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."
ACTUAL AWESOMENESS: 1
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.
IRONIC AWESOMENESS: 3
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.
HEY! IT'S THAT GUY!: 8
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.
GRAND TOTAL: 21
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.