Forgotten Film Club: Trading Mom/The Mommy Market

Hello Very Special Readers! Episode 2 of my podcast is now available. This month we’re talking about 1994’s Trading Mom, also known as The Mommy Market, starring Sissy Spacek and Anna Chlumsky. Want to hear a clip? Check out the video below.

You may remember I covered this movie on this blog way back in 2015. Something a bit different about the podcast is we update the movie for 2023. In this case, that means imagining the moms in the mommy market for 2023–think influencer mom, Lululemon mom, and in the clip below, molecular gastronomy chef mom:

And sometimes we just get silly. Like when Hallie got a 30 second clip of a rap song from the movie stuck in her head but couldn’t remember any of the words…

I should also note that the recording of the podcast, I discovered an error in my original review from 2015. Whoops! I’ve corrected it for the podcast. Can you spot the difference? You can listen here or on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and iHeart Radio.

In Defense of Her Alibi

Released in February of 1989, Her Alibi earned a whopping half-star rating from Roger Ebert and lead actress, Paulina Porizkova, was nominated for a Razzie.

This movie is desperately bankrupt of imagination and wit, and Tom Selleck looks adrift in it. He plays a detective novelist, named Blackwood, who has run out of inspiration. So he goes to criminal court for fresh ideas, and there he falls instantly in love with Nina (Paulina Porizkova), a Romanian immigrant who is accused of murdering a young man with a pair of scissors. Blackwood disguises himself as a priest, smuggles himself into jail to meet Nina, and offers to supply her with an alibi: She can claim they were having an affair at his country home in Connecticut at the time of the crime.” — Roger Ebert in his review of Her Alibi (1989)

As with many negative things in life, the bad reviews are a problem of perspective. Much like I hated Footloose when I rented it from the video store as a thirteen year-old who took all older teenagers very seriously, I loved the movie seven years later when I caught it on television and realized it was hilarious and metaphorical in all the best ways possible. It was also an early sign of a doomed relationship when the guy I was dating at the time negged me for loving it! Pro-tip, only date people who graciously give you the space to love campy things!

Okay, back to Her Alibi. We’re going to approach this from the perspective of literally everything is a joke whether or not the movie is in on it. This starts with the opening credits, which has some Clue-worthy theme music. It also features a lot of fake book titles. If you regularly read this blog, you know I’m already a sucker for that. More importantly, the book titles let you in on a very important aspect of this movie: it isn’t take itself that seriously.

Much of the narration in this film comes from Tom Selleck’s character writing his latest novel in a detective series. The titular detective is “Peter Swift,” reminiscent of Tom Swift from the same syndicate that brought you Nancy Drew and The Hard Boys. These are airport novels with corny titles. The cover that features a football helmet bears the title “The Dying Position.” The one with a theater setting is called “Looks Like Curtains.” My personal favorite features a stained glass window of a nun with a giant syringe in the foreground. It’s called “The Dying Habit.” You get the picture.

The film opens with a murder in a New York City apartment building. The only leads are that the victim was a student whose downstairs neighbor heard an argument in a “weird language.” Meanwhile, Phil (Tom Selleck) meets with his editor (William Daniels a.k.a. Mr. Feeny) to discuss his four-year long writing dry spell. Shortly thereafter, Phil heads to court where he sits with a group of other writers, eavesdropping on arraignments for inspiration.

When Nina (Paulina Porizkova) enters the courtroom, Phil develops a crush (and a sudden rush of writing inspiration). There’s just one catch — remember that dead body from just a few minutes ago? They think Nina and a pair of nine-inch scissors are responsible.

Dressed as a priest, Phil visits Nina in jail and offers her an alibi. He will pretend to be her lover and she can come home with him to Connecticut. (They work out this deal while Phil shouts at her across the room with a correctional officer just on the other side of the door. Very stealth.) Understandably, Nina plans to ditch Phil as soon as she is released. Unfortunately, there are a whole bunch of thugs waiting for her as she leaves the jail, so she goes to Phil with Connecticut anyway.

Phil’s Connecticut home is a lovely old farmhouse with lots of vaulted ceilings and stone-facing. True to the promise he made in the jail, he gives Nina the guest room and doesn’t attempt to do anything creepy. He mostly just cooks poorly and writes his novel in his head.

The recurring joke of the movie is that Phil is fairly paranoid, who were it not for the power of lust would probably never take a risk at all. We see this paranoia frequently juxtaposed with Phil’s narration of Peter Swift’s daring exploits. As the night wears on, Phil becomes increasingly terrified of Nina, which is understandable given that she’s an accused murderer who throws a giant knife at his head — to kill a bug.

Isolated in Connecticut, Phil interprets almost everything Nina does as an attempt on his life. He’s so jumpy he falls into the pool while taking out the trash because he catches a glimpse of her through the window. She’s painting her face entirely white. Clearly murderous stuff. But who can’t relate to a(n) (un)healthy dose of paranoia these days?

One day, Nina rides her bike to a local shopping center. While there, she narrowly escapes the thugs from earlier and rushes home to Phil, who is just about to leave for the barber shop. She’s afraid to be alone, so she insists on cutting his hair herself. Phil reluctantly agrees to let her use the presumed murder weapon so close to his major arteries. And we get this sexy haircut scene in return:

Shortly thereafter, Phil teaches Nina how to use a bow and arrow — you can see his new level of trust after having survived the haircut. Unfortunately, shoots him in the ass. One harrowing drive to the hospital later and Phil is paranoid again.

Eventually, Phil works up the courage to ask Nina point blank if she committed the murder. She refuses to answer. He follows her downstairs and sees her brandishing a pair of scissors through a crack in the door. As Phil attempts to barricade himself in his room, Nina appears behind him with a rose. She was only using the scissors to remove the thorns.

