Monday, November 30, 2015

Mommy Dearest

Ah, Amazon Prime and your recommendations for me. A 1994 made-for-TV thriller about a psychotic woman who tracks down the adult daughter she gave up for adoption and infiltrates her family, Hand That Rocks the Cradle style? BE STILL MY HEART.

Quick Plot: Susan is happily married with a baby and stepson, as well as a live-in nanny who's totally hip to the raving fashion trends of the early '90s. One day, she receives a call from a private investigator telling her that her birth mother is looking to reconnect. Because it's only 1994 and the term "Lifetime Movie" didn't quite have the same meaning, poor Susan goes for it.

At first, everything is all warm cups of tea, museum trips, and floral patterned business suit joy. Edie (Diane Ladd), Susan's birth mother, seems truly sweet and caring. 

Thank goodness there's a super duper heavyhanded musical score in place to tell us the truth.

It doesn't take long for Edie to hitch a ferry ride back to Susan's isolated island home and have gloriously awkward dinner with the adoptive parents who sense what the piano/flute duet has already banged us over the head with. Count down from 20 to when Susan's mother mentions being diabetic to Edie calling in a perilous prescription of insulin and casually injecting it into her rival's daily supply. 

Yes folks, this is THAT kind of movie. 

A great one.

The kind of movie that has the friendly nanny comment to Edie that the baby is shy around strangers, only for the soundtrack to crescendo with the force of Bette Davis chugging Coca Cola and smashing the cans on Joan Crawford’s head as the camera cuts to a sharp closeup of the spurned grandmother. Naturally, said nanny is buried in the backyard two scenes later. 

Susan’s husband Martin and stepson Dylan are reasonably suspicious, though it takes them a little too long to put two and two (dead people) together. It’s really not until Edie mounts one of the weirdest attempts at son-in-law seduction that Martin walks out. It takes a strong man to resist a middle-aged woman draping her cozy bathrobe over her shoulders as she shaves her inner thigh without cream.

Edie is a delight, and I don’t just say that because her recipe for martinis is simply a huge pour of gin with an olive dropped in the glass. The way she vacillates between loving mother and insane murderess is the kind of high camp only television movies can nail. Toss in an incredible dummy death and you’ve got yourself a winner. 

High Points
I get that Diane Ladd earns her top billing as unhinged Edie, but the real star of Hush Little Baby is the incredibly aggressive instrumental soundtrack. A glorious thing to behold, that there is
Low Points
Considering this movie gave me everything it promised in 90 minutes, I have nothing to say here

Lessons Learned
Food is primarily designed to go in the mouth

There's just never a right time to tell your daughter that her mother isn't dead

Oatmeal cookies are the perfect high fiber breakfast

Sharing a drag with your newfound step-grandmother is a much better idea in theory than execution

Along with dozens of other cheddary confections of the early ‘90s television movie boom, Hush Little Baby is currently streaming on Amazon Prime in full fuzzy glory. Those with access and a softness for well-aged cheese will have a fine fine time. 

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