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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review: 'Mommy's Little Boy'

Briana (Bree Williamson of "One Life to Live" fame) is a single (and very drunk) mother of two young sons -- Max and Eric. These kids could not be any different from each other. Max (Auden Larratt) is a brute who likes to torture the shy Eric (Peter DaCuhna). He also likes to hurt animals...but luckily, Eric saves the day when he tries to plunge a power drill into a defenseless dog.

Although Max definitely is a crappy kid, he's still "Mommy's Little Boy" and can do no wrong ... hence, the title of last night's Lifetime premiere movie. The story really kicks off when the kids are at the pool, and mom is stone cold wasted. After trying to drown Eric, Max decides to show off his diving skills. Bad move. He hits his head and sinks to the bottom as Eric looks on ... and does NOT help.

So, Max drowns and Eric is rid of at least one of his life's problems. Things get really bad for this kid when concerned neighbor Barbara (Brigitte Robinson) tells Briana she's alerting the authorities to her drunken lifestyle and poor parenting. Briana slugs her with a frying pan and proceeds to murder her in front of Eric. She then tells Eric that he's headed to the big house if he utters a word of the killing to anyone.

Eric wrestles with two deaths on his conscience and meets kindly teacher/baseball coach Michael (Paul Popowich), who (whether he likes it or not) becomes a friend/dad figure. Meanwhile, mom is loaded and still trying to cover her murderous tracks.

Yes, this is a family only Dr. Phil could love, but it's one of the most memorable Lifetime clans I've seen in recent years. In short, "Mommy's Little Boy" absolutely rocks. The movie reunites the terrific tandem of writer Christine Conradt and director Curtis Crawford, two of the minds behind last year's classic "Mommy's Little Girl" and a host of other Lifetime epics. Conradt's story balances smarts with schlock to keep viewers engaged, and Crawford builds a steady level of suspense, rarely letting up. Williamson is downright scary and convincing as an abusive alcoholic, and her onscreen son DaCahuna creates a conflicted, compelling kid. He creates a sympathetic character, but the audience is never too sure whether this young man  may be permanently damaged by his upbringing. Supporting actors Natalie Lisinska, Allison Graham and particularly Sebastian Pigott (as the sleazy Shane) also deserve props.

"Mommy's Little Boy" is a big addition to Lifetime's roster of "Mommy" titles -- "Killing Mommy," "Mommy I Didn't Do It," "Double Mommy" (which also premiered this weekend), etc. It's definitely one of the best movies the network has premiered this year. If you missed it, tune into Lifetime on at 9 p.m., April 1 for an encore showing.

"Mommy's Little Boy": Directed by Curtis Crawford; Starring Bree Williamson as Briana, Peter DaCuhna as Eric, Paul Popowich as Michael, Sebastian Pigott as Shane, Natalie Lisinska as Sherry, Allison Graham as Detective Myers, Brigitte Robinson as Barbara, Auden Laratt as Max

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: 'A Deadly Affair'

What does a woman do when she suspects her husband of having an affair? In "A Deadly Affair," Mary (Austin Highsmith) almost has drunken revenge sex with her best friend's spouse Trevor (Alan Powell) but comes to her senses. It's still too late. Poor hubby Charlie (Luke Edwards) winds up as dead as the door nails he was installing in a renovation home.

That's the nuts and bolts of this mystery that recently premiered on Lifetime Movie Network (and airs again at 7 p.m. CST, March 28 on LMN).

Much of the movie focuses on Highsmith's character searching for answers in a sea of whodunnit characters. Could the murderer be the super clingy Trevor? Or, perhaps nightmare sister-in-law Crystal (Lorna Street Dopson)? Best friend and Trevor's lawyer wife Susan (the always awesome Valerie Azlynn) can't be counted out either, as well as Cassandra (Amber Dawn Lundrum), the clerk at Screws and Bolts hardware store. Or ... maybe Mary has some secrets she's hiding. 

