Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Stolen Miracle

It's that special time of year when Lifetime drags out all of the Christmas themed made-for-TV movies out of their vault. I hate this time of year. In the Lifetime universe, the only thing about as strong as a man's desire to rape, abuse, and/or murder woman is the Christmas Spirit.

So here we have Stolen Miracle. The best thing I have to say about it is that at least it doesn't pretend to not be in Canada. The accents are out in full force. One woman even reacts at the idea of a hotel in town by exclaiming "This isn't Toronto, ya know!" So, there's that.

The film opens on December 23rd in a church. Awwww, a Christmas pageant. The children are all dressed as shepherds and sheep and wise men. The children are non-plussed by the whole ordeal. The parents, however, are going absolutely ga-ga. Laughter and smiles all around. (This is basically the opposite of every Christmas pageant ever. By the time the Wise Men show up most of the parents want to crack into the egg nog.) Then one of the mothers collapses in a pregnant heap and needs to be taken to the emergency room to shit out a baby.

The baby is delivered and it's healthy. It's also the cleanest fucking baby I've ever seen. My roommate pointed it out thusly: "Lifetime births never show the raspberry jam and cream cheese." Nice.

Now we're introduced to a family. The mom is a cop with an unspeakably horrible haircut. Short hair on ladies is fine and dandy. But it probably shouldn't be shorter than mine. And I am by no means a "long haired freaky person."

So, yeah, we have cop mom. Cop mom, Jane, is overworked and her family never gets to see her. Her husband accuses her of spending too much time with her former partner and current boss. Her children feel neglected and HOLY SHIT!!! Her pre-teen son! George Michael Bluth! His voice hasn't even changed yet! I am suddenly very excited about Stolen Miracle.

OK. I got off-track there. Jane's husband is upset for not getting any intimate times and Jane's son is upset because she refuses to buy him a scooter for Christmas. Scooters are too dangerous or something. My opinion on the "danger" of scooters is best illustrated two-and-a-half minutes into this Undeclared clip.

And now we're introduced to a third family. Ugh. These are clearly the bad guys. The dude is wearing a black wife-beater, drinking Budweiser, and watching NASCAR. And he's unemployed and on parole. Lifetime paints in broad strokes. The woman is fake-pregnant and is crazy. She looks like a much older version of popular DC blogger Rebecca Armendariz.

So, there's the set up. Crazy Lady, who goes by both Margaret and Mary, takes the newborn baby right out of the hospital and leaves. Nervous breakdowns and hospital lock downs ensue. Margaret escapes.

The chase begins but with some additional drama: the baby hadn't been feeding. It could get malnourished and dehydrated if not fed as soon as possible. So, the cops are on the clock. Volunteers from all over town are knocking on doors to find this child. Others are, awesomely, going through dumpsters. This freaks out the grieving mother even further.

I've been told that these reviews run too long so I guess I should "cut to the chase," as it were. The ex-con boyfriend demands that Mary return the baby. She threatens to frame him. When the police throw up roadblocks, the happy couple decides to make a run for it. They break the roadblock and end up at a convenience store. When the ex-con see a television with his mugshot on it, he flees and leaves Mary and the baby. Jane spots the car and chases it into a lake. Yes, really. So now everyone thinks the baby is dead.

Nope, she's in a hotel and acting even more erratically. The baby won't drink formula and is freaking out from all the starvation. One witness even sees her throw the baby, hard, onto a bed. Yet Jane is still one step behind. By the time she sleuths her way to the hotel, Mary is hitchhiking on a big rig.

Jane finally traces Mary to her childhood home. We find her in the balcony during a midnight Mass on Christmas morning. (Please note that the baby is supposed to be 36 hours old and it looks like it's about ready to start crawling.) Jane wrestles the baby away and all ends well.

Jane relents to letting George Michael have his scooter. It turns out her brother died at his age when he was hit by a car. Since then, Jane has wanted to protect everyone. It's why she won't let the littlest Bluth have a scooter and why she became a cop. Jane's husband apologizes for accusing his wife of having an affair and Merry Christmas everyone!

See, ladies. A job, a can have it all!


