The world continues to be stunned and confused by the announcement that Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell are starring in A Deadly Adoption, a Lifetime movie premiering this weekend. Not much is known about the elusive project, but from the trailer it appears to be a straight Lifetime movie--just Wiig and Ferrell in the dramatic roles that are usually reserved for Canadians who look like B-level versions of famous American actors.
Will the movie be funny? Of course! Most Lifetime movies are. But I have a hard time believing that this movie--written by comedy writer Andrew Steele--will live up to some of the funniest Lifetime movies of all time. Because just as Tom Servo and Crow would never sit around making fun of Sharknado when they could be making fun of a real terrible sci-fi movie, I'm not sure how much fun ripping on a Lifetime movie will be if its cast knew it was bad when they were making it.
Even if we find ourselves laughing that Wiig and Ferrell are playing such soapy roles, it can never compare to the "WTF" moments that accompanied seeing a respected film actor in the following bombs. These are the actors and movies A Deadly Adoption has to beat if it's going to go down in history as one of the most memorable so-bad-it's-good TV movies of all time.
Anne Heche, Fatal Desire (2006)
Even if you're not a Lifetime movie junkie, it probably won't surprise you to hear that Anne Heche has starred in her fair share of made-for-TV films. But perhaps you didn't realize that Lifetime movies are really where she shines--no one plays crazy like Heche, and no Lifetime movie is better than one where there's a crazy person having a freak-out. Heche might be most memorable in 2004's Gracie's Choice, where she plays Kristen Bell's drug-addict mother. While Bell struggles to raise her three younger brothers, Heche careens in and out of her life so believably that if you're about to get your period you'll cry at least five times by the time Bell gains legal custody at the end.
But my favorite Anne Heche role is in 2006's Fatal Desire, the best Lifetime movie ever made about love on the internet going wrong (and that's saying a lot!). Heche stars opposite Eric Roberts, who she meets at the Atlantic City casino where he works. Although she's married, they quickly start up an illicit affair, with juicy Lifetime sex that includes silhouettes of Anne's pointed toe up in the air, close-ups of Eric's hands grabbing her body, and her crazy head lolling all over the bed. Anne goes back home, but the affair continues online...until Eric stars getting all-cap emails from Anne's husband that tell him something so shocking that he flips over his coffee table. By the end of the movie, Anne has crushed Eric's soul in some of the most awful ways imaginable, and that's all I really want out of a Lifetime movie.
Diane Keaton, On Thin Ice (2003)
I don't care how so-bad-it's-good Deadly Adoption is, it can't top the plot holes, bad acting, and terrible dialogue in Diane Keaton's Lifetime disaster, On Thin Ice, in which Keaton plays a mother who's forced to deal meth to pay her bills. I'm a huge fan of Diane Keaton's, so believe me when I tell you that this is by far the worse movie she's ever made, and I'm sorry to say she was also one of the executive producers. Not only is she completely unbelievable as a meth head, she doesn't even pull off being a cigarette smoker in this movie.
Like Walter White in a flappy sun hat, Keaton's character in the film only gets into the meth game to pay her bills--she would never touch the stuff! That is, until her supplier forces her to try it...because every knows meth users make the best employees! The scene reads like it's a script right out of the DARE program that was supposed help kids learn to say no to drugs:
Drug Lord: I don't care if you never try meth again, but I have to know if I can trust you.
Diane Keaton: Why would that make you trust me?
Drug Lord: Because it would.
I should mention that the drug lord, named "Hopkins," is wearing a burgundy robe and drinking red wine out of a goblet as this happens. Shortly thereafter, Keaton double-crosses him by getting all the names of other local drug dealers off his laptop. Yep, Keaton isn't long for the drug game, which is probably good anyway, because her preferred method of dealing is to park her giant station wagon in a middle of an empty field and have people come up to her window.
Now that A Deadly Adoption is here, I hope that Keaton comes out and says On Thin Ice was just one big joke on us. Even if it's not true, I'd rather believe that than that she made a movie where she portrays running out of meth like a hilarious, Father of the Bride-esque romp.
Hilary Swank, Terror in the Family (1996)
Academy Award-winner® Hilary Swank cut her teeth on TV movies, beginning with when she was kicked out of the house for being pregnant by her abusive stepdad in Cries Unheard: The Donna Yaklich Story (Swank played Donna's daughter). But the most universally revered Hilary Swank role (in the circles I run in, at least) is as an out-of-control teen in Terror in the Family. Her parents just don't know what to do with her! And they're also the perfect combo of 80s TV nostalgia: they're played by the mom from Growing Pains (Joanna Kerns) and the dad from The Wonder Years (Dan Lauria). This movie is kind of sad and a bit boring in places, but it's worth a watch just to see Swank play tambourine in her boyfriend's band and cry out in frustration that she thinks she has too many rage hormones. Is Will Ferrell going to dramatically yell out the word "hormones" in Deadly Adoption?! He'd better.
