What Lisa Watched This Morning #192: Lethal Soccer Mom (dir by Max McGuire)


This morning, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere movie, Lethal Soccer Mom!

Why Was I Watching It?

Seriously, how could anyone resist a movie with a title like Lethal Soccer Mom?

Actually, according to the imdb, this film was originally titled Sidelined so I’m going to guess that Lifetime changed the title so it could fit in with their “lethal” series of films.  Personally, I think Lifetime probably made the right choice here.  Sidelined isn’t bad but Lethal Soccer Mom just demands to be watched.

For the record, the film itself actually premiered on Friday night but since I was out, I set the DVR to record it.

What Was It About?

Kate (Tanya Clarke) and her teenage daughter, Cameron (Sarah Grey) have just moved into a new home and Cameron is starting at a new school.  Cameron can’t wait to join her school’s soccer team but she soon discovers that the team’s star player, Hailey (Hannah Vandenbygaart) views her as being a rival.  Complicating things is the fact that Hailey’s mother, Rhonda (Christina Cox), is the coach of the team and worries that Cameron might overshadow her daughter.

As messy as that sounds, it gets even messier when it turns out that Rhonda is willing to do anything make her daughter a star.  Soon, Cameron is being pushed down stairs, getting beaten up at practice, and even her grades are being tampered with!  How far is Rhonda willing to go to keep Cameron off the team?

Well, the title of the movie is Lethal Soccer Mom

What Worked?

When your movie has a title like Lethal Soccer Mom, you’re being promised a certain amount of melodramatic excess and this film certainly delivered on that promise.  Tanya Clarke, Christina Cox, Sarah Grey, and Hannah Vandenbygaart delivered a quartet of fine performances.  Christina Cox, in particular, really seemed to be having a lot of fun as she did everything from seducing her daughter’s boyfriend to chasing her daughter’s rival around the high school with a bat.  A Lifetime film is usually only as good as its villain and Cox turned the coach into a great one!

Lethal Soccer Mom also did a good job of suggesting that, under different circumstances, both Kate and Cameron could probably be just as obsessive and dangerous as Rhonda.  In fact, the only person who didn’t seem to be way too obsessed with soccer was Hailey.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  This is the type of Lifetime films that I love: outrageous, melodramatic, over the top, a little bit silly, and consistently entertaining.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I never played soccer, both because of my asthma and also because it always seemed like everyone I knew was playing soccer and, even at a young age, I always had to be different.  Two of my sisters did play but, when we were growing up, my family moved around too much for any of us to ever get caught up in too much team drama.  Fortunately, my mom never had to become a full-fledged soccer mom.  However, because I was in love with dancing, my mom did spend several years dealing with other dance moms.  Let me tell you, crazy soccer moms have got nothing on crazy dance moms.

Lessons Learned

Soccer makes people crazy.  Of course, we all already knew that…

Cleaning Out The DVR: Story of a Girl (dir by Kyra Sedgwick)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 163 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Story of a Girl off of Lifetime on July 23rd, 2017!)

Michael (Kevin Bacon) owns a pizza place in a small town.  He’s just hired 16 year-old Deanna Lambert (Ryann Shane) to work for him over summer.  Deanna shows up for her first day of work.  Deanna apologizes for being late.  Michael points out that he has no costumers so it doesn’t matter.  Michael then introduces Deanna to his other employee, Tommy (Tyler Johnston).  Deanna looks shocked.  Tommy looks shocked.

“You two know each other?” Michael asks.

“In the biblical sense,” Tommy replies.

And so it goes from there…

Seriously, what was I doing on July 23rd that kept me from watching Story of a Girl?  Was I watching a shark movie on SyFy?  I do remember that Story of a Girl was very aggressively advertised in the days leading up to its premiere and I did actually mean to watch it.  I’ve read the Sara Zarr penned book on which it was based and the commercials made it look fairly good.  Add to that, it was directed by Kyra Sedgwick and co-starred Kevin Bacon and they seem like such a nice couple that I was naturally hoping it would be a good movie.

