21 July 2009

Love Letter to Lifetime Movie Network, From an Unlikely Fan.

I know I’ve blogged about this before, but anytime the subject of made-for-TV-movies and/or Lifetime Movie Network programming comes up, I’m forced to bring up what I consider to be the standout candidate in both categories: 2002’s “The Glow” starring Dean Cain and Portia DeRossi.

Cain and DeRossi star as a young NYC couple looking for a sweet-ass apartment near Central Park. Some senior citizens see the beautiful, glowing newlyweds and pay off a guy to stage a mugging, as means to an introduction. The old people then swoop in and save them from said mugger, then they offer them a ridiculously cheap apartment in their Old People’s home. The old people are nice--too nice. And in good shape--too good of shape. And they drink smoothies all the time--too many smoothies.

Strange things begin happening. It turns out, a new young couple moves into that same apartment in the old people’s home every few months, and then mysteriously vanishes. We find out at the end of the movie that the old people are turning young couples into some sort of fucked-up Jamba Juice that gives them eternal life and, you know, that youthful “Glow.”

Robbie, who was my original sidekick in watching this perplexing, emmy-snubbed, can’t-believe-what-you’re seeing film, got me a copy of “The Glow” on DVD for Christmas. Best present ever.

Up until a couple months ago, that was really the only program I can say I’ve voluntarily sat through on Lifetime. Now, for some reason, I’m experiencing a sea change of sorts in my attitude towards Lifetime: the network I used to LOVE to hate on (I mean really hate on), I’m a little embarrassed to say is more and more frequently becoming more…uhhh…frequented on my dial.

It all started when I noticed they started airing “How I Met Your Mother” reruns. I was actually a late-adopter of this show and watch it exclusively in syndication. It’s one of the best sitcoms out there, in my opinion, and many an evening, fresh home from work, I crash on the couch and watch a block of episodes on Lifetime.

Then, about 2 weeks ago, Sarah came over for one of our dinner-and-a-movie nights. We baked mini-corndogs, I made spicy cilantro peanut slaw and Sarah made blueberries in maple cream. We watched “The Break-Up” while having dinner and planned on creating some sort of sightseeing itinerary for our upcoming trip to Spain in September. After the food and after the movie, we started flipping through my “Rick Steve’s Spain 2009” book. That lasted about 10 minutes.

You see, my roommate Liz got a hold of the remote after our DVD ended and started flipping through channels. She came across a Lifetime Original Movie called "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks," starring Jason Priestley and Bradley Cooper (and Mark Whalberg. But not THE Mark Whalberg. Apparently there’s another guy out there with the same name. That was the only true disappointment. About ¾ of the way through the movie, we realized that at no point were we going to be thrown any sort of Good Vibrations via a Marky-Mark-twist).

Anyway, I think have some sort of mild form of tourettes when it comes to anything having to do with Bradley Cooper because as we were flipping through channels, I saw him and shouted out some sort of profession of love/lust. We were transfixed for the rest of the night.

Clearly pre-“Wedding Crashers” + “The Hangover” Bradley Cooper was takin’ what he could get to pay the bills, but his general hotness combined with the awesomely terrible plotlines of Lifetime movies is like a vortex of guilty pleasure I can’t escape. Truly hypnotizing.

“I Want to Marry Ryan Banks” was pretty much your predictable, run-of-the mill behind-the-scenes-of-a-Bachelorette-type-reality-show love story for the first hour and a half of the movie. Around 11:30, though, Sarah had to leave to catch the bus since it stops running the route between our respective apartments at midnight. She made me promise to let her know what happened in the Jason Priestly--Bradley Cooper--canadian chick love triangle. To which I replied, “Listen, I can already tell you what’s going to happen. It’s pretty predictable.”

“But I’ll let you know of any earth-shattering changes in plot direction,” I added sarcastically.

20 minutes later, Sarah received a text message from me: “MAJOR PLOT TWIST! I will explain over drinks tomorrow!”

So, I don’t want to spoil the ending. But if you want to stare at Bradley Cooper for 2 hours of your life that you will never get back, and you love movies that are so bad, they’re good, this is the movie for you.

Unless you want to see an even worse movie that is so terribly awesome, I feel like you need to ALSO take into account not only the fact that it will take up 2 hours of your life that you will never get back, but you will spend hours afterwards thinking about how bad it was--so much so that you take another hour to write a blog post about it.

