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Archive for the ‘TV Movies’ Category

For some, it’s the sight of disgusting egg-nog flavored drinks at Starbucks. For others, an embarrassingly tacky Christmas tree display at your local drugstore. But for me, the first sign of the holiday season is television’s stable of cheesy, holiday-themed made-for-TV movie fare. Nothing quite matches seeing a gussied up Kelly Ripa (or an actress of her caliber/pay scale) re-learning how to love her gruff ex-husband, just in time for Christmas and to their children’s great joy. And you can bet your wholesome bottom-dollar those little dickens are getting a puppy under the tree too! BRING IT ON, HALLMARK.

Enjoy any of these fine “films” with a hot beverage, preferably a cup of Swiss Miss (made with water, not milk, for an extra dose of crappiness) and maybe some CheeseNips and a handful of your mom’s peppermint bark.

— Also, I want you to go ahead and visit this page so you can appreciate how IMPOSSIBLE it was to narrow down the list to just 5 picks (10 with Beal’s). Making me choose between Dave Coulier and Christine Baranski AND Luke Perry vehicles? Why are you so cruel, world?–

5. Comfort and Joy (2003)


Why sit through the Nicholas Cage-Tea Leoni feature film The Family Man when you have a crappy, made-for-TV version starring Lifetime Movie stalwart Nancy McKeon? And DIXIE CARTER? It’s pretty much The Family Man except instead of Nick as the materialist-bastard-wakes-up-as-doting-husband-father, we’ve got Jo over here, who wakes up after a car accident to learn that instead of a high-powered business woman, she’s now a homemaker in the ‘burbs. But DIXIE CARTER. I would watch Dixie Carter and her Southern sassiness over Nicholas Cage any day, and apparently I’m not the only one considering his financial and box-office troubles. Can we put Dixie and Annie Potts in the NEXT National Treasure movie?

Please enjoy this clip that proves families are way better (especially around the holidays when cookies and cheery music is involved) than gobs of money and black satin sheets and, also, Nancy McKeon was apparently so rich that she has never peeled a potato. Hilarious.

4. Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)

Can someone please tell me why Melissa Joan Hart is so desperate to prove to her family that she’s getting married? First this and then that fake wedding movie with Joseph Lawrence? I don’t think I’m alone in thinking we’d get a lot more from Clarissa. But those are cute boots. And I’m kind of happy to see Mario Lopez get dragged on the ground, I’ll admit it.

So, MJH is a waitress who kidnaps a dude and drags him home for the holidays. All the women have wonderfully intricate and large soap-opera hair, Bobby from My Boys is in it, JUNE LOCKHART plays the dotty grandma and apparently George W. Bush is the dad.

3. On the 2nd Day of Christmas (1997)

I want you to revel in this with me for a second. Mark Ruffalo is in this movie. Mark. Ruffalo. He plays Bert, a dude who works at this store where con artist Trish (Mary Stuart Masterson) is caught stealing with her niece Patsy. To keep them out of social services’ laps for the holidays, he agrees to look after them. And HO! there will be romance. And you will want to a die a little upon watching this clip.

Mark. Ruffalo.

2. A Diva’s Christmas Carol (2000)

Oh, this one brings me SO MUCH JOY. “‘Tis the season to be nasty”! What would the holidays be without a horrible version of Dickens’ classic, completely over-covered A Christmas Carol? This gem provided our first glimpse into how deliciously bitchy Vanessa Williams can be and also introduced us to her trademark one-eyebrow trick, which she would soon master as Wilhemina Slater on Ugly Betty. As EBONY SCROOGE, Williams plays a pop singer who is certain to get a few lumps of coal in her stocking. Will a visit by three ghosts (one of them played by KATHY GRIFFIN? Best movie ever) change her spirits?

1. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)


Oh, is it the part of the program where I get sentimental? This little muppet movie, made for the small screen in the late ’80s, has a special place in my heart as it’s one of the fine holiday programs that I watch every year with my brother to celebrate the Christmas season. It USED to exist on an old VHS we used to tape it off the TV, along with such classics as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (which really belongs on a separate list- holiday specials or something, in case you’re wondering why it isn’t represented here. I’m going with a sentimental choice for #1 because Beal already claimed The Christmas Toy), The Little Rascals Christmas Special (cartoon version. Funnily enough, we never actually watched this cartoon, only this special),  and The Berenstein Bears Christmas Special. Now, we have the little movie on a proper VHS but it’s missing some songs (including the home video footage of the muppet babies. COME ON. How can you cut that?!), forcing my brother to jump up and change tapes every ten minutes (because our old VHS lacks the beginning of the movie. A little more gets cut off every year). Confused? All this means is the depth of our affection for it, nothing more.

Last week, I’m pleased to say that we introduced this one, my favorite, to our six-year-old niece who seemed to enjoy it (especially the part where Miss Piggy gets blown away in a snowstorm).

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5.  Andrew Lawrence to Joey Lawrence in Horse Sense – Disney Channel Original Movie – November 20, 1999

So fine, Andrew Lawrence doesn’t actually utter “You’re not my father,” but the meaning is all the same AND I’ve been dying to mention Horse Sense since this blog’s inception. In a classic diluted-rich-kid-learns-the-meaning-of-hard-work SLASH hardworking-poor-people-are-about-to-lose-the-family-ranch plot, little Andrew teaches Joey a thing or two about hard work and family. Then, in an effort to prove to him how far he’s come (both in work ethic and playing a father figure type) Joey completes the tree house Andrew had been working on alone since his father passed away. When the kid arrives home to find his cousin putting the finishing touches on the LAST REMAINING TIE TO HIS DECEASED FATHER he has a come-apart, scurries up the ladder and starts to rip it apart, all the while yelling, “This is mine and MY FATHER’S! MY FATHER’S!! NOT YOURS” etc. Please FF to the 7 minute mark to see this doozie of a clip.

4.  Julia/Baily/Claudia to Charlie in Party of Five – “Pilot” – September 12, 1994

Again, sorry, fine, so “You’re not my father” is only implied here. Lay off, I had a long week (of quality time with my own father no less). At any rate, no show could pull the ol’ dead-parents-heart-string quite like Party of Five, which they did in droves. Remember the pilot episode, when they’re all just becoming accustomed to the lives of well-to-do orphans, as barely-older brother Charlie takes on the responsibility of raising his sassy siblings? First, it’s Julia that tells Charlie to fuck off and then Claudia (AFTER PAWNING HER VIOLIN FOR MONEY!) shuts him down and finally Bailey exclaims, “A piece of paper does not make you a parent.” You’re right, Bailey, so quit bitching about skipping “practice” to supervise annoying baby Owen already.

3.  D.J. Tanner to Joey Gladstone in Full House – “Joey Gets Tough” – November 25, 1988

CLASSIC! This blog might as well be called “I ❤ Full House.” Not only does this show make half the lists on here, but this episode appeared as #1 only a few weeks ago and with good reason! When Joey, the house door mat, gets lambasted by Danny for being too easy on the girls, “Joey gets tough,” grounding D.J. for coming home late from karate practice. FORCING her to proclaim “You’re not my father!” before dramatically storming up the stairs to her room, all whilst clad in martial arts attire. Now, first of all punishing your child for coming home late from, say, a drug-induced underground rave is one thing. Grounding them for merely staying after practice to discuss strategy for an upcoming tournament, is quite another. If I were D.J. I’d surely have said, “Good. I hate participating in after school sports activities and I thank you for freeing up my weekend for some serious television time.” This probably spawns from the fact that I was K.O.’d in a karate tournament myself, circa 1993.

