Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Five



Hey, did you guys know that sometimes people get breast cancer? Well, then you know everything Lifetime's tear-jerkingly bad "Five" has to tell you, except that you should give some money to for-profit corporations that "support the fight" against it.

The commercialization of breast cancer has been around for years, in case you haven't noticed the number of things that have no business being festooned with pink ribbons (Doritos? Swiffer mops?  Small animals? Really?) being covered in pink and plastered with the words "Breast cancer awareness." (By the way, a lot of these products don't really give any money to breast cancer research.) Now I'm all for people not getting breast cancer, but I have trouble naming a single other disease Americans are more aware of, except for AIDS, which is really so 90s, don't you think?

One of the many strange pro-
ducts that has attempted to tie
itself to breast cancer "fighting"
As Lifetime was enjoying telling us, as if it was a reason to watch their dumb movie, "one in every eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer." Most of us know at least one person who has gotten breast cancer, and at least one person who has been affected by a breast cancer–related death. So Lifetime's claim (like the claim of so many corporations eager to jump on the "we care!" bandwagon) that they're raising awareness of breast cancer is downright laughable.

But breast cancer wasn't all the Lifetime marketing team had up their sleeve. As you may have seen on the talk show rounds, Alicia Keys, Demi Moore, and Jennifer Aniston were involved with this movie! What's that you say--they aren't actually in the movie? They're directing the five different segments in the movie, even though they have no business directing anything? (Except for you Demi, I give you a pass, but only for this, not for your dumb marriage choices.) Well, that's as silly as when they say "Academy Award winner Ben Affleck," because he won for co-writing "Good Will Hunting"!

But that's not all these celebrities did, they also starred in some "behind the scenes" "interviews." They  basically consist of Jennifer Aniston shilling a T-shirt "designed" by her (even though it's an exact replica of a child's drawing from the movie), and Demi Moore offering this confusing, chilling advice for preventing cancer: "We know our own bodies. Just take the time to pay attention to what it's telling you." Um, really Demi? Because after my aunt beat breast cancer, she said the only time she felt sick at all was when she was going through chemo. Couldn't you at least cheerfully yell, "Go get a mammogram!!" like the lady who plays the stripper in the movie?

If you're wondering what the "short films" that surrounded all these faux-PSAs were all about (other than breast cancer), here's a quick run-down:

Josh Holloway, shorn
Movie #1 ("Charlotte") is directed by Demi and is like that moment in Mad Men when you're like, "OK, this scene is actually taking a little too long, I'm kind of eager to get to Don having sex, even though I understand this is arty and making me think and all." Of course, "Charlotte" isn't arty and it didn't make me think, except it did take place in the 60s. Josh Holloway (sexy, sexy, Sawyer from Lost), shows up for two seconds as the father of the little girl who spends the whole "short film" wandering around wondering what's happening with her mother, who's cancer-ridden in bed. Oh, and it's the day of the moon landing! I totally remember seeing those guys at Tom Hanks' house in "Apollo 13"!

I really can't stress enough how disappointed I am with
Tony Shalhoub as the romantic lead in this movie. Even
a generic Lifetime guy who's sort of hot like
Sebastian Spence would have been preferred.
Movie #2 ("Mia"), is directed by Jennifer Aniston. All she had to do was let Patricia Clarkson run around being a crazy lady (variety: dying) and it would probably have directed itself. But instead, it's told out of order for no reason, and she's marrying Tony Shalhoub, but the only thing we know about them is that they met at a bank. This is the only movie out of the five where anyone throws up at all, and the entire scene consists of a vomit noise followed by Patricia wiping non-existent saliva from her mouth. (The scene is later replayed during a commercial break so we can see that her husband is getting some pink-lidded Walgreens bottles out of the bathroom cabinet.) (I will pause while you cry for humanity.)