Three years ago, a sex video featuring 13 year-old Deanna and 17 year-old Tommy went viral.  While Tommy (who, as Michael points out, was committing a felony) suffers not a single bit for taking advantage of his best friend’s younger sister, Deanna is branded a slut and sent into social exile.  Her father, Ray (Jon Tenney), refuses to forgive her.  Tensions at home are exasperated by the presence of Deanna’s brother, Darren (Iain Belcher), his girlfriend, Stacey (Sosie Bacon), and their baby.  Darren and Stacey are planning on moving into a place of their own and Deanna is planning on going with them.

Though it may not be obvious from that plot description, Story a Girl is not a typical Lifetime film.  It takes place in a thoroughly blue-collar milieu and the Lamberts live in perhaps the ugliest, most cluttered house that I’ve ever seen.  Between that house and Ray acting like an asshole 24/7, it’s easy to understand why Deanna wants to get away from these people.  The problem, however, is that, after only a few minutes, most viewers will be desperate to get out of there as well.  And, unlike Deanna, viewers actually have a way of doing that.  They can just change the channel.  The film does have a good and important message but the characters are all so off-putting that a good deal of the audience probably won’t stick around to hear it.

Story of a Girl is a disappointingly superficial film.  The Juno influence is obvious but Story of a Girl never comes to life in the same way that Juno did.  Kevin Bacon is solid as Michael and Ryann Shane does a passable Ellen Page impersonation but everyone else is trapped in a film that’s long on plot but short on depth.  I really wanted to like Story of a Girl but I just didn’t.

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #2: Mommy’s Secret (dir by Terry Miles)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by Thanksgiving, November 24th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

13291650_aa

The next film that I watched off of my DVR was yet another Canadian-produced Lifetime film.  This one was called Mommy’s Secret and I recorded it off of Lifetime on October 8th.  I was on vacation when Mommy’s Secret originally aired, which is why I’m only now getting around to reviewing it.

Mommy’s Secret opens with a bank robbery.  The robber appears to a skinny man who wears a baseball cap and has a goat-tee.  He’s not a violent robber.  He doesn’t threaten people or fire guns into the ceiling or anything like that.  Instead, he simply slips the teller a note, collects his money, and then flees on his bicycle.  We watch as the robber skillfully avoids the police, riding his bike to a parked SUV….

Hmmmm….a bank robber driving a SUV.  That’s … interesting.

After stashing his bike and the money in the back of the SUV, the robber steps out of the way and the camera zooms in on a bumper sticker.  “PTA” it reads.

Hmmm…does that stand for Pernicious Thieves Association?  Or, actually, could our robber be a member of the Parent-Teacher Association?

The robber gets in the SUV.  He removes his baseball cap and … wow, he’s get really nice hair.  He then proceeds to remove his goatee and …. OH MY GOD, IT’S CHARISMA CARPENTER!

That’s right!  Charisma Carpenter plays a bank robber in Mommy’s Secret.  However, it turns out that the character she plays, suburban mom Anne Harding, has a good reason for robbing all those banks.  Her husband has recently died and the insurance money has dried up.  Her teenage daughter, Denise (Sarah Grey), is a soccer phenom who might be able to get a college scholarship but it still costs money to keep her playing.  And then there’s her son, Kyle.  Kyle is addicted to gambling but, unfortunately, he’s not every good at it.  He owes the local crime lord a lot of money.

So, in order to keep her son alive and her daughter playing soccer, Anne agrees to rob a few banks.

And she’s surprisingly good at it!  Seriously, I don’t think I could handle robbing a bank.  I would get too nervous and I wouldn’t have the patience necessary to wait for them to open up that big vault in the back.  Add to that, I always like going to the bank.  Part of me would love to work at a bank, just so I could see how much money everyone has.  So, no bank robbing for me.

