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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?

Everybody’s Doing It April 27, 2011

Posted by Kate in 20-24.
Tags: , , , , , ,
8 comments

If you like being angry at your government and your television at the same time, you should totally watch Everybody’s Doing It. Like all reasonable people, I love Lizzy Caplan and hate abstinence-only sex “education,” but cute girls and left wing ideals can’t save this didactic mess.

The movie starts by showing Angela (Lizzy Caplan) and Travis (some dude) falling in love throughout their sophomore year, then cuts to them loud slurpy kissing in a car after the spring semiformal. Angela unbuckles Travis’ belt, then decides she’s not ready to have sex and breaks up with him. Angela leaves to go build houses with Habitat for Humanity for the summer, but she and Travis decide to have sex if they still want to in September. The summer apart will prove that their love is real or something; I don’t know, teenagers are the worst.

Angela comes back to school ready to bone Travis, but she can’t because there’s a big assembly about how premarital sex is bad and the library’s been torn down and Caroline, the poor man’s Tracy Flick and the president of the school’s abstinence club, is pressuring everyone to sign virginity pledge cards.

The importance of remaining chaste until marriage is demonstrated with some kind of pizza metaphor.

which pizza would YOU want to fuck? huh?

There’s even a bunch of dancing STDs.

I, for one, never want to have sex again after seeing this.

Angela is the only student who thinks this whole thing is ridiculous, and Travis gets totally pissed that she seems to know more about sex than the health teacher. He signs a pledge card without talking to Angela first.

Oh, and it gets worse: there’s a huge whiteboard with the names of all the students who signed a virginity pledge.

Students who break the pledge get their names crossed off.

SLUTZ

You’re probably wondering how the school evens finds out who’s been screwing. Well, there’s a scholarship reserved for any students whose names are still on the board at graduation. The fewer students left over, the more money the virgins get. Students are encouraged to spy on one another, and to tell the school whenever somebody has sex.

Angela freaks out when she sees her name on the list, since she was outspoken in her refusal to sign the virginity pledge. She asks the librarian to remove her name from the board, but the librarian refuses to unless Angela admits to losing her virginity. Angela continues to insist that her sex life is none of the school’s business, and storms out. It’s never explained why the empty library needs a librarian. I guess she’s just there to watch teenagers have sex up against the bookless shelves.

well, these two are off the list

Travis becomes super suspicious of any boy that Angela talks to, including her gay best friend and some dude she met through Habitat for Humanity. Poor Angela. She tries to talk to her sister, but her sister’s busy.

Angela continues to be the lone voice of reason in the school as the teachers allow Caroline to create a weird sex court in the library where she bangs a gavel and yells at students for hooking up, then crosses their name off the board while muttering “slut” under her breath. At one point, she draws a line through an entire column, which makes me think that we were cheated out of an orgy scene.

Finally, some other students grow a spine when they realize that oral and anal sex will get them crossed off the list. As confused and horny teenagers bombard Caroline with questions about what exactly they are allowed to do (someone actually uses the phrase “box lunch” in this scene), she yells that no penetration is allowed, not through “the front door, back door, or side door!” I’m confused about the side door thing. Rusty thinks it’s a reference to armpit sex.

Even more confusing than the concept of “side door” is the way Caroline, a crazy bitch with a display rack of eyeglasses in her locker, is allowed to spend the entire school day playing sex police. Everyone at Bonerkiller High must also be abstaining from going to class.

these are my sex-yelling specs

Angela must face Caroline in sex court, where she is accused of sleeping with the guy she met at Habitat for Humanity over the summer. Once again, she insists that her sex life is none of the school’s business, but Travis is pissed that she doesn’t deny it. Angela realizes that Travis must be the one who accused her. When she confronts him, he admits to signing her pledge card, too. Angela has no choice but to take off the promise ring he gave her and leave it in his locker. I guess they’re abstaining from locks at the school, too.

After a rash of students come down with sex rashes, the school reconsiders the effectiveness of the abstinence program. Caroline comes up with some bizarre idea that forces all students to sign up for the virginity pledge again. If all students sign it, they all get the scholarship money, but if less than 100 percent of students sign, nobody gets the money.

Because this movie is such an accurate portrayal of teenage behavior, everyone but Angela signs the pledge again. A meeting is called so that parents, teachers, and students can slutshame Angela into signing, but she tearily holds her ground. Just when you think that she’s going to get beaten to death by the angry, sex-starved mob, Travis walks to the front of the room and crosses his name off the pledge board. A bunch of other kids do the same thing.

I AM SLUTACUS

Inspired by Angela’s speech and her peers’ support, the school decides to have two separate health classes: a comprehensive one, and an abstinence only one. Victory! Sort of.

Angela gets back with her possessive, controlling boyfriend, and they decide not to have sex. The end.

AWESOMENESS: 5

I’ll give this movie a point for saying “box lunch,” but this movie was billed as a comedy yet was rarely funny, intentionally or otherwise. It wasn’t bad enough to be so-bad-it’s-good, but it certainly wasn’t good, either.

HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 10

I love Lizzy Caplan, and she did about as good a job with this shitty movie as anyone could possibly hope.

