Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mom at Sixteen

At a party, someone mentioned to me that her favorite aspect of Lifetime movies are the titles. They often sum up the entire plot in five words or less. I don't think that's ever been more true for the film Mom at Sixteen.

This barn-burner comes from the same writing and directing team that gave us Girl Posi+ive. Let's see how they compare.

It's the first day at a new high school for freshman Macy Jeffries and junior Jacey Jeffries. Yeah, that's right. Macy and Jacey. They have just moved and must integrate into the new school mid-semester. They are accompanied by their domineering mother, Terry, and her infant son, Charlie.

Since the baby's name doesn't rhyme with his siblings and since there is no man in Terry's life AND SINCE THE MOVIE'S TITLE GIVES AWAY AN IMPORTANT PLOT DEVELOPMENT, I am going to go out on a limb and say the baby is really Jacey's.

The second they walk into the school we're presented with a montage of students wearing revealing clothing and people making out in the halls. The kids aren't alright!

Jacey's first class is, naturally, sex ed. Oh goodness gracious they're talking about "hooking up." And sex bracelets. This is like a Laura Sessions Stepp fever dream. Let me please remind my readers that sex bracelets and rainbow parties are hoaxes used as an excuse to paint all the kids as sex fiends.

Next is gym. The gym teacher (Bob) is running swimming exercises and is forced to kick one student out for wearing a bikini. Only one-pieces are allowed. So far we've had two classes and I've seen more cleavage and making out than in my entire real-life high school experience.

Anyways, the gym teacher, who is married to the sex ed teacher (Donna), notices that Jacey has great potential as a swimmer. He asks her to join the swim team. She reluctantly agrees.

Now we get to see what life is like for our teacher couple. It turns out it's not good. The sex ed teacher desperately wants a child but she's as barren as Death Valley. They were set to adopt only to have the biological mother change her mind at the last second. In vitro fertilization has failed in the past, but they're ready to make another go of it.

Jacey goes to the gym teacher's office to talk about the swim team and sees the sex ed teacher injecting herself with hormones. The sex ed teacher is embarrassed, explains herself, and then asks Jacey to keep this a secret. I get the impression that the film is treating IVF as something to be ashamed of, but, whatever.

In the next sex ed class, they're (inappropriately) discussing abortion. I have no idea why, but Jacey decides to aggressively interrogate Donna over what she thinks about all these fetuses being vacuumed when some people can't get pregnant themselves. Donna is speechless.

Jacey turns out to be a great swimmer. She also turns out to be addicted to Valium and amphetamines. The highest of high comedy might just be a Lifetime actress pretending to be zoned on uppers. Jacey had more facial tics in 90 seconds than an autistic toddler has in a year.

After one intense swim meet, Jacey passes out. Donna somehow guesses that her baby brother is in fact her son. Donna, who is a fucking idiot, confronts Jacey a little too loudly and the secret is out. The next day students are, honest-to-God, whispering and fake-coughing insults like "whore" and "slut" at her. Just like what would happen in real life I'm sure.

The next night, Jacey and her mom are arguing over what's best for Charlie. Apparently, Charlie's father has no idea that Jacey was even knocked up. Jacey still loves him and wants him to be a part of the family. Jacey's mom vehemently disagrees.

All this yelling has Macy (remember her) completely freaked out. So she angrily dyes her hair purple and green and smears eye liner and lipstick all over her face. Then she hitchhikes to an arcade and pretends to smoke a cigarette while older boys paw at her.

Jacey waits up all night for her. "I used to sneak out and look what happened to me!"

Macy's awesome retort: "That will never happen to me! I'm not a slut!"

Game, set, and match.

Man, Donna officially runs the worst sex ed class ever. She already should have been reprimanded for outing Jacey as a mom. Now they're talking about infidelity and Jacey starts tattling on people who she knows are cheating. One of the cheating victims lashes out and exclaims, "At least I'm not a mom!" Jacey storms off.

