Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Stepson, My Lover

"My Stepson, My Lover" is pretty much the best Lifetime movie ever made. People often ask me why I like Lifetime movies so much, when I can clearly see they're stupid. And I don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes about women loving to gossip, but there's nothing I love more than TMI about a juicy story. Hearing and spreading gossip is pretty much the only thing I miss about working in an office (except the $10,000 copy machine). So it's lucky, then, that I have "My Stepson, My Lover" on my DVR and will never take it off.

Though it was on my Top 11 Lifetime Movies I'm Dying to See, I've hesitated to do a review of "My Stepson, My Lover" because I'm not sure I can do it justice (in fact, I started this blog post two months ago). But when I heard that Terry O'Quinn (aka John Locke from "Lost") was making a triumphant return to Lifetime on Monday in Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story, I knew I had to write up this classic piece of Lifetime cinema, which stars O'Quinn as the scorned husband/dad. Plus, it's one of the best Lifetime movie titles of all time (though its DVD version carries the more conservative, comma-less title of "Love Murder and Deceit").

The movie begins as Locke-from-Lost is brought into a hospital via helicopter. It's all very dramatic, and he almost dies, but an attractive nurse, Caitlin, ably does her job and he is saved. Locke-from-Lost decides he must have her, and since he's rich, this isn't so hard. When she rebuffs his advances, he donates a children's play area to the hospital, and who can resist that? Soon they're riding horses and laying in fields during their "growing romance" montage. Locke-from-Lost takes her out to eat at a restaurant that he's bought out for the night (why can't they eat around people?) and places an engagement ring inside an oyster. And who can resist that?

If this movie carries a message, it's that you should make sure you've met your future stepson before the wedding day. Because you never know when he's going to be a muscled hottie who's twenty times more verile than your new husband, who looks like...well, Locke from Lost...with a sinister mustache. Caitlin meets her new stepson, in fact, during her wedding reception. Bored with being married already, she wanders into the stable only to find Nick Newman from "The Young and the Restless" riding a horse in slow-mo, glistening with sexy sweat. In most Lifetime movies, he'd make a play on her right there in the hay. But "My Stepson, My Lover" is a cut above the rest, and they make you wait for it.

Post-wedding, it's not surprising that Locke-from-Lost, like most Lifetime movie men, turns into a total asshole. He's somehow able to get Caitlin a leave of absence from her job without her knowledge, and insists that instead of nursing, she needs to focus on the obligations of being a rich guy's wife. Then he takes off for South America, where his fancy cellular telephone can't get any reception, even with its 3-inch antenna (did I mention this movie is from 1997?).

Meanwhile, his son Eric is totally sexy. He comes by to innocently borrow some tools, and soon Caitlin is visiting the cabin he's building in the forest, on one of his dad's vacant lots. The rudimentary shack has stairs leading down to a lake that Eric is always getting out of when Cailin comes over, ensuring that he's continually shirtless and dripping wet. Yet still she resists, until Eric tells her that his dad has had a vacectomy--his professed desire to make babies with Caitlin was all a lie!

Well, now Caitlin's conflicted, and a file she finds in L-f-L's office reveals that he had a PI investigate her when they were going out. So she confronts her husband when he returns from his travels, and he's more self-righteous than a crazy guy on an mystical island. FINALLY Caitlin is driven into the hot son's arms, and luckily, he's just getting out of the steaming (?) lake right as she shows up.


If you've ever seen "Deadly Vows" (not to be confused with "Fatal Vows"), you know that some actors can't really do movie making-out very well. But thanks to the combined chops of a soap opera-trained actor and the woman from Against All Odds, the PG Lifetime sex is so good you'll finding yourself wishing you had a hot-as-balls stepson of your own. (Ewww)

But at this point, the movie's only half over, and there's plenty of Lifetime-alicious action left. L-f-L receives an incriminating fax, and when Caitlin gets home from her tryst, he menancingly holds her up against a wall and yells in her face. In the next scene, Caitlin is showing up at the son's shack, but Locke-from-Lost is already there. (The only thing I can think that happened in the interim is that L-f-L drove off and Caitlin went to the bathroom...there wasn't texting back in 1997, so it's not like she had to stop to post "wtf, who's all up in my biznass? let me no if u no a bitch w a fax machine" on her Twitter.) In any case, by the time Caitlin shows up, poor Locke-from-Lost has gone the way of Locke from Lost, and is dead by the water (luckily, no possessions occur).