Alec Baldwin, Mini's First Time (2006)
OK, so technically Mini's First Time wasn't made for TV--but it was only released on seven screens and made less than a teacher does in a year, so it's never going anywhere other than the Lifetime Movie Network, where it's played at least once a month. Alec Baldwin's Lifetime movie is so bad that it's worse than Daniel Baldwin's Lifetime movie, Family Under Siege, which at least features an ingenious game of Scrabble where the family that is under siege spells out some important info to each other without their kidnappers (one of whom is Baldwin) seeing. But I digress, because Mini's First Time is so bad I don't even want to tell you about it.
OK, so Alec Baldwin is in a loveless marriage to Carrie-Anne Moss from The Matrix (yes, really...Jeff Goldblum and Luke Wilson are also inexplicably in this movie), and he has a vapid stepdaughter who's a senior in high school, Mini. Like so many slutty high school girls on Lifetime, Mini decides to become a hooker just for fun, and is shocked when one of her first clients turns out to be her own stepfather. Instead of running away or confronting him, Mini goes into the bathroom, looks at herself in the mirror, and says in voice-over narration, "I mean, why not? He wasn't my real dad." (Yes, the fact that they even tried to release this movie rather than just selling it directly to Lifetime is incredible.) So, in a Southern accent, she yells through the door that he should turn off the lights, then comes out and blindfolds him with his tie.
Who among us hasn't had sex with someone without seeing them well enough to decipher whether or not they're our stepchild? When Alec Baldwin falls into this trap, he decides to just go along with it and bang his stepdaugther all over his house. Carrie-Anne Moss is a total ho who's drunk all the time anyway, so who cares? And Mini likes sex and is 18, so we're supposed to find it all Cruel Intentions-y and not totally gross when Baldwin performs oral sex on her under her bearskin comforter while wearing pleated khakis.
Mini's First Time came out right before 30 Rock, and if anything this movie will make you thankful that Baldwin will never have to stoop this low again, even if he's married to someone who's was only nine years older than Mini when he met her.
Rita Wilson, Invisible Child (1999)
While Mini's First Time is one of those Lifetime movies I wish they'd stop airing, Invisible Child is one of those rare treasures that pops up so infrequently on Lifetime that it's become urban legend among Lifetime movie aficionados. (Every now and then someone uploads it to YouTube before it's pulled off, so I suggest you do a search and watch it immediately if you find it.)
Invisible Child is the unpredictable story of an English nanny who goes to work for a new family with a secret. No, the secret isn't murrrddderrr, and no, the nanny doesn't sleep with the dad, even though they do have a platonic hot tub scene together--I told you this Lifetime movie is unpredictable! Except for the fact that its title is its subject--in this case, the invisible child of Rita Wilson, the family's matriarch.
Rita also has a couple of real children--the older of which is the stereotypical 90s wise child (back then it was just cheekily hilarious when children were wise beyond their years due to having awful parents) played by a brilliant Mae Whitman, who refuses to answer the glowing tweets about her performance that I send to her every single time I watch this movie. Whitman even has the perfect 90s wise child name, Doc, and she goes along with her mother's delusion in order to make everyone happy.
Things are laid out pretty quickly for the new nanny. Before she even gets the job, the dad (played by Victor Garber) tells her about their "other" daughter. "Her name is Maggie," he intones, "and she exists only in the mind of my wife." Dad explains that he doesn't want to have to lock his wife away, so they all just play along, and the nanny will be expected to do the same. Inexplicably, she takes the job, and while Doc cheerfully shows her the ropes ("Don't forget to eat Maggie's lunch!"), Rita plays tag with her imaginary daughter in the backyard.
But the nanny gets worried...Doc has a little brother who believes he has an invisible sister. And the psychiatrist she visits on the DL agrees that while Doc will be fine (she's just enabling her mother's weird fantasy while teachers look on confusedly, NBD!), the little boy could be in trouble. Meanwhile, Maggie's grown ill.... Invisible Child isn't as flashy as some Lifetime movies, but if you pretend Rita Wilson was totally in on the joke while she sits at Maggie's bedside, I guarantee it will be funnier than Deadly Adoption could ever be, every time.