As for Mommy’s Secret, it has a few slow spots but, for the most part, it was enjoyably ludicrous.  Sarah Grey, who was also in A Mother’s Instinct and The Wrong Girl, does well as the responsible and concerned Denise.  I think, for most people, the main appeal of the film will be seeing Charisma Carpenter robbing a bank and Carpenter actually gives a really good performance.  Between this film and Bound, Carpenter is cornering the market when it comes to playing mothers with a secret.

2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime


Today, I continue my look back at 2015 by posting my picks for the best of Lifetime!  My nominees for the best Lifetime films and performances are listed below, with the winners starred and listed in bold!  Congratulations to all the nominees and winners and thank you for making this one of the most entertaining years in my long history of watching Lifetime movies!

deadly-adoption

Best Picture
Babysitter’s Black Book, produced by Robert Ballo and Ken Sanders.
Cleveland Abduction, produced by David A. Rosemont and Stephen Tolkin
*A Deadly Adoption, produced by Fritz Manger, Max Osswald, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay.*
If There Be Thorns, produced by Richard D. Arredondo and Harvey Kahn.
A Mother’s Instinct, produced by Oliver De Caigny and Timothy O. Johnson
Patient Killer, produced by Barbie Castro.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, produced by Joseph Boccia, Don Carmody, and David Cormican.
The Spirit of Christmas, produced by Andrea Ajemian
Stalked By My Neighbor, produced by Robert Ballo.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, produced by Ian Hay.

Best Director
Jason Bourque for A Mother’s Instinct
Doug Campbell for Stalked By My Neighbor.
*Rachel Goldenberg for A Deadly Adoption*
Alex Kalymnois for Cleveland Abduction
Vanessa Parise for The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
Casper Van Dien for Patient Killer

deadly-adoption-trailer

Best Actor
Shaun Benson in Kept Woman
Dan Castellaneta in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
*Will Ferrell in A Deadly Adoption*
Travis Hammer in The Bride He Bought Online
Adam Kaufman in A Mother Betrayed
Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor

Best Actress
Josie Bissett in A Mother’s Instinct
Anna Camp in Caught
Kimberly Elise in Back to School Mom
Kelli Garner in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
*Taryn Manning in Cleveland Abduction*
Kelcie Stranahan in Stalked By My Neighbor

Best Supporting Actor
Ken Camroux-Taylor in Sugarbabies
MacKenzie Gray in If There Be Thorns
Richard Harmon in A Mother’s Instinct
*Patrick Muldoon in Patient Killer.*
Eric Roberts in A Fatal Obsession
Peter Strauss in Sugar Daddies.

Unauthorized Beverly Hills

Best Supporting Actress
Angeline Appel in Babysitter’s Black Book.
Barbie Castro in Patient Killer
Olivia d’Abo in Stolen From The Suburbs
Sarah Grey in A Mother’s Instinct
Jessica Lowndes in A Deadly Adoption
*Samantha Munro in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story*

Best Adapted Screenplay
*Cleveland Abduction, written by Stephen Tolkin*
If There Be Thorns, written by Andy Cochran.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroewritten by Stephen Kronish and J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Seeds of Yesterday, written by Darren Stein.
Turkey Hollow, written by Tim Burns and Christopher Baldi.
Wuthering High School, written by Delondra Williams.

Best Original Screenplay
*Babysitter’s Black Book, written by Richard Kletter and Michele Samit*
A Deadly Adoption, written by Andrew Steele.
The Murder Pact, written by John Doolan
Patient Killer, written by Bryan Dick and Brian D. Young.
Stalked By My Neighborwritten by Doug Campbell.
Stolen From The Suburbs, written by Alex Wright

clevelandabduction

Best Cinematography
*Cleveland Abduction, Richard Wong.*
Fatal Obsession, Ronnee Swenton.
If There Be Thorns, James Liston.
The Murder PactBranden James Maxham.
Patient Killer, Bernard Salzmann
The Spirit of Christmas, Michael Negrin.