Jacey takes the rest of the day off (there was a five day indoor-suspension at my high school for cutting class, btw) and decides to visit her baby daddy at college. They start making out and then she drops the bombshell. Surprise! You have a five-month-old son! The boyfriend acts understandably angry. Well, understandable to me. In the Lifetime Universe he might as well be a serial killer.

(This happened in Girl Posi+ive too. A girlfriend is totally dishonest with their significant other and the boyfriend becomes the bad guy when he finds out. Here's a note to the ladies: don't tell your boyfriend you were a virgin when you really have HIV and do tell your boyfriend if you're pregnant and carry the child to term.)

The father tries making amends but does it in the shittiest way possible. The ol' financial assistance route. Jacey tells the father to take a hike.

Meanwhile, Donna is in way over her head and is pressing Jacey's mom to give up total control on the parenting front. Jacey's Mom makes a good point. She's the one who took Charlie to the hospital for a fever in the middle of the night and still got both girls to school on time. She's the one who spends every waking moment with the kid. It doesn't matter whose vagina Charlie popped out of. She's the real mother.

Then the film takes a complete 180. Jacey decides to give the baby to Donna and Bob in an open adoption arrangement. Um. What? I don't think this is legal. Once the baby is shat out the father has some say in whether it's adopted or not. Right? And an open adoption between acquaintances is really unorthodox.

It doesn't matter. Donna and Bob are so baby hungry that they take in Charlie. The film ends five years later with Charlie enjoying Christmas with Bob, Donna, and Jacey. Charlie announces that he loves Jacey because he's "the only one who knows what her heart feels like from inside of her."


What dreck. The plot was in shambles. Jacey's drug use and Macy's rebellion were never explored. The technical aspects of the film were sorely lacking. Everything about this was bad, bad. bad.


The film wasn't funny enough to carry the ridiculous source material. I never thought a Lifetime movie with pregnancy, drugs, and smeared eyeliner could be so joyless.


Amazingly, this movie had an Oscar winner. Jacey's mom was played by Mercedes Ruehl from Big and The Fisher King. And Donna was portrayed by Jane Krakowski of 30 Rock and Ally McBeal fame.


Everything about this movie was pure Lifetime. There were two male characters. One was the unsympathetic baby daddy and the other, Bob, was often chastised for keeping his emotions in check. Why can't you cry in public, Bob!? You're just like every other man!

Also, Lifetime would like to remind you that teenage pregnancy rates are higher than ever. This is an outright lie, but it's never stopped Lifetime before.


It wasn't as average as the score indicates. Mom at Sixteen was maybe the least enjoyable movie I've seen since starting this blog. How it attracted an Oscar winner into the fold is beyond me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fatal Trust

"Yep, she's dead."

When those are the first words in a Lifetime movie, you just may have caught a winner. And Fatal Trust is a winner. I don't know how it will score out (there weren't a lot of famous people in this), but, man, what a roller coaster ride.

We open with a woman stopping her SUV in traffic. There's a traffic accident blocking the road and the woman behind the wheel is pronounced dead of a heart attack. It turns out the woman behind the SUV is a hometown girl who had big city dreams. Her failures have relegated her back to townie status. The sheriff recognizes her and gives her one of the great backhanded compliments of all time: "A lot of people are moving out of town. You're the only one moving back in. Good for you."

Oh, and the reason she's moving back is to get her asthmatic son some fresh air. The son is too ugly for both words and television.

As Kate drives off they show the local doctor who pronounced the woman dead. We immediately get the impression that he is evil. Also on the scene is a firefighter, Tom. Tom is Kate's high school flame. In a flashback sequence set in high school, they promise to love each other forever and have some spirited intercourse. You can tell they're in high school since Kate has a french braid. I guess "forever" meant two weeks (tops) before she drank too much jungle juice and got finger banged by some anonymous frat guy in a basement (College! Woo!). Just another country girl who's learnin' that the pitfalls of the city are extremely real.

Kate's half-sister Jessica, is running a breakfast joint called Dad's Diner. Kate's lined up to work the kitchen but Jessica remembers how much she hated kitchen work and tells her to find a better job. But first, of course, Kate has to visit her mother's grave. Her mother committed suicide two years ago and, on account of her son's illness, she missed the funeral. She runs into the evil doctor, Dr. Lucas. Dr. Lucas agrees to give the son a physical and immediately asks Kate for a date. She refuses. So, naturally, because this is what people do, he offers her a job as his assistant. She accepts.

