Lifetime Film Review: The Wrong Cheerleader (dir by David DeCoteau)


“You messed with the wrong cheerleader!” Vivica A. Fox announced towards the end of Lifetime’s The Wrong Cheerleader.

“Hell yeah, he did!” I shouted back at the television.

Now, one reason why I yelled that response is because Vivica A. Fox is a totally badass.  She has appeared in almost every installment of Lifetime’s “Wrong” franchise and she always plays a no-nonsense authority figure that no one in their right mind would want to mess with.  When Vivica A. Fox gives you advice, you better listen.  And when she gets mad at you, you better run because she does not mess around!

The other reason I cheered was because she was telling off one of the most unsympathetic and evil abusers to ever appear in a Lifetime film.  After spending two hours watching this guy gaslight and threaten his girlfriend, I was ready for Vivica to show up and verbally kick his ass and she did not disappoint.

Fox plays Coach Flynn in The Wrong Cheerleader.  She’s the cheerleading coach at the local high school and it’s a job that she takes very seriously.  As she explains to a new recruit, being a part of the squad means that you’re a part of a family.  When a prospective cheerleader says that she understands what Flynn means, the Coach tells her that she won’t be capable of understanding until she actually experiences it for herself.  And I’m just going to say that I probably would have been scared to death of Coach Flynn in high school because she would have taken one look at me and probably told me to drop the attitude, stop showing so much skin, and behave like a responsible young lady.  And I probably would have done it too because, seriously, you don’t want Coach Flynn mad at you.

Coach Flynn is concerned about her newest cheerleader, Becky (Cristine Prosperi).  Becky is dating Rob (David Meza) and, from the minute he first shows up at school, it’ obvious that Rob has issues.  Along with having a violent temper, Rob is a relentless manipulator, the type of guy who tells Becky that everything he does wrong is because of how much he loves her.  When he gets into a fight, he tells Becky that it was because he was defending her and that it’s actually her fault because she was wearing her cheerleading uniform.  If Becky so much as looks in the direction of another guy, Rob loses his temper.  Rob, of course, has a hundred excuses for his behavior, most of them having to do with his dysfunctional family life.  Everyone can see through Rob.  Everyone, it seems, but Becky.

If you’re looking for an expose into the sordid world of high school cheerleading, you’ll probably be disappointed with The Wrong Cheerleader.  To be honest, Coach Flynn could have been a soccer coach and Becky a goalie without changing the film’s plot.  (Though “You messed with the wrong goalie!,” doesn’t have as much of a ring to it as “You messed with the wrong cheerleader!”)  But no matter.  The film does a pretty good job of revealing the techniques that an abuser will use to maintain control over the woman that he’s abusing.  Anyone who has ever been in a toxic relationship will recognize exactly what Rob is doing.  The film also makes the very important point that if you do witness abuse, you need to say something.  Just shrugging away the problem or hoping that things will somehow get better is not a solution.

For those of us who remember her as the always quirky Imogen on Degrassi, it’s interesting to see Cristine Prosperi playing a far more conventional character in this film but she does a good job in the role and she still looks young enough to pass for a high school student.  (The same could not be said of some of her classmates.)  David Meza does a good job playing up his character’s manipulative nature and, of course, Vivica A. Fox is a total badass as Coach Flynn.

The Wrong Cheerleader isn’t quite as over-the-top as most Lifetime cheerleading films but it has a good and heartfelt message and that’s definitely worth something.

Lifetime Film Review: The Wrong Mommy (dir by David DeCoteau)


If there’s anything that I’ve learned from my long history of watching Lifetime films, it’s that having a real job just isn’t worth the trouble.