LIFETIMENESS: 6

I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, you’ve got moral panic and a woman who stands up for what she believes. On the other hand, you have a protagonist who ends up back together with her lame boyfriend.

GRAND TOTAL: 21

For a movie that tries so hard to teach a lesson, Everybody’s Doing It is shockingly bad at making its message clear. The moral of the story seems to be, “abstinence only sex ed is bad, sort of, but I guess it’s not that bad, and teenagers should have sex or not have sex or whatever and girls with glasses are nuts.”

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!

Hunger Point February 15, 2011

Posted by Rusty in 20-24, hunger point.
10 comments

H$ is right. You should be our Facebook friend. Click this link and join up. If you already joined you already knew that I’d be reviewing Hunger Point. Be in the know! As an added bonus, I will be posting a photo of Kate and I dressed as shepherds for a Christmas pageant. Kate is holding a stuffed sheep. It is adorable!

Anyways, Hunger Point. I’m such a sucker for movies that star people before they end up super famous. If a pre-Mad Men Christina Hendricks wants to star in a Lifetime movie about weight issues, obviously I am recording it. The idea of an insanely beautiful woman not being as thin as her mother wants sounds so Lifetimey! This is going to be great!

I even cheated. Before catching a bus, I watched the first five minutes to see if it lived up the hype my brain had generated. Oh man had it ever. Does the idea of a gothy Christina Hendricks calling herself a “fat pig” in a mirror do it for you? Because it does it for me. And then, WHAM, sex scene. The first five minutes of Hunger Point are insanely glorious.

So my Valentine’s Day was all set. I breaded and pan fried a veal chop, steamed some broccoli, and opened a bottle of red wine. It was going to be me and Hunger Point.

Lifetime was my date and that bitch stood me up.

Holy Mother of God is Hunger Point terrible. Unwatchably so. This movie has no plot. It has no conflict. And each and every character is so terrible that you end up rooting for Ana to get all Angel of Death and wipe out the lot of them.

The film opens with a Tiger Mom, Marsha, taking her chubby pre-teen daughter, Frannie (total fattie name), to a Weight Watchers meeting. The next scene shows Marsha removing the skin from Frannie’s chicken. Throwing away the skin is a corporal offense in my family. Marsha is a monster!

Despite being thin, all of this focus on weight lands on the younger sister, Shelly. Shelly is explicitly told not to diet by Marsha because she already has “the legs of a gazelle.” But look at all the attention Frannie gets! Shelly wants a piece of that attention pie.

So then we have gothy Christina Hendricks calling herself a fat pig in high school and then college Christina Hendricks having clothed college sex. But Shelly calls in the middle of the intercoursing so sex is over. Frannie doesn’t understand how a girl can be skinny and still not happy.

Then we flash forward another five years and Shelly has just graduated from Cornell. She also has graduated to anorexia and bulimia. Next thing we know she is checking herself into a mental hospital for her eating disorders and depression.

So here’s the problem. We are ten minutes in. We have had two scenes with the mother where we get that she was terrible. And we also “get” that these eating disorders are mental and that Shelly is unwell. But you can’t have these showdowns between Marsha and Shelly ten minutes into the movie!  This is Teleplay 101! We are supposed to be sympathizing with Shelly but it is impossible. She is being so mean and critical! You need more examples of bad parenting to openly root against Marsha and that hasn’t happened yet. Somehow this movie takes the Tiger Mom and makes her the sympathetic character! And the cognitive dissonance is so bizarre because the viewer knows that’s wrong and not where your sympathies are supposed to lie. It makes everything muddled and confusing.

Things are going poorly for Frannie too. She is unemployed and living with her folks. She suspects that Marsha is having an affair with a rival real estate agent. Over the next 30 minutes we realize that Frannie is unsympathetic too. She eavesdrops, looks in people’s private diaries and documents, and can’t hold down a job because of her petulant attitude. And the Dad isn’t much better! He acts the nicest but they make a big deal of him never visiting Shelly in the hospital. So there it is! Four characters AND THEY ARE ALL BAD!

Does it sound like spending two hours with this family will be time well spent?

Shelly continues to go crazy at this mental facility. You know how in your favorite movie, Heavyweights, the kids are supposed to be losing weight but instead sneak in a bunch of junk food. That is what is happening here but the opposite! Patients are supposed to be gaining weight but the patients are smuggling in laxative recipes!

My favorite scene is Frannie and Shelly going out to lunch when Shelly is feeling better. Shelly orders a salad and does nothing but cut at it. Frannie orders a soup and wolfs it down. But Shelly can’t eat by herself. So she makes Frannie order a turkey club with extra Russian dressing and french fries. And man does Shelly eyefuck that sandwich. That sandwich is arousing her. Awesome.

Also, Frannie thinks she’s getting a job so she goes to the hospital and forces the patients to have an impromptu dance party on her behalf. It is squirmingly awesome.