The film was gray and joyless. But, and I rarely have the opportunity to say this about Lifetime movies, it got better as it went along. It even ended with a joke (George Michael immediately crashing his scooter) that made me giggle. That never happens in these humorless movies. Well played.


Every scene with the bad guys was pure gold. They mugged and overacted through 20 minutes of screen time. Each scene that they were featured in lifted my spirits tremendously. Every word of stilted dialogue was fantastic.


George. Michael. Bluth. Before puberty. The man who coined the term "They brushed our teeth with their dicks!" speaking in a boyish squeal. All of it priceless.

Minus one point for not featuring a single other famous person. Like, Jane was on Season One of 24. That's it. Lame.


Slight penalty for not featuring a black police officer. But any story where a woman has to juggle a family and a job while searching for a kidnapped baby has to score high here. It just has to.


Not bad. Not bad at all. Although it should be noted that if it weren't for the presence of Michael Cera, this movie would have scored a 17. So, viewer beware.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Girl, Posi+ive

Well, it's been 40 days since my last review. Forty days is also the amount of time Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by Satan. Coincidence? Probably! Let's get right to it, shall we?

Girl, Posi+ive opens at a raging pool party. You can tell it's raging since the ladies are in skimpy bikinis and people are blowing rails. We follow around one particular lady, Rachel, with a particularly heinous butterfly tramp stamp. She's in love with the host of the party, her next door neighbor, Jason. How do we know this? I am so glad you asked! I swear to God, there is an instant messaging conversation floating above the action. And it's all in teen speak. Stuff like "R U hot 4 hm?" "OMG, yeah, lol." "IDK, my bff, Jill?" It's kind of soul crushing.

We finally get to see Jason while Rachel is in the pool. He's a tall handsome fellow who is clearly the star of the football team. We get a flash forward to his death in a car accident.

I guess we're keeping with the flash forward since the school is now plastered with Jason memorials. Rachel wakes up next to her boyfriend. He sneaks out and doesn't get caught because Rachel's mom is single and spent the night with some dude. Typical subtlety from a Lifetime movie. Rachel sneaks a hidden birth control pill. See!? She's responsible! She meets up with her "bff" Lindsey and they get a ride with Mark. Mark is Jason's brother. Awwwwkwarrrrd.

At the same time, substitute teacher Sarah Bennett is getting ready for her first day on the job. She prepares by getting a biology text book and taking a massive drug cocktail. HIV.

We go to class, there's an inevitable lecture from Ms. Bennett about how one person with HIV can spread it to an entire population and Jesus Christ this is boring. Can Rachel just get HIV already?

Well, we're saved when Lindsey and Rachel are having an IM conversation that night. Lindsey frantically urges Rachel to check her MySpace page. Someone posted Jason's medical file. Turns out he was riding the horse during his crash. Someone named "Concerned Citizen" starts IMing Rachel about Jason. He links to a video of Jason pushing off.

OK. Clearly, CLEARLY, "Concerned Citizen" is Mark. The fact that this is supposed to be a mystery is insulting. Also, I don't want to get too serious here, but I've had some experience as the younger brother living with the heroin addicted older brother. And if someone is able to sneak up on you and videotape your illicit drug use, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

The amount of technology I'm dealing with is also quite frustrating. MySpace, IM, and there's even a fucking vlogger. My viewing companion pointed out that Lifetime was trying to attract a youthful audience. And what do kids love? The Internet! Put in more Internet!

Oh, Jason was HIV-positive. That's probably important. We flashback to the pool party where it turns out that Rachel lost her virginity to Jason without using any protection. The freak-out begins.

Rachel sees Ms. Bennett about "volunteering" at an AIDS clinic. She shows up and secretly takes an HIV swab test. It shows up positive and the freak out devolves into anxiety attacks.

Perhaps the greatest part about this whole ordeal is that Rachel is in such denial that she refuses to get a blood test. She "obviously" doesn't have HIV and there would be no reason to go back to the clinic. In order to convince Rachel, Ms. Bennett confesses to Rachel that she also has HIV and she leads a healthy, normal life. Rachel, quite accurately, points out that her life is far from normal. It's nothing but drug cocktails and secrets.

