Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Betrayed at 17


I usually don't review outta control teen Lifetime movies, but I also don't usually get requests from Twitter followers. So when my biggest fan @discojosh asked me to review "Betrayed at 17," I couldn't say no.
*Is he really my biggest fan? Probably not. But for the sake of narrative let's pretend that he is.
"Betrayed at 17" is what we in the business* call a "new era" Lifetime movie--one that was made after 2006 or so and contains blandly attractive stars blandly acting out scripts that are just barely interesting enough to keep you in suspense. Being weened on the 90s Lifetime movies-- where if a movie contains a murder, it contains five murders (and three affairs, at least one mistaken identity, and someone falling down the stairs)--I can't stop believing that with each twist, something really interesting is about to happen. I just keep watching until finally, something sort of does. Usually it's too little too late. But I'll never learn.
*Is there really a "business" of reviewing Lifetime movies? Of course not. But for the sake of narrative let's pretend that there is.
Alexandra Paul in her lifeguarding days
In "Betrayed at 17," there's only one murder. And you have to wait like an hour and a half for it. But there is a manslaughter earlier on...and they throw in enough nonsensical plot points to keep it funny in between. The movie begins with Alexandra Paul, who you might remember from such Lifetime classics as "The Boy She Met Online" and "Gospel of Deceit" (she was also Stephanie on Baywatch). Like most of her roles, Alexandra has a crazy-eyed stare in this movie that only helps her achieve TV-movie perfection by overacting in every single scene. Alexandra is go-get-'em pharmaceutical rep who isn't afraid to sit in a doctor's office for four hours just for a chance to spunkily sell him her wares.

She's also an overbearing mother--so overbearing that her son Shane has become a black sheep, living with a roommate in an unknown location and breaking into his mother's home to steal some cash and pop some free samples of the meds she sells. In a bit of backstory we get while Alex is bitching to her friend, we learn that not only has Shane been suspended five times, he just got a notice from County Court! Obviously, Alex immediately calls him to nag, doing the usual, "Shane?? Hiiiii, it's Mom..." that nagging mothers do when they get their hooligan son's voicemail. Shane's younger sister, Lexi, lives at home and will soon be...yep...betrayed at 17.

Kids and their phones these days! We're all doomed.
Greg Nickels, a hunky football player from school, is just the guy to betray her. He tells his friend, re: teenage girls, "deep down they all want to do it, they just won't admit it." To prove it, he vows to record him and his latest crush, Lexi, doing the nasty. Lexi gives it up on the first date after Greg feeds her lines like, "Hey, everybody's got to lose their virginity sometime, right?" Little does she know that he's recording the whole thing on his MacBook!!! (Once again, I am so thankful computers hadn't gotten cooler than AOL chatrooms when I was in high school.) The next day at school, Greg promptly shows his friend the video on his phone, and Lexi's friend informs her that "guys only date skanks."

Like everyone, I assumed that Greg was a total asshole, like all Lifetime men, and would promptly tell everyone that Lexi is a ho and show off how hot she was in a sports bra. (Thanks to Lifetime's strict TV-PG standards, as far as I can tell all the video contains is Greg and Lexi kissing while she's topless in her sports bra, and Lexi in bed on top of him wearing a completely different outfit than she was wearing on the date--including jeans rather than a skirt.) But I was wrong. It's actually Greg's gorgeous ex, Carleigh, who finds out about the video and sends it to everyone in the school by sneaking into the boy's locker room and sending it from Greg's phone.

Men: Not to be trusted
Greg and Lexi go to a party at Carleigh's that night, and it's not long before Lexi finds out that everyone has seen the devirginizing video. Aghh! This kind of nightmare is why I hate outta control teen Lifetime movies. For some reason the agony of teenagerhood is worse for me than the murders and affairs of adulthood (well, Lifetime adulthood). In any case, Carleigh starts calling Lexi "Lexi Loose" and Lexi gets so upset she runs out of the house and blindly into the street--don't you run straight into the street when you're upset?--and a car promptly plows her down. Yeah, for realz.

