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.

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.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #179: Fiance Killer (dir by Fred Olen Ray)

Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Network and watched the latest Lifetime movie, Fiance Killer!

Why Was I Watching It?

It was on Lifetime!  By now, y’all should know that I’ll watch anything that’s on Lifetime!

What Was It About?

So, Cameron (Felisha Cooper) is about to be very, very rich.  As soon as she turns 25, she’ll be coming into a huge inheritance!  On top of that, Cameron also has a new boyfriend.  His name is Brent (Adam Huss) and he runs a non-profit!  Or, at least, that’s what he says.  Cameron’s mother (Kari Wuhrer) doesn’t trust him.  In fact, she does a background check on him and comes away convinced that Brent is only interesting in Cameron’s money.  Of course, Cameron doesn’t believe that.  In fact, Cameron is so offended by her mother’s paranoia that she elopes with Brent!

Except, of course, mom is right.  Brent is after Cameron’s money.  Of course, Brent doesn’t really have it in him to commit murder.  However, his girlfriend, Lexi (Jean Louise O’Sullivan), definitely does…

What Worked?

Lexi is one of my favorite characters of all time!  Seriously, she must have undergone ninja training at some point because she could seriously just pop up anywhere.  Someone gets in a car and there’s Lexi in the back seat!  Someone goes down to the kitchen and there’s Lexi hiding behind the refrigerator.  My favorite thing about Lexi was that, for all of the intricate plotting that went into her scheme, she didn’t really seem to care whether it actually worked or not.  Lexi was an agent of pure chaos, less a schemer and more a revolutionary.  Jean Louise O’Sullivan had a lot of fun with the role.

What Did Not Work?

Obviously, with any Lifetime film, you’re going to have to suspend your disbelief to a certain extent but seriously, Cameron was occasionally too naive to be believed.  Maybe if she had been 18, I could have bought that she wouldn’t be able to see through Brent and his schemes.  But, by the time you turn 25, you really should know better.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Obviously, it would have been nice if I could have related to Cameron, who was a very nice person and always tried to do the best for everyone.  But, honestly, I could never do the whole eloping thing.  When I do get married, it’s going to be a huge wedding and I’m going to expect a lot of expensive gifts.  As well, I couldn’t ever marry someone who worked for a “non-profit” because bragging about working for a company that doesn’t make a profit just seems strange to me.

So, that pretty much left with me with little choice but to relate to Lexi.  Unfortunately, Lexi killed people and I’m not really into that either.  However, I do enjoy making a scene so I guess Lexi and I had that in common.

Lessons Learned

I should sign up for ninja training as soon as possible.  Admittedly, I might not be a very good ninja and I’m not really sure if there’s much ninja work available where I live but I’d still love to learn how to just pop up anywhere whenever I wanted to.  That seems like that could be a valuable skill to have.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #178: Evil Doctor (dir by Brian Skiba)

On Sunday night, immediately after watching Twin Betrayal, I watched and, working with TSL contributor Case Wright, live tweeted a film called Evil Doctor!

Why Was I Watching It?

The first reason was an obvious one.  It was a Lifetime movie and, as our regular readers know, there’s no way that I would ever miss the chance to watch a Lifetime film.

The other reason was that the film was named Evil Doctor, which made it sound like the origin story of perhaps the greatest MCU villain of all time.  As a general rule, any Lifetime film that has the word “evil” in the title is going to turn out to be good.  Evil is right up there with “Bad,” “Confessions,” and “…at 17” as far as words in Lifetime movie titles are concerned.

What Was It About?

Everyone wants something.

Aubrey Lewis (Jen Lilley) just wants to have her baby in peace.

Aubrey’s husband, Matt (Corin Nemec), wants to be a respected television writer, even if he is stuck writing for a sitcom called Family Phun.

And what does Dr. Natalie Barnes (Dina Meyer) want?  She wants to have a baby and she wants a baby now!  She also wants to deal with all of the unresolved issues that she had with her dead father, who happened to look just like Matt!  What better solution to Natalie’s problems than seduce Matt, steal Aubrey’s baby, and kill anyone who gets in her way?

Seriously, she’s not called an evil doctor for nothing.

What Worked?

Obviously, with a film like this, success is going to depend on how effectively the title character is played.  Fortunately, Dina Meyer really threw herself into the role of the evil doctor, kidnapping babies, seducing starlets, and murdering anyone who looked at her the wrong way.  Dina Meyer has always done a good job when she’s been cast as a Lifetime movie psycho and Evil Doctor was no different.  As well, Corin Nemec and Jen Lilley were likable as the objects of her obsession.

Evil Doctor was one of those Lifetime films that showed no hesitation about going totally and completely over-the-top.  Between the evil doctor plotting and the wayward husband trying not to get caught and the poor wife just trying to have her baby in peace, there was not one ounce of drama that this film did not explore.  It was outlandish, flamboyant, silly, and a hell of a lot fun!

What Did Not Work?