2.  Steve Sanders to Rush Sanders in Beverly Hills, 90210 – “Angels We Have Heard on High” – December 20, 1995

Sheesh. Steve’s father Rush (what a name!) was such a dick. Sure Steve was a bit of a rich brat but he never did anything that awful, especially in the eyes of an absent father who is generally proud of the early indicators of a future in shady business practices. And poor Steve, adopted son of a family sitcom star and a rich business man and from a broken home! It’s not his fault he delivered the sexy negligee to that dude’s daughter and the Easy Bake Oven (or whatever dumb toy) to the guy’s mistress. SOMEONE ELSE PUT THE LABELS ON THE PACKAGES! And of all things for Rush to really lose his shit over. Like what? You’re mad at me because I accidentally revealed to a nice lady and her young daughter that her husband/father was a cheating bastard. SOOOOORRR—RRRRYY!! Let’s also not forget that Steve finds out that Rush IS his real father, that he knocked up some waitress in the desert, and BOUGHT the baby from her to raise with his wife. Talk about nothing to be proud of, Rush! Unfortunately (and unbelievably) this clip cannot be found on the Intertron. So I offer you this bit of dialogue to act out with a partner:

Rush Sanders: I always knew you were stupid, but I never thought you’d be so self-destructive!
Steve Sanders: Thanks for the support, as usual.
Rush Sanders: Oh, good sonny boy. Keep up that sarcasm on the unemployment line.
Steve Sanders: What does that mean?
Rush Sanders: It means you lost your job at ITM, and you embarrassed the hell out of me considering that I was the one that got you that job in the first place. Scott Coveny told me to tell you that you’re finished there.
Steve Sanders: What are you talking about?
Rush Sanders: You messed up is what I’m talking about! You delivered the present that Scott was sending to his mistress to his niece. His wife’s sister’s kid got a leather bustier. His mistress got a Holly Home Maker oven! What the hell is wrong with you, you idiot? That note that was included in the bustier is gonna cost Scott a fortune now since his wife is now going to sue him for divorce.
Steve Sanders: [incredulous] Dad, I just delivered the packages to the addresses on the labels. I didn’t write them. I didn’t screw up. Somebody else did.
Rush Sanders: Somebody else screwed up. That’s your MO, kiddo. Did you just make that up, or did you rehearse it in front of a mirror before saying it to me? Yeah… sure, you mess up and it’s always somebody else’s fault. You used that same excuse last year for the bloody fire.
Steve Sanders: You know what? I don’t need to take that crap from you. That’s your MO. I didn’t do anything wrong and you never believe me. I got nothing further to explain to you, ’cause you just will not believe me.
Rush Sanders: Sometimes I’m ashamed to call a loser like you my son.
Steve Sanders: Then don’t bother. You’re not my father anyway!
Rush Sanders: Don’t say that.

Steve Sanders: Why not? You’re not my father! You’ve got nothing to be ashamed about and neither do I.

1.  Will to Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse” – May 9, 1994

Go ahead and cue the tears. THERE’S SOMETHING IN MY EYE! In a show that was generally zany to the max (I mean look at all the neon up in there- “to the max” is an acceptable phrase) this episode really takes us to a new place EMOTIONALLY. I’m pretty sure that this fine episode is the reason that Will Smith was able to go on to a lucrative career in “dramatic” film acting.  Will’s deadbeat father Lou shows up in Bel Air and makes big summer vacay plans with Will. I wonder where this is going! In an effort to “protect” Will’s feelings, Uncle Phil tries to put the kibosh on Will’s trip, leaving Will with only one option: “YOU’RE NOT MY FATHER!” Oh and don’t worry, he eats it later (I mean, I don’t mean to be a dick, Will, but Uncle Phil did tell you so) when bum Lou eludes Will’s undying love yet again. “Why don’t he want me?” OMG! This episode is just heart-wrenching! Question: What is keeping Will’s mom in Philly? Why doesn’t she move in with the Banks? Or at least to L.A.? I feel like she doesn’t really love him either. Is that cold?

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by Beal

It really grinds my gears to know that this movie, Acceptance, which premiered on Lifetime last Saturday, is sitting in my apartment, taking up two hours of recording time on my DVR, while I’m out of town, praying that enough space still remains to record all necessary (let’s face it, they’re all necessary) programs. (I called and strongly suggested that my mother record this program for me, in the event that I could not wait out my entire vacation to view it. I made it five days.)

