Friday, April 23, 2010

Cheaters' Club

As mentioned in the last post, Cheaters' Club is the third Lifetime movie I've ever seen. And the first movie I ever saw on the Lifetime Movie Network. This is historic. It might not be the greatest, but it is the inspiration.

Cheaters' Club's opening credits are a direct rip-off of Seven's. The film is all scratchy and the Mexican non-union equivalent of Nine Inch Nails is screeching in the background. All of this just to show us that a psycho has some photos of our unintroduced protagonist.

We start with a call-in radio psychologist chain smoking cigarettes and getting yelled at by angry callers. It seems that she is advising listeners and clients to cheat on their spouses in order to get the spark in their sex life back. These callers are great because they don't make sense. "My 18-year-old daughter is pregnant because of you!" Who wants to bet that nonexistent dude is a Teabagger now?

Finally we get to the titular Cheater Club. The psychologist, who I will refer to as Slutty Frasier, is counseling three clients to cheat up a storm. Well, two clients are already all over it. The third, our protagonist Linda, thinks that adultery might be a violation of her marriage vows. Everyone has a good laugh at the prude and that's that.

That night, Linda tries making the sex with her hubby but he's tired from work and wants to watch sports and sleep.

so sleepy

From there, the cheating begins in earnest.

We next see Slutty Frasier slutty cheating with a shirtless young man. This shirtless young man can not get enough of Frasier. He is going all out. Ropes, chains, and raw oysters. They have sex at least twice. Twice!

Then they get murdered. By a mystery assailant.

The Cheaters' Club meets up because the murder of an adulterous woman with a ton of enemies immediately becomes all about them.

The club consists of three women. Our hero, the aforementioned Linda, is the good gal since she is less eager to sleep with other men. The other two women are pretty weird. Meredith is a controlling lawyer who sleeps with a "pro" escort. She cheats because her husband is a stay-at-home dad and real men work. She also browbeats her secretary and becomes de facto leader once Frasier is stabbed to death.

The third woman, Cindy, is a stranger bird. She is sleeping with her high school flame and seems to like chasing the thrills of her youth. She's more timid, but is clearly capable of stabbing people. She looks generally stabby.

stab stab stab

Anyways, they all agree to keep quiet about the cheating because they don't want to get caught cheating. Um, if your psychologist is FAMOUS for telling women to cheat, isn't that cat out of the bag?

Linda gets paid a visit by a crazy detective who also concludes that this murder is all about the Cheaters' Club. The lady detective demands to know what Linda was in therapy for. When Linda refuses citing doctor-patient privilege, the detective basically tells her there's no such thing and that she is going to subpoena all of her medical information. Right. Because this is a thing that happens.

Linda then somehow gets access to all of Slutty Frasier's patient information. I admit I wasn't paying great attention because a playoff hockey game was in double overtime during the movie (Go Bruins!). In the patient file, Meredith is described as a woman with extreme anger issues. Therefore, Meredith must be the killer! Linda tells the detective that she knows Meredith is a murderer.

Well, good one, Linda, 'cause it isn't Meredith. The killer pays Meredith's escort to record a lovemaking session and when the killer goes to pick up the video, he/she (Who am I kidding? She.) throws in a few stabs for good measure.

The killer sends the video to Meredith's firm and it goes viral. She gets fired. That's it for Meredith.

Linda goes back to her files and, lo and behold, Cindy's file is pretty interesting too. Cindy isn't even really cheating. She's delusional and vindictive and batshit nuts and WHY DIDN'T YOU READ THIS WHILE YOU WERE LOOKING OVER MEREDITH'S FILE WHICH IS ON THE SAME WORD FILE!?!?

Well, too late for Linda since Cindy has already stolen your five-year-old son. Linda goes to Cindy's and realizes that, whoops, she's been sleeping with Cindy's husband.

Now, I know pointing out massive plot holes in Lifetime movies is going after real low hanging fruit, but, Jesus Christ. Cindy and Linda were in group together before Linda had slept with anyone besides her husband. And Linda slept with Cindy's husband the same time Cindy was stabbing Slutty Frasier. And Cindy was supposed to be avenging people sleeping with her husband? She was targeting people before there was any cheating. What? I mean, maybe, if Cindy's husband was sleeping with Meredith and Slutty Frasier too. But then why not just stab the husband? None of this makes sense.