Rachel finally starts to wise up and admits the HIV scare to her boyfriend. He is not pleased. I know it's Lifetime and we're supposed to hate this dude, but, come on. Wouldn't you be a little freaked out and angry? And Rachel has the audacity to suggest that she could have got it from him. She knew very well where she got the virus and her attempt to pin it on the current boyfriend was shameless.

She makes him promise not to tell anyone about the scare. (By the way, promises in this alternate universe are made by saying the word "butterfly." Kind of like in Enough when J-Lo and Juliette Lewis say goodbye to each other by using the words "cake" and "pie." Do people really talk like this?) He promises but quickly (and correctly/understandably) tells his mom.

The boyfriend's mom exacerbates the situation by going to Rachel's mother. Rachel's mom is crazy. The depth of her denial - it's more than just a river! - is astounding. "Rachel doesn't have a tattoo!" "Rachel isn't on birth control!" "Rachel is a virgin!" "If it's an AIDS scare then your son must be gay!"

The boyfriend's mom gets kicked out and calls her friends to complain. The gossip mill starts doing its thing. You can tell since the movie cuts to 16 split screens of houses with a bunch of phone chatter in the background. That is what bad movies do when they want to tell you a rumor is spreading.

Oh, and Mark confesses that he is "Concerned Citizen" and gets slapped for his trouble. Not only is Rachel all STD-ish, she is also a fucking moron for not figuring that out sooner. And the slap? Really? I know ignorance is bliss and all, but, trust me, you want to know if you have a virus that causes AIDS.

So obviously word has spread to everyone about Rachel's predicament. She's a social pariah to everyone but Mark, Lindsey, and her gay vlogger friend. The boyfriend dumps her and even punches a locker to show how serious and angry he is. With the word out, Rachel finally relents to getting a blood test.

Oh, Ms. Bennett admits to another teacher trying to woo her that she's HIV-positive. She refuses to live in the shadows! This whole teacher B-plot is really fucking boring.

Rachel's mother has finally wised up and she decides to get an HIV test too. Both for emotional support and because she's "made some bad decisions too." Haha. Slut.

The school is throwing a pep rally in Jason's honor. Mark has made up a video highlight package of all his best plays. It ends with a confession recorded on Jason's cellphone. He wants to let people know that HIV can happen to anyone and that people should learn from his mistakes.

I dunno, Jason. You could have done this in person instead of getting high as fuck and killing yourself in a car accident. My way seems more pragmatic than your way. What kind of crazy person makes confessions on their cell phone anyways? And why is your cell phone video in DVD quality? This makes no sense.

Jason's posthumous admission stuns the student body. The next day hordes of students file into the AIDS clinic to get tested. Hilariously, they refuse to sit down since they're afraid the HIV will somehow penetrate their clothing and get into their blood stream.

Ms. Bennett starts dating the dude teacher. He's ok with her status. He tells a story about his wife dying in a car accident for some reason. She responds by saying that she eats chocolate in the bathtub since the calories she always thought the calories won't stick if she's floating. Seriously, read that back. Huh?

Mark and Rachel fall in love. But, just so no one gets any ideas about a happy ending, the last scene of the film is a doctor confirming her HIV status. Haha. Awesome.


This movie is an affront to any under the age of 25. As mentioned previously, Lifetime was clearly going after a youthful audience. What do the kids like these days? The Internet! And weird fades, cuts, and other editing tricks that don't make any sense! Nielsen gold, I tells ya!

Then again, the 13-25 female demographic might actually be that stupid. If Hannah Montana shows are selling out, who knows?


Of course all of those things are what made the movie so fucking awesome.


Ms. Bennett is played by Jennie Garth. 90210 alums are worth at least five points no matter what. Law & Order ringer S. Epatha Merkerson has a small role as the lesbian director of the AIDS clinic.

Rachel was played by a Desperate Housewives cast member. I know nothing of that show but I imagine the typical Lifetime viewer was very excited to see her.


Overwrought? Yes. But only one "evil" boyfriend. Most of the dudes here are really nice. That is a very disconcerting thing to see in a Lifetime movie. And no black cops!? WTF!? I guess one bonus point for the black paramedic.

Also, products of single mothers making bad life decisions? Check! Public service announcement at the end? Check!


Not in the pantheon of the great Lifetime movies, but certainly not a bad way to kill two hours and a bottle of wine when the mood strikes you.