An hour into the movie they let Shelly out because she seems happy. We viewers know that she’s happy because she has embraced her disease. Her family thinks she’s all better. Well, better or not, maybe starting a huge fight isn’t the way to go on her first night back. Frannie, our hero and supposedly sympathetic character, actually gets jealous that Shelly made friends at the hospital and that people are welcoming her back. So she berates Shelly at the dinner table. Then the parents go at it over the dad never visiting her at the hospital. The Dad points out that he was taking care of his father-in-law while Marsha was fucking other dudes. I hate these people!

Well, we can hate one less because Shelly kills herself right then and there. Surprise!

So now Frannie is super pissed and blames her mom for Shelly’s death. I mean, it was kind of everyone’s fault. Awesomely, she tells Marsha that she wants to take a gun to her boyfriend head. Then, at the funeral, it turns out that Marsha isn’t sleeping with the handsome realtor. She has been sleeping with her obese boss! Hahaha. Irony.

Frannie decides to get the ultimate revenge on her family by becoming anorexic and bulimic herself. That’ll show them! Way to think that one through, Francine. Dad catches her purging and tells her to stop being such an asshole.

Marsha moves out which makes Frannie even ragier. When she pays Mommie Dearest a visit everything that comes out of her mouth is soaked in vitriol. Marsha tries to make it better by offering her “sugar free Jello.”

1. Still with the weight? Even after your youngest had an eating disorder that led to her death?

2. I actually eat sugar free Jello and sugar free popsicles. Guess what two words I never say when offering someone Jello or popsicles.

3. Marsha doesn’t pull two plastic Jello containers out of the fridge. That would be too normal. Instead she pulls out two cocktail glasses filled with gelatin out of the fridge. How many glasses does she have in there? That is really weird!

This movie is interminable! I am sure the review is getting that way, but it just keeps going! Frannie meets a dickhead lawyer at her grandpa’s nursing home and they go on a date. He jokes about he used to be a skeleton in college when he had to make wrestling weight and WHOOPS. Frannie goes on a crying jag which leads to kissing. By date #2 he is calling her “the one.”

Dad puts on a cowboy outfit for a dating site and Frannie makes an impassioned speech about family at her sister’s grave. The End.

AWESOMENESS: 6

I guess it has to be seen to be believed. And it’s very well acted. But I’d have more of a rooting interest for a member of the Manson Family than these goons.

HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 10

This is a no-brainer. Marsha is played by Barbara Hershey. How great was she in Black Swan!? A million units of greatness.

As for Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks: This is the first time I had seen her in anything besides a red carpet special or an Everclear video. I plan on watching Mad Men eventually but I am zero episodes in. Everyone knows how gorgeous she is now, but this way before dudes were salivating over her. But even when she’s put in frumpy clothing instead of va-va-voom dresses, it just doesn’t matter. The camera LOVES her.

Ms. Hendricks is clearly a good actress. I can actually imagine scenes of this horrible movie making it on the clip reel that ended up at the Mad Men audition. I am glad she moved on to better things.

Also, in a true THAT GUY moment, Dad is played by Mark Zuckerberg’s attorney in The Social Network. No, not Rashida Jones. The other one.

LIFETIMENESS: 5

It’s about anorexia. I mean, come on.

GRAND TOTAL: 21

Famous, talented actors end up with far below the sum of their parts.

Edit: H$ is always right about everything, and this includes the significantly lower score that she gave this film when she reviewed it in 2009. Disagree? Why not check out her review here?

Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? January 21, 2011

Posted by Rusty in 20-24, mommy may i sleep with danger, tori spelling.
13 comments

Since “H$” asked for things to review, I guess I should mention that we’re all going to share a Lifetime, Wow e-mail account. So if you now there’s a really awesome movie on the horizon, e-mail us at lifetimewow [at] gmail [dot] com. This is especially useful if there’s a Lifetime movie on the schedule with an incomplete or terrible plot synopsis. There’s no way I’m DVRing something unless it sounds awesome. So let us know if a movie’s greatness is being hidden by an inadequate plot description.

Mother, May I Sleep with Danger.

MOTHER! TELL YOUR CHILDREN NOT TO...uh...not to sleep with danger I guess?

 

Let’s get one demerit out of the way: At no point does Tori Spelling ever ask for permission to sleep with Danger. Or ask her mom’s permission to sleep with anyone. By the time the mother is involved, there is already intercourse. Who knew that the best title in TV-movie history could be so damned misleading? At least Circle of Friends has a circle of friends.

We meet Laurel (oh, Jesus Christ), your prototypical type-A college student. She’s a double major! She is studying Chinese for a fellowship, she is an up-and-coming track prospect. What can’t she do? Well, she can’t be on the track team because her mother goes out of her way to tell the coach that she was previously hospitalized with an eating disorder. Geez, Mom! How embarrassing!

This brutal violation of trust is washed away like it’s no big deal. Bygones. Oh! Laurel has a boyfriend. And it’s the guy who murdered his ex-girlfriend with a pizza paddle (lol) in the opening of the movie! He used to be named Billy, but now he is named Kevin! That cad!

When he meets Laurel’s mom for the first time she immediately starts catching him in lies and bullshit. Your standard “my dad was on the board of directors of some doctor charity before dying in a skiing helicopter accident” fib. It’s a story as old as time.