Linda and Cindy fight and stab at each other and Linda kills Cindy. Linda apologizes to her husband and Meredith moves to Cincinnati (*sad trombone*) to start over. THE END.


The movie is fun. Again, it's the second time I've seen it. There are a lot of Lifetime movies I wouldn't watch twice.

That being said, it's not perfect. There are a lot of plateaus where the viewer is just waiting for anything to happen. But the waits are always worth it since the movie is so unhinged.


The reason I saw this at my old DC group house was that I had a roommate who was flipping through channels who stopped on Lifetime Movie Network. Why? Because the movie stars Charisma Carpenter, an actress from three of his favorite things: Buffy, Angel, and being naked on the Internet. So a point for each of those.

Remember how I tried watching The X-Files in its entirety? Yeah, that was a wash. I, like the majority of X-Philes, couldn't make it past the terrible Season 6. The dream is dead. So, new dream! I am going to watch all of Buffy. It's available instantly on Netflix and a ton of my friends are in love with the show, so I am going to see what the fuss is all about. I just started Season 2 and the show is finally starting to get awesome. That first season though....woof.

Oh, other than Ms. Carpenter, no other famous people. And calling Charisma Carpenter famous is already a stretch.


It doesn't count as women's intuition if you're just taking wild guesses on who the killer is. There were, like, three non-murdered characters in the entire movie. At some point, Linda was going to figure it out.

But Linda did have a child in danger. And the show is very, very hard on unfaithful women. That scolding tone makes me feel right at home on LMN.


I'm actually disappointed in the mediocre score. It's definitely not essential viewing, but it is definitely ridiculous.

Monday, April 19, 2010

More Programming

Well, I said I'd give people more advance, so here we go:

Next Wednesday (4/21/10) at 10pm, Lifetime Movie Network will be showing Cheaters' Club. I've actually seen this one before, back in 1 BLW (Before Lifetime Wow). Other than Fifteen and Pregnant and When Friendship Kills, this was my first Lifetime movie. And I clearly enjoyed it since a few weeks later this blog came to pass.

So won't you watch this with me this Wednesday so we can compare notes?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010



If you can get to your TV or DVR today (4/14/2010) by 4pm, please watch or record Fatal Trust on the Lifetime Movie Network. It's one of the few movies to score above a 30 on my arbitrary scale and it really is an all-time favorite that I would want to see even if I didn't write these reviews.

I'll try to make these updates more regular whenever an awesome movie is about to be on. Hopefully next time you'll get more of an advance.


1. Obviously no one reads this blog on a regular basis. What happens is people find us by Googling a Lifetime movie that was just on. And that's great! The problem is, when people leave comments 18 months after the original post, I'm likely going to miss it. I went back through years of archives reading comments left way after the fact and most of them are awesome. It's a good way to kill an hour.

And I totally missed an actress from one of the movies I reviewed leaving a comment. And naturally it's an actress who I teased about her physical appearance. Smooth.

Thank God, the actress, Kimberlee Peterson, star of Painful Secrets/Secret Cutting, has a sense of humor about the whole thing. It's clearly not the first time she's read a joke about her eyebrows not quite lining up.

So, in her honor, I give Ms. Peterson official FRIEND OF THE BLOG status. There's no way she's the only Lifetime actor to stumble upon this site, but she was the only one to strike back. And it is much appreciated.

2. So, the sight that I was previously known for writing, Why I Hate DC, is shutting down. This after I inherited it from its founder and after I passed it down to others. I love the idea of a legacy blog and am greatly disappointed that its last writer, Dave Stroup (who was AWESOME by the way) has decided to end the hate. Now I don't have administrator status anymore and that's just the way I want it. It's his blog and therefore his decision. But I hope he reconsiders.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Plain Truth

So, Plain Truth. Set in a more primitive time (2004), Plain Truth is the story of a defense attorney who is sick and tired of representing smarmy white collar criminals. So, she does what any lawyer would do, represent an Amish girl charged with infanticide. It's a story as old as time.

The attorney, Ellie Harrison, is all-sorts of no-nonsense. Check out the DVD cover. Power suit? Check. Arms crossed? Yuppers! She's even played by Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay. She is what would happen if the personification of Hot and the personification of Stern had a baby.