The next thing you know, the movie has turned into a courtroom drama where it's revealed what a ho Caitlin has been. It's also insinuated that the hottie stepson sent the incriminating fax. Even still, he gets off, and celebrates with some more A+ making out with his dead father's bride--this time in his Dad's kitchen and to the strains of rebellious electric guitar.

I really don't want to tell you what happens at the end of "My Stepson, My Lover," but you know I can't help myself. Caitlin and her new boyfriend are fighting, because he's turning into kind of an a-hole just like his dad. So they decide to rev up their sex life by going to their old sex shack / the place where their dad/husband died. While there, Caitlin remembers a sexy time when Eric showed her how to properly use tools to install a railing on a sex shack. She realizes that the nuts and bolts have been taken out, and when she whirls around, the son is all, "Looking for these?" and has them in his hands. "You killed him on purpose!" Caitlin yells, and he lunges at her--BREAKING THROUGH THE BANISTER AND FALLING, IN SLOW-MO, ONTO THE ROCKS.


OK, so this is already the best fucking Lifetime movie I've ever seen. Just imagine standing in the ladies' restroom, hearing someone you know tell you this story. You'd be so riveted, you wouldn't even care that your coworker is waiting quietly in the stall for you to leave so she can take a poop. But "My Stepson, My Lover" has a twist at the end that even I wasn't expecting. In the last scene, she leaves an important meeting of hospital administrators to go poolside and SPOON-FEED THE HOT SON, who is now A VEGETABLE!! If my all-caps don't drive home the point that this non-sensical plot twist is awesome, perhaps I should explain that Caitlin seems totally OK with this arrangement, as if it's every woman's dream to get to spoon-feed a hot guy by the pool, even though he's a parapelgic who can't speak or understand how to eat food (though he appears to have perfect neck function) and who murdered your husband. And because I've watched copious amounts of Law & Order: SVU, I know that if she wanted to get his sperm, she could easily just stick a cattle prod up his butt.

Did I go to far? Well, so did "My Stepson, My Lover," and that's why you should buy it via the link below. I'll get 20¢ of the sale, which is enough to buy 3 pieces of catfood for my cat...her heart is breaking! Please help support her now. If buying Lifetime movies on DVD isn't your thing, enjoy this YouTube video of every scene Terry O'Quinn is in, which gives you many of the good parts., if none of the sexy ones. (No seriously, fast-forward through the Terry O'Quinn under-the-sheets sex scene at 4:15...for your own good.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Country Justice

There are woefully few photos of this movie online for me to rip off,
so you will have to settle for this pic of George C. Scott slapping someone.

With a name like "Country Justice," I was hoping that the runner-up of Pick-a-Flick Friday wasn't going to contain many courtroom scenes--and that's even before I knew it was a movie about a custody case. As anyone who has gotten the flu or had a bad break-up can attest to, if you watch LMN for more than 10 hours, a child custody plotline is bound to crop up. And I've found that the fewer courtroom scenes in the movie, the better.

This isn't really surprising, considering that Lifetime movie writers aren't really known for their way with language and understanding of the law. But that doesn't seem to stop them from trying to explain complex social issues through trite courtroom scenes that fly in the face of everything you've ever learned--or seen on Law & Order--about law. In "What Color Is Love?",  the worst child custody movie I've ever seen, we learn the important lesson that when a black man impregnates a white woman, they have a biracial baby. The father, a famous basketball player, successfully gets custody when those crazy Canadian courts decide that mixed race kid would be better off with his black parent than his white one (a "beautiful young Caucasian sports groupie" as Lifetime calls her.). By the third appeal, I was all, "haven't you idiots heard of joint custody?!" and vowed to limit my exposure to bad TV movies that have a lot of courttime.