Last night, I watched a movie that I cannot remember the name of. Starring two no-name actors. So I REALLY have no excuse other than Monday night television is turrible.

In a word, this movie was…EXTRAORDINARY.


Boring computer programmer-turned CEO multi-billionaire guy sees a poor assistant-level young blonde chick at check-in for some tech conference, and naturally has his security team run a full background check on her. They are pretty thorough and I’d think John McCain should feel remiss for not using this team in his veep vetting process.

Once she passes muster, he arranges to “bump into her” while she’s jogging in the woods. I guess he had his team hack into her itinerary to find out when she had “jog in woods” scheduled.

Dinner date in a secluded gazebo and really bad, borderline soft core love scene ensues and they are married the next day. Instant billionaire blonde moves into his compound, where his sister, who seemingly runs the estate, gives her the cold shoulder. Blondie tells grouchy sister that she heard she loves horses, so “I guess we have that in common.” Sister admits that while she does love horses, she does not have anything in common with blondie. FACE IT SISTER! YOU BOTH LOVE HORSES! But even if she could face the fact that there is enough horse love to go around, I don’t think it would have detracted from the uber-scowl on her face when they arrive at the stable together and spot Mystic, a brown lady-horse with a big red bow on her head and a note that Mystic is a gift for blondie. Thank you, Lifetime movie director, for explaining the horse with the big red bow on its head is a gift. Your attention to detail is magnificent and noted. I hope she’s not looking it in the mouth!

Another soft core love scene using a feathered-focus lens follows.

Security team has a sit-down with blondie the next day to get her cleared for access to life on the ranch. This includes a download of alarm code passwords, fingerprinting, bloodwork and a full retinal scan among other precautions. I think they probably saved a lot in the production budget by stopping by the Paramount Pictures secondhand set-clearance sale after Mission: Impossible wrapped.

Later that night, as the two are dressing for dinner, billionaire hubby pulls out a necklace and says “I have a gift for you.” She smiles and turns around for him to drape it around her neck and fasten the clasp. He continues: “It has a global tracking device on it so I know where you are at all times.”

Bar none, that was the funniest moment on television since 30 Rock wrapped for the season in April. I laughed, I tweeted (www.twitter.com/Llesliee), I realized I’d have to see this movie through to its conclusion.

With an hour to go in the movie, Blondie gets taken aside by an FBI agent while on a shopping trip. Turns out, billionaire hubby’s last wife, soon after meeting with a divorce lawyer, was kidnapped and then found dead. The FBI thinks that the husband staged the kidnapping and had her killed and now they blondie to run a secret spying op on her husband of less than a month, since she has access to the retinally-secured ranch.

So the husband is the bad guy!

Sensing that she’s pulling away, hubby takes blondie away for the weekend to a romantic cabin. No sex feathery love scenes by the fireplace though, as suspected murderer surprisingly not a turn on for blondie. The cabin is seemingly on the same plot of land as the big house, since when blondie has a choking attack at brunch the next morning, the sister shows up and says “sorry, I forgot to tell the chef about your shellfish allergy.”

So the sister is the villan!

Final climax scene: Charity gala at the compound. Blondie decides she is in a death trap and arranges for the stable girl to saddle up Mystic so she can make a break for it via equine while security is being distracted by the party. Things go awry when she learns that a horse cannot outrun a car. She is captured by a pair of henchmen and taken back to the neighboring cabin. The very scene of the sex shutout and the crab-stuffed poison crepe mere days earlier. Arriving with her hands bound behind her back, she discovers that her husband has been captured and bound as well. He’s innocent! She shunned him and missed out on sex by the fireplace for nothing.

So is the grouchy sister the mastermind?

No, it’s a peripheral character we haven’t heard much from (until now) - Old creepy business partner! (but he IS effing the grouchy sister). He instructs his henchmen to burn down the cabin with the billionaire couple inside.

Blondie pulls a MacGyver, hits the henchmen over the head with a shovel, rescues hubby and they run out of the cabin just before it explodes in flames, with the bad guy accomplice inside. Just as old creepy business partner is giving a toast at the charity gala, the peeved couple rolls up with FBI in tow. Old creepy biz guy pulls a gun on hubby, but after a really lame, unconvincing line from Blondie, turns it on himself. A shot is fired and he falls bloodless and in slow motion to the stage floor.

Just before the credits roll, the newly happy billionaire couple rides off together on a pair of horses.

I am still laughing about the global tracking device necklace.