I must admit, I'm relieved Lifetime Movie Network's Under Age and Out of Control weeklong marathon is over. A whole week of one Lifetime genre is a bit much, and outta control teens are my least favorite genre of Lifetime movie--I easily tire of whiny teenagers and every Lifetime movie starring them has the same plot.
Yes, I'm aware that ALL Lifetime movies have the same plot, but it's too easy to feel sorry for these hapless girls who are grossly undereducated about safe sex and have parents who gave them a computer only so they could rifle through their IMs later. When an adult woman sleeps with a supposed amnesiac who she's defending on charges of polygamy, you can't feel too bad for her when she discovers the guy doesn't actually have memory loss and didn't actually forget marrying all those women. But the poor ladies of the "under age" set never suspect that their boyfriend is a psycho until wayyy after they've had sex (often getting pregnant the first time), after he's freaked out for no reason, and sometimes, after she's given the whole school gonorrhea.
At their worst, UAaOoC movies are like sinister episodes of MTV's Undressed, and not in a good way. As soon as I saw the poor production values and ridiculous plotline of the first movie on the UAaOoC marathon--a teenager meets the "perfect guy" online and he turns out to be a dangerous, dangerous felon--I didn't even bother sticking around long enough to see if the movie was called "Web of Deceit," "Web of Deception," or "Deadly Web."
But a week without Lifetime does something to a woman, and that's make her go to the Lifetime website. There, I participated in the momentous occasion that was my very first vote for Lifetime Movie Network's Pick-a-Flick Friday. When I saw Poison Ivy (I) on the list, I was sure it would win. But to my surprise, the LMN audience was on my side. "If I wanted to watch real movies, I'd watch one of the many other channels I subscribe to," one woman wrote in the comments section. "Show more TV movies!!!"
I voted for "Terror in the Family," starring Hilary Swank. I figured if anyone could transcend the UAaOoC stereotypes, it would be her...and if not, it also starred the mom from Growing Pains and the Dad from the Wonder Years. I was excited when it came in second (I guess?) and was shown during the 10pm slot, but as soon as I saw that it had to resort to the old trick of showing the climax of the movie first and then "flashing back," I knew "Terror in the Family" was in trouble. And when Hilary's geeky younger brother wailed, "my mom...she's bleeeeeding!" into the phone, I knew I wasn't supposed to laugh....
Unfortunately, Dan Lauria (Wonder Years Dad), is nowhere near as good in this movie as he is in the Lifetime classic "Prison of Secrets" (I'm still surprised the scene where he shuts down the sanitary napkin-related riot never ended up on an Emmy reel), and watching Hillary Swank be SO VERY, VERY ANGRY!! was the only entertaining thing this movie had going for it.
"Speak," the movie that won (?) Pick-a-Flick Friday, fared much better, and was almost as good as an actual (non-lifetime) movie. Almost. It has everything going for it--look! they even paid to have publicity photos taken!
From left to right that's DB Sweeney, whose career is going so well I had to scan down to #56 on his imdb credits list to figure out what I knew him from (yes, "The Cutting Edge."); Hallee Hirsh, who played Dr. Greene's bratty daughter on ER; Vampire-lover Kristen Stewart, who I think my boyfriend is starting to get a crush on even though he claims he doesn't like "Twilight"; Elizabeth Perkins, whose skill at playing a self-indulged mother is vastly, vastly wasted in this movie; and some fresh-faced teen who is so forgettable they even forgot to put her in the last photo.
Unfortunately, not even these amazing actors, along with Steve Zahn at his most annoying and veteran character actor Leslie Lyles (she's appeared as 6 different characters in 7 different episodes of 3 different Law & Orders!), aren't enough to save "Speak." The fault mostly lies in the badly written script, including cringe-inducing inner dialogue from Kristen, who's smart, artsy, and oh-so-angsty. "Conjugate this: I cut. You cut. He cuts. She cuts." Yeah, that's something she's actually supposed to be thinking to herself. Tell me you didn't just make a face there.
Worse, though, is the very same aspect that makes this a true "Lifetime" movie--the almost random plot device of having Kristen barely speak* to anyone because she's been traumatized by being raped over the summer. (*omg that's the title of this movie!) The story follows the basic plotline of any "angsty teen discovering herself" film, with Kristen dealing with typical high school problems of alienation and confused feelings (did I mention she's angsty?)--and neither she, nor the movie, really addresses the rape. To just have some rape flashback scenes, along with a needlessly violent scene between Kristen and her rapist tacked on at the end, it not only spoils the flow of the movie, but makes it tacky. In the last scene of the film, Kristen finally SPEAKS to her mother, but before she can say two sentences, some random music comes on and we don't even get to hear what she says...pretty much negating the entire so-called message. I felt kinda dirty at the end. And that's when I knew it was the best choice for Pick-a-Flick Friday after all.
Lifetime Movie N, the next time you decide to run an entire week of the same thing, could you make it all separated at birth movies? Or pyscho ex movies? Or the-husband-totally-did-it murder movies? I think one of those has Treat Williams in it....