Thursday, April 24, 2008

Black Friday

I am having a crisis of faith. I love Lifetime movies. Even a lot of the movies that get bad reviews on this site. They're still a good way to kill two hours. But the last few movies haven't even qualified as "good bad" or "tolerable bad." They're just "bad bad." Like, uncomfortably "bad bad."

This review will, hopefully, be shorter than the others. There's just no way around it. Black Friday is the worst piece of garbage I have ever seen. I would have rather waited in line at the DMV for two hours. At least that two hour wait has a payoff.

Rachel is a single mom and bank executive who is in charge of her bank's security. She has set up a security system so awesome that no one can hope to break into the banks files. She goes on an overnight trip to tell a bunch of investors how awesome she is. When she gets back, she realizes her daughter and her sitter have been kidnapped.

That's right. They stole the plot to Firewall.

Rachel is told to break into a specific safe deposit box. First she tries to break into the box's owner's house. Naturally, the owner is found dead.

Rachel doesn't know what to do, so she calls her best friend. Her best friend is a blogger. You can tell because she says ultra-retarded things like, "Well, I'm off to the blogosphere." She writes "City Whispers," a blog devoted to, I swear to God, complaining about the city they live in. Lame.

A district attorney goes to the bank with a warrant the next morning. The dead cop told him about the precious lockbox and he'd like to take a look. Rachel stalls them and steals the memory card inside. Because Rachel, despite being the vice president at a motherfucking bank, is a moron, she asks the investigators why a cop would kill himself. Since they didn't mention suicide, cops, death, or anything like that, the investigators correctly identify this as suspicious behavior.

Meanwhile, the sitter tries to escape and she is killed for her transgression.

Wait, what? Talk about a weirdly jolting plot development. It's just so out of place for a Lifetime movie to involve executions of innocent female babysitters.

It turns out that the kidnappers are crooked cops who like to execute people. One of them is Judd Nelson.

Rachel makes copies of the memory card and drives off to exchange the card for her daughter. There is some arguing and a scuffle. They escape and shoot the evil kidnapper. The other kidnapper, Judd, is arrested on his police shift.

I'm sorry I wasted your time with this shitty review, but if I spend another hour thinking about this Lifetime abortion I think I will go mad.


I am a better actor than these hacks.


There is no joy in Mudville.


Seeing Judd Nelson should be a cause for excitement. Instead, it's just sad.


A single working mother looking for her lost child? Yeah, that sounds about right. But I'm taking away points for the murder of the innocent babysitter, and for the total lack of women's intuition on Rachel's part. Also, no black cops.


Maybe I should be choosier and not just watch whatever old Lifetime movie happens to be on. These terrible movies are killing my love for this project.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eight Days to Live

Usually when I watch a Lifetime movie I know exactly what I'm going to mention in my write-up. I write these completely from memory. No notes or anything like that. Almost every Lifetime movie has something so patently ridiculous that it sears its way onto your temporal lobe. Notes become unnecessary.

But not Eight Days to Live. I can't remember a Lifetime movie that was so, well, unmemorable.

We're introduced to Joe Spring drag racing a fancy car down a windy road. He wins the race. Wheeee. The cops show up and he and his girlfriend hightail it out of there. She drops him off at his split-level home.

As soon as I saw a split-level, I knew exactly what we were dealing with: white trash. Before anyone here calls me out for elitism, just remember The Game of Life. Split-levels are the cheapest housing option.

Even if I was being an elitist, it still wouldn't make me wrong. Joe's family is indeed white trash. There's the stoner older brother living in the basement. The father is unemployed and watches hockey games at maximum volume. The mother is buying store brand peanut butter just to get by. The ungrateful brat daughter chastises the mother by saying store brand peanut butter tastes "used." Used peanut butter?

Joe, despite his dangerous driving habits, is the good son. We know this because he's the only member of the family that offers to help Mom with the groceries. But the driving habits are clearly a big part of his life. His license had just been reinstated after a reckless driving incident. How to celebrate? How about going to a three day party up in some town called Chasm?

For some reason, the shitty parents allow this. Well, the father does anyway. He totally undermines the good, caring mother. So take note. The father is a bad guy.

Joe claims it's a three day party, but in reality he is planning on spending a night with his girlfriend while her parents are away. The girlfriend decides she wants to bone in her folks' master bedroom. She even lights dozens of candles to make everything more "romantic."

I've always wondered about stuff like this. Did the girlfriend raid her parents' candle collection? If she did, it seems that getting caught for this little indiscretion would be inevitable. Or did she just purchase dozens of large candles? That's a lot of money to waste on a fuck. An especially large amount of money when you consider the girlfriend, Patti, works the carriages at a grocery store.

So, there is boning. Then, at 3:30 in the morning, some other lady, Lucinda, calls Joe's cell phone. Busted! Patti smashes his cell phone against the wall and kicks him out. Joe decides to drive out and meet Lucinda hundreds of miles away in Chasm.

By the way, the film doesn't present any of this in chronological order. That would be too easy. By now the family knows that Joe is missing. They're just explaining his story through flashbacks. So I'm going to be jumping back and forth here. Sorry. Blame the filmmakers.