Suffice it to say, I’ve seen what Lifetime is capable of when it comes to movies. As an adjective “Lifetime” (whence placed before “movie”) is rarely synonymous with “excellent.” Yes, there are exeptions, Prayers for Bobby comes to mind, along with, well, nothing else. So why did I get my hopes up for Acceptance?

acceptance

Two words: JOAN CUSACK! Who stars as the mother of teenage daughter–child star Mae Whitman whom you might recognize from such roles as Ann/Egg in Arrested Development or Bernice from Hope Floats–who is trying to get into college. It is made apparent that she is intelligent, but pretty offbeat, which leads her to apply not to the Ivy Leagues her friends are, but to “Yates” college, whose logo is a a squirrel and an acorn and whose campus is reminiscent of the camp inBadgley+Mischka+Store+Opening+a0wkCOzXts2lThe Parent Trap. Now, due to false advertising (I’m sooo writing a letter) I was under the impression that this was going to be about a quirky girl whose overbearing, yet hilarious, mother tries to force her into an unwanted life path, and the two have to come to terms with each other’s eccentricities.

However, that’s only true if “quirky” means “cutter” or “gets a kick out of stealing shitloads of other people’s mail.” Luckily Cusack had a minor drinking problem, which I wish could have been explored more thoroughly. Other highlights include Paul Young from Desperate Housewives as the absent father/husband and Kiersten Warren aka Alex from Saved by the Bell: The College Years as a mom of a douchy Harvard obsessed kid.

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by Beal

HLMRKWe’ve all fallen prey to the Hallmark Channel Sunday night line-up. They reel you in with a psuedo-celebrity and the promise of wholesome entertainment void of depth. Oh, and whatever skills they lack in acting, well they make up for with ruthless tugs on the ol’ heartstrings. Last night was no exception.

*Dec 04 - 00:03*Channel 52 is a staple in my viewing habits, so after deciding (defaulting) that my Sunday night was going to be reserved for copious bad TV and a box of sugar cereal, to channel 52 I went. Faith Ford? Sure, I like her. In not only a hopeless-romantic-loses-her-faith-in-true-love-falls-for-kind-widower-with-meddling-kids, but one that involves an online dating Web site scam, re-scam, he doesn’t know she knows she’s being scammed, she sabotages the relationship then learns he was never aware of the scam, they fall instantly in love plot twist.

A Kiss at Midnight (2008) suggests that the main character is, I don’t know, 14, but no, she’s Faith Ford, a hopeless romantic who writes a blog about life, and love and flowers. Her best friend is a nurse slash nun, that’s right, this girl about town gets half of her dating advice b78471916z120090217101210000gb7ghc092_lgfrom a celibate woman of god. The other half of her advice comes from her mother, Dyan Cannon, who just found love herself. I will say this about Ms. Cannon. WHAT? You look absolutely ridiculous. You are 72 years old. I realize you cannot undo whatever procedure has been performed on your face, but your big long curly super blonde perm, is a look too young for Abigail Breslin. Try again. Anyway, in an effort to prove that online dating sites don’t work, Faith signs up for a match.com doppelganger and ends up getting “matched” with its CEO, a widower whose meddling daughter’s sign him up (unbeknownst to him )to FIND A NEW MOTHER!! This relationship has healthy written all over it. She finds out who he is (through a Toogle search, yes TOOGLE), thinks he’s fucking with her, rudely leaves their “family” dinner and goes home and BLOGS ABOUT IT, which he reads and doesn’t fully understand because he’s still in the dark about the set-up. At this point you might be wondering, “Where is the aged horse?” Well, the recently purchased because it was going to be killed sideline plot horse is down at the stable, where the little girl runs, when Faith and her father “break-up.” She lands herself in the ER after the horse runs her face into a branch (where the nun/nurse is working) and Faith shows up to comfort her in an all too awkward “I have now replaced your mother” kind of scene and they tell the father about the scam and then they get married and wait for iiiiittt. . . Kiss at Midnight.

