Monday, September 22, 2008

When Friendship Kills

When Friendship Kills was presented as A Secret Between Friends on my DVR. Apparently this movie is so legendary that no one title can contain it.

And make no mistake, this movie is indeed legendary. It was the first Lifetime movie I ever saw. Everyone in junior year health class had to watch it. And I wasn't alone. When people find out that I author a blog about Lifetime movies, this is the movie people are most likely to ask about.

I hadn't seen this since high school. That was long before I became obsessed with these films. I was excited to revisit this movie and find out that it was everything I could have hoped for.

The film opens at a sweet beach party in Seattle. There's drinking and dancing. And fighting. A spat between two former best friends gets heated and when one of them runs away, she is promptly hit by a car.

We flash back to one year earlier. Newly divorced single mom, Kathyrn, has just moved from Chicago to Seattle with her two daughters, Lexi and Jill. Lexi, the older daughter, is nervous about starting anew in high school. She hopes her volleyball experience will make her some new friends. She also wants to reinvent herself, and what better way to do that than to lose a few pounds?

Lexi quickly befriends the alpha female at the school. Jennifer is from a rich family. She is gorgeous. She is a straight-A student, the star of all of the school's theater productions, and is the star of the varsity volleyball team to boot. When Jennifer and Lexi meet at tryouts, the sparks start to fly.

"I like the way you spike," says Lexi.
"I like the way you set," says Jennifer.

Oh, Jesus Christ, just make out already and be done with it.

In all seriousness, and I don't know if this is intentional or not, there really is a weird sexual tension that is present whenever these two are together. Why are Jen and Lexi always giving each other the eyes?

The two bee-effs-effs have their first slumber party and totally gorge out on all sorts of food. Jen decides to purge those Calories out.

Now, these two have known each other for what, a week? Bulimia is often very secretive. But Jen almost falls over herself to let Lexi in on her dietary habits. The vomiting scene is punctuated by Jen making deep eye contact with Lexi and cooing, "I've been waiting for a friend like you."

Lexi makes the executive decision that being thin and popular is more important than avoiding crazies. And when the volleyball coach tells her that she would be a better athlete if she lost a few pounds, well, then that seals it. Let the crash dieting begin!

Lexi's diet consists of fruit in the morning, a single cracker and some carrots for lunch, and white rice for dinner. Her snacks? Gum. And she is topping this off by running 10 miles a day. If she's been bad and digs into those cookies stashed under her bed, she throws them up.

The moral of the story? A little bit of anorexia goes a long way! Lexi loses some weight and the boys are falling over themselves for her. She serves a perfect game in volleyball. (I am pretty sure that is close to impossible?) She looks glowing and everyone tells her how much better she looks without the extra weight.

Oh my God do I wish that Lifetime had the balls to end the movie right here.

But, no, of course not, Lexi has to take it too far. She starves and starves and starves. And when she meets her father's new girlfriend, then she really goes nuts. The film offers us extra-tight close-ups of her father and his new lady eating chicken wings and mozzarella sticks. I guess the point is, Lexi is truly disgusted by food.

Lexi's period stops and her concerned mother makes her see a OBGYN. Lexi hides weights under her clothes and scales in at a respectable 115 (she is really closer to 100). When Lexi's mom asks what's up, the gyno replies that her period stopped because of the trauma from the divorce. Gyno FTW!

Things go from bad to worse when a photographer invites Jen to model. Lexi thinks she is offered the same invitation and gets her hopes all up. She prepares for the modeling by putting on a ridiculous amount of lip-liner. Like, a finger snapping amount of lip liner.

When Jen and Lexi show up to the studio, the photographer makes it very clear that Lexi is too thin to model. Now that's saying something. This movie was made during the heroin-chic craze. To be too thin to model? Sheesh. Lexi storms off and Jen plays good friend and follows her.

The anorexia gets worse and worse and finally Lexi collapses during a volleyball game. Her heart couldn't handle pumping blood to her atrophied muscles. Lexi is diagnosed with the 'rexia and now it's time for recovery.

Except Lexi doesn't want to recover. The film goes as far as to show Lexi in front of a mirror wearing a fat suit. See!? That's what the 'rexia makes her see!

Finally, Lexi's father, a man of action so desirable that he can cheat on Wonder Woman and know that there'll be younger tail down the line, decides to show Mom and Lexi what's what. He signs an order permitting the hospital to get all Terri Schiavo on Lexi and install a feeding tube. The Mom is furious. Her parental authority just got shat on. Fuck that shit. Men of action don't wait for results. They create results. Am I right, fellas?

As Lexi is getting better, Jen pays a visit. Jen gives Lexi a bracelet that says "Soul Sister" in French. Awww. Lexi tells Jen that she can get better too. Jen wants no part of it. She doesn't want to get better. She is quite happy being thin and pretty, thank you very much.

Lexi is allowed to leave the hospital and start summer school. She is delighted to find out that her friends are glad to have her back and no one is getting too judgmental. Lexi also totally narcs out Jen. Lexi's mom confronts Jen's mom and the latter refuses to believe. She even throws in a zinger about knowing what her daughter is up to because she is a stay-at-home mom.

Jen is betrayed. She it makes clear that she and Lexi are no longer friends.

Which brings us to the party. Lexi shows up and she and Jen get into it. Jen runs away and is plowed over by a car. We then get to the hospital. Jen is dead. But not from being hit by a car. Oh no, Jen died from a broken heart. Whether the hear was broken by bulimia or by Lexi, well, that's for the doctors to determine.