I admit I appreciate seeing Ms. Hargitay in a Lifetime movie. Not just because of the hubba hubba factor. Those cheekbones are DARING Lifetime to put her in soft focus. Thank God Lifetime cuts the usual camera tricks and all of the actors look like normal people instead of people in a tampon commercial.

So there's this Amish girl, Katie. Some other Amish kids find a dead baby in some of Pennsylvania's famed marshlands and Katie is all, "Whuh?" Then the police ask her some questions so she faints. Not because of the stress though. Because of post-birth complications. They find a placenta and shit lying around. (ALWAYS EAT THE PLACENTA. LIKE A CAT.) The autopsy finds the baby died of asphyxiation and this should be an open-and-shut case. But perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye?

No, not really.

Katie needs to lawyer up. And that's where Ellie comes in. She decides to put off a two month vacation in Tuscany because her conscience won't let a person go unrepresented. Remember, she needs the vacation because she doesn't like representing guilty people (UGH) and KATIE IS PRETTY CLEARLY GUILTY. There is a lot of evidence that points to Katie being fucked in more ways than one, amiright, guys?

In the bail hearing, the judge, clearly a fan of sitcoms, decides that Katie can get out on bail as long as Ellie stays with her on the Amish dairy farm to keep watch. Hijinks ensue. Ellie doesn't get cell phone service and her laptop keeps running out of batteries. She can't provide adequate representation without technology, hahaha.

Katie's dad is an especially big asshole about it and won't allow any technology in the house. Even the Elders are a little put off by that. The stakes are too high!

So Katie's argument is that she is a virgin who was never pregnant. She's played by an actress named Alison Pill and that last name is very much appropriate because, ugh. She lies about being a virgin. She lies about being raped when it becomes clear that she had sex. She lies about not knowing the father's identity. Finally, she admits to giving birth but forgetting what happened afterwards. When Katie asks to testify on her own behalf, Ellie literally snorts at the prospect of this pathological liar on the stand. It was great.

(An aside: I love Lifetime. Katie totally invents a horrible rape accusation and when she gets caught in that crazy, a psychologist says it's ok because Katie is just trying to impress Ellie. Oh, Lifetime. Where mommy issues excuse lying about rape.)

(Aside #2: It is only a matter of time before I get Katie and Ellie mixed up in this review.)

It turns out that Katie has a secret brother living in the big city of Harrisburg, PA. He left the church to go to university and he got disowned for his troubles. Their mom secretly allowed Katie to visit Big Bro. Katie met a boy in a dorm and got knocked up. Katie doesn't tell anyone and eventually gives birth in that swamp.

For some reason, after all of the lying, Ellie goes all-in on the forgetting what happened story and gets an expert witness to say that the baby died of an infection caused by contact with animals. And it looks like she's winning! So she does what any sane lawyer would do and calls a surprise witness. The baby daddy!

The best is when Ellie calls a surprise witness and the prosecutor objects. When he finds out who the witness is, the actor almost falls over himself saying "OBJECTION WITHDRAWN." Well played, actor dude.

The baby daddy says that, in his "expert" opinion, Katie would never hurt a baby. The obvious response from the prosecutor is, "Did you think Katie would lie so goddamned much? Oh, you didn't? Good testimony, douche/statutory rapist."

Katie gets acquitted and hurray? Katie's mom goes to thank Ellie back at the farm and says she has a little something to give her. Then the low end of an organ appears on the soundtrack, and, uh-oh. Why what better gift for a victorious attorney than a pair of farm scissors covered in vagina blood. After losing her son, the mom couldn't bear to lose a daughter so she hid the pregnancy and took care of the evidence.

The End.

Oh, P.S., Ellie falls in love with the psychologist who is also her ex-boyfriend and who gives a shit.


Despite all the snark, the first half of the movie was kind of good. A little nonsensical, obvs, but a very breezy hour. Things took a detour into crazy town, but it was expected and appreciated. Seriously, watching this movie, it wasn't a case of if things would go nuts, it was when. And the film handled that well.


I love Mariska Hargitay, FYI. But she isn't that famous. Kind of fun to see her Ordering instead of Lawing. Sam Waterston she is not!

