts, but make no mistake: Showgirls is the best.

(Tangent: In high school Kate and I went to the local movie theatre and bought movie snacks like popcorn and Oreo smoothies. Then we rented Showgirls. It deserves the red carpet treatment every single time.)

THIS IS HOW I FEEL WHEN SHOWGIRLS IS ON

So an Elizabeth Berkley Lifetime movie about seduction? Count me in! Surely a movie starring someone we love will be great! Like, a sexually focused movie starring our beloved Lizzy Caplan can’t be bad, can it?

Oh no.

And it breaks my heart to inform you that we have two duds in a row. Student Seduction is one of those movies where nothing happens. Not even Nomi Malone could save this mess.

Ms. Berkley plays Christie Dawson, a first year chemistry teacher married to a young doctor. She is young so other teachers don’t like her so much. Criticisms involve her jeans being too tight (they are not) and buying pizza for her homeroom. The humanity!

NORMAL JEANS

When the honor student/quarterback/BMOC is flunking Ms. Dawson’s class, his rich parents try to peddle their influence to allow him to drop chemistry after deadline. Ms. Dawson stands firm and offers to tutor the BMOC, Josh, after class. Josh takes Ms. Dawson (no! don’t be stupid!) out for a veggie burger as thanks.

Somewhere in there Josh bones his girlfriend and then gets realllly pushy when he doesn’t get seconds. Also Christie is upset that her husband is working double shifts and she REALLY doesn’t want to get pregnant.

Some more miscellany: Josh’s girlfriend writes “slut” on some other girl’s locker and Josh helps Christie start her car after it won’t turn over. He starts creepily calling Christie by her first name and she puts a kibosh on any conversation that isn’t about ions.

I just described the FIRST HOUR of this movie. What a slog.

After a teacher swim, Josh sneaks up on Christie and pushes her against a wall and kisses her. He gets a slap for that romantic gesture and is reported to the principal. The principal doesn’t do anything because she is an authority figure in a Lifetime movie and it’s WOMYN v. THE WORLD.

Then Josh escalates by breaking into Christie’s house and assaulting her. He leaves pre-rape which was courteous I guess, but, still. Christie goes to the police. The next day the police arrest Christie for having an affair with Josh. His parents concocted some story about a months long affair and Christie’s teachers all verify it with stories of veggie burgers and blue jeans.

Oh and Christie is pregnant. It’s Lifetime so even though she doesn’t want it and there is a very real possibility of getting afterbirth in YOUR JAIL CELL, abortion isn’t even mentioned.

Even though Christie has been suspended without pay, she still has access to the school’s intranet. She realizes that the girl who had “slut” written on her locker, Jenna, missed six weeks of school last year for health reasons and that she used to date Josh. She obviously was raped by Josh. That gets confirmed but Jenna refuses to testify because Josh’s parents are buying her a full ride to Dartmouth in exchange for her silence. The weird part? CHRISTIE IS TOTALLY OK WITH THIS. It’s cool that I will have to move and register as a sex offender for the rest of my life and my career is dead and Josh can go a-rapin’ to his heart’s content. It’s more important to spend your winters in Hanover, New Hampshire.

JENNA'S TUESDAY NIGHTS AT DARTMOUTH

Ugh. Finally Christie decides to take a misdemeanor plea bargain. With only two minutes left in the movie, I thought that was a strangely pessimistic way for Lifetime to go. Neat.

But, no. Jenna comes around, tells Josh’s parents off, and the next scene is Christie teaching a chemistry class. Fin.

A he said/she said court case sounds kind of interesting, right? Like, maybe it could be compelling television? Well you, viewer, are shit out of luck.

AWESOMENESS: 6

I’ve seen worse?

HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 6

Kate and H$ are engaging in some kind of H!ITG inflation war. Ten points for just Lizzy Caplan!? Please. (Although worth it for H$ admitting to watching True Blood while defending Kate’s score. Yikes.) A movie needs more than one famous person to earn a ten in my book. This movie doesn’t have that. And, real talk, Elizabeth Berkley is not that famous.

LIFETIMENESS: 8

The doctor husband here is a little bit off. He’s an ally, but he’s the ally who wants to take a plea bargain. But then he wants to compel Jenna to testify against Josh. Basically, he’s supposed to be a good husband but his wife disagrees with literally every single thing he does in this movie.

