Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Boy She Met Online

What ho, true believers! Haven’t done one of these in a while. We now have another fantastic writer to supplement Rusty’s sporadic bursts of productivity, so the pressure is off ol’ Liz Lemon to do this with anything even resembling consistency. Oh well, let’s give it a try. For my bi-annual contribution to the blog, I chose to confront a primal horror of mothers everywhere: the internet.

The Boy She Met Online starts with our teenaged protagonist Cami studying a computer monitor, then making a printout of a profile from a dating site called My boyfriend-- who, full disclosure, was an eBay purchase --didn't understand why she needed a copy of a screen she was looking at, and could presumably look at again in the future. Obviously, when you are dating someone online, you print their profile off and carry it with you like a lock of hair from your civil war beau. Printoffs of dating profiles from a website that sounds like an email service for seniors? As always, Lifetime has their thumb on the pulse of teenupsmanship.

Cami seems to have struck gold with her inter-dude Jake: he’s hot, good at writing lame kissy-kissy emails, and an achiever at some college somewhere. But her dude has a deep secret: he isn’t in college, HE'S IN JAIL! You may think that whatever he did couldn’t have been that bad since he still has internet access, but you’d be wrong. DEAD WRONG. Also, the prison doesn’t seem to be that good at being a prison. There is some bullshit story about how he got framed for something and he’s a really good guy in his dumb little heart, but you don’t care about that. Do you? Because I don’t care enough to try and remember it, so you’re out of luck.

Meanwhile, Cami’s mom Tori is struggling to reconnect with her amid the hormonal monsoon of her teenaged years. She tries everything- yelling, whining, yelling and whining, sulking -with no luck. Since none of that works, she resigns herself to being a frumpy gargoyle in the background of her child’s life, scowling in judgment of all she says and does. Oh, and there’s a woman named Kendra who just hangs around for some reason. I’d say that will be important later, but its not, which really begs the question as to why Kendra is even in this stupid thing.

In the chokey, Jake’s luck goes from bad to worse. First his sister shows up to tell him hes not welcome in the house when he's out of jail, then a time conflict in the prison computer lab makes him miss a cyber-date with Cami. His decision to punch the guy that is using the computer he wants lands him in solitaire, a move the movie seems to argue is unfair for some unfathomable reason. His sentence finally ends, and before you can say "unemployable ex-offender", he's on the streets and at loose ends with only an old friend who happens to be a drug dealer to give him shelter.

Being utterly out of options, he makes the classic decision of the mid-twenties slacker and decides to channel his energies into a highly dramatic relationship with a hot moron that is doomed to fail. He moves enough dope to buy a fancy suit and asks his girl if they can finally meet face-to-face. They agree to meet up at a local coffeeshop, and off we go on a whirlwind of romance! I don’t know if you've ever been on a date with someone you met on the internet, but
no matter what you two lovebirds are bringing to the table, it's gonna be awkward as shit. And that’s if you aren’t lying about your criminal background. Despite all that, they still hit it off and manage a shmoopy moment, followed up with the promise of further shmoopiness. Im going to be honest, I just zoned the fuck out whenever they talked to each other unless one of them started crying.

The really uncomfortable thing about it is that these guys cry a lot. Every time they have more then 5 minutes on screen together, Jake manages to either yell at his girlfriend for being a naive child or share some kind of horrific story about his life. This always results in Cami stoically accepting his abuse, which is horrible, or escalating intimacy, which is worse. This effect culminates in an implied sex scene after he tells her that he was actually in jail instead of at a kegger for the last 2 years. It's kind of ironic that he went to such length to hide his identity from her since emotionally unstable criminals are apparently such a turn-on. Oh well. Thats love!

Tori is getting more and more suspicious of her daughter's behavior, and with the help of Kendra the Spy, she learns that Jake isn’t the teen dream Cami portrays him as. This leads to numerous dramatic conversations that crescendo in shrieking and general misunderstandings. We’ve watched about 3 billion of these goddamned films together, so I shall summarize the next 4 hours of it as follows:

Mom: Why did I find a condom full of coke in your gym bag?
AGAIN BLAAAARGH *vomits Arbor Mist and shame all over the living room*
Mom: WTF, grounded forever.

Blah fucking blah, you know the drill. On the more interesting side of the story, Jake’s cellmate Dawayne makes bail and comes to stay with the worlds tiniest apartment-based crime syndicate. They don’t have much manpower, but those kids are scrappy! Which is good, because it isn’t long before Cami inadvertently witnesses a drug deal gone wrong and they’re all targets of a rival gang. In a sequence I can only call Scoobyesque, Dawayne walks into a darkened house and is brained by a big ol' dude with a baseball bat. After Jake and Cami drop him at the emergency room and contemplate revenge, it is decided that the best option is for the dummies to flee to a cabin in the woods and wait for shit to blow over. Fine. Whatever. Moving on.

Since its a Lifetime movie, it is now time for the traditional 3rd act women's intuition gambit. Smug mothers are the Chekov’s Gun of Lifetime movies, and it only takes a matter of time before they get to say “I told you so” to whomever they rescue from the brink of death. Tori manages to get the location of the cabin where the kids are hiding from Jake's sister, and speeds up there to rescue Cami from her lame boyfriend. Unfortunately, the guy that messed up Dawayne’s brainpan has the same idea, and there is a showdown in the works!

Things go all Reservoir Dogs in the cabin, and things end about how you’d expect. The mom gets shot, natch. The evil guy dies, somehow. Jake goes back to jail, and Cami and Tori bond over the whole mess. The movie ends with Cami and Kendra having a fun party and Tori slicing cake with one arm in a sling. It’s like the weird continuity re-set at the end of a sit-com, except nobody got shot in Boy Meets World. That I am aware of.

Awesomeness: 15
I am going to give this movie some credit for a really awesome concept, and the best worst-case-scenario I’ve ever seen in one of these scared suburban mom movies. Obviously, if you daughter meets someone online, he is a criminal and you will get you shot. Why not? It was also overwrought and cheesy in the best ways. However, all of the interactions between Cami and Jake creeped me out. I kind of wanted to see the movie ending with her taking a self defense class. Since it ended with a birthday party instead, -5.

Star Power: 4
Alexandra Paul (Tori) was on Baywatch, which explains why she has been reduced to this now. Thea Gill (Kendra) had major roles in Queer as Folk and some show called Dante’s Cove that looks absolutely AMAZING. Jake was in Saw 3D, so the jury is out on whether this score will be increased when I watch that shit at the dollar theater. That’s about it.

Lifetimeliness: 10
A-yup. Mothers, lock up your daughters. Only you can save them from the marauding dudes of the internet.

29 seems fair. I'd DVR it if I were you. Lemon out.