Allison Pill was in Milk. And Katie's dad was in a personal favorite: Die Gottesanbeterin


Well, there's a mother determined to keep her family together at all times. And there's the professional woman realizing that she needs to loosen up and date her ex. Both common themes.

The intuition was lacking however. The movie should have been called "Lie to Mariska Hargitay for Two Hours." And it always worked! It's kind of a casting fail since Hargitay is famous for one show where she sniffs out bullshit. It would be like casting Jerry Seinfeld as an action hero or Tina Fey as an ugly spinster.


A thoroughly above average movie. Definitely worth the hour and forty-two minutes.

If you don't want to spend that much time on the movie, then I HIGHLY recommend a four minute clip of nothing but photos of Mariska Hargitay in Plain Truth set to the worst song by one of the worst bands ever. If this is supposed to be funny, it is genius.

Nickelback > Incubus. If you don't know, now you know.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Little Thing Called Murder

HEY! This is IMPORTANT. There is a movie on Hulu that you need to watch right now. It expires in a week, so I consider it a civic duty to tell you about this before it's too late. Lifetime, Wow!: Always looking out for you.

True crime junkies may be familiar with the story of Sante and Kenny Kimes, a mother-son grifting duo that stole houses and cars, kept human slaves (more on that later) and murdered a handful of people before a grand theft auto charge took them down in the late 90s. If you don't know who they are, you're in luck! The "ripped from the headlines" TV movie vogue had hit it's height at this point, and there's a few surprisingly well made movies that tell their story. However, I say fuck those movies. As always, we're here to celebrate the shining of a far crazier diamond. "A Little Thing Called Murder" is a charming, campy, and horrifying portrait of evil people doing inexplicable things.

The movie kicks off with a fun little montage of people associated with the Kimes family, all baffled by the crimes they committed. The off-the-cuff interview style and slightly shaky camera made me think of a Christopher Guest movie about a batshit floozy that went too far. (Note: Someone with connections should ask Christopher Guest to remake House of Yes.) We then cut to sepia-toned musical sequence where a rumpshakin' Elizabeth Taylor clone walks down the street, winks over the top of her sunglasses, and steals a car from a dealership by hopping in the drivers seat and asking for the keys. Meet Sante Kimes!

Sante is a social climber who is obsessed with money, maintaining her looks, and fucking over everyone in her path in order to remain the queen of her insane fantasy kingdom. We first meet her through the eyes of her friend Beverly, who treats Sante more like a bottle rocket then an acquaintance- point her at a bitchy clerk or cheating spouse, light the fuse, and get away. She spends the first 20 minutes of the movie either chewing on the scenery or sweettalking people out of arresting her. While it's a pleasure to watch Sante get her bitch on versus the world at large, it's clear that there's more going on here then a forceful personality. Bev notices things- Sante pocketing saltshakers at a country club, the way the maids flinch when she walks by -but chooses not to speak up. Bev assures us that everyone around Sante isn't blind and stupid, but it's just easier to believe her lies then to call her on them. This is plausible. Most people want to believe that they're made of Keilor-grade moral fiber. But when it comes down to it, it's easier to look away when a friend shoplifts then to call over store security. Money and confidence can help you get away with some really crazy shit. Sante throws a hell of a party, and as long as you're on her good side, you tend to benefit from her sociopathy.

However, there are some crimes that are a little too big to ignore. Human slavery is a very real issue in America, but it's difficult to track and prosecute. At the time of this movie, only 2 private citizens had been successfully prosecuted for slavery since it was outlawed, and one of those people is Sante Kimes. We learn that Bev finally snapped when one of Sante's maids took her aside, confided that she was being kept against her will and beaten, and begged for her freedom. The ensuing trial reveals that the Kimes have a habit of picking up young Mexican women with the promise of money and citizenship, then imprison them and torture them until they manage to get away. Sante's common-law husband drops a dime on her to avoid jail time, and she goes away for 4 years.