And after you invested two hours to hours watching that drama unfold, what else would you feel like viewing than ANOTHER MFTVM with an identical plot line — of course how and why these sad children meddle, and what the ultimate get-the-two-star-crossed-lovers-back-together-portion will alter slightly, the important thing being that after only a few forgettable encounters, it is apparent that the two are not only in love and totally meant for each other, but also the perfect fit for the already established family.

6a00d83451b26169e2010536a3650c970b-800wiThis second gem was titled The Nanny Express and starred VANESSA MARCIL as the whatever, protagonist. I mean, I love Gina Kincaid as much as the next 90210 fan, but this woman possesses ZERO motherly instincts and therefore putting glasses and casual sweaters on her, will never make me root for her to be the half-orphaned children’s mother. This was one of those, every other nanny leaves after a few hours because the kids rig the washing machine to flood the laundry room and hide rats under clothes so that they’ll get fired up and quit. Not Vanessa, she’s tough, needs the job and loves these kids for no reason. Just try and guess what happens in the end. Good, yes, you’re right.

Now perhaps that was a long lead in to get to my actual point, which is this. WHO is the target audience here? These are only two of dozens and dozens of MFTVM about a depressed, but fully devoted father figure who finds love in the unlikeliest (read: most obvious) of places.

I mean, I’m not particularly interested in making a relationship work with a single, unattached, father of zero with NO emotional baggage, so I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to identify with a middle-aged, hopelessly romantic, unmarried spinster who is. And what is it about a silver fox widower who devotes all his time and resources into his bratty kids am I supposed to find attractive? Oh wait, you’re not just dealing with the emotional torment of a divorce, but the untimely death of your lovely spouse? GET ME A DATE! Now I don’t only have to attempt to replace a woman, who in death, achieved perfection, but I also have to be the mother to your children and those huge chips on their shoulders? I call shenanigans.

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by Judi

5. Her Hidden Truth (1995)

I apologize that there’s no video or even a picture to go with this one but even the picture on Lifetime’s Movie Network site is horrible. So, clearly it isn’t my fault that this fantastic example of the MFTVM genre is totally underepresented by the Internet.

This was one of the first Lifetime Movies that made me sit up and say, “This is something I’d like to watch at my Grandma’s house.” And so I did. Starring Kellie Martin and Antonio Sabato Jr (in a clear violation of the Looks Hierarchy as only Lifetime can accomplish), she’s a juvenile delinquent who may or may not have burned down the house that killed her mother and sister. He’s a sexy cop who chases after her when she escapes the detention center to find the real murderer. Except she clearly wants to kill the murderer instead of that whole “bring him to justice” idea. But you know, every relationship has its problems right?

4. A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story (1992)

The fact that there’s no YouTube clip is, in short, A CRIME AGAINST NATURE. Still, I’m soldiering on in part because Meredith Baxter Bierney plays, erm, a woman scorned and also because it’s my friend Mark’s favorite TV movie and I would be remiss to give it a snub. Happy Belated Birthday, Mark!

In this fantastic sample of Sha-Na-Na-Na’s (as she’s known at NTO HQ) TV movie repertoire, Betty Broderick is your typical devoted housewife. Her husband, a big shot lawyer (played amazingly by Aaron from The First Wives Club, aka Overbearing Eric Camden from Overbearing 7th Heaven) decides to basically become the poster child from Asshole Husband cliche and hires a STEWARDESS to be his “legal assistant”, even though Debra Jo Rupp is all “The bitch can’t even type!” and then, clearly, wants to leave Sha-Na-Na-Na to marry her instead. This leads to the usual stalking and throwing of things and scrawling nasty messages on walls and then, MURDER. The movie’s so good, there’s a SEQUEL called, “Her Final Fury” which just sounds amazing. Of all my Lifetime Movie choices (and all of mine ARE from Lifetime), this is pretty much the Gold Standard here. Think of Kristen Wiig’s hilarious Lifetime Movie spoof for 30 Rock’s CC (Edie Falco) “A Dog Took My Face and Gave Me a Better Face to Change the World.”