We then learn that Phil’s been in a bit of a rut since his wife left him. And taking an attractive accused murderer home might be some kind of subconscious attempt at DIY exposure-response therapy. So does Phil finally trust Nina? He does until a bomb explodes behind him in the kitchen while Nina is a safe distance away in the pool.

Phil asks a writer friend to use her connections to research Nina’s past. He also begins listening in on her conversations. Unfortunately, the only thing Phil’s able to glean from his pocket Romanian dictionary is that Nina has mentioned something about a funeral.

In the next scene, Nina makes dinner for Phil’s entire family. She says it’s a Romanian custom where the youngest woman makes dinner for everyone and then takes a walk while they eat it. When Nina leaves for her walk, Phil gives a little portion of the food to the cat before the rest of the family sits down for dinner.

As it turns out, Nina’s walk consists of fleeing with a friend in a car. Meanwhile over dinner, Phil laughs with his family about all the times he thought Nina had tried to murder him. He then goes to the kitchen and finds the cat, dead. He returns to the table and announces that Nina poisoned them all, but the family thinks it’s another joke. The cat’s dead body quickly proves otherwise.

As the family heads to the hospital, Nina returns to the house so that she can tell Phil the truth about everything — which you may have guessed does not include poison. Alone with Phil’s laptop, Nina reads the novel he’s been writing.

Just as the family arrives home after having their stomachs pumped, a neighbor approaches and explains that his wife saw the cat get electrocuted outside and left its body by the door so as not to interrupt their dinner. Nina then confronts Phil for depicting her as a murderer in his new novel and leaves him for good.

Phil later learns from his contact that Nina’s family of famous acrobats has disappeared in the United States after trying to defect from Romania. It turns out the “funeral” from Nina’s phone call is The Funeral of Grimaldi.

Dressed as a clown, Phil finds Nina at the funeral. This must be sort of a Sandy/Danny at the carnival moment because they both instantaneously overcome their trust issues. They’re chased by the Romanian thugs but fight them off just in time for the lead detective to show up. And good news: Nina’s family’s asylum has been approved! Oh and that dead guy from earlier? He was trying to help them to defect and wasn’t as lucky as Nina and Phil when it came to escaping the thugs.

And what good 80’s movie doesn’t roll credits with a Randy Newman song?

This movie is not quite suspense, not quite romantic comedy (though it’s probably trying to be both). Think of it as a TV movie version of Romancing the Stone. Whether or not you like this movie really comes down to whether or not you’ll get a laugh out of Phil’s corny narration because his novel truly is terrible. Personally, I find tight shots of Tom Selleck mixing a chocolate milk while his voice over says “Swift poured himself a bourbon” to be nothing short of hilarious.

This post is part of the Third Annual So Bad It’s Good Blogathon. For the full roster of posts please click here.

Is the Grease 2 Finale the 2020 Fever Dream We All Need?

Listen, I think we were all hoping for a “Cool Rider” kind of year and instead we ended up freezing on stage, taking off our star crowns, and hallucinating out of our fucking minds from the stress of it all.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the deliciously campy Grease 2, the girls of Rydell High’s talent show decide to perform something akin to the “Calendar Girl” song but with more of a home-spun “Chicken Soup with Rice” feeling to the music.

Our protagonist, Stephanie, is supposed to be the big December finale. But she’s distraught over the fate of her love, who has been attacked by a motorcycle gang (a much meaner version of the original Grease’s mostly lovable T-Birds) and is presumed dead. Yeah it’s a downer. This causes Stephanie to enter a fugue state. Fortunately, her disassociation also involves some off-the-cuff song-writing abilities, which gives us “(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time.”

I thought this was powerful stuff when I first saw it at 8 years old. In the years since, it’s felt pretty ridiculous. But I’ve come back around. I love it again. I think this is the kind of saccharine shit my cold, cold heart needs right now.

If that doesn’t work for you, this one should. If ever there was a “Hard Candy Christmas,” it’s this year:

For a literal hard candy Christmas, try these stained glass cookies.

Second by Second Breakdown of “A Recipe For Seduction”

As the holidays draw near, a young heiress contends with the affections of a suitor handpicked by her mother. When the handsome chef, Harland Sanders, arrives with his secret fried chicken recipe and a dream, he sets in motion a series of events that unravels the mother’s devious plans. Will our plucky heiress escape to her wintry happily ever after with Harland at her side, or will she cave to the demands of family and duty? Mario Lopez, Justene Alpert, Tessa Munro, Chad Doreck, Martin Mandela star.

Official Description for “A Recipe for Seduction” from Lifetime. You can stream the full mini-movie on their website.

