Some thoughts on A Deadly Adoption


Since I was actually at home on a Saturday for the first time in months, I decided to take it easy this weekend. I needed a break from my usually overscheduled life and kicking back and staying close to home seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. That meant that I was in front of my TV at 8 pm Saturday night when Lifetime debuted their Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig movie, A Deadly Adoption. There was no way that I was missing that. I grabbed some ice cream and curled up on the couch, curious as to what I was about to witness.

I had been looking forward to the debut of A Deadly Adoption partially because I had absolutely no idea what to expect from it. Would it be a parody of Lifetime movies, full of over the top acting and akin to a sketch that you’d see on Saturday Night Live? Would they actually do just a traditional Lifetime movie? Were the viewers about to get punked and discover that there was no full length movie, just two hours of random nonsense? Honestly, any and all options seemed plausible. The idea that Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig had teamed up with Lifetime to do anything seemed patently absurd, and when that’s your starting point anything really is possible. I was kind of rooting for theory #3 – this was all an elaborate prank – as I was sure that would make the most number of people angry and it’s always fun to watch people lose their minds of silly stuff that no one should really care about. Plus I have absolutely no idea the number of people who watch Lifetime movies like I do – as a goof –compared to those who take these movies seriously. I think the membership of the latter group is probably larger than I think, which in and of itself is concerning.

It turns out that Ferrell and Wiig opted to play it straight; A Deadly Adoption was on the surface a pretty straightforward Lifetime movie. Ferrell and Wiig didn’t vamp it up or make it overtly campy; their presence was the only thing that really made A Deadly Adoption out of the ordinary. If the leads had been Tori Spelling and Dean MCDermott, nothing would have appeared remotely amiss. This may have disappointed people who were tuning in expecting something over the top or laugh out loud funny. That’s not what this movie was. But for people who are familiar with this genre of movie, A Deadly Adoption was pretty funny in a deadpan sort of way. It played up all the unintentional comedy that these movies possess with their ridiculous plot twists and silly dialogue. At its worst, A Deadly Adoption was an average Lifetime movie; at its best it was a subtle parody of the genre that just let the tropes of the genre do the work for it. A Deadly Adoption was a silly, melodramatic film which was exactly the point. If you were playing “Lifetime movie bingo” while watching, you would have a full playing card by the movie’s end. The checked all the boxes of the needed characteristics for a true Lifetime movie. There was just enough cheese and self-awareness to make it a super fun viewing experience.

The plot of A Deadly Adoption is ripe Lifetime movie canon – Robert and Sarah Benson (Ferrell and Wiig) lose their second child after an accident, which puts strain on their marriage. They decide to adopt a child; enter Bridget (90210’s Jessica Lowndes), a beautiful young pregnant woman looking to give up her child to a loving home. Bridget is currently living in a shelter, so the Bensons invite her to move in with them and their daughter Sully. But is Bridget seems to have designs on making herself a more permanent fixture in the Benson home. To say any more would be to ruin some of the fun, but as is required for Lifetime movies, there is secret identities, infidelity, kidnapping, murder and other assorted mayhem. A Deadly Adoption is a bit like a mix of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Fatal Attraction and What Lies Beneath all rolled into one.

I don’t know if Lifetime as a network has become self-aware or not, but whoever wrote this movie knew exactly what they were doing. A Deadly Adoption is more of an homage to terrible Lifetime movies than a mocking of them and on that level the movie really works. The hardest adjustment is watching Ferrell and Wiig play it straight down the middle; you are so conditioned to expect them to do something wacky and big that it takes a bit to get used to them playing these roles somewhat seriously. There is some initial humor at seeing these two actors in the movie, but that’s the most overt grab for laughs. Sure the plot for A Deadly Adoption is ridiculous and the constant revelations and plot twists are ludicrous, but that’s exactly the point. Honestly, this wasn’t even the craziest Lifetime movie that I’ve ever seen.

I kept an eye on Twitter while I was watching A Deadly Adoption and the reactions to the movie ran the gambit. Those who were expecting a spoof like Scary Movie were terribly disappointed by the fact that this wasn’t a straight comedy. Those unfamiliar with Lifetime movies just thought that it was a terrible movie. But for the select few who had no expectations going in and have a background in Lifetime movie nonsense, it was unintentionally comedy gold. When you recognize that A Deadly Adoption was more of a conscious tribute to the Lifetime movie genre than a takedown of it, it’s kind of brilliant. It certainly didn’t work from lack of commitment from anyone involved.

