Saturday, February 11, 2012

Secrets of Eden



John Stamos and Lifetime movies are a rare combining of pop culture pleasures so great that they cease to be guilty. He's the only person to have his own category on this blog! But let me explain it another (perhaps scarier?) way: I've never seen what is widely considered Stamos's best Lifetime work, The Two Mr. Kissels, even though I own it on DVD. Like a guy you've flirted with for so long you're afraid that hooking up with him will ruin it, I'm holding onto it in case I need it, like if it's my birthday and everyone forgets.

Here's Stamos, playing a pastor.
Lifetime movies fit Stamos like a glove, allowing him to throw televised fits not seen since his Blackie days and chew up every close-up with his emoting eyes. But you don't even need to know that to understand how eager I was watch Stamos take off his clothes in "Secrets of Eden." You just have to be someone who likes to sleep with men. And if you are, and you were born between 1978 and 1985, you probably have enough Stamos pop-ins (if he doesn't have a permanent space on your bench) that it will be totally worth it for you to watch this movie.

As this is Lifetime, I can state the obvious up front: there's a lady and she has a total asshole for a husband. She and her domestic-violence-loving spouse are played by stereotypical Lifetime actors (vaguely recognizable and blandy attractive), probably because the Stamos is so expensive -- double whammy, because his mastery of TV acting makes them also seem boring in comparison. This wouldn't be too bad except Stamos is only in the movie for roughly 20 minutes! Not enough Stamos, Lifetime! But since being on stage with a band as old as the Beach Boys has always cast an unattractive haze over Stamos's drumming performances, I'll take what I can get here.

The hottest baptism ever shown on Lifetime
Stamos plays a small-town pastor who wears jeans and fitted flannel(-patterned) shirts with three-quarter sleeves. He starts off the movie by baptising Alice (the lady-tagnoist), and -- naturally -- she has a picnic to celebrate, but her asshole husband can't come because of work. During the picnic we also find out that Alice recently got back together with her husband, and that they have a teenaged daughter who loves The Fray. Alice also has a vaguely ethnic friend Heather, who shows up for five seconds to give her a Ganesh statue and meet Pastor Stamos (who's called "Pastor Drew" in the movie, in a strange throwback to Untouchable).

After the picnic, Alice's bland bully of a husband (who really could have learned a thing or two about how to do a proper Lifetime domestic violence scenes from Stamos himself) goes into a jealous rage that Stamos baptized her....and we later learn that he beat her to death. Well, at least they got the murdering out of the way. Then, four hours later, someone shoots the asshole husband in the back of the head.

Yet another fantastic actress wasted on Lifetime:
Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad and Deadwood
plays the worthless detective
The bloody scene is duly inspected by the wife from Breaking Bad, who plays the detective. Even though the husband was shot through the back of the head from several feet away, they determine that it's a suicide, because the gun in his hand. Genius! And since it was just a suicide, might as well let the local pastor, clad in blue rubber gloves (even the gloves are tight) clean up the house, right?

Well, the medical examiner soon sets the detective straight, and now she's got a murder on her hand! She's also not at all mad at herself for letting some random guy onto the scene of a murder to clean up. But he's the pastor, he must have meant well!! Meanwhile, because I have seen several hundred episodes of Law & Order, I realize that it was totally the daughter that did it.

The detective starts poking around amongst Alice's lady friends, and finds out that she had broken up with her husband because he was an asshole who beat her, then recently took him back for unknown reasons. She had also started to become more spiritual, as evidenced by her going into Heather's spiritual bookshop for the first time even though she had read all her books. (Thanks, flashbacks!) But when Stamos starts showing up at the bookshop after Alice's death, a member of the church's "women's group" lets it drop that the "pastoral counseling" Alice was receiving from Pastor Stamos before her murder was actually the penis-in-vagina kind!!

I don't like Stamos' jeans, but I like his back grasp.
Lifetime, of course, doesn't show anything more risque than some slow-motion panting, but Stamos is a TV veteran and knows how to work a white undershirt. As hot as these all-to-brief flashbacks were, "Secrets of Eden" didn't really deliver on the bad pastor front. I spent many of my pre-teen years crushing on my church's engaged youth pastor (yes, I had a lot going on back then). Now that I'm an atheist, I had been looking forward to enjoying some pastor-sex fantasies with some Stamos flavor mixed in -- without worrying about the hell-related consequences!

But not only does Reverend Stamos never wear anything remotely conservative-looking, he's a shitty pastor. Or so I'm assuming, because we don't seem him deliver a single sermon except for Alice's funeral in the movie -- mostly he's just hanging out in an empty church, waiting to have one-on-one confrontations with various women. Worse still, he doesn't get in trouble for all the premarital sex he's been having! First he's banging a married parishioner on the regular, then he hooks up with a non-Christian after she dies! In any Lifetime movie worth its salt there'd be some angry people on his lawn, or at least he'd give an emotional sermon where he asks for forgiveness.

Stamos may as well just be a smoldering recovering
alcoholic, since this is as pastorly as he gets
Not John Stamos. He stands by his choice to make impassioned love to Alice during her separation, even when the detective confronts him with Alice's lime-green diary of secrets. But apparently the stress of being a hot pastor who has unmarried sex up against walls really was too much to bear, because in one of the last flashbacks of the movie (a short, uninspired "I can't do this anymore" scene), we find out that Stamos was the one who dumped Alice.

Faced with this rejection, is it any surprise that Alice goes back to her asshole husband who enjoyed beating her within an inch of her life? Well yes, actually, it is. The movie goes to great lengths to show us how happy and independent Alice feels while separated -- there's even a dancing around the kitchen while making cookies montage! So it really makes no sense that she'd go back to her husband, especially since every one of her gossipy friends say that they encouraged Alice to get a restraining order and a divorce.

I think Stamos had it in his contract that he got to
wear 3/4 sleeves in 3/4 of the scenes
Unfortunately, no one ever called the cops on the dude themselves, or gets Alice some professional counseling, so she gets back together with him, and he leaves her in a pool of blood. He seems totally sober when he does it, but I guess after the fact he decides to sit in his La-Z-Boy and drink some beer, because that's where his daughter finds him, passed out with a bottle in his hand, and shoots him in the back of the head with his gun.

Naturally (?), she goes to Stamos and he not only goes back to ingeniously put the gun in the husband's hand and "clean up," but tells her that he'll take the blame if they ever bring charges.... I mean, she's an 18-year-old girl who had every right to be terrified of her dad and go temporarily insane, but Stamos decides it would be better for her to keep the secret that she killed her father for the rest of her life, and for him to ruin his life by taking the fall for a crime he didn't commit, because her mother would have wanted it that way.


It doesn't really make sense, but I guess I'm willing to go along with it, especially because there's never enough proof to arrest anyone. The movie ends with Pastor Stamos taking the daughter to college. She gives Stamos a big "thanks for the ride, and for being complicit in my murdering" hug in the quad...and I can't help but wonder if she's going to be thinking about him and his tight-fitting flannel in her dorm room tonight.

The daughter's only publicity still. Sorry lady,
make room for Stamos.



Buy Secrets of Eden on iTunes





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