I mean, are you really surprised? She slept with the guy on the first date, people. The best she could hope for was to be branded a whorey skank by her entire peer group...death may have been the worst-case scenario, but is it really unexpected? In Lifetime movies, women are to remain celibate until they are married to a man who promptly turns evil, or until they have a sexy fling with their dead best friend's boyfriend. Otherwise, the price they pay is pregnancy, ostracism, or death.

Another Lifetime meme, of course, are worthless cops, and this movie's worthless cop is played by Billy from Friday Night Lights, who promises, "I'm gonna push as hard as I can on this," but doesn't really say what "this" is, and also notes that the guy who was driving down a residential, car-lined street fast enough to kill someone is not going to be charged with vehicular manslaughter because he "tried to stop" and "did everything he could" at the scene, including giving Lexi CPR.

Carleigh is all, I never realized that Lexi was so popular that
people are willing to make a sign in her memory!
Instead of hunting down the dude that killed her daughter, Alexandra Paul shows up at Greg's door, having heard that he made a sex tape of Lexi's deflowering that caused her to run into the street without looking where she was going. But poor Greg! He just made the tape, he didn't distribute it! Filming your girlfriend just to show off to your friend and have something to masturbate to later isn't so bad, is it? He's tells Alexandra and Shane he's sure Carleigh was the one who showed it to the whole school, and goes off to prove it.

After beckoning her into his car, Greg gets Carleigh to confess to sending the video from his phone, and he's been recording their conversation the whole time! That Greg has a real future as a PI! Carleigh won't stand for it, so she goes back home, gets her dad's loaded gun out of its zippered pouch in his room, heads over to Greg's house, and shoots him in the chest. There's no blood, and he clutches his stomach and falls to the floor, totally dead. Yes, it made as little sense in the movie as it does in this paragraph.

Shane, all hopped up on "Luxeva," sits in a clear,
well-lit alley with his mother
Meanwhile, depressed about his sister's death, Shane is in a downward spiral. His mom finds him in a well-lit, very clean alley drinking beer out of a brown paper-wrapped bottle, and he confesses he's been popping some of her "new meds." She's all, "Shane!! You can't take Luxeva with alcohol, it will kill you!" Whoa, that is quite the side effect! And unfortunately, because Shane roughed-up Greg shortly before his shooting, the cops think that Shane must be Greg's killer.

Desperate to set things straight, Alexandra enlists the help of Greg's mom, because two moms are way more powerful than one when it comes to going to the high school and demanding the security tapes from the day Lexi was killed. Luckily, the school saves the tapes for an entire month, and plays the day in question back for the moms. They're gratified to see Carleigh sneaking out of the boys' locker room--"unlike the girls' locker room, in the boys' locker room the lockers are around the corner from the showers, so Greg wouldn't have seen her," the security lady tells them, as if they have ever been in the girls' locker room.

Carleigh tries to figure out who she can
shoot so that people won't blame
her for causing someone's death
The moms arrive at Carleigh's house just as she and her dad are trying to make a getaway with the murder weapon. They confront her about the video, shooting, etc. She's all, "Everybody would have blamed me for Carleigh's death!"* Then, naturally, she whips out the gun. Instead of grabbing it out of her hand before she can release the safety, her dad and the two moms stand by, yelling at her. The yfinally decide to rush her after she slowly cocks the gun, and in the scuffle she shoots herself in the leg.
*No, it doesn't make sense that Carleigh would kill someone so she wouldn't be blamed for someone else's accidental death. But let's just pretend it does for the sake of narrative.
In the end, everything turns out OK for plucky, crazy-eyed Alexandra Paul. Sure, the guy who mowed down Lexi is still out there, speeding down dark suburban streets. But the girl who disseminated the PG-rated video that made Lexi's last living moments so horrible has a painful injury, and presumably will go to jail for killing her exboyfriend.

You'd think that this movie would have ended with Alexandra and Shane visiting Lexi's grave (or having a funeral? Anything?) But instead, it ends with Shane, who couldn't even stand talking to his mother before, clean as a whistle and inviting her out to dinner to celebrate his shiny new GED. In fact, the first time I saw this movie, I got distracted during the middle, and didn't realize that Lexi had been killed after she had been betrayed at 17. An even worse fate than a terrible nickname?

 

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