Weekly Reading Round-Up : 05/06/2018 – 05/12/2018

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, but given that my main goal with these weekly columns is to inform you, the budget-conscious comics consumer, what’s worth spending your money on (or not), it seems counter-productive to waste much time discussing shit that you don’t have to pay for, so we’ll just stick with books that came out that had an actual price tag attached to them, with one (sort of) exception —

Lawrence “RawDog” Hubbard is back, with latter-day sidekick/collaborator William Clausen on art, for Real Deal #8, this time published under Fantagraphics’ auspices, and while the late, great H.P. “R.D. Bone” McElwee will always be missed, this balls-out extravaganza of urban ultra-violence is still pretty much my favorite comic book in the entire goddamn universe. This time out, psychotic hood antihero G.C. meets a Pacino-style version of the devil in the main feature, “Psyops,” while Clausen’s long-running…

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Cleaning Out The DVR: Party Mom (dir by Michael Feifer)

(I recorded Party Mom off of the Lifetime Movie Network on March 30th.)

Party Mom tells the story of two moms who live in Los Angeles.

Jackie (Krista Allen) is a party mom!  She has a nice house in Beverly Hills, where the party never ends.  She’s always quick to point out that she looks young enough that she could pass for being Ashley’s sister instead of her mother.  For her part, Ashley (Amber Frank) kinda wishes that her mother would be a little more traditional.  Of course, Jackie’s usually too busy trying to get Ashley’s friends drunk to really worry about what her daughter wants.

Caroline (Megan Ward) is definitely not a party mom.  Instead, she’s a hard-working, no-nonsense mom who lives in the Valley with her husband, Gary (Brian Krause), and her two daughters, Brittany (Elise Luthman) and Emma (Savannah Judy).  Caroline just can’t understand today’s teenagers, with their social media and their iPhones and their lack of interest in hanging out with their boring parents.  In Caroline’s day, teens would have loved a chance to spend a night watching TV and eating popcorn with mom and dad!  Now, they just want to sneak out of the house and take selfies.

Brittany thinks that Jackie is the best, though Caroline isn’t quite sure that she wants her daughter hanging out in a mansion where all of the adults are just as stoned and drunk as the kids.  Caroline even attempts to put her foot down and ground her daughter.  Of course, that doesn’t really work.  Instead, Brittany simply sneaks out of her bedroom window and heads for Beverly Hills!

Of course, since this is a Lifetime film, it all leads to the usual combination of underage drinking and tragedy.  When Brittany and a group of drunk friends leave the mansion, a terrible car accident leaves only one survivor.  Jackie finds herself on trial for involuntary manslaughter.  Caroline and Gary are determined to see Jackie pay for being a party mom but Jackie’s rich enough to afford a slick attorney.  In fact, Jackie doesn’t even seem to feel that bad about the car accident or almost anything that happens afterward.  As she explains it, all of the tragedy is due to people from the Valley coming into Beverly Hills, where they don’t belong.  It all leads to murder, arrests, and one final confrontation.

I liked Party Mom, largely because, in high school, my best friend’s mom was a party mom and watching this movie brought back a lot of memories.  At the time, it was always fun going over to my friend’s house and literally getting to do anything that I wanted to do.  Looking back now, of course, it’s easy to say that my friend’s mom was incredibly irresponsible and probably should have been forced to go on Dr. Phil or something.  But, at the time, I was a lot like Brittany.  I just thought it was cool that there was an adult around who refused to care what was being done in her house.

Krista Allen does a really good job in the role of Jackie, tearing through the film like an irresponsible, perpetually drunk tornado.  She especially does well towards the end of the film, when Jackie really goes off the deep end.  Like all good Lifetime film, the melodrama in Party Mom is over-the-top and we’re all the better for it.

Cleaning Out the DVR #19: Things To Watch When You Have Flumonia!

cracked rear viewer

So I’ve been laid up with the flu/early stage pneumonia/whateverthehellitis for the past few days, which seemed like a  good excuse to clean out the DVR by watching a bunch of random movies:

Bette Davis & Jimmy Cagney in “Jimmy the Gent”

JIMMY THE GENT (Warner Brothers 1934; D: Michael Curtiz ) –  Fast paced James Cagney vehicle has Jimmy as the head of a shady “missing heir” racket, with Bette Davis as his ex-girl, now working for his classy (but grabby!) rival Alan Dinehart. Allen Jenkins returns once again as Cagney’s sidekick, and Alice White is a riot as Jenkins’s ditzy dame. Some funny dialog by Bertram Milhauser in this one, coming in at the tail-end of the Pre-Code era. Cagney’s always worth watching, even in minor fare like this one. Fun Fact: Cagney’s battles with boss Jack Warner over better roles were legendary, and the actor went out…

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What Lisa Watched Last Night #180: Mommy Be Mine (dir by Sean Olson)

On Friday night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Mommy Be Mine!

Why Was I Watching It?

Finally, I’m healthy again!  After spending two freaking weeks getting my ass kicked by allergy season, I finally feel as if I can start writing about and reviewing movies again.  Obviously, after being knocked out for two weeks, I’ve got a lot to get caught up on so I decided what better way to start than to watch the Friday premiere of the latest Lifetime film, Mommy Be Mine?

What Was It About?

It’s Cara’s (Sierra Pond) first day at school and she already has a friend!  In fact, Cara has decided that Summer (Ava Locklear) is her best friend, despite the fact that 1) Cara has only known her for a day and 2) Summer already has a best friend, the wonderfully sarcastic Tori (Megan McGown).

Still, Cara is determined to not only make Summer like her but to also become a surrogate daughter to Cara’s mother, Lianne (Arianne Zucker).  In fact, Cara even starts to call Lianne “mom.”  Everyone agrees that’s kind of creepy but Cara seems like such a nice girl.  I mean, it’s not like she’s actually a psychotic killer who has killed in the past and who is planning on killing again…

Or is she!?

What Worked?

Sierra Pond did a good job as the scheming psycho.  It was obvious that she was having fun playing the role and, as a result, it was fun to watch her perform.  As well, Arianne Zucker was sympathetic as the overprotective mother.  When she finally snapped and told off Cara, it was a great moment.

What Did Not Work?

Usually, I have little trouble suspending my disbelief when it comes to a Lifetime film.  Lifetime films are specifically designed to be melodramatic and just a little bit silly.  That’s what makes them so much fun.  If the characters didn’t always do the stupidest possible thing, the viewer would miss out on the fun of yelling, “Oh my God, you’re so stupid!”

That said, even by the standards of Lifetime, Cara was a bit too obviously insane.  That’s not to say that Seirra Pond didn’t do a good job playing the role.  She appeared to be having a lot of fun with the role.  But, as a character, Cara was so obviously messed up that it was hard to sympathize with anyone who would actually be stupid enough to allow her into their house.  The minute she started calling Lianne “mom” should have been the minute that both Lianne and Summer announced, “Okay, time for you to go away now!”

As good as the rest of the cast was, Ava Locklear sometimes seemed to be lost in the role of Summer.  This was her first leading role and, in some scenes, her inexperience definitely showed.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

As always, I totally related to the sarcastic (if obviously doomed) best friend.  From the minute that she first met Cara, Tori not only knew that she was up to no good but she had no hesitation about sharing that opinion.  Unfortunately, characters in Lifetime films never seem to listen to their sarcastic best friend until it’s too late.  Sarcastic best friends always end up dying a little after the one hour mark and it’s a shame.

Lessons Learned

Seriously, if your oldest friend in the world says your newest friend is a psycho bitch, don’t question the conclusion.  Trust the voice of experience.