Anyways, it turns out that BillyKevin might have some control issues? He gets infuriated if he doesn’t see Laurel everyday or if she doesn’t immediately return his calls. Laurel’s roommates are scared shitless of him and anyone with an ounce of sense can see this is bad news. BillyKevin even convinces Laurel to augment her “perfect body” by getting the “perfect haircut.” The perfect haircut is an atrocity and I was actually mad that I had to look at it.

She looks like Prince Valium.

See? Also, how great is Spaceballs?

 

I honestly think that despite (because of?) her ridiculous stapled-on cans, that Tori Spelling is/was very pretty. And that is ESPECIALLY the case with normal person hair. Puke brown color with ridiculous bangs might not get you into page 98 of Marie Claire, but she looked normal! That new haircut doesn’t even match the shape of her face!

Meanwhile, the real Kevin appears on the horizon. After his mistress got killed by BillyKevin (love triangle, ya’ll), RealKevin goes on a mountain adventure to find himself. That’s how BillyKevin stole his identity. But now with RealKevin back in the picture and applying at the same school (with the same transcript and the same social security number), BillyKevin needs to step in.

And he steps in with one of the weirdest scenes I have ever witnessed. BillyKevin runs into RealKevin at a hotel. The latter is checking in, the former pretends to work there. They’re talking about old times and the girl they were both banging that disappeared off the face of the Earth. And then RealKevin starts stripping. This love triangle connects at all points.

This isn’t supposed to be sexual or anything. Just two bros reconnecting and one of them needs to take a shower. But the hotel room, the masculinity, the SOFT FOCUS make this feel very sexual. And it doesn’t get better when RealKevin jumps into the shower and BillyKevin follows him into the bathroom. I, the creator of a blog reviewing Lifetime movies, am no arbiter of masculinity. But, no. This is a foul. Conversations stop at the bathroom threshold.

Eventually RealKevin asks for some shampoo and BillyKevin gives him a tire iron to the back of the head instead.

BillyKevin and Laurel continue to date but there are some cracks in BK’s facade. He’s acting too crazy, too possessive, and too violent. Laurel and BK actually move into a secluded cabin together (this, like Pogs, was a college fad in the mid-90s). After getting caught in some more lies (not ordering a telephone line, sabotaging her car) the relationship is OVER.

She’s picking up her stuff when BillyKevin tries to make peace by saying they should just be friends, and, oh, hey, how about some wine? Before Laurel can even take a sip the film cuts to her being carried around unconscious. Very el oh el.

Meanwhile Laurel’s mom figured everything out and is rushing to her cabin. (They switch cabins for some reason? How does BK know where the Laurel family compound is? It’s not like he can ask his roofied ex for directions.)

Laurel wakes up and tries to make her escape. It turns out she is an idiot. Here is her insane plan:

1. Run to the car. Car won’t start and BK catches up to her.

2. Slam the door into BK’s nuts! So far, so good. This works. Use this opportunity to run back to the cabin and bolt both doors and all the windows. Brandish a fire poker and wait. Yes! This works too! A fortified defensive position!

3. After BK starts slamming the front door with a hatchet, open the back door and run into the woods. Wait, WHAT!? Even total pushover Wendy Torrance knows enough to slash at the guy trying to hatchet into the door.  STAB HIM WITH THE POKER!

4. Run into the woods and find a river. Jump into a canoe and try to paddle to safety.

ONE OF THE FEW THINGS THIS MOVIE GOES OUT OF ITS WAY TO ESTABLISH IS THAT LAUREL IS A LONG DISTANCE SPRINTER. THIS IS LITERALLY THE BEST QUALITY TO HAVE WHEN ESCAPING A MURDERER. (Well, that and fishing for dogs.)

And her paddle skills are laughable. Tori Spelling honest-to-God had a paddle double for underwater shots. Tori Spelling is a lily dipper. (Incidentally, I am quite handy with the paddle. I highly recommend the Lower Gauley for your whitewater needs.)

Swimming is faster than paddling so BK swims up to her and knocks her out of the canoe.

(Off-topic: My dad always calls Bud Light “sex in a canoe” because “it’s like fucking water.” Great dad joke right there.)

5. Hide under a dock. This is fine, I guess. I don’t really see how it would work. But it is especially ridiculous when you consider the end of the movie.

Laurel gets back on the dock and is reunited with Mother. BK goes in for one last attack and he is knocked back into the water. The women look around, don’t see him and exclaim, “It’s over!” They then CASUALLY walk back to their cars.

HEY, DUMMIES! YOU JUST SUCCESSFULLY HID UNDER A DOCK. HE IS DOING THE SAME THING! And it’s not like he was poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disembowled, drawn and/or quartered. What’s the hypothesis here? That he was horseplayed to death? Death by roughhousing? Jesus Christ! Maybe show a little bit of urgency?

The film then ends with no resolution. The last shot is BK with longer hair dating someone else. Way to go, Mother and Laurel.

AWESOMENESS: 11

I am sorry, but this movie was underwhelming. All of its street cred comes from its admittedly bonkers title. Once you get past that, the bad guy is boring, the acting is atrocious, and the characters do things that make no sense.

