Monday, December 31, 2007

Fifteen and Pregnant

What better way to ring in the new year than focusing on the ultimate Lifetime movie. The movie that inspired this very website. A movie so fundamentally flawed yet eminently watchable that it defies any reviewing system. Yes, Fifteen and Pregnant.

Fifteen and Pregnant
opens with 14-year-old Tina Spangler being dumped by her boyfriend. The boyfriend is not a nice guy. He drives a sports car, smokes cigarettes, cuts classes, and drinks vodka. And he wears a leather jacket. Totally bad news.

Tina discusses the break-up with her friend Laurie. Laurie is only 18 and already has a 2-year-old kid that's basically ruining her life. She works a minimum wage job at the mall and the stress of motherhood makes her insufferable. When Tina admits to having unprotected sex (Tina says her priest told her that birth control is a worse sin than pre-maritals because it denotes pre-meditation), Laurie is predictably incensed.

Tina's home life isn't much better than her sex life. Her parents have been separated due to Dad's infidelity. She doesn't get along with her two younger siblings and her mom, well, her mom is a piece work. She is presented as the rock of the family, but never before has the "good guy" in a movie been so unlikable. She has no redeeming qualities. Her ludicrously strong Southern accent does not help.

One the morning of Tina's 15th birthday, her mom, Evie, is driving her to school. They're listening to talk radio and, naturally, the topic is the "epidemic" of teen pregnancies. "Epidemic" is a funny word to use. Especially after considering that American teen pregnancy rates were dropping substantially in the late 90s (this movie was released in 1998). This is, even for Lifetime, quite alarmist.

Evie asks her daughter is she or any of her friends are sexually active. Tina answers affirmatively (and vaguely). Evie is freaked.

Of course Evie's mind is totally blown when Tina admits she's pregnant. "Back in my day, kids just weren't sexually active." This is the falsest thing I have ever heard.

Evie and Tina discuss their options. You know how films where people get preggers like Knocked Up and Juno treat abortion as an option that just isn't right for the mother-to-be? Well, there's no such subtlety here. Abortion is "murder." Period. You know what else is unacceptable? Adoption. No, seriously. Having one of their own raised by strangers is viewed as unacceptable. That leaves Tina with two paths. Suicide or shitting the baby out. She makes the wrong choice.

The first order of business is telling her ex-boyfriend, Ray. Ray avoids Tina's phone calls for two weeks. When she finally corners him, he promises to be a better father than his old man.

Next order of business is school. Tina is outraged that her condition precludes her from playing soccer. Her parents are outraged that the school won't allow Tina to take regular classes. She has to take a parenting class in a trailer on school grounds.

I'm guessing the water in this town is laced with Spanish Fly instead of fluoride, because one town really shouldn't have so many pregnant teenagers. There are like two dozen. I mean, if this were a city, then, yeah, fine. But this is a dying city in Middle America. Please.

Anyways, one of the classes features a guest speaker. She's a teenage mom who gave birth four months ago. The story she tells really lifts the spirits of her audience. Since giving birth she has lost all of her money and her friends. The only things she feels are loneliness and wanting to go to sleep. She is totally broken.

I don't think that's really what the knocked up ladies needed to hear.

Inevitably, Ray starts missing classes. Laurie tells Tina that she saw him at the mall with a new girl. Indeed, Ray has dumped Tina for what can only be described as the ugliest woman in the history of film. This is a "you have to see it for yourself" moment. Tina confronts her with a "ONCE YOU'RE PREGNANT HE'LL DUMP YOU" and storms off. No one is there for her. Except for her mother. And, honestly, I'd prefer no one.

Here's an example of bad the mother is. She won't let Tina use her OB/GYN because she's too embarrassed. She is undermining the quality of her daughter's pre-natal care because she doesn't want people to find out her daughter's situation. That qualifies her as a pretty bad mother.

Example number two is when Laurie's mom offers to throw Tina a baby shower. The party goes on as planned with one slight hitch. No one shows up. Why? Because Evie refused to invite anyone. That would be too embarrassing.

