Sunday, March 19, 2017

Double Mommy (Johnson Production Group, Shadowland, Lifetime, 2017)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2017 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

After Mommy’s Little Boy Lifetime showed another “premiere” (note they’re no longer advertising them as “world premieres”!) called Double Mommy, which like the earlier film is also a follow-up to a previous Lifetime hit, Double Daddy — in which a young man impregnates two women, his regular girlfriend and a rich bitch who drugged him and essentially raped him, on the same night and had to deal with both babies. Double Mommy has at least one creative behind-the-scenes person in common with Double Daddy, screenwriter Barbara Kymlicka (and as I’ve commented on her before I wonder how she can write such sexy scripts and go through life with a name that looks like “cum licker”!). It’s directed by Doug Campbell and one of the credited producers is Ken Sanders, and as you might expect from those credits it takes place at least around, if not definitively in, the “Whittendale universe” — Whittendale University being the college the young high-schoolers in the dramatis personae aspire to attend, though as Charles pointed out when he arrived home midway through the movie, given that most of the films in the Whittendale universe have depicted Whittendale as a place whose women students all seem to be selling their bodies as prostitutes or mistresses to afford the school’s tuition, they’re probably better off not getting in there. Anyway, the leading character who gets doubly pregnant is Jessica “Jess” Bell (Morgan Obenreder), whose boyfriend Ryan (Griffin Freeman) deserted her for the summer to take an internship in Sacramento (the Whittendale universe films have been ambiguous as to just where Whittendale is; early on it seemed to be back East — Vermont, maybe — but later films in the series took place definitively in California and I got the impression that “Whittendale” really means Stanford) and left her with the attentions of Brent Davick (Mark Grossman), the hottest guy in the movie and therefore, according to Lifetime’s usual iconography, its principal villain. Brent has befriended Jess and hung out with her throughout the summer, but being a teenage male (and especially a teenage male on Lifetime!) he wants more than that, and when he makes an advance towards her and she says no, he’s grimly determined to have his way with her whether she wants to or not. So he offers her a cola which he’s spiked with a date-rape drug — since Brent’s dad is the CEO of a pharmaceutical company he had no trouble obtaining it — and he parks his SUV in front of some stadium lights on campus and tells her, “No one ever says no to me,” before he has his wicked way with her and she passes out completely. Next thing she knows she’s in her bed at home, only her pants are undone and her leg has a bruise on it. She washes herself and hears someone at her door — and of course it’s Ryan, back from his Sacramento internship and ready to resume their relationship, particularly its sexual component, then and there. She ends up this bizarre day in her life carrying twins, one male and one female, and two and one-half months later — the earliest you can have this done — she has DNA drawn from her fetuses and learns that they have different fathers: one of the babies is Ryan’s but the other is … well, we know it’s Brent, and the Bells manage to get the police to order him to submit to a DNA test that proves it.

But Brent is able to weasel out of the rape charge against him by claiming that Jess had consensual sex with him and intimidating virtually all of the students who were at the party into saying that Jess was “all over” him and clearly was hot for him. When one Black student who plays with Ryan and Brent on the Lexington school’s soccer team threatens to report to the police that he actually saw Brent spike the drink he gave Jess, Brent turns over the task of discrediting him to his dad, whose investigators dig up a DUI conviction the Black kid got and threaten to disclose that to Whittendale and any other college he might apply to — so the Black boy gets the message and lies to protect Brent. In a movie from an earlier era the Davick parents’ cover-up of their son’s misdeeds (plural because, as it turns out, Jess isn’t the first woman he’s drugged and raped) would work — daddy Davick even offers Jess’s parents a check for $500,000 in exchange for their and Jess’s permanent silence, which Jess’s dad is tempted by but her mom tears up — but they haven’t reckoned with social media. Getting revenge on Brent for having sent out a succession of tweets with attached photos of the two of them together that made it look like she wanted his body, Jess sends out tweets of her own denouncing Brent as a rapist and then puts up a big banner at school, across the lockers, with the same message. Brent and his dad respond by suing her for defamation, potentially burying her family in legal costs that will ruin them completely, and Jess agrees to back off — but Ryan points out that he and her school friends can still go after Brent since they’re not being sued. So Ryan, whose animus towards Brent got him kicked off the Lexington soccer team (ya remember the Lexington soccer team?)  hatches a plot: at the team’s biggest game of the season Ryan and Jess’s other friends will all unfurl banners and signs denouncing team member #18 — Brent — as a rapist. Jess doesn’t dare attend the game but she watches the demonstration from an opening that allows her to see the stands, and later when the participants tweet the photos of it, they get a “like” from Emily, Brent’s previous victim, whose parents took the Davicks’ payoff and used it to send her to Whittendale. Jess calls Emily and arranges to meet her, but before the meeting can happen Brent tracks her down and runs her car off the road with her own, killing her in what the cops write off as an accident.

Though he still doesn’t realize that his son has become a murderer, daddy Davick gets called in by the board members of his pharmaceutical company — which was founded by his own father and which he was grooming Brent to take over — and told to resign because now that it’s associated with date rape, the Davick name is dragging the company’s stock price down. Daddy Davick responds by disinheriting Brent, and Brent mutters something about “I’m going to do what I should have done all along,” which both his dad and we realize means that he’s going to go to Jess’s house with his daddy’s gun and shoot her. Dad himself shows up there to stop him and ends up taking the bullet himself, and there’s an epilogue set “two months later” in which Jess has had her babies — daughter Charlotte, who’s Ryan’s; and son Charlie, who’s Brent. Jess, her parents and Ryan are all cooperating in raising the kids, and it looks like we’re heading for happily-ever-after territory when in comes Candice Davick (Mandy June Turpio), Brent’s mom, who protests that with her husband dead and her son facing prison for most of the rest of his life, her grandson is all she has left. She asks to be allowed to hold the boy, and when she does so she mutters to him in sinister tones, “You’re a Davick, and don’t ever forget that” — no doubt Barbara Kymlicka’s way of setting up a possible sequel in which she’ll sue the Bells for custody and put them through hell trying to get the boy. At times Double Mommy plays as if Kymlicka was aware her movie was going to be shown right after one of Christine Conradt’s and she wanted to make sure she could write something even more insanely melodramatic than the Old Mistress — though she lacks Conradt’s skill (or inclination) in creating complex and morally ambiguous characters. Instead Double Mommy comes off as a work created more to exploit a provocative title (it worked the first time; my post on Double Daddy got more hits than anything else I’ve written in the nearly nine years I’ve been doing this blog) than to tell us anything new (or even not so new) about the human condition, and though I liked the social commentary about how the 1 percent think they can get away with anything and their money can always buy their way out of disastrous or downright evil actions for which the rest of us would pay big-time, other Lifetime movies (can you say Restless Virgins?) have done this considerably better.