3. Gracie’s Choice (2004)

I have to admit here my predilection for stories about orphans and/or plucky children who raise their own siblings because their mother is a CRAZY drug addict. I also loved, loved, LOVED Veronica Mars and I’m probably one of the only people who has not only READ but REREAD Anne Heche’s bonkers memoir Call Me Crazy (thanks, I think I will). Having said all that, is it any surprise that I would really loved Gracie’s Choice? I think the moving courtroom finale speaks for itself although I wish I could’ve found the scene where Anne Heche tries to strangle her daughter in the kitchen while her younger brothers and sad grandma stand by, and then does a weird moaning-crying thing in remorse. Pure movie magic, right there.

2. No One Would Tell (1996)

What do you get when you take our beloved Kevin Arnold, jack him up on steroids, and then make him DJ Tanner’s abusive high school boyfriend? This movie is so burned in the memories of young girls everywhere that since then, the old “hey, let’s take a canoe ride in the middle of the night- isn’t that romantic?” idea is now code for “my abusive, stalking boyfriend is clearly going to murder me. AKA run for your lives.”

This movie is also great because, like everything else made in 1996, it’s so dated as to be fit for a ’90s time capsul. Candace Cameron’s ’90s wardrobe alone should be in a museum somewhere. And if I have my way, one day it will. I swear to it.

1. Martha Inc. (2003)

I paid about $.78 for this DVD last year and I’m not going to lie to you, I would’ve paid TWICE, nay TRIPLE that amount. Cybil Shephard is, of course, Martha Stewart but not the craft-making, Connecticut loving domestic denizen we all love and slightly fear. I’m talking about the TV movie version, the batshit-crazy, pot-throwing, hair-pulling NUTCASE inhabiting NBC’s bastardization of Martha’s life and her incarceration.

Golden moment? Martha pulls up to a lovely, young lady and rolls down her car window. “Hey, slut! I’m writing your mother a letter and telling her you’re a whore!”

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by Beal

I am not privy to the series of events that must occur for a Made for TV Movie to go into production but I must assume that some guy just walks into a director’s office, “Alright, I’ve got a mediocre idea for a low-budget movie starring a former television “star,” and/or some B-list talent. The main character, will deal with something devastating, tragic, dramatic, life-threatening or absurd in a fashion that no rational human being ever would. There will be secrets and lies, tears, an obvious moral lesson, humorous outpouring of emotion and if we’re lucky, a cult following.”

After said director greenlights this incredible idea, I imagine the two men walk over to a spinning wheel, not unlike the one on The Price is Right, but in place of monetary amounts are words like: kidnapping, rape, eating disorder, alcoholic, dumpster baby, domestic abuse, drug addict, AIDS, bankruptcy, divorce, big successful urban lawyer returns to humble rural roots, teen pregnancy, mental disability, sordid affair, loss of family ranch, Scott Peterson. . .

And whatever the wheel lands on, I thank my lucky stars that networks like Lifetime, Hallmark, Oxygen and to a lesser extent CBS, are willing to purchase these less-than-stellar cinematic gems, because they make my life worth living. From five to one, here they are, my FAVORITE so-bad-they’re-great MFTVMs of all time:

