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.

ACTUAL AWESOMENESS: 2

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.

IRONIC AWESOMENESS: 6

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?

HEY! IT'S THAT GUY!: 8

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.

LIFETIMENESS: 10

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

GRAND TOTAL: 26

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.

6 comments:

whoabecca said...

LET'S TRICK TERRI INTO WATCHING THE ORIGINAL 'VANISHING.' WE WOULD BE DEAD TO HER.

Mindy said...

hey, i read it.

but i wanna know about the true story behind it.

don't ask me why. it can't be any more annoying than this movie was.
myspace.com/simplysarcasm

bibberly said...

I just found your blog, so I'm way behind on commenting on this, but this is the ultimate Lifetime movie (the one I force my friends and boyfriend to watch - well, besides She Cried No, but that wasn't originally for Lifetime).
I remember reading an interview with Kirsten Dunst in Seventeen magazine when this first came out. She said, "I wouldn't be stupid enough to get pregnant," which they used as the pull-out quote. They got some angry letters over that one.
The teen mother who speaks to the parenting class is the best part because it's so inappropriate. Her speech is geared toward convincing teens to take steps to avoid getting pregnant. It's completely useless for girls who already are!

Anonymous said...

I am 15 and almost engaged!
Shall I Get Pregnant In Colledge Or Not?

Jannie said...

Bibberly- so agree- what was the point of that teen girl talking to moms who are already pregnant? too late now ya think???? Also, my roomie in college and I watched this movie A LOT-and we got soo disturbed by the part in the beginning where Tina pulls down her panties and is relieved that she has her period- and it shows her blood stained panties- sorta yuck! and I remember Kirsten Dunst's interview and the angry letters that came after it!

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