I have absolutely no idea what Lifetime was trying to say by airing A Deadly Adoption – maybe they are finally admitting that they are in on the joke – or why exactly Ferrell and Wiig decided to get involved. I’m glad that they did, however. I may not have laughed out loud during the movie, but there were several chuckles of recognition and nods of approval on the execution of the required elements. A Deadly Adoption was just a weird little distraction that fell into my lap and while I don’t think it’s for everyone, it was certainly something of a love letter for those of us who watch Lifetime movies ironically. Everyone was in on the joke, which was there was no joke. It was like one long performance piece; Andy Kaufman would be proud.

If you missed A Deadly Adoption, Lifetime is surely re-running it ad nausea. Check your local listings.

DVR Alert – Epic Drum Battle on The Tonight Show


If you read my blog with any regularity, you know that I’m totally in the tank for Jimmy Fallon. I was a big fan of his when he hosted Late Night and have been a booster for him after he’s taken over The Tonight Show. I particularly like  the games and other bits that he does with guests – the interviews themselves I can often take or leave, but I really dig the extra stuff that he does on his show. Whether is doing the history of rap with Justin Timberlake, photobombing tourists or pretending to be Neil Young, it’s all the bonus material that makes me smile the most.

Tonight will be no different, as The Tonight Show will serve as a venue for an epic drum battle between Will Ferrell and actual drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

This showdown really took off when Will Ferrell did a Reddit AMA and someone commented on the striking resemblance between Ferrell and Smith.


Always the wiseguy, Ferrell replied that they were in fact the same person and that Will Ferrell was simply one of his characters. “It has been acknowledged many times that myself and Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, share a resemblance to each other. A lot of people think that it’s me playing for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But that would be an insult to Chad Smith. The truth of the matter is there is no Will Ferrell. Only Chad Smith.” Ferrell later doubled down on this claim on Instagram:

Not to be outdone, Chad Smith issued his own video and threw down the gauntlet for a drum battle:


Ferrell accepted, on the condition that the battle could not take place until $300,000 was raised for Cancer for College.  Fans stepped up, the threshold was met, and the battle was scheduled for The Tonight Show. No word on if and how cowbell will factor in. All I know is that I’ll definitely be tuning in (not much of an effort since I watch pretty much every night).

While Smith is often approached by fans asking for his autograph will praising his work in Old School or Zoolander, the duo have apparently only crossed paths once, at the premiere for the film Ladies Man. Ferrell simply told Smith that he was “very handsome” and walked away. Smith has even occasionally worn a shirt that declares that he is “not Will Ferrell” while performing:


I have no idea what the rules will be or how this is all going to shake out, but I’m willing to bet that whatever happens, it will be entertaining. Even if you don’t regularly watch The Tonight Show, if you are a Will Ferrell or Chad Smith fan, it is probably worth a look. this has the potential to be memorable.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs on NBC at 11:35 pm.



The LEGO Movie – A Review


Lately I’ve been railing against the quality of movies in the theater this time of year; it feels like the offerings for 2014 have been particularly abysmal. For someone who loves to go to the cinema as much as I do, I have only been a few times since the calendar changed over for the New Year. I’m not alone in my assessment of February films – a study in Slate found that movies released in the second month are critically the worst of the year. I personally blame Valentine’s Day for some of this as studios feel the need to crank out appropriate “date movies” for this time of year, which may be adored by a certain demographic but generally are terrible.

Of course, there always has to be an exception to prove the rule. In the vast wasteland of crappy films released in February, there has to be one film that is actually pretty good. Given the lowered standards of this time of year, the film doesn’t even have to be great; just release something entertaining that is well thought out and not complete garbage and people will be happy. This was my first thought when I saw the original 99% fresh rating for The LEGO Movie on Rotten Tomatoes. I was suspicious of this very high approval and wondered if it was just critic fatigue; they have had to watch some really terrible films this year and perhaps they were overly enthusiastic when they saw something that was mildly amusing. The fact that the film was enjoying such a high rating was a point of conversation among my friends when I said that I wanted to see what was basically a kids’ movie – anyone else who expressed interest often cited the Rotten Tomatoes ranking and those who were skeptical seemed swayed by this information. This time of year, a Rotten Tomatoes ranking of 99% is like the Holy Grail.

Sunday morning my pal Mike and I decided to see if The LEGO Movie hype was for real; we both like LEGOS and I was just happy to have another adult with me so I would look less creepy than going to a movie for children on my own. We even sprang for the 3-D screening, as animated films tend to be worth the additional cost (unlike live action films where usually the 3-D technology feels tacked on). I know – we’re regular Rockefellers.

I’m pleased to say that The LEGO Movie was tremendously enjoyable. It was a visually stunning movie that was very funny – both for adults and children. I actually forgot that this was a movie that was supposed to be aimed at the younger set; unlike a lot of kids’ movies that are enjoyable to adults “for a kids’ movie,” The LEGO Movie was enjoyable simply as a movie. No qualifiers needed. While the film basically boils down to a 100 minute advertisement for LEGOs, it somehow doesn’t feel like an overt cash grab. They put enough thought into the film that while it is clearly a commercial endeavor, whatever salesmanship that is going on is more subliminal (though it is still there – I had a sudden and intense desire to go buy a LEGO set after the film).