Evie is an irredeemably vile creature.

The combination of Tina's flimsy maternal support and her baby daddy running off with the "ugliest woman in the history of film," the family calls in the cavalry. Her dad, Cal, shows up with his mother Rachel. Surely their support can guide Tina through this difficult time.

Well, Grandma Rachel is such a nightmare that Cal sends her back to Kansas (along with their other daughter who, quite reasonably, hates her entire family). Cal defending his family gets him back in Evie's good graces and they reconcile. To show the audience who's boss, Cal's first scene after the reconciliation is of him giving Evie a foot massage.

Tina gives birth and smiles. The End.


This movie is so bad. The direction is awful and the acting isn't much better. Kirsten Dunst is this big A-list star, but here she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. Yet, in terms of talent, she's clearly head and shoulders over her co-stars.


Talking about this movie is significantly more fun than watching this movie. For all of it's silliness, it's incredibly hard to watch without being bored to tears. Every magical moment is offset by five minutes where nothing happens. Still, talking about Fifteen and Pregnant is about as excited as I get in my sad little life.

Six is a compromise score. It's not so bad it's good. It's so bad it's bad. But so bad it's noteworthy and awesome. Get it?


Huge bonus points for the A-list star. But no one else here is notable. I'm actually deducting a point for the presence of Park Overall. Overall, who portrayed Evil Evie, was in the American version of The Vanishing. People, if someone tries to get you to watch the American version of this movie, that person is not your friend and is not to be trusted. Stick to the Belgian version, for the love of God.


Only because it's can't get a 100. This is the blueprint. This is the archetype.


Have you noticed that all these movies end up being a 26 or 28? I need to work on that.

Anyways, this isn't a movie anymore. It's an event. It was the inspiration behind me writing 2,000 word posts that are read by a dozen people. It changed my life.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Someone to Love Me

Last night features a Lifetime Movie Network double header. That's right, two Lifetime movies for the price of one (free!). I decided to start with the write-up for movie number two. Movie number one is a little higher in the ol' prestige department so I want to make sure it gets the top of the page.

Someone to Love Me opens with a frisky looking redhead getting her chemistry book from her locker after hours. Since "after hours" is a euphemism for "sexy time," the viewer is not the least bit surprised when our redhead, Cayley, is violently raped in the school parking lot.

The rapist, Ian, is called to the guidance counselor's office to talk to some police. He is decked out in a white sweater with blue trim and a tennis racket. I like this Ian guy.

Ian says the sex was consensual and that he and Cayley had "done it" before. Furthermore, why would he have to rape someone that everyone knew was the school tramp? When a district attorney asks Cayley, in front of her "wonder"ful mom, if she had previously slept with Ian or any other boys, we get a "three months earlier" flashback.

Cayley and her mom are new to town. They just moved after the man of the house fell asleep at the wheel and went over a guardrail. They hope to start fresh. Cayley isn't taking the death of her father too well. And she's the shy type, so she isn't making any friends at school. That is until she meets Kim. Kim, who is clearly in her 30s, is the super-perky stage manager of the school play. When she notices Cayley sketching some outfits, Kim invites her to be the costume designer for the show.

Kim is kind of crazy though. She's in love with the male lead and goes as far to light a red candle every night so that he'll fall in love with her. Also, she hides outside his house in case he walks past a window. Seriously. This nutjob is presented as the "stable" friend.

Ian, who is dating the female lead, notices Cayley. "Man, my girlfriend doesn't have a body like that." Ian bets his friends $50 that he can fuck Cayley by the end of the week.

After some sweet talk, Cayley goes on a date with Ian. Ian wins the bet in the back of his van. Nice.

At a rehearsal a few days later, the female lead, Leigh, goes all apeshit on Cayley. "You thought you could take my man, but you're just some piece of ass" type trash talking. Ian and Leigh are still dating and Cayley is heartbroken. Ian's friends notice the emotional carnage and one of them, quite sweetly if you ask me, bets Ian double or nothing that he can fuck Cayley too.

