Thank you, Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, for A Deadly Adoption, the “Sabotage” video of Lifetime movies. Ever since the duo had announced they were doing this, it’s been clear they set out to make a real Lifetime movie, not a parody. So A Deadly Adoption is a glorious two-hour love letter to the network’s flicks and those of us who live for them. Every mega-cheese trope is here, from the opening credits (an aerial shot of a lake house!) to the final words, “Inspired by a true story.” So many lines that are in every Lifetime movie (“Let this be our little secret” or “How could you do this to our family?”) as well as lines that are merely in half of them (“I’m your new mommy!”) and lines that as far as I know are only in this one: “You know the dangers of diabetic ketoacidosis!”
The Deadly Adoption premiere was enhanced hugely by the movie that was on right before it: I Killed My BFF, based on Lifetime’s long-running reality series, starring Katrina Bowden (Cerie from 30 Rock!) as the killer. If you blinked, you couldn’t spot where one movie ended and the next began. Even if it’s made by comedians (it was written by The Spoils of Babylon‘s Andrew Steele), A Deadly Adoption looks and feels like the real thing — which is the whole point. You need several thousand hours of Dying To Belong or Deadly Vows or The Babysitter’s Seduction under your belt just to get it.
Ferrell and Wiig play it totally straight as Robert and Sarah, a nice couple in the brilliantly named town of Storm Lake. He’s a best-selling author about personal finance (Debt: Not Just a Four-Letter Word) while she sells her organic gluten-free pumpkin muffins. With their daughter Sully, they look like the perfect family — except they’re haunted by a lingering Trauma that Drives Them Apart. (It involves a Slow-Motion Moment Where Everything Changed — in this case, Sarah’s tragic tumble off the dock.) He has a Dark Secret he’s not telling her, as well as a bottle of bourbon stashed in his desk.
As they prepare to adopt a baby, they invite the pregnant girl to move in with them — Jessica Lowndes, the sultry Megan Fox look-alike from the reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210. Their new houseguest, Bridgette from Idaho Falls, seems like a real sweetheart. Gosh, hope she isn’t a seductive homicidal teen psycho or anything! Before you know it, everything’s gone wrong — sex, drugs, guns, kidnapping — until Wiig is screeching, “My baby’s out there without her medicine with a crazy woman! How could you do this to our family?”
How, indeed. It’s a beautiful thing. Here are just 10 of the most Lifetime-worthy moments in A Deadly Adoption.
1. Oh, the Foreshadowing
Robert: “Nothing’s gonna pull me away from my family.” Sarah: “I think we’re going to be very happy.” What could go wrong?
2. Meet the Psycho!
Bridgette walks into their gorgeous home with wide-eyed awe — hey, a girl could get used to this! It’s the ultimate Lifetime-movie house: sunflowers in vases, wooden floors, sunny windows, marble kitchen. When she requests ice cream, Sarah flinches. “Just to warn you, I’m one of those organic food people. What can I say?” But uh-oh: Daddy’s got a sweet tooth. And just to make sure you know this girl is trouble, Bridgette takes a magazine cover photo of Robert and Sarah, rips Sarah out of it and murmurs, “Oh, Robert. What a mess.”
3. The Sunblock Seduction
Bridgette pops into Robert’s office to say, “I was going to sit out in the patio in the sun and I was wondering if you had any sunblock,” which is Lifetime-speak for “imminent semi-nudity alert.” Asking the man of the house for sunblock is the Lifetime-seductress equivalent of breaking up a perfect game by ducking your elbow into the pitch — it’s a cheap bush-league ploy, but it gets the job done.
Cue the slow-motion pan over Bridgette’s sunbathing body, as well as the moment where she suddenly opens her eyes and catches Robert gaping at her. Also cue the flirtatious banter. “The life of a writer, wow. It must get hard, Robert.”
4. The Gratuitous Shower Scene
There are two kinds of Lifetime showers: the Trauma Shower (when something bad has happened and you need a long, hot, psychically cleansing shower, which means sobbing while you lean your forehead against the soapy tiles) and the Perv Shower (when you’re getting spied on by the man of the house, or — in this case — the innocent little daughter). This was a quintessential Perv Shower.
5. The Stunning Plot Twist That Makes No Sense at All
When Robert sneaks into the girl’s room to fondle her negligee, as you do, he discovers her copy of his book. Aaaaw! He flips through it. Look at all the highlighting. She must be a real intelligent young la. . . — hey, wait a second. It’s autographed to “Joni.” Not that Joni? Could it be the same Joni? The one he had the sleazy drunken motel one-night-stand with on his wild and crazy book tour? Ah, yes, it probably could.
6. The Child! My God, Who’s Watching the Child?
Because no Lifetime movie is complete without an innocent child in danger, there’s a hilarious scene where Bridgette helps the daughter onto her new pink bike — and pushes her right into traffic. Whew, that was close. Let’s keep this our little secret!
7. Nice Knowing You, Gay Best Friend
Sarah’s gay sidekick from the organic-baking business suspects the new girl isn’t what she claims to be. What are the odds he survives to the end of the movie?
8. Jessica Lowndes’ Emmy Clip
Best line in the movie: Bridgette tearfully screams at Robert, “Please don’t make me shoot you again!”
9. The Thrilling Climax That Makes Even Less Sense Than the Rest of the Movie
Bridgette reveals her true identity as the groupie who banged Robert, got pregnant, lost the baby, schemed her way back into his life by adopting a new identity and faked her pregnancy. She changes into the regulation Lifetime-psycho uniform: neon-blue miniskirt, stilettos, gobs of mascara, blonde hair extensions she apparently just totes around in her luggage to emphasize plot twists. She pulls a gun on Kristen and snarls, “Your stupid fruit stand with your organic vegetables!” Okay, she could have just shot Kristen and gotten away fast, but it would be bad manners for a Lifetime psycho not to give the big plot-exposition speech first.
10. Six Months Later. . .
Well, of course it ends with a “Six Months Later” scene — the family is reunited, happily dancing in the kitchen. Will Ferrell has learned something. And Kristen Wiig has learned something. We’ve all learned something. You’re the best, A Deadly Adoption. Please don’t make me shoot you again.