On Saturday night, Joe's Mom, Teresa, gets a call from some of Joe's stoned friends. They wanted to know why Joe didn't make it to the party. This greatly concerns Teresa because, "Joe's a good kid. He always calls!" She calls the police to file a report. Naturally, the police's hands are tied. Joe needs to be missing for at least 24 hours.

Teresa is getting all sorts of gruff from her deadbeat husband. He didn't want the police to be called and he's pissed because Teresa's too distracted to - and I swear to God I am not making this up - drive him to a store to buy him pants. He has a big job interview! He needs pants!

Teresa talks with Patti. Patti admits to the boning and the cell phone destruction and drops the name "Lucinda." The Mom decides to do some sleuthing and find out just who this Lucinda girl is. Unfortunately, she can't get into Joe's computer.

But her daughter can! The youngest Spring, Becca, correctly guesses Joe's password: "Dude." They find an e-mail from a Lucinda with a video attachment. Oh goodie! The video features a busty lady, presumably Lucinda, putting on quite the little sex show. Nice. Becca awesomely observes that "it figures this girl is from a town called Chasm." Holy shit! A vagina joke on Lifetime that was actually amusing! Well played!

Teresa goes down a shame spiral. She thought she knew her son and now she's not so sure! What if he was, gasp!, smoking marijuana!? The father, who is getting a follow-up job interview, still refuses to give a shit about his missing son. Now he's all pissed that he doesn't have a new shirt for the new interview. "We bought that blue shirt in 1986!"

This is clearly the most impoverished family in the history of Canada.

Flashback! It's 5:30am, early Saturday morning. Joe is driving to Chasm to fuck Lucinda. But he's falling asleep at the wheel! Oh no! Thankfully, he is startled by a creepy child standing in the middle of the road. The kid claims to be on the run from his hunter uncle who is "off his meds." Oh. How reassuring. Joe gives the kid a lift back to his parents.

Joe gets to Lucinda's on Saturday morning. Lucinda asks Joe to give her and her very skeezy friend a lift. My viewing partner and I didn't know what to call the friend's haircut. We settled on "skunkhawk."

Lucinda and her skunkhawked friend have used the Internet and Lucinda's rack to trick him into becoming a marijuana transporter. Of course. Joe tags along, but he is so upset about the whole situation that he steadfastly refuses to put his penis inside of Lucinda. This upsets Lucinda so much that...

Present day! Teresa decides to make the trip to Chasm and figure out what happened. For some reason, she allows Becca to miss a day of school and tag along. They find Lucinda, presumably stoned out of her gourd, and she refuses to answer Teresa's questions. Joe really hit a raw nerve when he refused to sex her up.

Thankfully, SkunkHawk stole Joe's credit card. So the police have a trail. They raid SkunkHawk's weed operation and he claims that Joe gave him a ride and that was that. Flashbacks confirm this. They also confirm that for the second time in as many nights, Joe almost fell asleep at the wheel. Even the SkunkHawk was concerned. He offered Joe the opportunity to crash for a night. His offer was quickly rejected.

Awesomely, after being detained, SkunkHawk winks at Teresa and calls her "tasty." She screams obscenities and decks him good.

The father isn't a bad guy anymore. During his second job interview, he stared into space and told the boss man that he needed to be with his family right now. His son was missing and they needed him more than he needed the job.

And the stoner son is getting to be more sympathetic too. With the press camped outside his house, he throws a temper fit and shoves a reporter and knocks over a camera. All on live tv! He then goes inside and finally succumbs to his heartache and has a good cry.

The police now think they have enough information to start a proper search and rescue mission. They've narrowed the area where Joe might be. Of course, time is of the essence. A person only has a maximum of eight days without water before he dies. Perhaps you figured that out from the film's title.

The entire family and a boatload of volunteers are involved in the search. They even have helicopters and shit. But then, after Joe has been missing for seven days, they get some new information.....

FLASH BACK! Joe helped some old man change a tire 50 miles south of the search area! After helping, Joe finally falls asleep at the wheel and crashes into a ravine.

Present day: Since Joe has been in a ditch for seven days, the police aren't going to offer another search and rescue mission. They bungled the first one pretty badly and Joe is almost certainly dead. The family and the (female) helicopter pilot urge the police lieutenant to call for another search, but it's out of his hands.

So Teresa and the pilot (twice the female intuition!) take the chopper into the air anyways. They find Joe's car and, miraculously, he's alive. The End.

We're supposed to feel sympathy for Joe. After all, he was a "good kid" who was "strong" and never "stopped believing in himself." Or he was a highway menace drag racer who transported drugs and who tried fucking Internet ladies despite having a loving girlfriend who would fuck him in the master bedroom. He seems much less sympathetic now, doesn't he?


So fucking boring. That's all I got. So. Fucking. Boring.


This is like my worst review ever, right? I wish there was something that struck me as particularly funny.

Oh! When Teresa discovers Joe there is is some hysterical crying. I enjoyed that.


Teresa was on the O.C. The dad was in one episode of Lost. That's usually worth a point, but that episode was especially shitty.