Best Costume Design
Grace of Monaco, Gigi Lepage
If There Be ThornsShanna Mair, Rebekka Sorensen.
Kept Woman
*The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, Gersha Phillips.*
Seeds of Yesterday, Claire Nadon.
The Spirit of Christmas, Jennifer Lynn Tremblay.

Best Editing
Babysitter’s Black Book, Ely Mennin
Cleveland Abduction, Henk Van Eeghen.
*A Deadly Adoption, Bill Parker.*
A Mother’s Instinct
Stalked By My Neighbor, Clayton Woodhull.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Allan Lee.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
*Cleveland Abduction, Dugg Kirkpatrick, Susan R. Prosser, Tina Roesler Kewin, Alan Tuskes, Alicia Zavarella*
Grace of Monaco
If There Be Thorns, Jenine Lehfeldt, Tana Lynn Moldovanos.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Jordan Samuel, Cliona Furey
The Spirit of Christmas
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Amber Crombach.

Best Original Score
Dangerous Company
Cleveland Abduction, Tony Morales.
Her Infidelity, Russ Howard III
Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story, Matthew Janszen
*The Murder Pact, Matthew Llewellyn.*
Sugar Daddies.  Steve Gurevitch.

heather-graham-if-there-be-thorns

Best Production Design
Cleveland Abduction, Derek R. Hill.
*If There Be Thorns, Linda Del Rosario, Richard Paris.*
A Mother’s Instinct, Jason Sober.
The Murder Pact, Caley Bisson.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Rocco Matteo.
The Unauthroized Beverly Hills 90210 Story

Best Sound
*The Bride He Bought Online*
Dangerous Company
If There Be Thorns
Stalked By My Neighbor
UnGodly Acts
Whitney.

Best Visual Effects
Becoming Santa
If There Be Thorns
Last Chance For Christmas
*Turkey Hollow*
When the Sky Falls
Wish Upon A Christmas

Tomorrow, I’ll post my picks for the worst 16 films of 2015!

A-Deady-adoption-dancing

Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy

Adventures in Cleaning Out The DVR: A Mother’s Instinct (dir by Jason Bourque)


mi

After I finished watching and reviewing Night of the Wild, it was time to continue cleaning out my DVR by watching A Mother’s Instinct.  A Mother’s Instinct premiered on Lifetime on November 9th.  On that night, I was out celebrating my upcoming birthday with my family.  Fortunately, before I left, I remembered to set the DVR to record A Mother’s Instinct.

Like many Lifetime films, A Mother’s Instinct takes place in the suburbs.  It’s the type of place that is perfect on the surface but the digger you deep, the more ugliness you discover.  It’s the type of place where happy families are never quite as happy as they seem.  It’s the type of place where danger lurks in the shadows, waiting for the chance to make itself known.  It’s the type of place where the pervert across the street takes pictures of his neighbor undressing in front of her bedroom window.  It’s the type of place where pets are kidnapped and killed and left on a driveway as a threat.

It’s also the home of the Bettners, mother Nora (Josie Bissett), teenage daughter Scarlett (Sarah Grey, who had a similar role in director Jason Bourque’s earlier Lifetime film, The Wrong Girl), and youngest child, Gus (Spencer Drever).  When Gus disappears, Nora and Sarah immediately suspect that he’s been kidnapped by Seth Durand (Richard Harmon).  Seth and his mother have just moved in across the street.  Before Gus vanished, Seth was spying on and harassing Scarlett.  After Gus vanishes, Seth taunts the Bettners.  Or, at the very least, it seems that he does.  Is Seth guilty or is he just a jerk?  This is the question that rests at the heart of A Mother’s Instinct.