Just consider what Melanie (Jessica Morris) goes through in The Wrong Mommy.  She’s got a real job.  She also has a handsome husband (Jason-Shane Scott), an adorable daughter (Jillian Spitz), and a mother (Dee Wallace) who enjoys going on exotic cruises.  Melanie also has a really nice and really big house, the type of house that would probably be the “slightly more than you’re willing to pay” house on an episode of House Hunters.  But can she enjoy it?  No, of course not!  It’s all because she’s got a real job.  She can’t pick up her daughter after school.  She can’t go out at night.  She can’t do anything because she’s got a real job.

However, during the first few minutes of The Wrong Mommy, Melanie gets some good news!  She’s been promoted!  She’s now a senior executive or whatever it is that you get promoted to when you’ve got a real job.  Along with having real responsibilities, Melanie is also about to get a real assistant!

Here’s another thing that I’ve learned from my long history of watching Lifetime films, as well as from my own past experience in the administrative professional field.  Be very careful about hiring an assistant.  Especially if she only has one obscure reference on her resume.  Even if she’s willing to babysit your daughter for you, be careful.  Don’t look the other way when she flirts with your husband.  And, for the love of everything holy in this world, don’t tell her the one secret that could lead to you losing a big account!

Unfortunately, Melanie doesn’t exercise caution about any of that and, as a result, she ends up hiring Phoebe (Ashlynn Yennie).  Even before Phoebe shows up for her interview, we’ve already seen her following Melanie around town and spying on her.  In fact, even before the opening credits conclude, Phoebe is breaking into Melanie’s house and planting spy cameras.  We know better than to trust Phoebe and soon, Melanie discovers that she made a mistake hiring her.  However, it may be too late to do anything about it….

Now, to the film’s credit, Phoebe isn’t just some random psycho bitch trying to ruin someone else’s life.  It turns out that she has a backstory, one that actually does involve Melanie.  I won’t spoil anything by revealing it but it’s a pretty good backstory.  Ashley Yennie appears to be having a lot of fun in the role of Phoebe.  If you’re going to be in a Lifetime movie, you definitely want to play the villain.  They usually get all the good lines and get to wear all the pretty clothes.

Like most of Lifetime’s “Wrong” films, this one was directed by David DeCoteau, who know exactly the right tone to take for a film like this.  He plays up the melodrama while never allowing the film to take itself too seriously.  (Just check out the scene where Dee Wallace shouts out the film’s title.)  As with all the “Wrong” films, Vivica A. Fox shows up as a no-nonsense authority figure.  (This time, she plays Melanie’s boss.)  The great Eric Roberts also shows up for a few minutes, playing a sleazy client.  Roberts doesn’t have much screen time but, as usual, he makes memorable use of what he gets.

The Wrong Mommy is an enjoyably silly film.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither should you.

Lifetime Film Review: The Wrong Boy Next Door (dir by David DeCoteau)


“Don’t trust your neighbor,” proclaims the tagline for The Wrong Boy Next Door and that’s certainly true when it comes to Lifetime films.

Seriously, in a Lifetime movie, your neighbor is either going to be a seemingly nice woman who is going to end up trying to steal your baby or else a really hot guy who never wears a shirt and who is secretly plotting to kill you and your friends.  In the case of The Wrong Boy Next Door, we get the hot psycho who is always wandering outside without a shirt on.  John (Travis Burns) may be intriguing but he’s also dangerous.  It might be fun to watch him while he’s out in his garage but if he starts watching you back …. look out!

The Wrong Boy Next Door really does capture an essential truth.  Bad boys are sexy and the more dangerous the better.  While watching the film, it was easy for me to yell that Katie (played by Calli Taylor) was making a huge mistake by trusting John but, honestly, I probably would have made the same mistake back when I was in high school.  First off, there’s the fantasy of being the one girl who can reform a bad boy.  Secondly, there’s the fact that, when you’re a teenager, you do stupid things because you think you’re smarter than you actually are.  I mean, really, that’s the whole appeal of being young.  It’s the only time in your life that you can get away with being totally dumb and irresponsible.  That’s why there are people in their 30s who are already feeling nostalgic for high school.