Loads and loads and loads of women's intuition. And a mother stuck with three no-good kids and a deadbeat dad...what Lifetime demographic can't relate to that?


I want my two hours back.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Not Our Son

What, you're too good to watch a Lifetime movie on a Friday night? Well, lucky for you, my ideal Friday night is in front of the tube watching has-beens and never-weres chew the scenery. You're welcome.

Friday's film was based on a true story. Not Our Son follows the investigation of serial arsonist Paul Kenneth Keller. Keller had started dozens upon dozens of fires. And who made the break in the case? His own family. Betrayed by loved ones! Surely this will lead to compelling drama!

Alas, no.

The film opens over some stock footage of Seattle. Apparently, the city is under siege from an arsonist. One woman calls into a radio station to complain that her children have nightmares every night and cry for help every time they think of an open flame. These children need to grow a pair.

We're introduced to Paul at his office. He works in the family advertising firm and it's clear that something isn't quite right with him. He has a short temper and is enveloped by paranoia. He is going through a messy divorce and his car has been repossessed. To make matters worse, he spills coffee on some important documents right before a meeting with the big client!

The meeting starts off poorly but Paul takes initiative and ends up closing a big ad campaign. Finally, things are starting to turn around our ol' friend Paulie. But when the client buys Paul a new car, he immediately smells a rat. Who told the client about his repossessed car? Why are people talking behind his back? To get answers to these important questions, Paul physically assaults his sister.

Paul storms off. When his father/boss hears of his erratic behavior, he decides it's time to lay down the law. And you know the dad is a disciplinarian. Why? Because he isn't some regular dad. Oh no. He is a the MAJOR DAD.

I guess I should mention that Paul is actively lighting fires throughout the Puget Sound area. I guess it's an important plot point, but I didn't feel obligated to bring it up. You already knew Paul was the bad guy, right?

So Paul is lighting fires left and right with the help of a scanner. When the fire departments send out their trucks to stop one of his blazes, Paul figures out the blind spots in fire coverage and burns unprotected buildings to the ground. This includes setting a crucifix on fire and burning down a nursing home (killing three soon to be dead anyways old people in the process).

A woman walking her dog spots Paul driving away and gives the police a sketch. The sketch comes out looking a lot like Doogie Howser. This is helpful since Paul is being played by Neil Patrick Harris. The sketch, along with the police calling the advertising firm regarding Paul's white four door sedan with dealer plates, makes the family suspicious.

Paul is then shown at choir practice. This is perhaps the only awesome scene in the movie. Paul is singing Handel's Hallelujah chorus. During the final "Hallelujah," Paul looks up the heavens and sees a bunch of fire and explosions. Awesome.

The Kellers know something is afoot. They do some amateur sleuthing and come to the conclusion that Paul is most likely the serial arsonist. After a tense meeting, they agree to go to the police.

And here we have the Lifetime Dilemma. We know who the bad guy is. We know the family knows who the bad guy is. We know the police know who the bad guy is. Yet it's only 8:45! I have to sit through another 75 minutes of inevitability!? Ugh.

The next 75 minutes prove that Paul is an idiot. Every time he makes a run for the Oregon border or tries to escape the undercover cops trailing him, he ends up going back home or back to work. You see, the only happiness in his life is from his family. He can't give that up.

So the family gets one last Christmas dinner before the five-ohs go in for the arrest. They have steamed clams.

Paul is arrested and his father tells him to do the right thing and confess. That's exactly what happens. The Keller family hugs outside the police station and the mother hilariously and accidentally elbows the daughter in the head.

Oh, also, the police look through Paul's hospital file and realize he may have suffered neurological damage when he was born. This was kept secret from the Kellers. Just to make it perfectly clear that the Kellers were perfect parents and raising a monster wasn't their fault.

This reveal also features Major Dad crying and, frankly, I am not comfortable with that.


This movie was awful. Just because someone is a serial arsonist does not mean their story is compelling.


Other than that sweet explosion montage set to Handel's "Messiah," this movie didn't feature any yuks. Save for the blooper where the daughter gets hit in the noggin'. I enjoyed that more than I should have.


I have never seen an episode of Doogie Howser. Nor have I ever watched How I Met Your Mother. And I never saw Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. So I'm not all that excited by Neil Patrick Harris in weirdo glasses and with a pencil thin mustache. I only care about Major Dad.

(Does anyone remember the episode where Major Dad was embarrassed that his wife Polly's middle name was "Esther"? Or the episode where one his ungrateful brat step-daughters lost his father's [Colonel Grandpa?] Purple Heart? Classic.)


There is hardly any female presence in this movie. The un-Lifetimeness of this movie was so shocking that I had to double check and make sure this movie wasn't intended for TNT or something like that.

Nope. Original Lifetime movie.

What the Hell, Lifetime? There were like eight cops and none of them were black sergeants who say stuff like "God help us all if you're wrong, Thompson." The mother was fucking useless. The daughter had the slightest bit of intuition, but no more than her father and brother.

What a waste.


I believe this is the worst ranked movie on this site. A well earned distinction.