“I hear that Maddie is one bad mother….”
“Shut your mouth!”
“But I’m talking about Maddie.”
“Then we can dig it!”
Actually, Maddie (Cindy Busby) is not a mother, though she would like to be. She not even a stepmother, despite what the title says. Instead, she’s just dating the recently widowed Michael (Corin Nemec). If she does end up marrying Michael, Maddie will become a stepmother — perhaps even a WRONG stepmother — to his two daughters, Lilly (Calli Taylor) and Nicole (McKinley Blehm).
It doesn’t take Lilly long to realize that there’s something off about Maddie. For one thing, she catches Maddie trying to check her social media. Then she overhears Maddie claiming to be her mother. And finally, Maddie changes up Lilly’s college admission essay. See, Lilly wrote about how much her late mother influenced her. Maddie, however, changes it into an essay about how much Lilly loves her future stepmother.
Yes, Maddie has some issues. As we discover at the start of the film, she has a history of stalking people. About halfway through the film, she murders two people. Whenever you’re watching a film on Lifetime, you know someone’s going to get murdered at exactly halfway through the film. You can set the time by it.
As with all of Lifetime’s “Wrong” films, Vivica A. Fox has a small role. In this one, she plays Ms. Price, the high school guidance counselor who is extremely unimpressed by Lilly’s college admissions essay. When Ms. Price confronts Lilly about how unimpressive her essay was, Fox delivers the lines with such subtle fury and annoyance that it brought back a lot of high school memories for me. As played by Fox, Ms. Price is the type of high school counselor who scares you to death but who also changes your life for the better. If Ms. Price had been my counselor, I definitely wouldn’t have spent so much time skipping class and shoplifting makeup at Target.
Anyway, the main complaint that you always hear about Lifetime films is that they’re all exactly the same but that’s actually their appeal. They’re fun to watch, precisely because 1) they’re predictable and 2) the viewer is always going to be smarter than the people in the movie. I mean, we can take one look at Maddie and say, “Okay, don’t let her in the house.” However, Michael’s not that smart and, if he was, we really wouldn’t have a movie. Sometimes, you just have to stop crying about plausibility and enjoy what you’re watching.
The Wrong Stepmother gets a big boost from the casting of the always likable Corin Nemec as Michael. I mean, it’s pretty much impossible not to root for a character played by Corin Nemec, even if that character is way too trusting of someone who he met on a dating app. Meanwhile, Cindy Busby is properly psychotic as Maddie and, of course, you’ve got Vivica A. Fox changing lives as Ms. Price.
The Wrong Stepmother is an entertaining Lifetime film. Watch it with your snarkiest friends.