Having watched the film, I can say that Katie is one of the greatest Lifetime heroines ever.  From the minute the movie starts, she’s getting in trouble.  First, she gets caught vaping at school and this leads to her being suspended for a few days.  It’s during that time that she first spots John walking around outside.  She invites him inside and, two minutes later, they’re kissing.  Then, when Katie returns to school, one of her teachers spots her checking her phone in class.  When the teacher demands the phone, Katie throws it at her and literally knocks the teacher to the ground!  (The school’s principal later says that the teacher looks like she got hit in the face by a baseball.)  Go Katie!

So now, Katie’s under house arrest!  That means that she has to wear one of those ankle bracelets that beeps if you leave your front yard.  The detective in charge of Katie’s house arrest is played by none other than Vivica A. Fox so you know that if Katie breaks the rules, she’s going to be in a lot of trouble.  Unfortunately, being stuck in her house is kind of a problem because Katie suspects that John might be as good a guy as he’s pretending to be.  But how can she investigate without going outside!?

The Wrong Boy Next Door was a hell of a lot of fun, largely due to Calli Taylor’s energetic and sympathetic performance as Katie and Travis Burns’s menacing turn as John.  As is typical of Lifetime’s “Wrong” films, director David DeCoteau kept the action moving at a brisk pace and Vivica A. Fox brought her usual flair to yet another no-nonsense authority figure.  All in all, The Wrong Boy Next Door is one for which to keep an eye out.

Lifetime Film Review: The Wrong Stepmother (dir by David DeCoteau)


“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.

Let’s Talk About The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (dir by Anthony C. Ferrante)


Yesterday was Sharknado Day.

What is Sharknado Day?  If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.  Sharknado Day is the day that the latest chapter in The Asylum’s Sharknado franchise premieres on SyFy.  That’s the day when people like me cause twitter to go over capacity tweeting about the film.  That’s the day good people all across America try to count the number of celebrity cameos while also trying to keep track of all of the homages and references to past movies that are always waiting to be found in every Sharknado Film.  Yesterday was the sixth Sharknado Day since 2013 and, if we’re to believe our friends at The Asylum, it was also the last Sharknado Day.

Is it true?  Was The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time truly the final Sharknado?  Perhaps.  But somehow, I have a feeling that the flying sharks will return someday.  Critics have always underestimated the production savvy of The Asylum and I wouldn’t be shocked if, after a year or two of nostalgia, we saw Sharknado 7: A New Beginning.

But if The Last Sharknado was truly the final Sharknado, then it can be said that the franchise truly went out on a high note.

The plot — well, usually, the conventional wisdom is that the plot of a Sharknado movie really doesn’t matter.  Usually, it’s assumed that all a Sharknado film needs is a lot of shark mayhem and snarky humor.  And that’s true, to an extent.  And yet, I still found myself getting caught up in The Last Sharknado‘s storyline.  It all deals with Fin (Ian Ziering), April (Tara Reid), the head of a robot version of April (again, Tara Reid), Nova (Cassandra Scerbo), and Skye (Vivica A. Fox) traveling through time, hopping from period to period.  Fin and April’s goal is to stop the first Sharknado and to save the life of their son, Gil.  Nova wants to save the life of her grandfather, even though that might change history to the extent that she would never become a great shark hunter.  As for the robot head … well, she develops an agenda of her own, one that really has to be seen to be believed.

The film has a lot of time travel and, of course, the journey from period to period allows for several celebrity cameos.  When Fin ends up in Arthurian Britain, Neil deGrasse Tyson pops up as Merlin.  During the Revolutionary War, a somewhat sarcastic General Washington is played by Darrell Hammond.  Dee Snider plays a sheriff in the old west.  Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott show on the beach in the 60s.  Touchingly, the film even finds a way to include the late John Heard in the action.  (Heard played a key supporting role in the first Sharknado.)  I’m a history nerd, so I enjoyed all of the time travel.  I especially enjoyed the film’s portrayal of Benjamin Franklin as a rather bitchy eccentric, largely because it’s often forgotten that Franklin was, in real life, a bit of a bitchy eccentric.