I will give some credit for some of the director’s choices. My favorite shot was when BillyKevin and Mother fight in a quad. He jumps on his motorcycle and litereally leaves her in his rearview mirror. There’s another shot where it’s implied that BK is spying on Laurel, but, no. He was just in the bathroom. That stuff was great.

HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 5

Tori Spelling is the only actor of note. She is obviously one of our patron saints. True story: Kate had to talk me out of using that picture of her krazy kleavage from becoming the backdrop of this new site. She told me every reader would either be disgusted or offended. Valid point.

That being said:

This is the 9/11 of cleavage. Never Forget

LIFETIMENESS: 6

It’s certainly hysterical and over-the-top enough. But something about it seemed off. When researching this I was not surprised to see this movie debuted on NBC. It wasn’t a Lifetime movie that succeeded. It was a regular movie that failed.

GRAND TOTAL: 22

I know. I’m surprised too.

Family Sins [Trigger Warning for, uh, Everything] June 1, 2010

Posted by H$ in 20-24, family sins, H$.
Tags: ,
4 comments


[Harmony note: Since trauma is the bread and butter of the Lifetime film, I’m going to start putting trigger warnings in the titles when appropriate. On one hand a person can reasonably expect SOMETHING horrible will happen in a Lifetime movie. On the other hand, some movies go a little farther then others, so why not make it easier to skip something you don’t want to read?]


It’s always a happy occasion when Rusty and I have the time to watch a LMN movie together. Since we don’t get to do it very often, it’s best to try for a special occasion kind of a film. Family Sins hit our criteria through three very important key phrases: “true crime”, “evil basement”, and “Kirstie Alley”. We sat down on Friday with a bottle of Kid Rock’s favorite bourbon (Red Stag!) and gave it a go. 

 

First off, can I just say “ew”. It’s no secret that my favorite true crime Lifetime movies are the campy ones. This one was like if the team behind Saw remade Serial Mom. I know that it’s cliched to proclaim something Saw-like, but this movie is striving for it. Every third scene features someone being tortured in a grimy tableau. Your enjoyment of the movie will be predicated by your ability to enjoy watching a mentally handicapped woman get enslaved, beaten, and raped by people she trusted to take care of herself and her baby. Whoops, spoiler alert. Also, they rape her daughter. Again with the spoilers!

The movie starts with a family photo session that is probably trying to remind us of Capturing the Friedmans. (Remember when we talked about how it’s not a good idea to remind us of a better movie in the middle of a bad movie? Read the blog, you hacks!) Is this picture perfect family not what they seem, or will this be the most boring hour since Project Runway moved to Lifetime? Cut to Kirstie Alley playing Brenda Geck, celebrating Mothers Day with her extended brood of biological and foster kids. Her kids are creepy, too. One is a Spencer Pratt-y meathead. There’s also a girl who hides in the corner and looks and acts like pre-pubescent Carrie: sad, stuttery, and powerless. She spends a lot of her time shielding a tiny boy in her lap who looks a little too much like the Spencer dude. Brenda receives a bunch of lovely expensive appliances with price tags attached. Carrie, who is actually named Marie, is the only person who did not bring Brenda a Mother’s Day present. This is underlined, highlighted, and poked into our eyes by writers who are firm believers in foreshadowing. And rape basements. Mostly rape basements.

 

The film leaps forward and we learn that Marie has fled the household, little blonde mini-Spence in tow. She’s trying to find an official to listen to her story, but everyone is all “That family is cool, you crazy”. As always in Lifetime films, social services only exist to rip families apart, ignore children in crisis, and maybe set orphans on fire. Her flight to freedom is interspersed with flashbacks to her icky childhood. Apparently, Mrs. Geck spends most of her time teaching her kids to shoplift and setting fires in her family’s rental properties when the tenants displease her. Don’t worry for them though, it’s not all iron-fist tactics for a Geck property tenant. For example, one of the unfortunate arson victims was lucky enough to be taken in to their home, child in tow, for some loving rehabilitation. It’s unfortunate that the Geck family learned their rehab techniques from Abu Ghraib, but oh well. If sexual assault, torture, and forced labor is good enough for our enemies, it’s good enough for a mentally handicapped woman and her child. The mentally handicapped woman, who is named Nadine, is locked by Brenda in the basement for “her own good”. She doesn’t eat unless she does the housework to Brenda’s specifications, and the one time she flees the property she’s delivered back there by a well-meaning policeman and is rewarded with a beating from a stripped extension cord. She doesn’t have the werewithal to escape on her own, and her daughter doesn’t fare much better- raised as a Geck, as she grows older she learns of her mother’s imprisonment. She also learns that she’s expected to shoplift to support the family, and oh yeah, any male member of the family is entitled to sexually assault her at any time. One morning Brenda teases her for getting too fat, only to learn that she’s been impregnated by her son. Instead of being horrified, she beats up Marie for being dumb enough to get knocked up by one of her kids. One commenter on the Lifetime site singled this moment out as a “lighthearted teasing” scene that allowed Kirstie Alley to show her fun side. I didn’t know they had internet access in the violent offender wings of federal prisons, but you learn something new every day.