0:23 Title Card: A Recipe for Seduction
0:24 Camera zooms in on holiday family dinner.
0:30 Credits roll over tight shots of crispy fried chicken.
0:40 Dinner attendee compliments hostess, Bunny, on the excellent chicken.
0:42 Bunny claims she cannot cook; credits new chef with delectable chicken.
0:58 Dinner guest’s girlfriend rolls her eyes at another guest across the table.
1:20 Annoying dinner guest proposes to girlfriend, Jessica, who clearly does not love him.
1:38 Jessica stage whispers her resentment at the public proposal.
1:40 Bunny admonishes Jessica, who is clearly her daughter.
1:42 Jessica excuses herself from the table.
1:57 Bunny blames the rejection on Jessica drinking too much at dinner.
2:00 Camera dollies in. Bunny, reads the paper at breakfast table.
2:05 Jessica enters.
2:08 Bunny reams Jessica out for not using her body to improve the family’s status.
2:25 Bunny mentions that the bank is going to repossess their stately mansion.
2:40 Bunny tells Jessica she has to marry Billy so that Bunny doesn’t lose her nice house.
2:42 Harland Sanders enters.
2:43 Jessica is smitten by Harlan’s dimples and goatee.
2:58 Bunny tells Jessica that Harland is a head chef at a fancy restaurant, but she insisted that he leave the city, live in the mansion’s guest house, and cook exclusively for their family. (No mention of the families mounting debt is made in reference to this.)
3:29 Jessica ignores a call from Billy, the proposer.
3:47 Jessica offers Harland a tour of the grounds.
3:42 Bunny watches from the main door like she’s Jessica Lange in Hush.
4:08 Jessica tells Harland how much Billy sucks.
4:20 Harland tells Jessica about how he’s trying to change the world with his “secret recipe” (which does not appear to be sexual in nature).
4:40 Billy appears and confronts Jessica for embarrassing him.
4:48 Harland tells Billy to back-off.
4:54 “Beat it crouton, get back to the kitchen, and let me and my fiancee talk.”
5:03 Billy threatens Jessica.
5:08 Jessica runs away.
5:13 “Don’t call me crouton.”
5:17 Establishing shot of Whittendale Country Club.
5:23 The other guest from dinner answers a call from Jessica. He tells her he is meeting a guy from the farmer’s market for a date at the country club.
5:42 Jessica tells her friend that she hasn’t decided whether or not to accept Billy’s proposal but that she’s into Harland the chef.
6:00 “He told me he has this secret recipe that’s gonna change the world. And you know something? I believe in him.”
6:06 Jessica’s friend comments that this is the happiest she has ever been. [Presumably viewers around the world cheer for Jessica as she experiences a cis straight man being polite to her for the very first time ever.]
6:11 Jessica tells her friend, Lee, that her mother needs her to marry the man who threatened her in order to pay their debts off.
6:25 Lee ends their call because it is time for his date.
6:34 Jessica texts “We need to talk” to an unknown recipient. [Billy, perhaps?]
6:39 Jessica leaves the room.
6:41 Bunny creeps around the corner.
6:42 Shower water running offscreen.
6:50 Billy responds: “At country club, what’s up” [no punctuation.]
6:53 Bunny texts back pretending to be Jessica and asks him to wait for her there.
7:07 Billy drinks dark colored liquor while holding the ring box and feeling sorry for himself.
7:25 Bunny arrives and informs Billy that Jessica has feelings for Harland.
7:34 Billy laughs at the thought of Jessica dating a cook.
7:42 Lee and his date enter the room undetected by Billy and Bunny.
7:43 Bunny tries to convey the gravity of the situation to Billy, stating that Harland has a “secret recipe” that might make him famous.
8:00 Lee notices Billy and Bunny getting cozy at the bar.
8:02 Billy still isn’t taking it seriously so, in an even more twisted riff on The Graduate, Bunny offers to sleep with Billy whenever he wants if he marries her daughter.
8:24 Billy enters the empty kitchen.
8:38 Billy tests the blade of a large knife.
8:40 Billy puts the knife down.
8:46 Billy discovers a knapsack containing a color coordinated leather-bound journal.
8:55 Billy finds Harland’s secret recipe in the journal.
8:59 Billy hears someone approaching and hides the recipe.
9:00 Harland enters and tells billy that Jessica isn’t home.
9:14 Billy offers to buy Harland off.
9:20 Harland tells Billy he isn’t interested.
9:25 Billy tells Harland he knows about the recipe.
9:28 Harland looks shocked.
9:33 Billy lies to Harland and tells him that Jessica accepted his proposal.
9:55 Billy puts a check for 500,000 dollars in Harland’s pocket.
10:11 Lee arrives at the house and demands to see Jessica.
10:17 Bunny tells Lee that Jessica is out purchasing a new phone. [Wait why has Jessica been missing for so long. Is she okay???]
10:36 Lee tells Bunny he saw her seducing Lee. He’s going to tell Jessica everything.
10:43 Bunny hits Lee with a croquet mallet.
10:51 Jessica tries unsuccessfully to contact Lee with her new phone.
11:04 Harland confronts Jessica about the fact that Billy knows about his secret recipe.
11:34 Jessica stops Harland from leaving the property and confesses that she love him, not Billy.
11:49 Bunny calls Billy and tells him about this new development because she’s spying again, of course.
12:04 Jessica tells Bunny that she is happy with Harland and will not marry Billy.
12:16 Bunny tells Jessica that Harland has left the property.
12:28 Jessica searches for Harland in the kitchen.
12:45 A distraught Jessica hears muffled screams on the grounds.
13:00 Jessica rushes into a storage shed to find Billy attempting to murder Harland
13:12 Bunny rushes in to tell Billy that Lee has gotten free and she urges him to kill Harland quickly.
13:23 Lee catches Jessica’s eye from behind the shadows of the storage shed. He motions for her to keep quiet.
13:25 Harland head-butts Lee.
13:33 Billy comes at Harland with a knife.
13:34 Lee hits Billy with a croquet mallet.
13:39 Jessica pushes Bunny into a shelving unit.
13:50 Jessica and Harland kiss.
14:04 Title card: One Year Later
14:07 Lee officiates Harland and Jessica’s wedding.
14:26 Serenity Falls Health & Wellness Center establishing shot.
14:30 Camera dollies in on Bunny sitting alone on a bench.
14:40 Billy joins Bunny on the bench. They both have gray hair now.
14:45 Billy announces that he found Jessica and Harland before taking a big juicy bite of chicken leg.
14:56 Credits

Wait…why didn’t Bunny just marry Billy for the money instead of Jessica?

Just What 2020 Needed: More KFC Erotica!