(Add to that, how can you resist a film the features both dinosaurs and flying sharks?)

The film takes a surprisingly dark turn during the second hour, as Fin and Skye spend some time in a dystopian future and Nova tries to change history by saving her grandfather’s life.  When Fin points out that doing so will change history and that, for Nova to become a great shark hunter, her grandfather has to die, Nova calls him out for being self-centered.  To their credit, both Cassie Scerbo and Ian Ziering play the argument totally straight and both give heartfelt performances.  Amid all of the comedy and the shark-related mayhem, the film develops a real heart.

That heart is at the center of The Last Sharknado.  To a large extent, the sharks are superfluous.  They’re carnivorous MacGuffins.  Instead, the film is about celebrating not only the bonds between Fin, April, Nova, and all of their friends but also the bond that’s been developed between the characters and those of us who have watched them over the course of six films.  Towards the end of the film, when Fin talks about what his friends and family mean to him, it’s clear that he’s also speaking for the filmmakers.  Just as Fin thanks his friends for sticking with him, the filmmakers take the time to thank the audience for sticking with them.  It was a heartfelt scene and it was the perfect way to end The Last Sharknado.

To those who do not celebrate Sharknado Day, it may seem strange to say that I got emotional while watching the final scene of The Last Sharknado on Sunday night.  Then again, is it any stranger than the idea of a franchise about a bunch of sharks flying through the air, spinning around in a funnel, becoming a major pop cultural milestone?

It’s a strange world and we’re all the better for it.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #187: The Wrong Cruise (dir by David DeCoteau)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, The Wrong Cruise!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, the obvious answer is that it was on Lifetime and I always watch Lifetime original films.  I’m running a little bit behind in reviewing all of them and, for that, I apologize.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to get caught up next week!

The other reason that I was watching The Wrong Cruise was because it was a “wrong” movie.  As any regular Lifetime watcher knows, there are several different genres of Lifetime movies, each with their own quirks and rules.  There’s the “Killer” movies, which usually feature Barbie Castro.  There’s the “at 17” movies.  There’s the “Deadly” movies.  And then there’s the “Wrong” movies.  Several of these films — including The Wrong Cruise — were directed by David DeCoteau and usually featured Vivica A. Fox and William McNamara in memorable supporting roles.  The “Wrong” movies are always a lot of fun.

What Was It About?

Ever since her father died, teenager Sky Tanner (Sidney Nicole Rogers) has been acting out.  After throwing a punch at track meet, Sky finds herself on the verge of being expelled from school!  Uh-oh!

Fortunately, for Sky, it looks like she’s about to get a break from the stress of dealing with high school.  Her mother, Claire (Vivica A. Fox), is booked on a cruise to Mexico and there’s no way that Claire’s going to leave Sky home alone.

At first, it seems like the perfect vacation!  Claire meets a man named Dante (Andres Londono).  Sky meets a teenage boy named Rico (Adrian Quinta).  Love is in the air!  Dante is charming and quite insistent that Claire go sailing with him.  As for Rico, he’s willing to buy drinks for the underage Sky and he’s more than happy to show Sky around Mexico.

If, at this point, you’re saying, “I don’t trust either of them!,” you’re not alone.  After you’ve seen enough Lifetime films, you know better than to trust any charming stranger.  Add to that, while Sky is drinking with Rico and Claire is flirting with Dante, there’s a creepy ship’s mate (played by William McNamara) who seems to be determined to keep an eye on both of them.  What’s up with that?

What Worked?

This one was a lot of fun, largely because Vivica A. Fox and Sidney Nicole Rogers were totally and completely believable as mother and daughter.  Every time that Claire said something overprotective and Sky reacted by sighing and rolling her eyes, the more you found herself believing in their characters.  When they inevitably ended up getting into trouble, the stakes felt real because the mother/daughter relationship felt real.