If you photoshopped out
her right arm....
I had high hopes, then, for "Country Justice." There was an old guy, and a rifle, and I was pretty sure he wasn't going to end up in court. The young lady who's getting her justice in the movie is none other than Rachael Leigh Cook, who was beloved as both a nerd and a popular kid in one of 15 most influential films of my senior year, "She's All That." And as if that wasn't enough star power, George C. Scott plays the angry grampa, and Ally Sheedy is a goth druggie!

It all starts on Rachael's 15th birthday, when she begins to wonder about her mother (Sheedy), who abandoned her when she was a baby and ran over the border...of Kentucky and Virgina. Her grandpa (Scott) tells Rachael "never you mind," but she runs away anyway and shows up at her mother's Virginia doorstep. Soon, she learns that her mother listens to music too loudly, lives with a hot guy who wanders around with his shirt off, and--surprise, surprise--doesn't give a shit about her. Even worse, the hot guy slips her some roofies and takes her virginity, impregnating her in the process.

This is where Grandpa first grabs his shotgun, but Rachael convinces him not to shoot nobody (double negatives mine, these country folk had far too perfect grammar), and that they shouldn't press charges. And when Rachael's pregnancy test comes back positive, Gramps tells his granddaughter that he'd be happy to help raise his great-grandchild too. (I have to at least give the old guy credit for also telling her that it's her choice to not have the baby.)

But who woulda thunk it? In the movie's first courtroom scene, the guy who raped the 15 year-old and has been stalking her ever since gets custody of the baby, because the case is tried in Virginia! Damn those Virignians, and those goddamn courtroom scenes!

The film's DVD cover,
with a more apt title
But luckily, this is all just a plot gimmick, because now Grandpa must go on the lam with the little bastard to keep him from the law. Luckily, the baby never makes a peep (or a poop) as he's passed off from trucker to trucker (because country folks always know some truckers). And as my new favorite twitter feed Lifetime Movie Club notes, he even happily hides out in a mine with his grandpa even though he's supposed to have severe asthma.

Meanwhile, there's another excruciatingly bad scene in court, this time in Kentucky, where they reverse the decision and give Rachael custody. The rapist is still never brought up on charges, the cops don't arrest the Grandpa for kidnapping, and everyone's happy--even Ally Sheedy, who has quit the smack and taken an interest in her new granddaughter. But when the hot crazy rapist shows up at the house again, Grandpa has no choice but to get out his shotgun...and that's when George C. Scott yells, "take that, you sick motherfucker!" and shoots the guy in the head.

Unfortunately, the movie didn't actually end that way--it ended with Grandpa dropping Rachel off at high school while she does a cheery voice-over. Some Country Justice! There wasn't even an axe in the movie. The courts just ruin everything.

Friday, January 14, 2011

On Thin Ice

If only Patsy had gone throught DARE's
"Keepin' It REAL (Refuse. Explain. Avoid. Leave.)" program!

If you've ever wondered what shows like "Weeds" and "Breaking Bad" would be like if their drug-dealing stars were total wusses who were afraid of even looking at drugs, then "On Thin Ice" (aka "Breaking Through") is the movie for you. I'll watch anything starring Diane Keaton, even "Mad Money" or "Baby Boom," which is frankly unwatchable after she leaves Harold Ramis and moves out to the country. So when I saw she was starring as a meth head in this Lifetime movie (on hulu for a limited time!), I assumed I would love it. She was Annie Hall, for fuck's sake! I even enjoy her as the mom in "Father of the Bride"!

Unfortunately, watching Diane Keaton play meth-head is kind of like watching the mom from Father of the Bride play meth-head. Her reaction to even seeing the drug is to start yelping like a mouse just ran over her foot (or Jack Nicholson just accidentally saw her boobs). While Lifetime is still allowing Hulu to air it, you can see what I mean in this clip: Diane (known as Patty McGartle in the film, which is based on a fictional true story) tries to stay off the meth for a night, and ends up tearing apart the house looking for her lost earring--I mean, any left-over crank. She ends up finding a baggie in the couch cushions and shoves the whole thing into her mouth, just as her kids come into the room to sadly shake their heads, failing to find her drug addiction wacky.