Then we get a crazy flashback where we learn an escaped patient from a psych ward pushed Kate's husband in front of a subway train. This woman can't catch a break.

Driving to her first day on the job, Kate's car breaks down. She catches a ride from a local kooky cab driver who reminds me of Crazy Ralph from Friday the 13th and its immediate sequel. The cab driver warns Kate that Dr. Lucas is an evil man. Kate does not believe him.

So the job is going great except for two problems. The first is that the office typewriter smudges lower case "h's." The second is a bit more mysterious. Dr. Lucas has a mystery closet that he asks Kate not to snoop through. Hmmmm. How peculiar.

Kate's life is finally turning around after the death of her mom and baby daddy. She asks both Dr. Lucas and Tom over to dinner. This is retarded since both men want to stick it in her. Kate feels the same towards Tom, but she's trying to set Dr. Lucas up with Jessica. This fails completely and Dr. Lucas finally starts acting crazy. He gets all stalkery and steals Kate's favorite scarf.

Oh. And Kate drunkenly kisses Tom and tells him that "a drunk girl's lips are a sober girl's desires." Thanks, Lifetime, for presenting me with the best defense of date rape that I have ever heard.

When the crazy cab driver keeps bugging Kate about Dr. Lucas, the crazy medicine man decides to take matters into his own hands. He gets the key to the mystery closet, opens it, and...

You will never, ever guess what's in the mystery closet. Seriously, think of the most ridiculous thing. I'll give you a couple of minutes to think it over.


Hell yeah! A motherfucking rattlesnake!

Dr. Lucas extracts a bunch of snake venom and sneakily brushes it on to the cab driver's steering wheel. Apparently snake venom can penetrate human skin since the cab driver gets poisoned by the snake juice and dies behind the wheel.

Just like the lady in the beginning of the movie! And those drugs that he's been injecting into the town's old ladies. Not drugs! Venom!

Kate watches Dr. Lucas "try" to "resuscitate" the cab driver but, of course, he dies. Good thing this is Lifetime and Kate has extraordinary women's intuition. Kate immediately suspects the doctor of murder.

Kate goes on a date with Tom and starts kissing at him again. He asks his old flame, "Are you sure?" I whisper her response, "Yes, I'm sure," along with her. This disturbs me since this is the second line of dialogue that I've nailed in real time. Fucking Lifetime is messing with my conversation skills.

Dr. Lucas goes to the diner and Jessica moves in for the kill. She asks for a full body physical and mentions her hot flashes. Ewwwwwww. Jessica is the least effective cougar ever. Hilariously, Kate's son mentions his mom's "sleepover" and Dr. Lucas is clearly enraged. He mentions that he is going to give Tom a "flu shot." Haha, "flu shot" means "rattlesnake venom," lol.

Meanwhile, Kate is going through the medical records of all the old ladies and dudes who have been dropping like flies. Dr. Lucas says it's all heart disease and the medical files all corroborate his findings. But wait! The "h" in "heart disease" is smudged! Lucas has been altering the files!

Dr. Lucas storms into the office and sees Kate acting a little peculiar. She goes out to "get coffee." Instead, Kate visits the home of the doctor's last patient and finds a dead old lady. Kate calls the cops and convinces the sheriff to give her an autopsy. She calls in and says she has been having car trouble. But the Doctor doesn't believe her! Why!? BECAUSE THERE IS ALREADY COFFEE IN HIS PANTRY!!!

Kate arrives back at the office and is immediately bitch slapped by Dr. Lucas. He ties her up and prepares the venom but is interrupted by Tom. Tom stopped by to get his flu shot. Oh, so many people to kill and so little time! Tom immediately catches on that something weird is happening and a fight breaks out. Dr. Lucas escapes but Kate is rescued. They find the snake and a diary of all the people he's killed. And, yeah, he totally killed Jessica and Kate's mom.