Sante's family reacts to her imprisonment with relief. Particularly relieved is Kenny Kimes, Sante's son from a previous relationship. To call Sante's relationship with Kenny "creepy" does a great disservice to well-meaning creepy people everywhere. It's clear from the beginning that Sante is intent on using her son as a pawn in her crazy games. After a Nanny reads "The Boy That Cried Wolf" to Kenny, Sante physically assaults her and tells her to never teach her kids about morals again. (Good thing she didn't read "The Swan That Kept Human Slaves" to Kenny, or she would have been another notch on Sante's murder-stick.) When Sante is almost arrested for shoplifting, she gets out of it by smacking the shit out of Kenny and claiming that the store keeper assaulted her son. Later, she apologizes and lets him pinch her as retribution for bitch-smacking him out of a Sears. They're constantly uncomfortably close, hugging and kissing and adding fuel to the incest rumors that make this story so damn icky. (Well, that and the murder thing). In fact, the only time Kenny ever gets close to a woman who isn't his mom is when his mom talks a stewardess into sleeping with him. The following scene where he cheerfully expounds on his mom's abilities to get him laid is guaranteed to make your skin crawl. Whether Sante genuinely loves her son or is just very good at manipulating him is a question this movie is never quite ready to answer. It is, however, constantly ready to reassure us that whatever was going on there was CREEPY AS BALLS.

Sante comes back from jail, dead set on never going back. She continues to rely on her sleazy faux-hubby, but he is actually not awesome at the whole crime thing. They run a couple of small-time scams (fake checks, fake buisnesses, etc) and end up having to murder their overly-curious lawyer. Bummer for Sante. Things get worse when faux-hubby dies of a heart attack. He never married Sante because he was confident that he'd end up dead or broke within a year of the wedding, which is actually a fair point. This leaves Sante with no legal claim to her home or the money she's been so enjoying over the past 20 years. But now he's dead anyway, so Sante needs a new crimin' buddy. Since he's the most vulnerable to Sante's creepy charms, it will fall to Kenny to drop out of school and take over the family business. In my favorite scene, she picks Kenny up from college and tells him his father's in the backseat. Pan back to reveal an urn. Wackity-shmackity-doo!

Sante and Kenny team up to hide the death of the patriarch from the world until they can forge a new will and access enough money to keep them afloat. Of course, this progresses into another murder, a banker who had the unfortunate luck of being in charge of the Kimes's offshore bank accounts. Sante and Kenny drown him in a bathtub, then stuff him in a chest and send him out to sea. From there it's a rollercoaster ride of fraud, theft, and running from the law. it isn't hard for Sante to talk people into helping her, and the creepy muscle provided by her son is enough to silence most objection.

The film hits it's climax at the case that made the Kimes famous- the murder of socialite Irene Silverman. I won't recount this at great length, as it's been done before. I will say the film did a fine job of recounting this, giving us the bare bones of the crime while still allowing the actors a few scenes to shine. Long story short, Kenny and Sante killed an old woman in New York to try and steal her mansion, and it was the one crime they couldn't talk their way out of. We kind of lose steam near the end. The film milks a little more fun out of Sante's courtroom antics, and ends on a somber note that allows us to pity Kenny and Sante while being repulsed by their 10 year spree of murder and mayhem. And the fact that I got to type that sentence should tell you why this is my favorite Lifetime movie in a good long time.

Awesomeness: 20

Solid 20. There was nothing that was not awesome about this movie. It's the miracle baby of John Waters and Agatha Christie with a little bit of John Walsh thrown in for good measure.

Star Power: 7

10 of the awesome points up there belong in Judy Davis's pocket. Trashy made-for-TV movies can be real career killers, or at least grudging admissions that a career is dead. This often leaves the acting done in these films by established, talented people with a little to be desired. Ms. Davis defies this by going for broke with her portrayal of Sante. She obviously has a ball with the camp weirdness of the script, taking a clunky ripped-from-the-headlines script and elevating it to another level. Also notable for fans of Dead Like Me: George's mom and DOLORES HERBIG GETTING THINGS DONE. YES!

Lifetimeliness: 8

Seems like a 10 on first blush, but I'm docking it a few. While the movie focuses on a mother and son relationship, and is also charmingly insane, a perfect 10 would have explained why it was OK for Sante to murder someone to provide for her children. Also, for a campy masterpiece, we could have really used a sassy gay friend.

35! Finally, a movie that didn't make me want to die. I would watch this movie over and over again, and I wouldn't even have to be drunk the first couple of times. Do yourself a favor and check this one out before it's too late!