In typical Lifetime fashion, Patty is pretty much the worst mother ever, not only missing her teenager's first basketball game as starter, but making the little one cry. Her kids try to run away by convincing the guy at Greyhound that their mom is waiting for them in Chicago with money for their tickets, but Patsy stops the bus and slaps her son in a meth-induced rage. You can't help but wonder why no one's called child services, and wish that Patsy at least had the sense to try to keep them from being terrified of being killed by a drug dealer. At one point, she makes her kids lay down in the back of the car while she drives around muttering about how she doesn't know what they're going to do, then leaves them alone in their house, vaguely instructing the older one that his dead daddy's rifle is in the closet.

Keaton is so unbelievable as a meth smoker,
I don't even believe her as a cigarette smoker.
She makes an equally bad drug dealer. Instead of meeting druggies at their houses or in some hidden alley, she parks her conspicuous wood-paneled station wagon in the middle of a field and has them come up to the window and hand her a wad of cash. After counting it in clear view through the windshield, she hands them their drugs out the window.

Of course, you can't really blame her, because the guy who hired her ("Hopkins") isn't a very good role model for drug dealing. He has a policy that all of his dealers smoke meth, and if that isn't bad business strategy, I don't know what is! One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the one below, which reminds me of being in the DARE. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program as a kid, when we were forced to play-act scenarios in which we'd say "no" to drugs. You'd be given a piece of paper that had a technique on just exactly how to say no, like "the broken record (just say no)" and "say you've already had some." A lucky classmate would get to play the drug user who taunts you with lines like, "C'mon, everybody's doing it!" and you would perform scenes just like this one from the movie:
Hopkins: I don't care if you never try this again, but I have to know if I can trust you.
Patsy: Why would that make you trust me?
Hopkins: Because it would.


In case you're reading this after Hulu pulls the clip off the internet, I feel the need to tell you that Hopkins is, of course, is wearing an exotic bathrobe and his trademark hat, and is drinking a goblet of red wine, as all villains do. He's a pretty bad dude, and after getting his dealers hooked on meth, he gets mad when they then steal some of the meth he gives them to sell. Like, really mad.

Hopkins entertains at his lavish hideaway
One of these dealers happens to be Patsy's friend Carey, who got her into the meth game to begin with. Every time Patsy goes over to Carey's house, there's always a drugged-out extra sitting on the stairs across from the front door. But now, Patsy shows up and it's Carey's son who's sitting sadly on the stairs, and Carey wants Patsy to take him home with her. But Patsy refuses, saying she has to get herself clean first, and by the time she's done going through withdrawals (which, yes, looks exactly like what would happen if the mom from Father of the Bride was going through withdrawals), it's too late. And by too late, I mean that Hopkins has gone and killed Carey's entire family, and Patsy finds them in a scene that reminds us all that the only thing worse than a gory "they're all dead!" scene is a gory "they're all dead!" scene in a bad movie.

Patsy has no choice but to go snitch on Hopkins, and it turns out she's an even worse snitch than she is dealer or mother. When Hopkins leaves the room, she starts chattering to the police listening in on her wire, and then goes and reads the names of other drug dealers off of Hopkins' laptop (yes, he's really that bad of a drug lord). Apparently, this isn't enough to get the detectives a warrant, nor is the giant sack of meth he gives Patsy (drug dealers are so generous with their backpacks in the movies!). So the cops trail Patsy while she goes on the deal Hopkins has set up for her, which takes place, naturally, in a giant field.

As this is Lifetime, it's no secret that somebody's gotta shoot Hopkins in the movie, and it turns out it's Diane Keaton. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that, yes, it looks a lot like the mom from Father of the Bride yelling "how does it feel!?!" while pointing a rifle at someone. Then she and the kids drive the station wagon off to the the Witness Protection Program of their dreams.