Nora’s instinct is that Seth is guilty but despite her belief, the police have no proof that Seth kidnapped Gus.  So, with Scarlett’s help, Nora abducts Seth and, after stripping him down to his underwear, locks him in a cage and proceeds to torture and interrogate him.  Soon, that cage becomes Nora’s private version of Gitmo, with Seth as her helpless prisoner.  The more that Seth claims to be innocent, the more extreme Nora’s methods become.  Eventually, even Scarlett starts to worry that they’re going too far…

But are they?  Up until the final 30 minutes of the film (at which point something happens that pretty much answers all of our questions), we’re never quite sure whether Seth is innocent or if he’s guilty.  Our natural instinct is to assume that he must be guilty because the kid is such a creep.  But, as Nora’s methods get more and more extreme, we’re left to wonder if she’s the one making the mistake.  Has she now crossed the lines and become the dangerous one?  Or is she just doing what needs to be done to save her family?  That sense of moral ambiguity is what sets A Mother’s Instinct apart from other abduction-theme Lifetime movie.

Though the plot is similar to 2013’s Prisoners, A Mother’s Instinct manages to establish an identity of its own.  It’s an intense film that will keep you guessing about whether Seth is guilty or innocent.  Richard Harmon gives an excellent performance as the creepy Seth, making the viewers feel both sympathy and revulsion towards the character.  Josie Bissett is perfectly intense as the determined mother while Sarah Grey does a good job of capturing both Scarlett’s anger and her doubts.  A Mother’s Instinct is a good and intense Lifetime movie, the type that will keep you guessing until the end.

Adventures in Cleaning Out the DVR: The Wrong Girl (dir by Jason Bourque)


The-Wrong-Girl-Lifetime-movie

After I wrote my review of Caught and watched the latest episodes of Survivor and South Park, it was time for me to continue cleaning out the DVR by re-watching and reviewing The Wrong Girl.  The Wrong Girl premiered on Lifetime on May 16th of this year.  At the time that it originally aired, I was in the middle of doing my Embracing The Melodrama, Part II series of reviews and I simply did not have the opportunity to properly review it.  But fortunately, I did DVR it.

The Wrong Girl tells the story of Sophie Allen (Sarah Grey), a teenager who is intelligent, responsible, fairly chaste, and a talented pianist.  She’s the dream teenager but one day, she meets and befriends the new girl in school, Michelle (Kirsten Prout).

At first, Michelle — with her oversized glasses and her social awkwardness — seems like she’s just shy and introverted.  But, the more that she hangs out with Sophie, the more another side of Michelle starts to emerge.  It soon becomes obvious that Michelle is obsessed with being Sophie’s friend and more than a little possessive.  She’s also a bad influence, telling Sophie that she’s playing well when she clearly is not.  When Sophie’s music teacher says she doesn’t want Michelle hanging out around piano practice, Michelle goes to extreme methods to change her mind.  When a condescending English teacher threatens to fail Sophie, Michelle blackmails him into changing his mind.

But then Sophie starts to feel that Michelle is getting too possessive and Michelle starts to turn against her “best friend.”  Michelle starts to dress and do her hair exactly like Sophie and then Sophie catches Michelle making out with her crush.  Someone breaks into Michelle’s mother’s office and throws stuff around.  When Sophie makes the mistake of telling Michelle that she’s scared of spiders, can anyone really be surprised when a huge spider suddenly shows up creeping across her piano in the middle of a recital?

The Wrong Girl starts out as a typical Lifetime “obsessive friendship” film but, once Sophie starts to investigate Michelle’s background, there’s a plot twist that pushes The Wrong Girl over the line from melodrama to over the top craziness.  And that’s okay!  The over-the-top craziness is one reason why people like me tend to love Lifetime movies!

Sarah Grey and Kirsten Prout are both well-cast, director Jason Bourque keeps the action moving at a good pace, and you get to hear a lot of really good piano music.  Kara Veri is credited as playing the piano and she does a great job!  The Wrong Girl is enjoyable fun, the exact type of movie that justifies why so many of us watch Lifetime.

thewronggirl-620x371

(On a purely administrative note: With this review, I have 8 more films to watch and review and then my DVR will be officially cleaned out!)