I think that the film missed a huge opportunity by not recruiting Eric Roberts to reprise his character from Stalked By My Doctor in a cameo appearance.  I would have ended the film with Matt and Aubrey going to see their new doctor and discovering Dr. Beck waiting for them in his office.  That would have been a legendary ending!

(For the record, according to the imdb, Eric Roberts currently has 57 films that are either currently filming or in post-production.  That has nothing to do with Evil Doctor but it is a fun piece of trivia.)

Other than the glaring lack of Eric Roberts, everything worked in Evil Doctor.  I mean, let’s be honest.  When you watch a film with a title like Evil Doctor, you know what you’re going to get.  You watch a film like this because you want to embrace the melodrama and you’re looking forward to trying to predict every outlandish twist.  Evil Doctor delivered exactly what it promised.

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

I totally related to Janelle (Kelsey Griswold), who was Aubrey’s sister and who moved in to help around the house while Aubrey was pregnant.  Janelle had this wonderfully sarcastic, no-bullshit approach to life, to which I totally related.  Janelle disliked almost everyone who came by the house and never made any attempt to hide that fact.

Lessons Learned

Always trust your sister’s instincts.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #177: Twin Betrayal (dir by Nadeem Soumah)

On Sunday night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Twin Betrayal!

Why Was I Watching It?

The obvious answer is that it was on Lifetime.  However, I also have a weakness for films about evil twins.  Don’t ask me why, I just do.

What Was It About?

Poor Jessica Klint (Jen Lilley)!  Not only is she struggling financially but her estranged husband (Peter Douglas) wants custody of their daughter.  We know her husband is a bad guy because he wears a suit even when he’s at home and his name is Lars.  Never in a Lifetime film has anyone good been named Lars.  (Before anyone mentions Lars and the Real Girl, allow me to point out that 1) that’s not a Lifetime film and 2) even if it was, it would be the exception to the rule.)

However, following a business trip to Dallas, Jessica’s problems get even worse!  After having a one-night stand with a cowboy named Henry (Nick Ballard), Jessica finds herself being blackmailed!  Where can she get the money?  Her wealthy father isn’t going to be much help.  How about from her twin sister, Alessandra (Jen Lilley)?  Sure, Jessica and Alessandra have a strained relationship and haven’t spoken in years but surely one twin will help the other, right?

And surely, no matter what personal issues there may be, one twin would definitely never try to frame the other for murder, right?


Watch the film to find out!

What Worked?

I enjoyed this one because, as any film about a twin betrayal should be, it was totally melodramatic, over-the-top, and very self-aware.  Whenever I give a film like this a good review, I always seem to get at least one comment from someone complaining that the film was too silly or implausible but I think those people are missing the point.  You don’t watch a film like Twin Betrayal because you want to see a serious exploration of what it’s like to be a twin.  You watch a movie like this because you want to have fun!  Twin Betrayal promised twisty entertainment and it delivered and, in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Jen Lilley obviously had a blast playing the twins, especially the wonderfully decadent Alessandra.  Alessandra had obviously been waiting for years for the chance to make her sister uncomfortable and she did not let the opportunity pass her by.

What Did Not Work?

On the one hand, I was really happy that part of the film took place in Dallas.  I don’t know if they actually filmed in Dallas but, at the very least, they at least included a shot of the Dallas skyline.  (Whenever a movie spends any time in Dallas, you always know that you’re going to get at least one shot of Reunion Tower and one shot of Bank of America Plaza.)  However, in reality, it’s doubtful that Jessica would have met any cowboys in Dallas.  Football aside, cowboys are really more of a Fort Worth thing.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Jessica Klint, I have a weakness for cowboys.  Seriously, who doesn’t?  I’m also close to my sisters but, fortunately, none of us are twins.  If there’s anything that I’ve learned from watching Lifetime films, it’s that you can always depend on your sister unless she’s your twin sister.  Sadly, there’s always one evil twin and it seems like the good twin always ends up getting framed.  Hopefully, Lifetime will continue to explore this theme whenever they get around to making the inevitable Mary-Kate and Ashley biopic.

Actually, I guess if I was a twin, I probably would end up being the evil one.  Seriously, it just seems like it would be too much of a temptation to resist…

Lessons Learned

As I stated above, one twin will always be evil.  The trick is figuring out which one.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #176: Bad Tutor (dir by Jeff Hare)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime film, Bad Tutor!

Why Was I Watching It?

After you watch enough Lifetime films, you come to learn a few things.  For instance, any film that’s called Bad Something is probably going to be worth watching.  Over the years, there have been Bad Students, Bad Teachers, Bad Doctors, Bad Husbands, Bad Assistants, and Bad Realtors.  Really, it was only a matter of time until they got around to a Bad Tutor.

(My hope is that they will follow this up with a film called Bad Tudor, just because I assume all sorts of crazy stuff was going on with the court of Henry VIII.)

What Was It About?

It’s a simple film about three people who have hopes and problems.

For instance, Kelly (Vanessa Marcil) is a widow who is hoping to find a new husband but who also has a rebellious teenage daughter.