A few years ago, KFC released a special for Mother’s Day romance novella featuring none other than Colonel Sanders. Well, it looks like Lifetime is running with that idea and airing a mini-movie with Mario Lopez this Sunday!

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for the novella that started the whole “Col. Sanders is a hottie” craze, they’re no longer available. But it doesn’t look like you missed out on much anyway. Here’s hoping the mini-movie is better or at least better at being bad.

Pretty in Pink is All About Harry Dean Stanton and Jon Cryer

Pretty in Pink, a classic tale: Boy meets Girl. Boy is rich. Girl is poor. Girl’s BFF is an eccentric guy who is madly in love with her. Girl picks pretty rich Boy. Boy ditches her for shallow reasons. Girl makes ugly dress. Girl goes to prom alone only to be rescued by consolation prize BFF. Girl ends up with pretty rich Boy in the end anyway because everyone loves Andrew McCarthy.


Of course, thirty plus years of re-watching this movie has led to a general consensus amongst viewers that Andy should have picked her BFF Duckie. One day that pretty smile of Blane’s will fade or he’ll try to use it to weasel out of some dumb crap like flirting with the pretty woman next door while Andy tries to hustle their brood of children into their suburban mansion, juggling the groceries alone.

And she’ll look back on her largely lust-driven, desperate need for validation from the cool guy and wonder why she didn’t notice that their relationship was rife with communication issues from the start–or why she didn’t care that his friends were all colossal jerks that she now has to make nice with at the country club. After all, what was his big gesture of romance after spinelessly shunning her when James Spader shamed him for “slumming it”? He shows up to prom alone and claims he “always believed in her”?? Barf. But you’ve heard that all before and I’m here to talk about Pretty in Pink‘s sub-plot.

That being, of course, that Andy’s mom ditched the family three years prior to the start of the film and her father is utterly blown apart, barely functional, for most of the film because of it. I first saw this movie at eleven and I thought he was an alcoholic because that was most of the dysfunction I had seen in my own extended family. I didn’t know what grief and depression looked like. I didn’t understand what it feels like when someone you love deeply abandons you out of nowhere. I certainly didn’t realize how short three years could be and, for Andy as all of us, the difference between thirteen and sixteen must have felt like a lifetime.

But for her father, it isn’t. He wakes up every day in the same house he lived in with his happy thirteen year-old child and his seemingly happy wife. He wakes up alone, haunted by his memories of the past and the memories of his aspirations for what his family could have been. It must feel like someone has died. It must feel much worse than if someone had died. And yet, he is still deeply in love with his wife.

I re-watched a scene between Andy’s father and Duckie as soon as I heard of Harry Dean Stanton’s passing. He’s a terrific actor. He’s shown off his chops in much better movies than this. I find Pretty in Pink to be a pretty weak entry into the John Hughes cannon (go ahead, fight me in the comments if you will), but it’s Harry Dean Stanton who offers the one sage piece of advice in a script full of melodrama unsuitable for the subject matter.

In this scene, Duckie (Jon Cryer) meets with Andy’s father (Harry Dean Stanton) to reassure him that he is serious about Andy’s welfare and cares deeply about her wellbeing. Of course, he doesn’t need to offer his assurances because he and Andy aren’t dating. And let’s be honest, this whole exchange shows that Duckie has some pretty poor boundaries, so maybe Andy should just wait until college to get serious about anyone. But Duckie’s feelings are genuine and her father–no stranger to unrequited love–offers him some advice.

In my opinion, Duckie is the real winner of Pretty in Pink. I guess we’re supposed to think that he’s such a “good friend” that he wanted Andy to be happy with Blane and that’s why he’s such a good sport at the prom. But I hope it’s more that he learned how to be a good friend to himself.

John Hughes’s original ending would have subverted this exchange between Duckie and Andy’s dad. If he had his way, Duckie would have ended up with Andy, but ultimately this didn’t test well (see above re: Andrew McCarthy’s smile). And that makes this subtly poignant scene with Harry Dean Stanton feel all the more relevant to the overall plot of the film. I’m not worried about Duckie ending up sad and alone in his middle age like Andy’s father. I feel like he’s going to bounce back from pretty much whatever life throws at him and he’s going to do it while wearing a bolo tie.

My Boyfriend’s Back

Join me as we travel down the rabbit hole of a terrible, weird movie from 1993, featuring early appearances from great actors who would go on to do great things and never ever mention this film on their resumes again. Oh and just in case this review gives you a hankering to relive your prom days, be sure to check out Mix Tape & Cupcakes’s Prom Night nostaliga playlist.

A week ago, I saw The Cutting Edge, for the first time. I have to say that I LOVED it and I want moooore. So I decided to watch one of the movies that Amazon recommends for people who have just watched The Cutting Edge. And that lead me to this:

I felt compelled to watch it because I had once considered writing a Zombie rom-com in college, but I was too busy partying (and studying!) to actually write script. My idea wasn’t exactly like this. It was going to be a meet-cute situation immediately preceding a Zombie apocalypse and then the couple from the meet-cute would reconnect as Zombies and have to deal with the ups and downs of a new romance while also dealing with being the undead.

PLUS, Edward Hermann from Gilmore Girls is in My Boyfriend’s Back so I obviously HAD to watch it.

Anyway, this movie is all about this boy who has loved this girl, Missy, since childhood, which seems sweet except that he’s a major creeper:

I think we are supposed to feel like it’s not a big deal that he’s a major creep because he’s dreaming in the scene above, but I’m still going to hold it against him. Like THAT is how you dream of talking to the person you’ve been in “love” with for years?

psh300x220_zps8b8dae3fI almost stopped the movie here. The dude sucks and everyone is dressed like they are in a bad Twin Peaks knock-off. But then Phillip Seymour Hoffman shows up as a jock-lackey and I’m intrigued enough to continue.