Carrie finally manages to find someone who will listen to her, a young DA that hasn’t drunk the Geck Kool-Aid. The pieces of Marie’s stories don’t mesh with what the town believes about the Gecks, but they make enough sense that he’s willing to hear her out. A raid on the Geck’s house reveals Nadine’s imprisonment, which is enough to put them all in custody while the DA builds a case. They slowly learn about the arson, the shoplifting, and the other illegal stuff the Gecks get up to. Brenda is unrepentant, and calls a dude that fences shoplifted goods for her to make things hard on Marie. He haunts her trailer, setting stuff on fire and breaking shit, but is generally just a nuisance as opposed to a real threat. And yes, the only other criminal in the film is black. Of course he is.

 

The climax of the film is the trial, which pretty much goes how you’d expect. Testimony is given, Marie cries a lot, Brenda looks suitably chagrined, and the men of the family get 10-20 years a piece for their involvement. The judge is super-excited to send Brenda to jail. Marie gets her public vindication, and she moves into a trailer with her mom. The film ends on a touching family hug. Yaaaay!


Awesomeness: 5
Urgh. Yes, this movie is campy and weird, and has a lot going for it in the arena of production values and a very strong cast. BUT! I cannot give awesomeness points to a movie where a mentally handicapped woman reminisces about how gentle her rapist was. Does that sentence make you feel awesome? Hey, me neither. 5 points for baseline awesome and I am cutting you off, movie.

Star Power: 6
Kirstie Alley has to be worth 5 points. She was in Cheers, and also is fat, which apparently means that as a nation we must observe and scrutinize her at all times. Everyone else in this had bit parts in every TV show ever, which makes them all annoyingly familiar but not immediately recognizable.


Lifetimeliness: 10
Now THIS is a Lifetime movie. Motherhood, child abuse, true crime, women in peril: this is the greatest hits reel of Lifetime Movies. This is Now Thats What I Call A Lifetime Movie!. It also had my favorite instance of a social services diss in one of these films: a harried social worker checking her watch and yawning as a child covered in bruises and close to tears says her family life is fine. Fuckin’ social workers. Am I right?

I feel 21 is fair. This movie is a riveting watch, and it’s certainly everything you’d expect from an LMN joint. But it is just SO GROSS. I’m going to go ahead and say you should watch it once, but I kind of doubt you’ll want to watch it again.

 

Volunteering Will Get You Shot In The Face December 7, 2009

Posted by H$ in 20-24, danielle steele, H$, safe harbor.
4 comments


Those of you wondering where your reviews are: I got the stomach flu! Hooray for life! It’s difficult to get together the stamina to watch and review terrible TV movies when you have the flu, especially when you fall asleep in the middle of them and have to start over. Talk about adding insult to influenza. Since Safe Harbor was on my streaming Netflix queue, it required the least amount of effort to view, so it got bumped up in the setlist. It’s the story of a grieving widow, her daughter, the creepy overbearing stranger who wants to fix their lives, and the dangers of volunteering. I am not kidding: Danielle Steele thinks that working with people in need is a quick path to an early grave. But we’ll get to that later.

The first half of the movie is pretty dull. Melissa Gilbert is Ophelia MacKenzie (gack), a widow with a terrible French accent and some big-time hangups re: the death of her husband and their son. She blames herself for their deaths because she committed the cardinal sin of the Lifetime movie mother and sent them on a trip because she needed some space. Naturally, they die in a fiery airplane explosion and she goes into a catatonic state of grief. Her daughter Pip, a precocious consolation prize, just wants her mom to stop being so mopey and start having fun again. Ophelia moves them to their oceanside vacation home to sulk in a nicer environment. Will Ophelia get her groove back? Like all Lifetime movies, the answer comes on the broad, hairy back of a possessive man!

Side note: Someone please write How Ophelia Got Her Groove Back. I can’t be the only English/Women’s Studies nerd who would love that.

Matt Bowles is a recent divorcee who lives in the same resort complex. He spends all day sitting on the beach, painting, and looking wistful as his chest hair puffs in the wind. He takes a weird interest in Pip, calling her over and showing her how to sketch and complementing her on things that are creepy for an older dude to notice. Ophelia notices their uncomfortable closeness, and like any good mother would, tells him to back off. But that’s the wrong answer, according to the movie and her erstwile galpal. According to her stupid friend, it’s a good thing that a weird guy is following Opie’s pubescent daughter around, and she should probably go ahead and fuck the guy now before someone else notices how great he is. The movie gets weirder from there, as Opie and Bill get to be good buddies and Pip and Bill cross all kinds of uncomfortable boundaries. I would like to say the worst part is when Bill takes Pip to a school dance, but that pales in comparison to Bill’s Christmas gift for Opie: a portrait of her two children. Yes, Bill stole a photo of Opie’s dead son from her bedside table and painted him alongside the remaining living child. BILL IS A NURTURING NUTJOB. DANGER, DANGER OPHELIA MACKENZIE. Not really, it’s a Lifetime movie. It’s just a countdown until she decides she loves his bossy, boring ass, and until she does the movie trundles on like a gutshot deer looking for a clearing in which to die.