Super cop Detective Malone (J. Teddy Garces) is on the case and thinks he may have the goods on Mary. After all, she's been drinking a bit too much lately and doesn't really have her story straight.

Writer/director David Bush (who co-wrote this with Marcy Holland) keeps "A Deadly Affair" from turning into a boring affair. He allows the audience to reel in several red herrings before a climactic reveal. The cast also does a fine job of creating charismatic characters that keep viewers guessing who the killer really is.

This is an above average effort that's fun and not too predictable. Admittedly, I can often figure these movies out, but "A Deadly Affair" had me clueless. The cast deserves much of the credit for keeping things interesting. Just a week prior to the premiere of "A Deadly Affair," Lifetimers were introduced to the trio of Highsmith, Garces and Azlynn in the excellent "Nanny Seduction." In fact, Garces plays the same Detective Malone character in that movie. All of these actors have great chemistry. Highsmith and Garces obviously work well together since they are husband and wife offscreen.

In spite of the title, "A Deadly Affair" isn't a steamy, sexy thriller. It is, however, a solid murder mystery with a talented cast and definitely a must-watch on Lifetime or LMN.

"A Deadly Affair": Directed by David Bush; Starring Austin Highsmith as Mary, Valerie Azlynn as Susan, Alan Powell as Charlie, J. Teddy Garces as Detective Malone, Luke Edwards as Trevor, Lorna Street Dopson as Crystal

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Review: 'Nanny Seduction'

Thanks to Lifetime, the nanny industry may take a downturn. Movies like "Nanny Cam," "The Nightmare Nanny" and "Evil Nanny" don't exactly paint a flattering picture live-in childcare professionals. The latest movie to make parents think twice before hiring help is "Nanny Seduction."

Originally titled "Missing Child," this thriller premiered on Lifetime Movie Network last night and was an awesome alternative to the Oscars.

The plot focuses on orphan Riley (Lauren Gobuzzi), who is adopted by would-be super couple Ben (Wes Brown) and Kara (Austin Highsmith). I say "would-be" because Ben has some skeletons in his closet, mainly past infidelities. The two need help with this young lady. She has some serious issues (fear of the playground and an attachment to a creepy doll) and needs expert care. So, the working couple decides to hire a nanny. Enter Alyssa (Valerie Azlynn), a gorgeous young woman who seems to have a way with kids. Things are going great until Alyssa decides to play footsy (literally) with Ben and makes it clear that she would like to play house with him. He keeps this a secret from Kara, who doesn't completely trust him after past trysts. Adding to this complication is the arrival of Riley's biological mom Vanessa (Erin Cahill), who definitely has some issues of her own.

So, this adoption is in jeopardy, right? Well, this is LIFETIME ... so yes, the adoption is in jeopardy ... Ben and Kara's marriage is in jeopardy ... and those are just some of the problems faced by these characters.

This is one of those movies that has it all: sex appeal, stalkings, seductions, secrets and more. Brown and Highsmith are convincing as the couple on the rocks, and Azlynn is awesome as the sexy kiddie caretaker. Admittedly, the plot is a little similar to the Will Ferrell/Kristin Wiig epic "Deadly Adoption," but this movie still has a few surprises ... and the requisite climactic confrontation. Director Emily Moss Wilson deserves credit for maintaining a solid level of suspense throughout this affair. It's definitely a worthy addition to the many nanny horror stories that occupy Lifetime's airwaves. "Nanny Seduction" will be taking care of viewers next Saturday, March March 4. And if you want an extra dose of leading ladies Austin Highsmith and Valeries Azlynn, check them out in "A Deadly Affair" premiering 7 p.m., March 5.

"Nanny Seduction": Directed by Emily Moss Wilson; Starring Austin Highsmith as Kara, Wes Brown as Ben, Valerie Azlynn as Alyssa, Erin Cahill as Vanessa, Lauren Gobuzzi as Riley