Londono and Quinta both did work as Dante and Rico but the film was ultimately stolen by William McNamara.  For such a handsome actor, he’s really good at playing creepy Lifetime movie villains.

What Did Not Work?

I would have liked to have spent a little more time on the cruise ship.  For a film called The Wrong Cruise, it seemed like the boat was a little underused.  Then again, maybe I just want to go on a cruise…

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I didn’t run track in high school but, if I had, I would hope that I would have had just as combative an attitude towards my competitors as Sky had towards her’s.

Also, like Sky, I spent a lot of my teenage years rolling my eyes at overprotective parental figures.

Lessons Learned

Never get out of the boat.

Cleaning Out the DVR: The Wrong Crush (dir by David DeCoteau)


(Lisa is currently in the process of cleaning out her DVR!  It’s going to take a while because Lisa has over 200 things recorded.  However, one thing is for sure: it’s all getting erased on January 15th.  Will Lisa be able to watch everything before doomsday?  Keep checking here to find out!  She recorded The Wrong Crush off of Lifetime on July 2nd!)

The mistakes of the past.  Can we overcome them?  Can we forgive ourselves?  Can we convince others to forgive us?  Can we ever recover or are we destined to be forever punished?

These are some of the questions asked in The Wrong Crush.  Veteran Lifetime viewers will, of course, immediately recognize that this is one of the many “wrong” films that David DeCoteau has directed for Lifetime.  There’s also The Wrong Roommate, The Wrong Student, and The Wrong Child.  Myself, I always look forward to the latest “Wrong” film because they’re usually enjoyably (and intentionally) melodramatic and, as a director, DeCoteau always seems to have a sense of humor about going through all the of the required Lifetime “beats.”  At times, the characters in these films almost seem to be aware that they’re appearing in a Lifetime film.  Also, DeCoteau always seems to film in the nicest houses in Canada.  One of the fun things about watching a Lifetime film is getting to see where everyone lives and the Wrong films always seem to take place in the right homes.

Anyway, in this one, Victoria Konefal plays Amelia.  A few years ago, Amelia did nothing but party and drink.  But then, after a car crash claimed the life of her best friend, Amelia straightened out her life.  Though she’s still on probation and her own mother (Lesli Kay) doesn’t seem to want to have much to do with her, Amelia is doing her best not to fall back into her old ways.  She doesn’t drink.  She goes to therapy, even though she rarely agrees with what her therapist has to say.  She’s channeled her anger into running and now, she’s the star of her high school’s track team.  It even appears that she might set a few records before the year is over.

She’s even got a boyfriend.  Well, kinda.  Scott (Pedro Correa) is nice and super supportive but he only moved to town a year ago so he doesn’t know all of the details about Amelia’s former life.  He’s heard rumors but he doesn’t know that she’s on probation or that some people still blame her for the death of her friend.  Whenever he starts to get too close, Amelia pushes him away.

Plus, there’s a new guy at school!  Jake (Ricardo Hoyos) is handsome, charming, and polite.  And, like Amelia, he’s got some secrets in his past.  He was kicked out of military school, for one thing.  Soon, Jake and Amelia are growing close.  Scott may not like it but Scott should be more concerned with the drugs that Jake’s hidden in his locker.  See, Jake has an agenda of his own.  He also has a really big knife that he’s not afraid to use…

For the most part, The Wrong Crush is an enjoyable Lifetime melodrama but Amelia’s strained relationship with her mother and her struggle to forgive herself serve to give this film a little more emotional resonance than the other Wrong films.  Victoria Konefal and Lesli Kay both gave good performances and Ricardo Hoyos really threw himself into the role of Jake.  Those who know Hoyos best for playing sweet-but-stupid Zig on Degrassi will be in for a surprise when they watch The Wrong Crush.