Patricia wears a dramatic headscarf over her bald head and says things like, "I'm a doer. Cancer doesn't happen to doers!" She holds a funeral for herself where she ends up telling off her friends, smoking a cigarette, and blabbing to her sister-in-law that her brother is cheating on her. Oh, but she doesn't really die, of course--no one in any of these movies does (except the 60s cancer mom). It ends with a pan up to the moon, then a shooting star. No, I didn't make that up.

Cheyanne, with Amber and Trixie covered, gives her
husband a free lap dance, just because it's so much fun
Moving on, Movie #3, "Cheyanne," is the most Lifetimey of the bunch. You guessed it...Cheyanne's the stripper! Well, she strips down to her full-coverage bra and bikini briefs, and she calls it "dancing." She's also has the worst business sense of any stripper ever, because she gives her husband lap dances while she's at work--and I don't think he tips. But what stripper isn't turned on by having to give her husband a lap dance at work, right? The action quickly ends up at their apartment, where he feels a lump in her boob through her bra while feeling her up. Uh-oh.

Cheyanne doesn't want to get a double mastectomy, because her hubby loves her tits so much he's named them Amber and Trixie. (I can't decide if this is brilliant or a sign that we are living in an artistic Dark Age.) But instead of seeing her struggle at going through with the surgery, all we see is his struggle. And since he's supposed to be a thug, that struggle takes place in an underground parking garage with an aluminum bat. He's showed up to hit Steve from Sex in the City in the knees, but he ends up smashing up a fire extinguisher instead and opening up about his fears about being a good husband. Keep in mind these "films" are like 15 minutes apiece, so the next--and last scene--is the husband coming home with a shaved head. (It's been established that, like any thug, he is very sensitive about people touching his hair.) She lets out the fakest laugh ever heard in a Lifetime movie, then unzips her velvet hoodie so he can kiss her mastectomy scars.

I thought only white people got cancer!
Now I know black people do, too
I was about to puke almost as much as Patricia Clarkson, but luckily Movie #4 was the Lifetime Movies for Black Women® portion, directed by Alicia Keys, and was the best of the bunch. Rosario Dawson and that woman from "Girlfriends" who looks like that lady from "Top Chef" play sisters really well, and they spar with their sassy black mom, played by the sassy black woman in everything you've ever seen. Rounding out the cast is none other than George (and Oscar) Bluth himself, Jeffrey Tambor, as a male breast cancer patient/waiting room onlooker.

Bob Newhart was also randomly in
the movie. He's still workin', folks!
Finally, Movie #5, "Pearl," was about Jeanne Tripplehorn, who was the little girl in the first movie and has been the oncologist in every movie since. Surprise! she has breast cancer herself, and is struggling to tell her daughter. She is also the only actress in the whole thing who made me go, "Holy shit, what if I get cancer!!", but that emotional connection was negated by the most obvious and disgusting shill in the entire movie. She's doing a voiceover about how cancer will affect all the women she sees around her--one woman takes her best friend to chemo each week, one is a cancer survivor, one is running a marathon to support her grandmother--and says, "This woman just picked up a prescription at Walgreens. The bottle's pink cap will remind her to get a mammogram, which will end up saving her life." The camera pans to the Walgreens bag on her stroller handle. It's super awkward...but I suppose that is the whole point of this movie, right?

During the movie's half-hour of commercials or its extensive publicity campaign, no one was ever directed to donate to Susan B. Komen or any other cancer organization directly. Instead, viewers were encouraged to buy Yoplait Yogurt, whose pink lids fund mammograms (somehow), get their prescriptions filled at Walgreens because their pink caps would remind us to get mammograms (what?), and buy Jennifer Aniston's T-shirt through Ford's website (yes, the car company), a purchase she guarantees will "help researches take a giant leap towards finding a cure for breast cancer." You heard it on Lifetime first, folks. The best way to fight cancer is to buy a T-shirt for which "100 percent of the net proceeds" (whatever the hell those are) are donated. Oh, also, smoke a cigarette and marry Tony Shalhoub.



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