It’s not easy being a stepmother.
That’s one of the many things that I’ve learned from watching Lifetime movie. If you’re a stepmother, all of the neighbors are going to assume that you only got married for the money. If you have a stepson, he’s going to end up triggering bad memories that are going to lead to you trying to seduce and then kill him. If you have a stepdaughter, she’s going to resent you and you’re going to have to decide whether to win her trust by saving her from a stalker or to try to kill her off so that you alone stand to inherit all of your husband’s money after you poison him. Decisions, decisions!
The stepmom in Killer Cheer Mom is Amanda (Denise Richards). Amanda has just married James (Thomas Calabro) and she really wants to bond with her new stepdaughter, Riley (Courtney Fulk). Unfortunately, Riley doesn’t want to bond with her new stepmother. In fact, Riley kind of wishes that Amanda would just go away. Riley is far more concerned with making the cheerleading squad.
Whereas Riley sees a problem, Amanda sees an opportunity! Amanda can bond with Riley by helping her out with her cheerleading. And what better way to help than to injure and plot against Riley’s competition!? Soon, the local high school is the most dangerous place on Earth and it’s all because Riley refused to appreciate her stepmom.
It’s a bit unfortunate that Killer Cheer Mom was not produced as a part of Lifetime’s Wrong franchise, just because I would have liked to have heard Vivica A. Fox say something like, “Looks your father married the wrong cheer mom.” That said, even if Killer Cheer Mom doesn’t quite reach the wonderfully and intentionally absurd heights of the Wrong films, it’s still an enjoyably self-aware movie. After years of movies about cheerleaders being harassed by the crazed mothers of their friends, Killer Cheer Mom offers up a stepmother who is even more dangerous because she’s actually trying to be helpful. As the film plays out, Amanda’s schemes grow more and more extreme. More than just being a standard Lifetime villain, she’s instead a force of pure chaos. One gets the feeling that, if she didn’t have a stepdaughter, she would find another excuse to cause trouble. It’s what makes her happy.
A film like this is only as good as its villain and, fortunately, Amanda is played by Denise Richards. Richards gives a compelling performance, embracing the melodrama but, at the same time, never condescending to the material. Instead, she plays Amanda as being someone who never stops performing. When she’s in public, she pretends to be a loving wife. When she’s with her stepdaughter, she pretends to be a teenager again. When she’s alone and plotting against her daughter’s competition, she appears to be performing solely for her own amusement. What makes Amanda memorable is not just what she does but also the fact that she seems to get so much enjoyment out of doing it. It’s obvious that both Richards and Amanda are having a ball being bad.
Killer Cheer Mom is an enjoyable Lifetime cheerleader movie. Watch it and ask yourself how far you would go to make your stepdaughter happy. If you wouldn’t be willing to frame the competition by stashing drugs in their backpack, ask yourself why not. It’s all about family.