Things take a turn for the creepy again when our “protagonist” (ugh, can we call him that?) concocts a plan, which he describes as “swashbuckling, romantic, daring,” and which I describe as “something that could land you in jail or at least with a hefty restraining order but nope probably just jail.” The plan is to have his friend, Eddie, pretend to try to kill Missy. Then McCreeper (not even going to learn his real name) can save her life and make her fall in love with him.

I’m not sure why he’s participating because Eddie seems to be right on the money with this analysis:

Unfortunately, Eddie isn’t able to carry out his side of the plan because a real robber shows up. This man doesn’t sound at all like Eddie. His eyes are also a different color. Yet McCreeper is apparently too stupid to realize that this is not his friend. He acts like he’s tough stuff and starts to fight off the robber. He eventually realizes that this isn’t Eddie, but he still jumps in front of what he must now know is an actual bullet. As he dies, McCreeper asks Missy out to prom and she says yes.

Now things get interesting. Before, things were sad and creepy and not funny. But then McCreeper comes back from the dead, so yeah. I’m kind of interested to see where this goes. As McCreeper heads home from his grave, a gravedigger tells him that he’s now a member of the “undead” and is supposed to NEVER leave the cemetery. But McCreeper’s parents are surprisingly chill with the whole thing:

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.11.59 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.12.13 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.12.22 PMScreen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.12.40 PM

I start to understand the gravedigger’s warning when McCreeper tries to eat Eddie’s arm for lunch instead of the cafeteria food. Being the McCreeper that he is, he doesn’t seem disturbed by this new development. However, he’s very upset that Missy no longer seems interested in going to prom with him. I shouldn’t be surprised that this narcissistic a-hole can’t tell the difference between a deathbed promise and actual romantic love, but I’m too far into the film to stop now, so I proceed against my better judgement.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 12.26.18 PMMissy starts to tell him off, but then her boyfriend interrupts and tells her that she’s not allowed to talk to the dead kid because she’s ruining their reputations. She claims that McCreeper is “actually a nice guy” and decides to go out with him to spite her boyfriend. Wow, I mean this girl really has a warped view of the word “nice”. I wish I could jump into this film and stage an intervention for her.

Let me take a moment to say that the Amazon algorithm is terribly flawed. My Boyfriend’s Back is NOT like The Cutting Edge. Even though The Cutting Edge has some hints of influence from The Taming of the Shrew, it is ultimately an empowering tale of self-confidence, trust, and toe axels. But there’s still a small chance Missy could tell everyone to go to hell, right?

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 12.35.31 PMMeanwhile, Missy and McCreeper go on their first date to a Zombie movie. (Ugh, too on the nose.) And all of the kids sitting near them start talking about how she’s stepping out on her boyfriend. I’m soooo over it, but then I notice that one of them is Matthew Mcconaughey! While the kids are talking shit, Missy and McCreeper are bonding over Jujubes. She gets some stuck in her teeth and he tells her to drink some soda. “I can’t believe that you came up with a whole system for this,” she says. WTF girl, you’ve never heard of drinking a soda before? I’m getting worried about Missy. I’m starting to think she’s been living in this misogynistic town for so long that she’s thinking she needs to let McCreeper think he’s smart. And he’s so NOT smart that the best she can offer is applauding his Jujube eating skills.

After the movie, Missy and McCreeper make out and his ear falls off. He immediately rushes to the doctor. (He’s already dead and decaying, so I’m not sure that this will help.) He asks the doctor to set him up with some medicine to prevent decay, but all he can do is offer him some glue for his ear. He does also put him in touch with a local woman who’s husband also came back from the dead 15 years ago. (Hm, I’m surprised that didn’t come up earlier. You’d think people might have been talking about that more.)

The woman is Cloris Leachman! Sadly, Cloris tells him that the only way he can live long enough to attend the prom is to start eating people. Yep, he needs to go FULL zombie. One bite equals 20 minutes of non-decay. McCreeper, to his credit, is conflicted about this. But he lucks out when Philip Seymour Hoffman catches him cheating with Missy and tries to kill him with an axe. Sadly, Philip Seymour Hoffman is playing a total idiot and accidentally axes himself instead of McCreeper. McCreeper starts chowing down in the middle of the hall and then thing becomes a news sensation. Also, it makes Missy not want to go to the prom with him anymore.

At this point, I’d have to say that McCreeper’s parents have totally lost their minds, most likely from the trauma of their son dying and then returning as the undead. McCreeper’s mom has decided to kidnap small child for “lunch”. I’m pretty sure even fans of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal would find this very dark.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 4.27.55 PMAs it turns out, this kid is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s younger brother. So their dad is understandably PISSED to an extreme level. But when he and some guys from the neighborhood come over to shoot McCreeper (apparently, forgetting he’s already dead) McCreeper’s mom very sweetly threatens them WITH A SHOTGUN. What the hell am I watching??

After the altercation in his living room, McCreeper tracks down Missy at a hair salon and tells her that he only ate Philip Seymour Hoffman so that he could be with her–an absolutely horrifying statement that Missy finds romantic:

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 4.30.48 PM.png

So far the only thing I’ve learned from this movie is that Missy has an incredibly low self-esteem.

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By the time prom rolls around, Missy’s parents have adamantly told her that she cannot go out with a dead kid. As Missy prepares to sneak out of the house, McCreeper tries to eat her shoulder. Sadly, Missy was willing to go out with him even though he tried to eat her alive, but McCreeper doesn’t think it’s worth the risk.

