Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
A Deadly Adoption

Title: A Deadly Adoption

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "Everything has a Pat Boone-ish Quality."

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three ABC After School Special logos out of five:

Brief Plot Synopsis:
Grieving couple welcome mother of baby they're adopting in to their home, with Lifetime results.

Tagline: "The birth of a plan gone wrong."

Better Tagline: "Lifetime finds its Sharknado."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Robert (Will Ferrell) and Sarah (Kristen Wiig) live in Storm Lake with their daughter Sully (Alyvia Alyn Lind). They are, however, haunted by an Incident From Their Past; namely Sarah's miscarriage after falling off their dock (that railing was rotten and you knew it, Robert!). Hope arrives in the form of Bridgette (Jessica Lowndes), a sweet girl who has agreed to let Robert and Sarah adopt her unborn child. Unfortunately, Bridgette isn't really Bridgette, and she shares a Hidden Past with Robert that threatens to tear the family apart(TM).

"Critical" Analysis: Yes, I'm reviewing a Lifetime Movie this week. You'll have to seek your Ted 2 write-ups elsewhere.

I'll say this about A Deadly Adoption, it's exactly what it aspires to be. Which is to say, an overly melodramatic (occasionally to the point of absurdity) potboiler in the vein of My Step-Son, My Lover or Co-Ed Call Girl or basically any movie that's ever aired on the network. This is important because if you're watching ADA expecting something from Ferrell or Wiig on the level of Anchorman or Bridesmaids, you're going to be sorely disappointed.

That's not to say there aren't moments that are sublime in their ridiculousness. Several characters, including Robert, make "jokes" about killing Sarah, and Bridgette's attempted seduction of Robert includes the exchange:
"The life of a writer; it must get *hard*, Robert."
“Hard? It does some times." 
She also tears a magazine cover of the couple in half, removing Sarah from the picture in reality if not in spirit.

The thing is, none of this is out of the ordinary for the network that brought you Ted McGinley as an Internet chat room predator in Every Mother's Worst Fear. Ferrell and Wiig play it straight, for the most part, even as they utter lines about like, "You know the dangers of diabetic ketoacidosis!"

Sully's diabetic, you see. A major plot point that is leveraged in the most Lifetime-y way imaginable (when Bridgette and her boyfriend kidnap her). 

I don't think I've ever sat through a Lifetime movie in its entirety, but I've seen enough excerpts to get the joke, and the joke about A Deadly Adoption is: there really isn't one. For all the exaggerated network's tropes (Bridgette dropping and shattering a Benson family photo, among others) and involvement by various Funny or Die personnel (writer Andrew Steele and Bryan Safi, who plays Sarah's doomed friend Charlie, among them), Ferrell and Wiig play things relatively straight. 

Was this a misstep? One could argue no one would blink at A Deadly Adoption absent its two stars, but one could also argue audiences weren't out of line expecting more than a vague sense of "off-ness" that permeates the movie. If you're not one of those masochists who normally endures this sort of thing, you'll be mildly amused. It's worth a look for curiosity's sake, but it's no Hell on Heels: The Battle of Mary Kay.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar