Monday, September 2, 2019

Oh What a Beautiful Morning Talk Show

I have a theory about the filming of Lifetime/Hallmark movies that makes watching crowd scenes excessively entertaining: as these are made as cheaply and quickly as possible, I firmly believe that no minute of usable footage is wasted. Hence, when you see your handsome leads sitting in a diner discussing the meaning of Christmas, note the couple in the booth behind them, who are most likely in the middle of filming their own Stalked By My (Fill In the Occupational Blank) drama.

This comes into play in true glory in Staged Killer, wherein halfway through, we enter a bustling hospital in a one-shot scene of frantic life-saving activity that feels ripped out of a failed ER reboot. 

It is a thing of glory, true of most of Christopher Olen Ray (clearly the son of Fred)'s Staged Killer. Note that my definition of the word "glory" means something very different from Webster when dealing with Lifetime-esque dramas. 

Quick Plot: In the world's fastest prologue, pretty and perky Naomi hosts a late night college show called Campus Cool with her platonic partner Jake. Things are going well enough until their interview subject, the school's star quarterback, makes the moves on Naomi. His ex-girlfriend Lana makes a scene, and a minute later, the jock we hardly knew is stabbed to death.

Cut to an ominous "ten years later" card as Naomi is now a mini-Kelly Rippa, hosting a morning show with Jerry O'Connell's brother. Who should arrange a chance meeting at her favorite coffee spot but Jake, now grown into a creepy former Florida news host who puts on his best Patrick Bateman to worm his way back into Naomi's partnership.

First up is Jerry O'Connell's brother, whose ominous heart problem makes him easy prey for a poison-protein-shake-packing Jake. Since live morning shows can't dare be interrupted, Jake fills in for the now dead Jerry O'Connell's brother. Audiences eat it up, and a hit is born.

Next on the list is Naomi's dumb architect husband Trent. After googling "rape date drugs" as you do when you're a criminal mastermind, Jake spikes Trent's half a beer and sends him on his way to crash into a traffic pole. Scarlett, Naomi's best friend and executive producer, grows suspicious but because nobody in Staged Killer has a triple digit IQ, she too ends up dead, drowned in her own bathtub and framed by an empty bottle of fruit juice/wine.

Seriously, it can't be THAT hard to fake merlot onscreen.

Staged Killer is everything you want in a perfectly timed 90 minute TV thriller: pretty people whose decades of expensive hair and facial products have rotted their brains so that their actions grow progressively stupider with every passing frame. You will marvel at just how easy it is to poison hospital pudding cups and create a media empire with simple social media tactics. Everything is guffawable in the best of ways.

High Points
Perhaps there's something to tension buildup, but I can appreciate a movie that wastes no time in introducing a character only to have him immediately poison Jerry O'Connell's brother's protein shake

Low Points
For a movie that has so much fun with its villain's mastery of his audience profile, the ending feels a tad rushed and unsatisfying

Lessons Learned
Morning television is a copycat medium

When questioning an old acquaintance about brutal murder, it's best to do so over a glass of champagne

Dream boards are inspirational, especially when you fill them with a dozen pictures that were taken on that one day you filmed a scene

The Winning Line(s)
This is Olympian levels of dialogue and thusly must I count down podium style:

The Bronze
"We're already trending on Chatter!"
Few things make me happier than movies that make up their own social media services. Just TRY to say that one with a straight face. That actress should have won an Oscar. Instead, she just got fruit punch

The Silver
"I'm on my way to the glam squad. It's been a really long day"
Context required: our heroine says this right before heading to hair and makeup to film her morning show, which, you know, films live in the morning which means she's been awake for all of two hours

The Gold
"Wow! I've never met a successful architect before!"
Pity the man who's lived his whole life without really, you know, living. Also, you're in a Lifetime(ish) movie! There's ALWAYS a successful architect!

Look, Staged Killer is a pretty stupid movie about very stupid pretty people. If that's what you want on a bright summer day, you really can't do much better. Pour yourself a nice big glass of fruit drink and enjoy!

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