5. No One Would Tell (1996)

No_One_Would_TellWhat do you do when not one, but TWO child actors are out of work? You stick them in a campy “based on a true story” MFTVM about a possessive and physically/emotionally abusive boyfriend. Fred Savage stars as the abusive boyfriend (he doesn’t want to be typecast, come on) and who is his victim you ask? None other than Candace Cameron (pre-Bure). As you might imagine, Fred is one of the most popular boys in school, he’s into sports and whatnot, and if I remember correctly, he wears a letterman’s jacket at all times, a sure sign that things are about to go terribly wrong. He’s got a long history of alcoholism and abuse in his family and he and Candace share the pain of fatherly abandonment. When she steps out of line, he slaps her around, sometimes in front of people, other times not. When she dresses “sexy” for him one day in school, her berates her and insists she dress more appropriately. At some juncture they break up (I think it had something to do with the hypocrisy of Candace being angry that her mother was in one bad relationship after another, but that’s irrelevant). The important thing is, that Fred just wants to talk it out. Why he brings ERIC BALFOUR along for the ride, I’m not sure, but he drives out by the lake, walks away from the truck and oh, what, yep, MURDERS HER, wraps the body up, throws it in a boat, rows out into the water and dumps it, where authorities find it several days later. Bravo Fred and Candace, BRA-VO! (>>FF to 6:25 for a real highlight).

4. Riding the Bus with My Sister  (2005)

rosie_andieFive words: Rosie O’Donnell plays retarded person. I am so tempted to leave it at that, but I can’t. Seriously? Seriously? Rosie O’Donnell? You could have cast ANYONE ELSE in this role, and I wouldn’t feel compelled to mock it so relentlessly. [I should mention now that I in no way intend to ridicule the plight of the mentally challenged, but I know as well as those who know me well, that if there’s a special spot in hell for people who make fun of special people, I’ll probably end up there.] What the hell is this movie? What was director Anjelica Huston thinking? The moment Rosie enters the picture, it’s over for me. I don’t care how heartwarming a story this is or how much Andie MacDowell has to learn from her feeble-minded sister, because I’m too distracted by the comical stereotypes at play here. She’s retarded you say? Well, let’s give her a bad perm, queer socks, a shit-eating grin, a droll pattern of speech, an affinity for anything junkfood and a fucking kitten shirt. Is this a CBS Sunday night tearjerker? Or a Jack Black skit? Try to contain yourself, there’s room in hell for you too. . .

3. Dangerous Child (2001)

dangerous_childWhat could be better than Delta Burke in a Lifetime movie? How about Delta Burke getting the shit kicked out of her by her own maniacal teenage son in a Lifetime movie? Dangerous Child is like, the perfect example of  producers picking up on a somber social trend. What? You say there was a report in the newspaper that said teens are increasingly beating up their own mothers? Oprah commented on this phenomenon? Have they coined a term for this? Yes? Parental abuse? START PRODUCTION NOW! You might know the teen-lead from his amazing work in the Made for TV Disney Movie realm (The Luck of the Irish, Smart House) or you might not.

2. For the Love of Nancy (1994)

u36716kg2koThis masterpiece holds an extra special place in my heart for a number of reasons, primarily because it is (apart from that atrocious multiple stabbing picture that starred Nancy McKeon) the first Made for TV Movie that I ever committed to memory, partially because it was so haunting, but also because it was the first time I ever asked myself, “Who the hell writes this shit?” Also, it stars Tracey Gold, essentially as herself, because she, like Nancy, also battled an eating disorder, no doubt from the plethora of insults she had to endure from one Kirk Cameron as her more attractive, more popular and less plump/nerdy older brother on Growing Pains. Now, while Judi remembers the touching scene in the courtroom in which Nancy attempts to maintain her own power of attorney, or whatever its called when you try not to get forced into a treatment program by way of your father having you deemed unfit to make your own decisions in a court of law, I recall her never ending workout sessions and her constant need to stand in front of the mirror to inspect her ribs. I think I never had an eating disorder for the sheer fact that this movie made me laugh so hard that I never wanted to have any kind of condition that would force me to actually identify with this character or her situation. Also, two things, (A) NICE sweats and (B) why do people on TV always run with their hair down, isn’t that uncomfortable? Now I must discredit all of your actions. Carry on.