The rich asshole villain and the one woman vs. an insane world plot also contribute to the high Lifetime score.

GRAND TOTAL: 20

This movie either needed more students or more seduction. A huge disappointment.

But it inspired me to watch Showgirls one more time. Of course I own it on DVD. Why would you even bother to ask?

The Secret of Hidden Lake March 29, 2011

Posted by Rusty in 17-20, the secret of hidden lake, Uncategorized.
5 comments

This is my second straight review that begins with the words “the secret.” This movie is not as good as the last.

Last year I wrote a review of the series finale of Lost, aka the day I lost faith in serial television. A major complaint I had during that trail of tears through the Hawaiian rain forest was that I had no idea what was going on. I watched every episode intently but I still had no clue what each character wanted. The money quote: “I swear to God I am a smart person and I couldn’t figure out what was happening.”

Maybe I was wildly overestimating my intelligence because I couldn’t figure out The Secret of Hidden Lake either. Or it didn’t make sense. One of those.

The film opens in sepia tones which means FLASHBACK. I love Lifetime expository flashbacks because it means a kid is going to be in some danger. Here we have a father and a daughter on a hunting trip. The daughter wanders off and is assaulted by a mystery man who tells the girl to never tell anyone that he was out there or he would find her and kill her. How the dad missed all this I have no idea.

Love

We then move to present day and that girl, Maggie, is now a community activist in Chicago. She is basically Barack Obama except she has gone hunting before and is therefore a real, red-blooded American. She is also played by Rena Sofer, who can sleep on my sofa-r anytime. (Get it?) (Sex.) But something is wrong…WHO CUT RENA SOFER’S HAIR. He/She must be given a show trial and be summarily shot dead for that crime against humanity.

Anyways, Maggie’s dad was shot and she needs to go back home to rural Colorado. At first the authorities think it was an accident because he was shot with his own gun but that really doesn’t make any sense. Someone tried to murder him. And when you’re sheriff for 23 years, apparently you make some enemies?

Maggie has been out of town for a while and everyone is real quick to remind her that she is a bad person for daring to move to Chicago post-college. Good people stay in their hometowns. Bad people leave! I love that this movie is explicitly claiming that your three humble authors of this blog are in fact monsters. Shots fired!

Because it’s a Lifetime movie and Maggie is a woman, she decides to run her own investigation of what happened to her father. Her first clue is the nosy journalist running an expose on accusations of prisoner abuse being levied against Daddy Dearest. She asks the local diner owner, Sam, about the allegations and oh god is this movie really going to be about corporate espionage?

So The Herald is owned by some shady group called Lorango Corp. Lorango has been buying up land in town and building condos, skiing resorts, and other speculation type dealies. At first the people in town were psyched about the extra jobs and the tourism dollars. But – and boy oh boy as a Cape Codder have I experienced this first hand – the good down-to-earth people of Colorado start bristling at all the outsiders and their newfound dependence on tourism. When they find out Lorango started building new condos without permits, the town and the sheriff freak out and slap them with injunctions. Since then, the Lorango owned paper has been going all Fox News on the sheriff’s ass.

Lifetime is really playing this one by the numbers because Sam isn’t just the local diner owner, he is also Maggie’s high school love. And they haven’t spoken since she permanently moved away. But they still like each other? Seriously, how sad is this for the key Lifetime demographics? Maybe life didn’t work out the way you’d hoped but you can always fantasize about that high school boy you loved before the first kid and the subsequent weight gain. Those were the days.

So Maggie immediately concludes that a corporation tried killing her dad even though he wasn’t sheriff anymore. Her arguments fall on deaf ears. She doesn’t know who she can trust! Sam admits that he wanted to invest in Lorango but didn’t have the liquid capital. Her dad’s best friend, the local judge, remains a huge Lorango investor and was losing his personal fortune because of the sheriff’s stance on the matter. The new sheriff refuses to act on all of Maggie’s whims and is therefore presented as an incompetent. And what’s with the creepy mechanic who is always in the shadows being all creepy?

At some point during a storm, Maggie comes home to find the power is out. She also finds a dude in her house. This leads to a hilarious reaction shot and Maggie falling and hitting her head. She wakes up almost immediately to find Sam looking after her. He claims he was driving by and saw the door open and went in to check on her. Really, Lifetime? Are we really doing this?