In the meantime, Opie’s therapist convinces her it’s time to get out there and start working in her community to help her deal with her grief in a constructive way. This isn’t an uncommon suggestion for people who struggle with long term depression, and for many people it’s actually a great way to start making the human connections that draw you out of your sad blue shell. However, this is a Lifetime movie! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria! (I couldn’t resist.) Volunteering is set up as a terrifying whirlwind of middle-class nightmares from the get-go. Apparently, a sheltered mumbly lady with a terrible fake accent who has been volunteering with poor people for a whole week has all the skills necessary to go out 5 times a week and work with poor homeless kids. And oh my GOD is it offensive. Every single non-white person in the movie is either a volunteer or a vagrant, and the implication is every time she’s within spitting distance of either one of them she’s a heartbeat away from certain death The shots of Opie doling out blankets with this air of pained noblesse oblige are vomit-inducing, as is the praise heaped on her shoulders for her continuing stellar work as White Lady Jesus. Goddamn do I hate watching a movie where some pissant wearing bling that’s worth more then my car get turned into Lady Madonna because she schlepped some soup. Fuck you, movie.

(Okay, I’m a big time volunteer booster, so here’s my disclaimer: YAY VOLUNTEERS! Like in every other thing, Lifetime Movies are not reflections of real life. Volunteers who work hard for non-profits are their lifeblood, and we love them! If you really want to help your community, please get out there and do it. It’s always appreciated.)

But Bill is angry about her volunteer work, because it is so dangerous to spend time with people in a low-income demographic that she will surely be killed! Because poor people are violent and unstable and live to eat the flesh of those who shop at Croft and Barrel! And guess what? HE IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! She gives in to his pleas to quit, and at her last night on the site she gives this annoying speech about how she was volunteering because the hole in her heart, but now that hole is filled with Bill, so she doesn’t need to volunteer anymore. HOORAY! POVERTY IS CANCELED BECAUSE YOU DON’T NEED IT ANYMORE! THANKS, WHITE LADY JESUS! A few minutes later a homeless guy shoots her in the stomach for no discernible reason, and she’s off to the ICU. What fucking planet are you from, Danielle Steele? He visits her in the hospital, they are super-in love and decide to get married, whatever.

Bestest subplot ever- it turns out that Opie’s only friend was helping her husband cheat on her! Opie finds out, tosses a hissy, and orders the galpal out of her site. She resurfaces about 6 months later with a baby in her arms and terminal cancer. She reveals that she has cervical cancer, which she is sure that God gave her as a punishment for her infidelity, and that she wants Opie to adopt the baby as it is rightfully hers. Opie agrees that all of this is probably true, and we end up with another baby + wedding ending. Is this a common theme with Danielle Steele movies or what?

So, let’s summarize: you should not volunteer because you may die, and you definitely shouldn’t sleep with a married man lest the Lord decides to rot off your naughty bits with divine justice. However, nurturing a stranger’s Henry Darger-esque idealization of your daughter is a good way to meet Mr. Right. WHAT.

AWESOMENESS: 10 (out of 20)
I’m going to give this one a few more awesome points because it was just so fucking weird and crazy. After we got over the first hour blahs I was pretty much on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what weird new twist in the fabric of reality was going to justify the self-absorbed idiocy of the leading lady. It was kind of like watching The Twilight Zone and trying to guess what weird crap is going on just off camera that makes everyone so afraid of the cute little kid in the diner.

STAR POWER: 4 (out of 10)
Melissa Gilbert was the voice of Batgirl in Batman: The Animated Series! Oh, and she starred in the Little House on the Prairie TV show for a hundred years. 3 bat-points for Melissa. Brad Johnson starred in those damn Left Behind movies, so thanks for another point, Kirk Cameron.

LIFETIMELINESS: 9 (out of 10)
White Lady Jesus Christ Superstar! One point deducted for her only female friend turning out to be a traitorous bitch. That’s not cool, girlfriend.

23 points. This seems to be the sweet spot for these movies. Next up: Palomino!

Heartbeat! It’s a LOVE-beat! November 14, 2009

Posted by H$ in 20-24, danielle steele, H$, heartbeat.
3 comments

Good news! I found a working VCR, so I got to watch the end of Heartbeat today. And it is a doozy. Unfortunately no clips of this one exist that I can find, but please let me know if you have one I can toss up there.

Heartbeat kicks off with a lovely greeting from the authoress herself, who is for some reason in a kitchen making a giant sandwich. I guess we’re supposed to think she likes to kick back with a hoagie when she isn’t writing interchangable pink-jacketed novels. Apparently, Heartbeat is a “modern love story” about “finding love in unexpected places”! The first unexpected place we go to is an airport, where successful TV producer Bill Grant gives a weird, exposition heavy goodbye to his kids. My god, he is sad to see his kids go. You’d think they were going to China, or into outer space, as opposed to back to their mother for a while. Get used to it, because Bill is King Weepy Weirdo. He also loves kids more then anything else in the world, and the mere prospect of more kids turns him into a raving-yet-nurturing lunatic hellbent on fathering the fuck out of everyone in a ten-mile radius. But more on that later. Bill loves his kids, but he cannot live near them because he produces a very popular soap opera. He also happens to be dating the lead actress on the show. Way to go, Bill! She begs him to come on a trip to Vegas with her, but he declines. I’m sure he won’t regret it. Ahem.