1. Terror in the Family (1996)

t65435zu9n4This movie is absolutely absurd. I would love it based on title alone, but it promises, and I might add delivers, so much more. Let’s start with the cast. What could be better than two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank playing an alcohol and drug abusing teenager who dates a rebel from the wrong side of the tracks and is given to bouts of runaway between domestic squabbles? How about JOANNA KERNS playing the role of her alky mom? Yep, that’ll do it. And as if that wasn’t more than plenty to guffaw about, let’s throw in an emotionally unavailable father and a kid brother who sneaks nips off of his own personal bottle of vodka just to get through the day. Best of all, never was an actual reason for the TERROR established. If I remember correctly, there was no catalyst for the extreme increase in intensity in the situation at home. It was like one day the teen daughter (Swank) felt a little angsty and the next day she was wielding a kitchen knife and threatening her family until the 5-0 busted in. Someone get this kid a Valium and a psychological evaluation already: your mom’s a drunk your dad’s an asshole, you act out by abusing substances and making poor relationship choices, case closed.

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by Beal

This is probably going to sound extremely coldhearted, but the moment news of the blonder than blonde, blue eyed, all American good teen’s disappearance hit airwaves (and it hit EVERY airwave for MONTHS) all I could think was, “This is going to make one hell of a MFTV movie.” Boy was I wrong.

Natalee Holloway premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network a couple months ago, but being that my cable package does not feature this channel (which I consider both a blessing and a curse) I had to wait until they sent it over to their sister network for its own Saturday night basic cable package premiere.natalee_holloway_VLP_stil

[Sidenote: I  texted my mother so she would remind my grandmother (who didn’t miss a single second of Holloway coverage and who is convinced that Natalee was sold instantly into white slavery for a hefty sum) that the movie version would be on at 8 pm on channel 31, which my mother almost forgot to do until she saw my grandmother in the car behind her in the Kentucky Fried Chicken Drive Thru. I don’t believe she watched it, but in the event that she did, I will report her analysis here at a later date. However, I imagine if she did watch it, she might ignore the word “based” in the title’s description.]

s-NATALEE-HOLLOWAY-MOVIE-largeAt any rate, I was less than pleased at this movie whose release I had been anticipating for four long years. Let’s start with casting. We all know what Natalee looks like. We saw that damn yearbook and graduation photo everyday for so long that years from now if I see it, I’ll probably assume she was a classmate. And in all those pictures of her, her most defining characteristic (to me) was her really long, super straight, extremely blonde hair. Since acting skills are unnecessary in a Lifetime movie, any girl could have played the part of Natalee, so long as she had the long, straight, blonde hair. Oh wait no? You want to go with a this girl with wavy, sandy, blonde hair? Okay, that’ll do. I’m going to forgive that they cast the innocent-esque, religious, Southern mother with a rough, wifebeater clad tough gal, who looked like she worked out with Madonna or Sarah Connor and smoked all day, because at least they didn’t cast that Callie Duquesne character from CSI, which I would have expected.

All I wanted from this movie was to SEE what happened. I know we don’t ACTUALLY KNOW the true story, because the Van der Sloot guy was obviously a shady, unscrupulous murderer/rapist, but come on, I didn’t want 15 minutes of Natalee’s graduation and ten minutes of partying in Aruba, followed by an hour and a half of Beth Twitty on CNN, I ALREADY SAW THAT SHIT! The movie did flashbacks, for each statement the suspects gave, which boiled down to watching Van der Sloot make out with Natalee on the beach a dozen times and then leave her there to sleep. When that reporter in Holland got Van der Sloot to admit that she “died” on the beach so he found someone to take her a couple miles out into the ocean on a boat to hide the evidence, I sadly had to laugh when they showed them taking her out to sea, as her twitching hand hung over the side of the boat, suggesting that she was still alive when they “dumped the body.”

Maybe the best part of the movie though, was the Natalee’s kid brother, who they just left at home alone in Alabama while they searched for their favorite child? Every scene that featured him was him sitting alone on the couch watching news coverage of his sister’s disappearance. At one point, he made himself some Hot Pockets, and deciding he was too sad to eat them, just threw them in the trash. Come on, it’s funny.

All in all, this absurd re-enactment of a “national tragedy” was par for course, but if you’re looking for real “based on a true story” entertainment, I suggest something featuring Amy Fisher.

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