Oh hey, remember that doctor from way earlier in this movie/post? He may just be a small town doctor, but he’s just discovered a way to resurrect the dead! But he doesn’t actually want to use this modern miracle on McCreeper. No, he wants to use McCreeper to make this serum and then market it as a cosmetic treatment. He tricks McCreeper with the promise of a cure and tries to harvest his zombified skin in his lab. Luckily, Eddie and Missy save him when the doctor steps away to answer the door.

That knock at the door? It was an angry mob with a battering ram. The mob chases McCreeper to the cemetery where Missy comes to his aid once again. You know, it’s all fun and games over here, but someone basically remade this a few years ago and everyone loved it. I think it was called Twilight.

Missy and McCreeper finally make it to prom, where he collapses and disintegrates into smoke. He finally makes it to the afterlife only to discover that there has been a clerical error. He was meant to have a near-death experience instead of a death experience.

Suddenly, McCreeper is zapped back to the night of the incident. He’s shot but survives only to find that he was saved by the bullet hitting a locket he intended to give Missy in the first grade, which he is now magically wearing. But hey other magic things in this movie happened, so oh well. He confesses his feelings and Missy thinks it’s cool that this guy she barely knows is wearing a locket containing pictures of them as six-year olds. Yikes.


Final Thoughts: I think this was trying to be funny in a Heathers kind of way. It failed. But they do have comic-book style scene transitions and I thought that was kind of fun.

P.S.: I promised you a very special series announcement a couple of posts ago. That announcement will be happening on April 28th, so check back then!

One Technicolor Acid Dream of a Biopic, brought to you by your school supplies from 1995. 

Yes, yes, I know that’s TOO long of a title. But did you spin the wheel and solve the puzzle correctly? That’s right, Very Special Readers! Lisa Frank is working on a biopic about her life. It will be part cartoon, part live action. Kinda like Space Jam? TBH I’m scared and excited all at the same time. I’ll probably be the first in line for a ticket. I’ll also probably take notes on a notepad while eating a big box of gummy bears (providing me both the sugar high and memory recall tips necessary to report back to you). Oh pleaaaaase, oh pleaaaaase let this go into production, 2017! Don’t tease me with this pipe dream. 

An In-Depth Look at The Legend of Billie Jean

First of all, this is a LENGTHY post and it’s a little more serious than my usual fare. So please skip the hottest Buzzfeed “long form” post and read this instead (while you’re pretending to work at your desk. Happy Friday!)

Before we go any further, please watch this music video. It also has some introductory information to today’s very special movie.

So, I have to admit that I was very conflicted about reviewing this movie namely because: it is SO dumb and because I love it SO much. And I don’t even love it because it’s so bad (not like I love Carnousaur 2) but I legitimately LOVE this movie. Also, this movie features Pat Benatar’s most underrated song ever “Invincible,” which is also my #2 driving song. The #1 being “Power of Love.”

Several things happened within the past week that convinced me to write this post:

  • I watched the debate and saw Donald Trump speak for far longer than I ever care to ever again in my entire existence. And I watched him rudely interrupt a far more qualified woman for much of that debate.
  • Secondly, Stephanie from Listful Thinking did a very funny but sobering video about how few movies past the Bechdel Test.
  • A man somehow thought that a successful approach to flirting with me would involve some combination of following an insult with a compliment.
  • I went to church with a friend and sat in a class full of women who talked about how WOMEN are tempting rape by wearing revealing clothing. They somehow felt that saying “it’s no excuse but it’s a temptation” absolved them of blaming the victim or perpetuating the rape culture that directly affects them as women. And I sat their disgusted with myself for saying nothing because I didn’t know how to turn to the woman next to me who has been like a second mother to me for my entire life and ask her how she could agree with this crazy talk.And that’s when I realized, this movie is important. Campy, yes. Well-written, no. But it’s important.

legend-of-billie-jean-the-legend-of-billie-jean-2973229-353-250Billie Jean (Helen Slater) and her brother, Binx (Christian Slater), are on their way to a lake near their home when a group of guys see them and decide to follow Binx’s Honda Elite Scooter because they think Billie Jean is hot. As they follow them, they become increasingly aggressive. One dude is literally crawling over the hood of the car as they ride down the highway, another snaps pictures of her.

When Billie Jean and Binx stop at a drive-in, so do her harassers. At first they mostly pick on Binx. But when Billie Jean doesn’t respond to their sexual advances, they get aggressive with her too. When one of them grabs her, Binx shouts at him “get your hands off that” and it’s unclear to everyone, perhaps Binx included, as to whether he’s referring to the bike or his sister.

I first saw this movie when I was ten. It was fifteen years after it came out and that was over fifteen years ago. I wish I could say “how far we’ve come, but Billie Jean’s impassively polite reaction to this banal harassment strikes me as utterly timeless. 54308221131685781449

Binx throws his shake on the guy, who we later learn is Hubie Pyatt, and they flee on his scooter. Billie Jean looks shocked that Binx tossed his drink on this dude–most likely because Hubie Pyatt has a reputation for being untouchable. His father is a wealthy store owner, whereas Billie Jean and Binx live in a trailer with their mother.

240562_origHubie and his friends track Billie Jean and Binx down shortly thereafter. Hubie steals Binx’s scooter while he and Billie Jean are swimming. Remember, Hubie’s pal with the camera? He doesn’t miss the opportunity to take some more shots of Billie Jean as she and Binx race out of the water.

Billie Jean tries to file a police report but the Officer Ringwald (played by Peter Coyote) tells her that Hubie was probably just trying to get her attention and will most likely return the scooter. She returns home to find both Binx beaten and his scooter destroyed.

the_legend_of_billie_jean_1985-movie-helen-slater-christian-slater-3Billie Jean decides to give Hubie the bill for the repairs. When he won’t listen to her, she talks to his father–who tries to rape her “in exchange” for giving her $50. Binx walks in on this happening. He doesn’t realize what’s going on at first because Billie Jean and Mr. Pyatt are in the office above the store. Believing Billie Jean won’t be successful in getting Mr. Pyatt to hand over the money, Binx decides to help himself to the cash register, where he also finds a gun.