Visually, The LEGO Movie is tremendously impressive. The film is created wholly out of LEGO pieces and while I had seen this sort of technology in action playing the LEGO Star Wars game on Wii with some of my friends’ kids (hi Connor and Caden!), I was still very impressed with what they were able to do on a big screen. They are so creative and it looks so fantastic that it is hard to believe that it is all done with little blocks of plastic. It all seems so real and dynamic considering it is an entire world comprised of LEGOs. I was particularly impressed with a scene that takes place at sea – the ocean was made out of LEGOs as well, but it just looked really cool. Perhaps the younger set will be less impressed with this, as they have been more exposed to the LEGO video games but I just couldn’t get over how cool the whole thing looked.

I laughed through a lot of The LEGO Movie and a lot of the credit for that belongs to the actors who lend their voices to these characters. As Emmett, the enthusiastic but somewhat vapid construction worker, they really couldn’t have picked a better person to voice him than Chris Pratt. In a lot of ways, Pratt is like a big lovable puppy dog and the character of Emmett isn’t too far off from his portrayal of Andy on Parks and Recreation, but it is different enough to not be a complete retread. He really is perfect and as the lead character, his delivery had the greatest impact on the success of the film.

Will Ferrell is never not funny when he is in over-the-top villain mode and his depiction of bad guy Lord Business is no exception; he reminded me a bit of his work in Zoolander as Mugatu. Elizabeth Banks is also very good as Wyldstyle, one of the leaders of the rebellion against Lord Business and possible love interest for Emmett. You really can’t get much more perfect than Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) as a pirate or Alison Brie (Community/Mad Men) as an overly optimistic kitty and Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) is great as the generic 80s spaceman. Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman poke a little fun at themselves and how people perceive them with their roles as a cop and a prophet, respectively. They hit that sweet spot of self-parody that hits all the right notes.

However, Will Arnett almost steals the whole show with his voice work as Batman. Arnett is at his most gravelly voiced and would make Christian Bale proud. In his capable hands, Batman is a self-involved dude he makes everything about himself, which probably isn’t too far off from what Batman would really be like if you think about it. Arnett is just fantastic and I probably laughed the hardest at some of his one-liners.

The story is generally well-written and is fairly creative; the film takes a turn in the third act which I in no way saw coming (I won’t ruin the surprise, but you’ll know it when you see it). I thought that there was a little inconsistency in the message that they were sending, but that wasn’t enough to take away from my overall enjoyment of the film. There is enough humor in the film to appeal to both children and adults and there were several points where all ages were laughing at the same jokes. The film is mostly fast paced, so that I think even children with shorter attention spans will remain engaged throughout the film. We didn’t see the film with a lot of other people, but the children who were in the theater seemed to really be invested in what they were watching. Even the little boy sitting in our row who talked a lot during the film (as did his adult guardian), managed to generally keep quiet during most of the movie. I was engaged enough that even when he did chatter, I could basically ignore him. Plus I was on his turf, so I kind of had to lower my expectations for behavior.

Some other thoughts:

  • They only have bit parts, but I got a kick out of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s interactions as Superman and Green Lantern.
  • That was indeed Shaquille O’Neal lending his voice to the Shaq minifig.
  • I’m no Star Wars geek, but I appreciated that Billy Dee Williams reprised his role as Lando.
  • Fair warning – one of the messages that children could ultimately take away from this film is that you shouldn’t follow instructions or rules. So that may be a challenge in some households after seeing The LEGO Movie.
  • I have had the “Everything is Awesome” song stuck in my head for over 24 hours now. Expect to have the same experience when you go see the film. As earworms go, it could be worse.
  • As someone who works at an actual think tank, I had to laugh that they were cast as part of the evil empire.
  • Chris Pratt is positioned to have a very big couple of years with his starring roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. Glad he’s finally getting some attention.
  • I had no idea that there were so many “brickfilm” shorts that also feature LEGOs. I have some viewing to do.
  • The folks over at FOX Business were not fans of The LEGO Movie (some general plot spoilers in the video):


All in all, I thought that The LEGO movie was a cute and enjoyable film. It was nice to go to the theater and have a movie that mostly lived up to the hype, especially this time of year. If you are a parent that was dreading having to take your offspring to this film, you needn’t be; this is a movie that is made for people of all ages. It is blatant commercialism, but it is amusing blatant commercialism. I don’t know how parts of the third act will play for children, but I think they will resonate with a lot of parents. The LEGO Movie may not be the greatest children’s movie ever made, but it a lot of fun. The song doesn’t lie -Everything IS pretty awesome.