After watching this "film," I strangely wanted to watch it again and again--but not with Diane Keaton in the lead. Instead, I think all actresses should have to take their shot at going from hard-working single mom, to drug-dealing addict, to frightened snitch all in an hour and a half (not counting commercials). Let's get Jennifer Aniston on in there, and J.Lo! (do people still call her that?) Amy Poehler! Helen Mirren! Tia and Tamera Mowry! We all know we'd tune in to the Julia Roberts version, and that Meredith Baxter would do it best....pretty soon it could be a whole new Lifetime spin-off network.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Craigslist Killer

Lifetime specializes in movie posters that
don't require the hiring of a graphic designer
I knew Lifetime's latest original movie, "The Craigslist Killer," was going to be even worse than the channel's previous abomination, "Sundays at Tiffany's." (Sidenote: Lucy Liu's "Marry Me" was way better than any rom-com Sandra Bullock has ever been in, and a little too good for me to have anything too snarky to say about it. But back to the bashing.) However, I was unprepared for just how boring, uninspired, and bad--in a bad way--this movie was.

"The Craigslist Killer" (or the//craiglist.killer), as you've probably figured, is based on Philip Markoff's 2009 murder of Julissa Brisman, a provider of "erotic services" on Craiglist. You also won't be surprised to hear that in the movie, Julissa is a licensed massage therapist who is innocently setting up her massage table in her hotel room when Markoff shows up and shoots her.

Markoff quietly experiencing
vertigo/murderous rage
Sam "oh, THAT guy!" McMurray
in better-looking days
To anyone not on Craigslist, Markoff is the perfect guy: charming, well-dressed, and respected by his doctor-boss at the hospital, played by Sam McMurray (who's looking bad enough these days that I was glad I don't get Lifetime in HD). His girlfriend, a B-level Katherine Heigel, couldn't help but be swept off her feet, even though he's kind of possessive and secretive. So, like any modern Lifetime woman with a jerkwad boyfriend, she agrees to marry him, even though she just met him.

Even her friends wish
she was Katherine Heigel
At around this point I began to wish Lifetime would show us one movie about a woman with a serial killer husband who's bored with her marriage and simply doesn't care what her husband does at night. Instead, Lifetime gives us idiots who rush into things while avoiding all warning signs that their boyfriend is at worst, a psycho, and at best, really rude. Instead of feeling sorry for WannabeHeigel every time her fiancé dons his Red Sox hat to go out whorin' and murderin', I found myself screaming at the TV, "Your boyfriend is an asshole! YOU SHOULD JUST DUMP HIS ASS!" It was so annoying I'm sorry to say I couldn't even enjoy the movie's montage, which featured WannabeHeigel picking out a wedding dress with her token black friend interspersed with Markoff holding up the scantily clad providers of "erotic services."

Speaking of the Erotic Services, Lifetime is (of course) prudely vague about what these women or Markoff are doing on Craiglist--except for a 2-second shot of a fuzzy image of a woman in her bra. Markoff is on Craiglist clandestinely throughout the entire movie, whether he's on his laptop while hanging out the couch with the gf or hunched over his desktop late at night, rebelliously drinking wine while he scours craigslist for suitable marks. Best of all, the sound editors helpfully added typing noises while we watch Markoff stare at the Craiglist home page, not typing anything.

This is the 37th movie in which
a Baldwin has played a Boston cop
When Det. Billy Baldwin shows up to boredly tell WannabeHeigel her fiancé is THE CRAIGSLIST KILLER, she denies it could be him over and over (as Chelsea Handler hilariously points out in this clip), then later goes into full-on How Could This Happen!!?? mode. "The Craigslist Killer" ends with a flashback as she remembers laying in the grass with him, fantasying about how delightfully preppy their children will be.

Which is strange, because when I find out my boyfriend is a STD-ridden murderer I usually go curl up in the shower for several days...not reminisce about how I wanted to have his babies.

But hey, at least I got to see a guy who's way too Christian-looking for me to ever be attracted to him propose to his girlfriend in a horse-drawn carriage via dialogue so bad my ears lit on fire and I had to fast-forward. And isn't that what every woman wants in a Lifetime movie?
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