The police don’t believe that anyone was really in her house, by the way. You know how hysterical women can get when it’s dark.

So here’s where the movie starts to lose me. Maggie finds out the Sheriff took out a second mortgage worth $25,000 and no one knows why. She also finds out that he retired because the entire town thinks he murdered some scumbag that beat the crap out of his son and got away with it. Maggie finds the medical reports and videotaped interrogation of the suspect and FOR NO REASON AT ALL it turns out the child abuser is also the person that grabbed Maggie 20 years ago.

Maggie does some more investigating and finds a series of calls made to an abandoned hotel in the outskirts of town. She shows up there and gets a phone call from a cobwebby pay phone. It’s the voice of the child abusin’ Maggie grabber! When she sprints out of there the large van that’s been trailing her almost hits her.

Seriously, what? Why!?

After a while I guess people figure out that The Sheriff never killed the child abuser, he just paid him $25,000 to leave town and never come back. And the guy in the van is actually his son/victim looking to protect Maggie. And Sam is following her too, also for protection?

The bad guy attacks Maggie and gets shot dead by The Sheriff’s judge friend shoots him dead but with his dying breath he tells Maggie that The Judge is the one who shot The Sheriff. Maggie gets rescued by Sam and The Son.

It’s left unanswered how The Judge managed to do this. The movie makes a point that whoever shot The Sheriff must have been trusted since he was shot with his own gun. But then the movie makes a point that The Sheriff didn’t trust whoever he was meeting so he brought the gun for protection. Well, which is it? It can’t be both!

The Sheriff wakes up and Maggie tells him she’s home. Haha, suck it, poor people of Chicago. Maggie only cares about white people problems now.

AWESOMENESS: 6

Some terrible, terrible acting here. Sam needs to win whatever the opposite of an Emmy is. (I think the opposite of an Emmy is an actual Emmy.) And poor Rena Sofer. Your reaction faces are hilarious.

Acting aside, it’s clear this movie made no sense, right?

HEY IT’S THAT GUY!: 3

Rena Sofer was the paralyzed wife in Heroes and is a long standing celebrity crush of mine until some asshole cut her hair. The Judge was played by The Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files.

LIFETIMENESS: 8

I joked earlier that this one really played it by the numbers. The one minority in the the town was the lone police officer (granted, American Indian, not black). There is a high school love left behind for a better tomorrow. Women’s intuition. Even conversations with Ghost Coma Dad!

GRAND TOTAL: 17

WOOF.

Borrowed Hearts December 9, 2008

Posted by H$ in 17-20, borrowed hearts, H$.
15 comments

Hello again! FYI: My job involves a lot of training in other cities, which gives me a lot of time to kill in hotel rooms. Please join me and $10 of minibar booze as we enjoy “Borrowed Hearts”, a paint-by-the-numbers celebration of romance, daddy issues, and vague family values for all.

 

Fig. 1: Sam Adams, A Bargain-Basement Eliza Doolittle, A Possessed Child, and an Angel for Your Entertainment

The characters are introduced to us through a thanksgiving montage. There’s Kathleen, a hardworking single mother celebrating Thanksgiving in a tiny, busy kitchen with her presumably hardworking neighbors. We know that Kathleen is moral because she dresses like one of those Mormon compound wives and will not shut up about buying a house for herself and her daughter Zoey. Kathleen is played by the leading lady from Touched by an Angel, and if that fact doesn’t make you profoundly worried about the quality of this movie I don’t know what will. There’s also Sam, an industrialist douche who spends his thanksgiving seducing rent-a-floozies in his dank cave of a bachelor’s mansion. Sam is played by Will from Will and Grace, and his haircut makes him look exactly like Sam Adams. I think I’d rather spend my holidays gettin’ drunk with the gay dude that invented beer then eating dried out turkey with the schmucks over in the other part of the montage, but then I never seem to get the moral of these films.

Their lives are brought within spitting distance when Sam’s game of squash (the quintessential sport of douches) with his wormy little assistant is interrupted by a phone call. A Mexican millionaire wants to buy his factory, putting all the workers out on the street! Will there be a moral about protectionism in here too? You know it! Anyway, the deal is almost on, but Sam needs a pretend wife and kid cause the Mexican dude is old school about his business partners like that.