Meanwhile, Billie Jean breaks away from Mr. Pyatt. Binx sees them and threatens Mr. Pyatt with the gun. Mr. Pyatt tells him that the gun is unloaded. Binx looks at the gun curiously and squeezes the trigger, shooting Mr. Pyatt in the arm. Binx, Billie Jean,and a couple of friends decide to run away and be outlaws. From this point on, the movie slides quickly down a slippery slope of melodrama and camp, which is actually pretty fun. But it does diminish the sobering first ten minutes of the film.

the-legend-of-billie-jean-1Billie Jean and her crew run around doing “outlaw things.” They go to the mall and leave IOUs for walkie-talkies. Shortly after seeing this movie, I requested to leave an IOU for a notebook and was informed that this is definitely not an acceptable practice. They also squat in a mansion, which is pretty cool. There’s even a cool teenager, Lloyd, who lives in the mansion. He even offers to be their hostage, so they can gain a little leverage. While at the mansion, they watch the news and learn that Billie Jean is famous. Meanwhile, Mr. Pyatt capitalizes on her fame by selling Billie Jean memorabilia.

Remember how I said things get campy? The entire motivation for the scene below is that Billie Jean saw several minutes of Saint Joan on television and decided to cut her hair and film a video–which basically means she’s a teenage girl like any other. She’s struggling to find her own voice, so she takes on one that gives her more resources than the one she started out with.

She also gives herself a catchphrase. And unfortunately, to see her video manifesto you’ll have to watch it on VHS like it’s 1985…

And it’s at some point after this that Billie Jean becomes some sort of Christ figure. She’s recognized everywhere she goes as a symbol of truth, fairness, and justice. She even helps rescue a child from his abusive father.

img_7234As Billie Jean and her friends flee one neighborhood in a hail of bullets (**eye-roll**) one of the girls in Billie Jean’s group thinks she’s been shot, but really she’s just gotten her first period. Man, I’m all for the triumph of the female spirit but are you kidding me? She gets her first period in the middle of a gunfight and we have to stop and talk about how great it is? Like pass me a tampon and let’s move on, I’m a freaking outlaw motherfu**r. Also, shout out to The Simpsons‘s Yeardley Smith for playing the girl who gets her period.

MSDLEOF EC081Eventually, Billie Jean turns in two of her friends for their own safety. So this leaves only Billie Jean, Lloyd, and Binx. But in the midst of an argument while trying to steal a car (Billie Jean doesn’t want to but Binx and Lloyd insist it’s necessary) Billie Jean become separated from her friends.

Left only to rely upon the kindness of strangers, Billie Jean realizes exactly how big of a celebrity she’s become. Girls are cutting their hair like her and turning themselves in at police stations like this is Spartacus. Dozens of teenagers give her safe passage like she’s traveling on the underground railroad. But when we remember that this was all about a rich kid bashing a motor scooter, it’s hard to believe this became a phenomenon.

Those are of course not the real stakes, but no one knows what really happened. Billie Jean video manifesto didn’t talk about the sexual harassment and near sexual assault she experienced at the beginning of the movie. As far as anyone knows, she’s just a very passionate anti-property damage advocate with a cool haircut.

pat_benatar-invincible_sIt largely seems that this celebrity safe passage is meant to serve as an opportunity to play an extended montage over the full length of Pat Benatar’s theme for the movie. Ultimately, she finds Binx and Lloyd at the abandoned miniature golf course where they spent their first night as fugitives way back at the beginning of the movie. When she rejoins her friends, Billie Jean admits that she’s lost her sense of self in all of this. The Joan of Arc persona that was once so liberating has taken over everything and she can no longer be a normal person.

The next day, she agrees to meet with the police publicly and to make a statement. In anticipation of Billie Jean’s arrival, a crowd of gawkers and fans alike gather at the beach around Mr. Pyatt’s store–her supporters cavalierly purchase memorabilia from the man who couldn’t buy her and is selling her instead.

But having been betrayed earlier when attempting to meet with the police and Mr. Pyatt, Billie Jean concocts a rouse. Binx will dress as Billie Jean and walk their “hostage” toward the police, while Billie Jean stands in the crowd incognito. Unfortunately, Hubie Pyatt is standing near the front of the crowd and realizes their trick. Binx pulls at a toy gun to try to scare Hubie away and is shot by the police. In potentially the most melodramatic scene in the movie (though it is tough to say with any certainty since there are so many) Billie Jean chases after the ambulance in a ridiculous brown, curly, mop of a wig.

Eventually the ambulance is out of her reach and she realizes she’s in front of Mr. Pyatt’s store, where people are browsing merchandise covered with her likeness.

legendofbillyjean19857_zpsb66cc157It’s at this point that I have to ask, what exactly is this commenting on? Is it celebrity? Mob mentality? A really extreme example of subjugation? Or maybe this movie got so caught up in making an “important point” that it became a soap opera with nothing to say. And then Billie Jean sees Mr. Pyatt. She pulls off the wig and approaches him alone, just as she did earlier in the movie. But this time there are plenty of witnesses. And this time she’s a celebrity who get a lot of press. She confronts Mr. Pyatt and learns that it was Lloyd’s father who paid for the scooter’s repairs. Trying to save face, Mr Pyatt gives her a ton of cash “for [her] troubles.”