Emily (Alex Frnka) is Kelly’s daughter.  She hopes to become a famous singer but first, she has to pass her chemistry midterm.  When the movie starts, she’s currently on the road to getting a D in that class.  Emily says that people are going to be too busy responding to her music to care if she passed chemistry.  Kelly worries that Emily won’t be able to get into a good college with that D following her around.

Devon (Charles Hittinger) is a chemist who claims to be a former teacher.  Devon hopes that he’ll be able to get Emily to fall in love with him, largely because Emily looks just like his dead girlfriend.  Devon’s problem is that he’s batshit insane and the only reason his girlfriend is dead is because he pushed her off of a cliff.

When Kelly meets Devon, she decides that he would be the perfect tutor for Emily.  Little does she suspect that Devon is actually … a bad tutor!

What Worked?

Vanessa Marcil gave a pretty good performance as Kelly.  I liked the fact that, as opposed to the typical perfect Lifetime mother, Kelly not only made mistakes but also owned up to them.

The film’s opening, which started with Devon proposing to his girlfriend and ended with him pushing her off of a cliff, was well-handled.

What Did Not Work?

Here’s the thing: when it comes to Lifetime movies, we all agree, to an extent, to suspend our disbelief.  We accept the fact that characters will sometimes act stupidly and we try not to hold that against them.

But, sometimes, you run into a character who is just so utterly stupid that, try as you may, you just can’t forgive them.  That was the case with Emily in Bad Tutor.  Not only was Emily something of a spoiled brat but she also turned out to be amazingly gullible.  After spending the first half of the movie making fun of the nerdy Devon, Emily changed her tune when Devon claimed to have a friend in the recording industry.  Never did Emily ask for any proof or anything.  Instead, she just ran away from home with Devon.  Looking over her actions, I have to say I’m surprised that she was only failing one class.

Finally, Emily did sing a few times and … well, let’s just hope that she gets into a good college.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to Emily, largely because I too was a rebellious teenager who couldn’t sing.

Lessons Learned

I didn’t learn anything because he was a bad tutor.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #175: Devious Nanny (dir by Devon Downs and Kenny Gage)

Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched Devious Nanny!

Why Was I Watching It?

I’ve got a long history with Lifetime nanny films.  I’ve watched films about Bad Nannys, Betrayed Nannys, Nightmare Nannys, Evil Nannys, Killer Nannys, and Dangerous Nannys.  So, how could I resist something called Devious Nanny?

(Actually, it was apparently also called both The Nanny Betrayal and The Au Pair.  Devious Nanny, though is an improvement on both of those.)

What Was It About?

Elise (Michelle Borth) and Brian (Antonio Cupo) have it all.  Elise works at an art gallery.  Brian works in … well, I think it was advertising but I could be wrong.  All I know is that he worked in an office and he was worried about landing a big account and he wore a suit to work.  Isn’t that what they do in advertising?  Anyway, it’s a good job.  Brian and Elise have a nice house and an adorable son.  All they need to complete the picture is … an au pair!

Enter Amber (Olesya Rulin), who appears to be the perfect nanny.  She loves kids and she’s even okay with cleaning up around the house!  Of course, Amber did lie a little to get her job.  And she didn’t tell her new employers that she grew up in the foster system and that she has a history of mental instability.  Soon, Brian and Amber are exchanging lustful glances and people are turning up dead.

But here’s the thing.  I’ve seen enough killer nanny films that I immediately realized that it was probably significant that the film never actually showed Amber killing anyone.  So, is Amber the murderer or is it someone else?  The film is full of suspects!

What Worked?

It all worked.  This was the type of Lifetime movie that made me fall in love with the unique Lifetime aesthetic in the first place.  Well-acted and full of snarky lines, Devious Nanny also featured a rather clever last-minute plot twist.  The end of the film also features a line of dialogue that is perhaps the coldest sentiment over to be offered up in a Lifetime film.

Needless to say, this was a fun movie to live tweet.  Those of us on twitter last night had a blast trying to figure out who the killer was and who was going to be the next victim.

All in all, it was a very entertaining movie.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  At first, I was worried that the film would turn out to be just another Lifetime Nanny film but the script, by Adam Rockoff, was full of unexpected plot twists.  I’m going to guess that Rockoff has seen enough nanny films that he knew exactly what most people would be expecting and he very skillfully manipulated those expectations.

In fact, my only issue is that Lifetime aired this on Friday night and it didn’t really seem like they made much of an effort to publicize it.  Sometimes, I think Lifetime doesn’t truly understand just how many people love watching their movies.  They’ll promote the Hell out of some forgettable (and often regrettable) celebrity biopic but entertaining thrillers, like this one, rarely get the fanfare that they deserve.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I’ve been lucky, in that I’ve never had to work as an au pair.  I’ve also never been suspected of murder.  I guess I’ve just lived a sheltered life.  However, if any of that did happen to me, I would hope, when it was all over, that I could be as snarky about it as Amber.

Lessons Learned

Life’s not easy when you’re a nanny.