(Incidentally, best press clipping headline ever: "Depressed Mother Commits Suicide." Can you imagine your local paper featuring that awesomely insensitive headline?)

So, there's a serial killer on the loose. He stabs a deputy with a scalpel and tries breaking into Kate's house. Tom gets shot in the back with a shotgun and everyone runs off into a corn field to heighten the drama. Dr. Lucas gets ahold of Kate's son but for some reason lets him go. Then Kate has a weird flashback to her baby daddy's bizarre death and starts shooting the shit out of the doctor.

Tom is somehow OK and he reunites with Kate. They discuss how Dr. Lucas had been killing people in towns across the country for years. That's right. Kate stopped the worst serial killer in North American history based on a hunch.


I'm taking away a hefty amount of points for the terrible visual effects. When Kate's boy toy gets nailed by a train, I want it to look realistic, God damn it!


Please refer to the rattlesnake picture. That is all I need to say.


Ok. The reason I was so excited to review this movie is because Kate is played by Dennis-Yarmouth High School's most famous graduate, Amy Jo Johnson. That's right. The Pink Ranger. Pterodactyl, bitches! Being from Yarmouth, I take enormous pride in the accomplishments of our local leading lady. Hell, she even had an album release party at the local indie record store.

And a big fuck you to IMDB for listing her hometown as "Cape Cod, Massachusetts." Cape Cod is a massive island that consists of 15 distinct towns (16 if you count Gosnold, but no one counts Gosnold). Amy Jo Johnson is from Cape Cod, but, more specifically, she is from Dennis.

(Ed Note: I just want to make it very clear that I did not attend D-Y High School. That school is public and I am better than that. I went here. Our most famous alumnus is Rich Cronin. Yeah, he likes girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch. What's it to you?)

The only other person in this who is sort of famous is Carol Alt, who played Jessica. Apparently, Alt was once a supermodel who appeared on the 1982 cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Which means that your dad rubbed one off while thinking about her. That's worth an extra point in my book.


A super evil dude and a whole lot of women's intuition. Combine that with the sacred bond between half-sisters and dialogue so obvious that I kept correctly guessing what a character would say ahead of time and you have an obvious Lifetime template.


Wow, we're on a roll here. That's the second straight movie to top 30 points.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Widow on the Hill

Finally, I get to review a movie held in such high esteem that Lifetime actually released it on DVD. Please look for Widow on the Hill at your local gas station's bargain bin.

The film opens with a very nicely dressed woman giving an interview to a TV tabloid reporter. Since the woman, Linda, played by Natasha Henstridge, doesn't trust the local press, the tabloids are her only hope of getting her story out.

Her story starts on the back of a motorcycle. She's somewhere in Virginia when she gets off her boy toy's bike and buys two Budweisers at a convenience store. When she walks back out, her man is gone. She's stranded.

While walking around town, she notices a large house on a hill. It's the kind of place she's always wanted. And what she wants, she gets.

After putting herself through nursing school, Linda becomes a hospice worker and gets assigned to a dying lady in, you guessed it!, the house on the hill.

Linda almost immediately begins flirting with the grieving husband, Hank (played by Lifetime staple "Mr. Babs" James Brolin). She is very touchy-feely and wears amusingly inappropriate clothing for a hospice worker. My mom's a hospice worker and she does not wear low cut shirts to work. Why someone would wear their personal clothing in a job that involves getting pooped on is beyond me.

The family dynamic is really quite interesting. The mom is all cancered up and out of the picture. So we have the horse ranch owner Hank and his two daughters. One daughter, Monica, is married and happy. The other, Jenny, just dropped out of college. At first it's implied that it's to take care of her sickly mother. It turns out that she's actually a raging alcoholic. She's only 20 and she can't touch the sauce. Same with Hank. He hasn't touched the stuff since Monica's wedding.

On her deathbed, Dying Mom promises the family heirloom, a sapphire ring, to Jenny. Jenny refuses because she's not dead yet. I only mention this because Linda is nowhere in this scene. SHE'S THE FUCKING NARRATOR! How could she have known about this conversation!? Come on, Lifetime. I expect better.