Lexi, probably correctly, blames herself for Jen's passing. So the anorexia comes back. Don't you see!? Food is the only thing she can control!

Ugh, there's still half an hour left in this movie? Why?

Quick summation: Lexi is sick but refuses to go to the hospital. Her mom is fine with this. Her dad, a Man of Action, sees through this bullshit and gets a court order forcing Lexi to the hospital. Just before the police come to take her away, Lexi realizes her mother's love can make it all better. She agrees to go to the hospital without the police escort.

Lexi makes a full recovery and even gets to play volleyball again. Her entire family, father included, is in the stands to see her play. Also in the stands: Jen's ghost.


The movie is obviously melodramatic. But there are fewer joys than seeing a movie about eating disorders take that strange turn into teenage drinking and car accidents. It's a shame that the accident was shown in the first minute of the film. If that happened an hour in with no advance warning, oh man. As is, eh.

And there is no excuse for having a film paced that poorly. Audiences don't want to see long drawn out relapses. We know that anorexia is bad. We saw what Lexi went through. Why go through it again?


Any film starring Wonder Woman is going to get a high score. But the real treats aren't cameos. The treats are seeing movies featuring people before they were famous. Stolen Miracle is probably the best example of this with its pre-pubescent Michael Cera. When Friendship Kills has Ryan Reynolds, the Former Mr. Alanis himself, as a friendly jock who takes Lexi to the winter formal and welcomes her back to summer school with open arms.

Question: How is Ryan Reynolds famous? Take a look at his resume. It is nothing but shit. He's like a rich man's Dane Cook.


There is a slight penalty for only having one evil male character. And that character, the father, his evilness is kind of overshadowed by always being right. However, the message is clear. If you cheat on your spouse and there's a divorce, your children will probably feel unloved and die.

The rest is just about what you'd expect from a Lifetime movie from the mid-90s.


Oh how I wish the film either ended after Lexi's 'rexia was successful or after Jen became roadkill. Of course, you the viewer can make that decision on your own. If you're going to DVR this, stop watching as soon as Jen dies. That way you have a classic.


zanne said...

This is one of my all-time favorite Lifetime movies! I have seen it so many times.

EdTheRed said...

The friend getting killed at the beginning of the movie, followed by an extended flashback, is a blatant, blatant rip-off of one of the absolute *greatest* After School Specials of all time, the 1985 classic "One Too Many."

You may never get a higher "That Guy" factor...three of the four lead actors? Michelle Pfieffer, Val Kilmer, and Mare Winningham. Except "One Too Many" offers a twist at the end that actually makes the whole flashback conceit work.

Cody said...

Rad blog. Got a link to it in my e-mail because an old roommate thought I was writing it. I'm not. I also don't have cable anymore, so this is as close as I get now. The only people I know with cable are bars and no matter how nicely you ask they will not put on Lifetime over the Cubs. Thank you, Rusty.

Look for 'The Man Who Lost Himself.' Greatest movie ever. Nearly crapped my pants. I've looked for a DVD copy everywhere but can't find one. Definitely worth crapping your pants for.

Terri said...

The frustrating thing is that you can't really find any of these on DVD. Who wants to watch anything else?

Diana said...

This is one of my all-time favorite Lifetime movies (probably second only to Death of a Cheerleader), and definitely the best of the eating disorder ones. But I never realized how much hoyay was present in it until you pointed it out. How did I miss that? And I totally had a girl-crush on Jen.

Oh, and I love how we're supposed to believe Lexi is chubby before she becomes anorexic. Hah!

I love Ryan Reynolds and I don't remember him being in this at all. Weird. Lexi was in a short-lived Aaron Spelling series after this, and I think I've seen Jen in something or another.

Kate said...

just to let you know, next saturday there will be whole slew of lifetimey movies on! including "gracie's choice" and "trial by fire (aka smokejumper)"!
here's the schedule:

there's also "a girl like me: the gwen araujo story", which is pretty lifetimey but still makes me cry cuz, goddamnit, it really is a tragic story.

HRH King Friday XIII said...

The ghost thing at the end cracks me up. Will Lexi be forever haunted by Jen's spirit? Will she wake up in the middle of the night to sounds of a teenage girl puking in her bathroom? Will Jen-ghost have self image problems even though she can't see herself in a mirror? Damn you Lifetime for leaving me hanging!

Sada said...

I love the scene where Wonder Woman tries to serve Lexi avocados and she's all, "How dare you! Avocados are ALL FAT!"

I love avocados. And this movie.

geobqn said...

I like the scene where Lexi reveals she's not a virgin and Jen is all interested.

Jannie said...

One of my FAVORITES!! And yeah TOTAL sexual tension between Jen and Lexi...

socks12ful said...

I love this movie. About the part of you complaining about the movie? ITS IN THE SCRIPT! Deal with it! said...

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Anonymous said...

Jen was also in "Planet Terror"!
Lexi was in "Idle Hands" and gets chopped up while wearing a devil costume.
Why doesn't Jen lose as much weight? Don't they have the same regimen?
I kinda hate Lexi's shitty sister, too. Dunno why.
Jen drives all the way to the school to pick Lexi up, but really showed up to tell her to go fuck herself?
Also, I LOVE Take Charge Dad. He's so intense!

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