After some sweet talk, Cayley goes on a date with Ian's friend. He wins the bet in the back of his sports car. Nice.

Cayley goes home realizing that she was taken advantage of again. She brushes off her mother and storms into the bathroom. She looks herself in the mirror and starts whispering, getting louder every time, "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you."

Now the rumor mill starts churning. Hell, if I won $50 boning the prettiest girl in school, I'd tell people too. Someone, probably Leigh, writes "SLUT" on Cayley's locker. The whispering and finger-pointing become too much.

Thankfully, Cayley still has her crazy friend Kim. Kim knows the real Cayley and won't be swayed by the rumors. Until she walks in on her man-crush and Cayley backstage in their underwear. That is one betrayal that she won't accept.

(It's implied that they did not have sex since Kim walked in before sweet insertion. Also, it should be noted that Cayley seduced the dude and not vice versa. We're beyond her being taken advantage of and into total sexy compulsion.)

Cayley walks home from school and some random dude in a convertible pulls up and asks if she's looking for a good time. And, I swear to God, she almost gets in the car. What a moron.

Since her life is in shambles, Cayley talks to the guidance counselor about her promiscuity. Her favorite part about sex? "Feeling not-feeling. Going numb to everything around me and only focusing on one thing." Whatever. I like slutty Cayley more than "I bone to avoid thinking about my dead father" Cayley.

So, our whorish little protagonist decided to fix things once and for all. No more sexxxin'. Then she gets raped by Ian. But this time, we see two black shoes in the parking lot. Someone witnessed this horrible event. But who?

End of flashback.

The District Attorney says it will be hard to prosecute without a witness. Thankfully, right before the show, Leigh is acting a bit skittish. She thanks Cayley for showing her what a jerk Ian was. That's right, she actually is selfish enough to say, "Thank you for being raped by Ian. He is such a jerk."

At first Leigh refuses to testify. Then Cayley convinces her. Then Leigh gets unconvinced by a physically threatening Ian. She gets subpoenaed anyways and breaks down on the stand. Ian's "she is a slut" defense fails and he is convicted. The D.A. says this is a victory that proves that "just because you have sex once doesn't mean a girl can't say 'no' later." True that, sister.


This really wasn't that bad. I watched the entire thing and didn't get bored until the very end Nothing really stuck out as being especially bad. The screenplay was serviceable and the direction wasn't too showy. Even the lighting and sound mixing were more than adequate. This is a rarity for the Lifetime oeuvre.


Which is not to say that the film didn't have its moments. The mid-90s clothes, the bad guys in their sweet vans and Camaroes, the crazy friends. And, of course, the lead whispering "I hate you" into a mirror. That was all pretty fantastic. I just wish the trial featured as much melodrama as the 90 minute flashback.


Two recognizable faces here. One of which is Lifetime staple Lynda Carter. Wonder Woman shows up in a lot of these things and she's always welcome on my television set. Our rapist, Ian, is played by none other than the former Mr. Jennifer Garner, Scott Foley. Foley has a resume filled with shitty television. Glad to know where he got his start.

I'm deducting a point because I would have sworn that the D.A. was played by Shannon Tweed. Alas, my mental database of 1980s softcore erotica needs a reboot. It wasn't her. Boo to that.

The lead was portrayed by Dr. Quinn veteran Jessica Bowman. Bowman is important to me because she was the popular girl who invited Cory and not Shawn to her make-out party. Why? Because her parents wouldn't let her invite the "cool" kids because they're more likely to be naughty. This was Season 2/7th grade. Like I needed to tell you that. Boy Meets World involvement is always worth an extra point, so that washes out the lack of Shannon Tweed.


Melodrama, rape, no sympathetic men, painting in broad strokes...this movie is guilty of it all. But I really would have preferred it gone totally off the deep end. The flashback is fantastic, but I was bored to tears by the time we got to the rape trial. I just wish the film kept its crazy intensity.


This is a particularly high score for a particularly ridiculous film. Set your DVRs accordingly.