What Lisa Watched Last Night #108: Damaged (dir by Rick Bota)

Last night, I watched the first Lifetime movie of 2015 — Damaged!

Chris Klein in Damaged

Chris Klein in Damaged

Why Was I Watching It?

You guys know me and how much I love Lifetime movies!  Damaged was the first Lifetime movie of 2015 so it’s less a question of why was I watching it and more a question of how could I not watch it.

What Was It About?

Damaged is yet another Canadian thriller that has found a home on Lifetime.  Sam Luck (Chris Klien) is the big, affable, and quite frankly dumb teacher who has a nice house in the suburbs with a dog and a wife (Tasya Teles).  He also is co-owner of a diner because … well, why not?  (I got the feeling that the filmmakers just happened to have a diner set available.)

Anyway, Sam’s luck changes when the new teenage neighbor moves in.  Her name is Taran (Merritt Patterson) and, along with frequently flirting with Sam (who also happens to be one of her teachers), she also constantly has flashbacks where she’s either watching her mother have sex with an unseen boyfriend or standing in a cemetery while it rains.

As Sam grows closer to Taran, strange things start to happen.  His car is stolen but fortunately, Taran offers to allow him to drive her never-seen father’s car.  His dog disappears.  He’s informed that a student has accused him of sexual harassment.  His partner in the diner accuses him of embezzling money.  With all this happening, who else can Sam turn to for comfort other than his wife the teenage neighbor girl next door?

What Worked?

Damaged was an example of my favorite type of Lifetime movie: A complacent couple in the suburbs has their life destroyed by a malevolent outside force.  There’s something always fun about watching these smug suburbanites discovering just how easily their domestic bliss can be destroyed.

Merritt Patterson did a pretty good job in the role of Taran.  At the very least, she seemed to be having more fun than anyone else in the cast.

Finally, Damaged deserves some credit for not shying away from giving us a properly dark ending.  If this was an old grindhouse film, Damaged would be advertised as being a movie that “goes all the way.”

What Did Not Work?

So, here’s the thing.  If you, as a filmmaker, want us to sympathize with your lead character or, at the very least, hope that he doesn’t end up getting totally destroyed, it might help to not make the character a total moron.  As I watched the film, it was hard for me not to think about all the things that Sam could have done that would have prevented him from getting into this situation.

Here’s just a few examples:

1) When you’re a teacher and one of your students offers to give you her daddy’s car, don’t accept the car.  Why?  Because you’re a teacher and she’s a student in your class!  Yes, I understand that it was a really nice car but again: Student.  Teacher.

2) When you’re a teacher and you’re feeling depressed because someone has suggested that you’ve been sexually harassing your teenage students, don’t pour your heart out to the teenage girl who lives next door.

3) When you’re a teacher and one of your students offers you an expensive watch, don’t accept it!

4) When you’re a teacher and one of your students says she wants to go out and have fun with you, don’t go!

Seriously, it seems like most of Sam’s problems could have been avoided if he had bothered to read the Rules For Teacher/Student Interaction booklet that I’m sure he was given when he was first hired.  As such, it was hard to have much sympathy for Sam.  (Or his wife for that matter because, as badly as things turned out for her, she is the one who married the idiot in the first place.)

However, just to make clear: part of the fun of a movie like this is shaking your head at the stupid things some of the characters do.  And overall, Sam’s stupidity just made the film more fun.  So, I guess it’s debatable whether this is something that did not work.  (Though it certainly didn’t work that well for Sam, personally…)

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

At first, when I thought Taran just had an obsessive crush on Sam, I related to her because it reminded me of when I was in high school and I had a crush on Mark, who was engaged to our speech and debate coach.  One weekend, Mark accompanied us all on a road trip to a speech tournament in San Antonio.  One night, at the motel, I slipped on this pink Victoria’s Secret nightie that I had specifically bought for the trip and then I sneaked out of my room and pulled down on the fire alarm so that I could specifically meet Mark when he came running out of his room in his boxers and I could pretend to be all panicky (and in need of comforting) about the fire.  Ah, memories.

But anyway, as the movie progressed, I realized that I actually had less in common with Taran.  For instance, I’ve never tried to kill anyone.

Lessons Learned

The main lesson I learned was one that I already know.  If the police ever catch you doing something wrong, be sure to cry.  I already knew that crying was a good way to get out of speeding tickets but, according to the final scene of Damaged, it can get you out of a lot worse as well.

As for any teachers who may have been watching, I think the main lesson would be to read your code of conduct.

2014 In Review: 14 of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2014

Continuing our look back at 2014, below you’ll find 14 of my favorite songs of the past year.  Now, you should understand that I’m not necessarily saying that these are the best 14 songs of the year.  Instead, they’re just some of my personal favorites.  These are the songs that either made me want to dance or that I inevitably found myself singing off-key while I was in the shower.  These are the songs that got stuck in my head and which I found myself singing whenever I was stuck in traffic.

These are 14 of my favorite songs of 2014.

(By the way, click on the links in this sentence if you want to see my favorite songs of 2013, 2012, and 2011.)

14) Everything is Awesome — Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island

13) Mess Is Mine — Vance Joy

12) Summer Nights — Kaskade featuring The Brocks

11) Chandelier — Sia

10) Take Ü There — Jack Ü (featuring Kiesza)

9) Blank Space — Taylor Swift

8) Runaway (U & I) — Galantis

7) Blue Sky Action — Above & Beyond featuring Alex Vargas

6) Fancy — Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX

5) Stolen Dance — Milky Chance

4) Get Low — Dillon Francis & DJ Snake

3) Don’t Leave — Seven Lions (featuring Ellie Goulding)

2) Shake It Off — Taylor Swift

1) Long Way Down — Robert DeLong

And finally, here’s my pick for the worst song and video of last year.  In the past, I’ve defended some of the notoriously awful songs that have been produced and promoted by Patrice Wilson, just on the basis that they were, at the very least, memorably weird.  Friday remains one of my favorite singing-in-the-shower songs and it’s fun to sing when you’re trying to annoy people on Monday.  Chinese Food is — well, Chinese Food sucked but I do love Chinese food so I could at least relate to the song.  But then, in 2014, came both the song Sush Up and the video featuring 11 year-old Alison Gold playing a sexualized criminal who gets electrocuted in the electric chair.  And, of course, Patrice shows up to rap.  And seriously — BLEH!

While I’m not going to share the video for Sush Up because it’s really creepy and icky, I will share another video that’ll make my point about Patrice Wilson.

Tomorrow, my look back at 2014 will continue with 20 good things that I saw on television in 2014!

Previous entries in TSL’s Look Back At 2014

  1. Things I Dug In 2014 Off The Top Of My Head
  2. 2014 in Review: The Best of Lifetime and SyFy
  3. 2014 in Review: Lisa’s Pick For the 16 Worst Films of 2014