So, Mom dies. Linda goes in for the kill pretty much immediately. They start going to Episcopal services together (Hank sings in the choir). After only a few months, they're engaged. The engagement ring is, of course, the sapphire heirloom. Jenny's descent into madness continues.

Linda makes off with more than just the ring. She also gets the Dead Mom's fur coat. Hank rationalizes this by saying his dead wife would have wanted her to have it. The daughters and the townsfolk do not concur.

Linda wears the coat to a party. Underneath the coat? How about a black lace bra and garter set. Well played, Lifetime. They go back to her trailer park (seriously) and Linda makes tea for the sole purpose of it whistling when they start pawing at each other.

And then, dear God, we have a Lifetime sex scene. It's as horrible as it sounds. James Brolin even takes his shirt off. And then he totally gets his dick sucked. It's not subtle.

Hey, Lifetime, Wow! readers. I'm James Brolin and I like having my penis in a lady's mouth.

Linda and Hank get married. Monica grudgingly approves. Crazy Jenny does not. She's making her father's life a living Hell by nagging him about how evil Linda is. Like, the man is wealthy and he just scored Sil from Species as a trophy wife. Give the man a break.

Linda, being a mean-spirited gold digger, immediately starts up an affair with one of Hank's ranch hands. Linda makes no effort to hide this. She even takes her dick-on-the-side to church with her. When another ranch hand, the "loyal" Rick, catches the two in flagrante delicto, he threatens to tell Hank. That threat goes out the window when Linda opens her robe. Then they start going at it like rabbits.

You call tell Linda spends a lot of money on fancy lingerie.

Rick calls Jenny and tells her to confront her father. She does and all the bad karma she's been accruing throughout the film catches up with her. She's been so irrational about everything else involving Linda that her father refuses to believe her and calls her a bad daughter. Good.

But Hank is no dummy. Wait, yes he is. But he's not blind. He finally starts noticing Linda's inappropriate behavior and Linda doesn't deny a thing. She wanted those boys and she gets what she wants.

Hank threatens to divorce her and he dies of a "heart attack" a week later. Jenny immediately calls foul. The autopsy shows the cause of death was actually a morphine overdose. Ummm. I'm pretty sure heart attacks and morphine overdoses are in no way similar, but whatever.

When the daughters find a bunch of stolen morphine in the pantry, Linda gets arrested and indicted for first degree murder.

The movie then cuts to Jenny watching Linda's interview on a ridiculously old-timey TV (the budget was all wasted on fancy bras). She angrily turns off the television. The film fades to a shot of the house on the hill. As the film fades to black, text pops up informing us that Linda was acquitted with first degree murder and is studying to become an Episcopal deacon.


The score is so high here because I legitimately value trashy movies if they're done right. Example number one: Wild Things. Example number two: this movie. It was sordid, ridiculous, and honestly unpredictable. Even if you know Linda is going to kill Hank, the movie never gave away how or why.


"Trashy" is clearly something to aspire to. It goes beyond "so bad it's good." If done right, it really can become overwhelmingly awesome. And this movie was overwhelmingly awesome


First, let me send my condolences to Natasha Henstridge. This woman, who is basically and awesomely naked throughout all of Species, has filmed sex scenes with both Alfred Molina and James Brolin. That's a harsh hand to be dealt in life. Like, who cares if she can't act. Alfred Molina!

This isn't the first time I've reviewed a Lifetime movie featuring James Brolin. My original comments stand. He was Action Hero Pee-Wee! I said before that any James Brolin movie gets an automatic 10 in this category because of that role. And I would hate to be called a liar.

The awful daughter is played by Jewel Staite. Her filmography is unremarkable save for an appearance on a below-average episode of The X-Files and two episodes on perhaps the greatest show in the history of Snick (and no I'm not forgetting about Roundhouse).


None of the guys in this movie are evil. They are all incredibly stupid and sex-crazed. That's a pretty decent compromise by Lifetime standards.


This is the highest rated Lifetime movie in this blog's short history. Both the top spots are dominated by James Brolin. Coincidence?