Another program filmed in that television station is some vague news program that is produced by the heroine of our story, Adrain (?!) Townsend. Despite the fact that Adrain is a sentence fragment and not a real name, she has managed to succeed in life. She has a sweet-ass house, a sweet-ass job, and a husband who personifies 90’s TV movie beefcake. That is, until she goes and finds out she’s knocked up from a home pregnancy test that looks like an entry in a third-grade science fair. Maybe it makes a little baking-soda volcano if you got a positive result, I dunno. Her husband is the career type, and hates kids with a passion, so he informs her that she needs to get an abortion or he’s divorcing her. Dick move aside, I really have to wonder how she got pregnant if he’s that terrified of knocking his wife up. Snip snip, buddy. She goes in for the appointment and finds she cant go through with it, so her husband lawyers up and steals all their furniture and serves her divorce papers in the span of a week. Anyone else getting the feeling he might be the villain in this story?

Meanwhile, Bill calls his floozy starlet girlfriend only to learn that she’s cheating on him with her ex. Apparently they met up in Vegas, had a chat, and realized they were still in love. Now she wants to ditch the soap. Bill, being king of the passive aggressive nice guys, agrees to write her out of the show by having her brutally murdered. There’s a weird scene where they film a guy strangling her, then everyone applauds, then she tearfully thanks Bill for setting up a really awesome homicide. I guess we are supposed to think Bill is a sweetheart for releasing Ditzy from her contract and letting her run off with her new boyfriend, but having her faux-strangled in front of her friends and co-workers just seems creepy to me. Good thing Bill realizes he has weird issues with women, goes into therapy, and the film ends shortly thereafter.

Psych! Actually, Bill starts noticing Adrain around the office. And around the grocery store. And finally, around her front yard. He haunts her every step, telling cheesy jokes and insisting she comes to a 4th of July party at his place. This would be cute if Adrain did not reject his invitation 4 times, with increasing firmness, and emphasized the fact that she’s married in every conversation they had. It’s true that Adrain was in the midst of a divorce, but she was clearly not ready to be seeing someone new yet, and his creepy campaign to befriend her is obviously unwelcome. Nevertheless, she finds herself lonely on the 4th and decides to check his party out. As soon as he spots her, he ditches the rest of the party guests and follows her around talking about how amazing his kids are, and how much he loves kids in general, and how much he misses being married to someone who loves kids as much as he does. It’s fucking creepy, and if the guy wasn’t played by John Ritter I would have assumed he was going to steal her baby and flee to another country to raise it as his own. Since it is John Ritter, Adrain has no choice but to fall stupidly in love with him and his love for her fertile womb. Bummer for Adrain!

The movie gently montages us through the beginnings of their relationship. 10 synth-pounding-beach-jogging-pastel-hued minutes later, Bill proposes to Adrain. She is excited, but she’s not sure she’s ready to marry him, and she wants to have the baby first. This is completely unacceptable to Bill, who browbeats her about her inability to get over her husband and get on fast track to domestic bliss. She placates him by saying that she’ll marry him after she has the baby, but she wants her ex to witness his spawn and maybe have a chance to be a father first. Kinda stupid, but so are Bill and Adrain, so whatever. It’s not over yet, but I’m pretty sure you can see where this is going, so let’s fast forward. She drops her calf and immediately calls her husband. He comes around and offers to take her back with the baby as long as he has an option to return them to Bill later if he doesn’t want them. Adrain is not in the business of being treated like a holiday sweater, so she tells her ex to shove it and tearfully begs Bill to marry her. He agrees on one condition- he wants his name added to the baby’s birth certificate as his father. Adrain, who has already established that her creepdar is broken many times before, agrees to this. The last scene has Adrain and Bill walking down the aisle with their baby in their arms. Seriously. I’m pretty sure Bill would have just married the baby if he could have found a legal way to do so.

Awesomeness: 6 out of 20
This movie was many things, but awesome is not one of them. 5 of these points are for the science fair pregnancy test and a cute dog that appears halfway through the film. Sadly, he doesn’t get to walk down the aisle with the baby’s posse. The final point is just for the unrelenting bizzareness of the whole thing. I hesitate to reward a film that is about a man who stalks a pregnant woman to hang out with her baby more “awesome” points then strictly necessary. This whole thing made my skin crawl.

Star Factor: 7 out of 10
We all know who John Ritter is, and I’d say he’s famous enough for 5 points. Polly Draper, who played Adrain, was apparently a major cast member of thirtysomething. She also created some Nickelodeon show called The Naked Brothers Band, so good for her that she kept busy once the TV movie bubble burst. Finally, the evil husband was on the 1/2 Hour News Hour, so I guess he’s evil in real life too.

Lifetimeliness: 9 (out of 10)
BABIES! Babies babies babies. Babies? BABIES.

22. Sure hope Danielle steps it up for Palomino.