Okay, so now is probably a good time for me to share some essential plot information that I’ve left out thus far. Remember that cop from earlier, Ringwald? The one who didn’t take Billie Jean’s police report seriously? He realized as soon as he heard about Binx shooting Mr. Pyatt that he had ruined the investigation. The more time that Ringwald has spent with the Pyatts the more he realizes that Billie Jean and Binx are just scared kids who were bullied by a very sleazy adult. In fact, the entire reason she agrees to show up at the beach is that Ringwald tracks her down at the miniature golf course and promises that he wants them all safe and will get Binx’s scooter fixed “better than new.”the-legend-of-billie-jean-5
Bille Jean has always said she wants Mr. Pyatt to pay them back because it’s only fair that the person responsible for the scooter damage be the one to pay for the repairs. Only, he’s not responsible for the scooter damage. His son is, but Billie Jean’s not on a rampage to get this obviously wealthy kid to fork over some of his allowance. And that’s because it was so obviously not about the scooter in the first place. Even when the scooter is fixed and Binx is definitely not going to jail, it’s still of the upmost importance to her that the money came from Mr. Pyatt.

So why didn’t she just go ahead and expose him when she made that “fair is fair” video? Well go ahead and say I’m giving this movie more credit than it’s due, haters, but I think it’s fair to say at this point that I’ve made a cottage industry out of over-analyzing low-brow culture. (And by cottage industry I mean I use free WordPress hosting and do not make any money off of this. If I did, the first thing I would do would be to remove the Donald Trump ad that I saw on here yesterday. Ugh. I’m so sorry, America. I don’t want that smarmy face on this website anymore than you do.)

8976ec8a4a3cc0f307c39b0639f408a5Simply put, Billie Jean didn’t confront Mr. Pyatt in her video because she wasn’t ready to yet. This whole campy-mess of a movie is her path to finding those words. What we’re basically seeing here is a really heavy-handed coming of age and recovery from trauma all rolled into one. Billie Jean starts off as a girl who doesn’t really say anything when she’s uncomfortable. Then she becomes some neo-Joan of Arc vigilante who is all about “fairness” (like in general and somewhat materialistically at that). And then finally, she pulls off that damn muppet wig and straight up calls that jackass out for trying to violate her. And when she does that, she’s transcending “Bille Jean the Legend,” to become a much more complex Billie Jean, the person.

And I’ll just let you watch what happens next

Then the movie just kind of ends. Binx and Billie Jean are at a ski lodge in Vermont and still sporting matching haircuts. Roll Credits.

So here’s why this movie is important: This is a movie about rape. It’s a movie about Mr.Pyatt using power (wealth, gender, age) to take advantage of Billie Jean sexually. It’s a movie about how she stands up to him with integrity and becomes a stronger person because of it. Perhaps the most remarkable thing The Legend of Billie Jean does is trick everyone into thinking it is a movie about a scooter. And maybe it needed to do that in order to be greenlit into a 1980’s teen movie. Maybe it would even need to trick us to be made today.

Or maybe it’s so effective because Helen Slater took the character of Billie Jean and gave her an incredible arc under harrowing circumstances even if everything else around her was glam makeup and Pat Benatar music. But I have to say that there’s something very powerful in this movie. It’s a movie that made me feel like I could kick some serious ass when I was a 10-year-old kid. And it kind of makes me feel like I could kick some ass today too.

The Definitive Ranking of Teen Witch Songs: Worst to Best

Guys, we need to talk about the original music in Teen Witch. I previously posted about the *stellar* costumes in this movie, but I neglected to give the soundtrack the respect it deserves. The Very Special Blog leaves no pop culture stone unturned! And thus I give you, the definitive Teen Witch song ranking from worst to best.

High School Blues
Not to be mistaken for a New Kids on the Block audition tape, this song introduces us to the the resident group of “tough guy” rappers. It’s also making it painfully obvious to me that I don’t remember seeing any black people in this movie.

Get Up and Move (stop this video at 2:42 or spoilers!)
The second half of this is okay, but the beginning is too boring for words. Get up and move? Sorry, I’m already asleep.

Shame (The Harvest Dance Song)
This song plays while Louise changes into her “cool dance outfit.” Shout out to the creepy DJ who encourages everyone to “sow some wild oats” and the dance committee that was so committed to the harvest theme that there are literally bales of hay on the dance floor. This song is ambient and catchy and I would dance to it at an 80’s party.

Finest Hour
This is the Teen Witch version of “Time of My Life,” which is to say cheaper and cheesier. This song runs at 2 minutes and 45 seconds but somehow manages to feel like a solid eight minutes. It’s also somehow the climax of the movie, so there’s no avoiding it.

I Like Boys
This is a “cheer,” apparently. But it’s cute and I feel like whoever made the stage version of the movie must have had this song in mind specifically. It seems like this song would be right at home in Legally Blonde: The Musical

Never Gonna Be the Same Again
This is the film’s opening. The OPENING CREDITS, you guys! I for one, would like to thank this song for setting up the bizarre wonderland that is the rest of this movie. Also, I’d rate this song higher if it were sung by Taylor Dayne.

Top That
If this movie is a cult classic, then this song is a cult classic in and of itself. What to say about “Top That”? I think this masterpiece speaks to itself and has clearly spoken to an entire generation of movie watchers. I’m included both the original and a shot-for-shot remake featuring Arrested Development‘s Alia Shawkat.

Popular Girl
This song is the quintessential Teen Witch song. It is the epitome of bubblegum, but play this when you’re having a rough day and tell me it doesn’t get you back on your feet.

Unfortunately, some fool decided to NOT release an original soundtrack to this film. But here is a super cut of “I Like Boys,” “Top That,” “Popular Girl,” and “My Finest Hour.” So go ahead. Have yourself a little Teen Witch dance party