Speaking of pretend families: you know who needs a daddy? Zoey needs a daddy. She is totally fucking whacked out, crying about her disappeared daddy and hearing bells ringing all the time. Actually, Zoey could probably use a really good child psychologist instead of a dad, but no dice. Her babysitter should be concerned about her constant psychotic breaks. Instead she tells Zoey that “When you hear music, and there isn’t any, an angel is there!” What!? Anyway, the babysitter also tells Zoey she will have a daddy again once the angels are pleased with her, which is SO CREEPY. Zoey is of course all about the angels bringing her a daddy, and has a continuing pleading dialogue with them that spooked me out for the rest of the film.

Zoey’s whacked-out-itude causes her to charge into Sam’s house while they’re doing a casting call for a fake family. Sam sees Zoey and Kathleen as the perfect solution to his incredibly stupid dilemma. Kathleen is skeptical, but Sam cajoles her into living at the house with her daughter long enough to fool El Guapore into signing a contract by giving her the downpayment for her stupid dream house. The next scene is the standard “frumpy to hot” makeover where the frazzled hausfrau becomes a knockout through judicious use of spackle and conditioner. Sam sees his new hot “wife” and falls instantly in love with her. I guess this was supposed to be enchanting, but I will never understand why we are supposed to be enchanted when a dude gets excited about a faux-frumpy leading lady showin’ some cleavage and gettin’ her hair did.

Mexican Uncle Moneybags shows up, and hallucinations of bells convince Zoey that he is an angel, and probably involved in the whole celestial father-withholding conspiracy! Her cute little delusions are justified when he goes on about what a cute couple Sam and Kathleen are, and inadvertently makes them sleep in the same room. The movie proceeds as you would expect it to from here: lots of fun mishaps that make Sam and Kathleen accidentally grope each other until they fall in love in a series of contrived events that would have embarrassed the writers of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo.

The notable thing about this movie isn’t the plot, which I refuse to describe in any more detail. It’s the weird daddy issues that permeate the whole thing. Again, Zoey’s frequent psychotic breaks are blamed on her missing dad, and she spends a lot of the film despising herself for his disappearance. “Maybe I’m just not lovable!”, she wails in a voice I would bet sounds like the one constantly howling in the back of a certain writer’s mind. Sam has similar episodes, revealing through a series of weeping fits that his father’s constant disapproval and anger is why he became the douche king of the Midwest. The resolution of the film contains a super-odd moment where Sam yells (yes, YELLS) about how much he loves Zoey, and how he will never let anything hurt her ever again, and how she is the best little girl in the world. The one kissing scene in this supposedly romantic movie is actually a big family hug with a peck on the cheek for mommy and daughter alike.

I don’t know about you, but if there is one thing I hate in this world it’s when a vague acquaintance dumps their issues on me. It’s pretty much like if you saw an old high school friend at the grocery store, and you spent a pleasant couple minutes catching up, then he revealed out of nowhere that he had cancer in his balls. The discomfort you would feel at that moment is very similar to the discomfort I felt when Sam was openly weeping about his dad not playing catch with him as a child. I feel like if someone would have just taken this movie fishing once in a while it would have been much less unsettling.

Do I have to tell you how the movie ends? Sam and Katherine fall in love, but she will not marry him if he sells the factory to Mexico. They accidently tip off the millionaire that they aren’t a real couple, he oddly doesn’t give a shit, Sam doesn’t sell the plant, they get married, and American jobs and families are saved forever. Also, they find some feathers in the Mexican guy’s bed, so he is totally an angel. Or maybe he had sex with one in exchange for the new daddy. Hooray!

Awesomenicity: 2

This movie could not have been less awesome if it had featured a real-life genocide. All 2 points are for Sam’s fantastic beer baron haircut.

That Guy You Know: 8

I have to give this movie a decent score here because I actually recognized both the lead actors, albeit from terrible TV shows. Also, Sam’s wormy sidekick was Corny Collins in the original Hairspray! Yeah!

Lifetimeliness: 8

Woah, so Lifetimey! Single moms triumphing over all odds to melt a rich dude’s heart and secure a bright future for their crazy children. No evil male or police involvement, though, so a slight deduction is due.

Oh movie. If you had been a little more awesome, you could have broken 20. As is, it all adds up to another $3 beer for me! And 18 for you, shit movie. Goodnight!