A Deadly Adoption (2015) / Thriller-Drama (or, Comedy?)
MPAA Rated: Not rated but probably PG-13 for violence, sensuality, and some mild lamguage
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Lowndes, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Bryan Safi, Jake Weary
Director: Rachel Goldenberg
Screenplay: Andrew Steele
Review published June 22, 2015
The best laugh you'll get about this Lifetime Original Movie starring comedic actors Will Ferrell (Get Hard, The LEGO Movie) and Kristen Wiig (Welcome to Me, How to Train Your Dragon 2) is that it even exists. Outside of that, it's one of those so-bad-it's-nearly-good endeavors not unlike the real made-for-Lifetime movies you'd see on the channel nearly any night of the week. I suppose that's the point, as Ferrell, who produced the film with longtime partner Adam McKay for Gary Sanchez productions, probably finds the genre pretty hilarious, enough to commit to playing his role completely straight faced, much as he did with his take on Mexican melodramas in Casa de Mi Padre or his send-up of TV mini-series of the Seventies and Eighties in "The Spoils of Babylon" and the upcoming "The Spoils Before Dying" (which also had been written by Andrew Steele (The Ladies Man) and had starred Wiig), where the gag lines come if you laugh at the sheer absurdity of the dialogue and plot. Whether you can laugh with it or at it isn't the point, so long as you laugh.
Ferrell and Wiig, financial book author Robert and organic goods seller Sarah, play a married couple who are still licking their wounds years after Sarah while pregnant with their only child due to a calamitous accident on the dock of the lake just outside their property. After Sarah is revealed to be unable to bear any more children, the couple decide to the adoption agency route, eventually bringing into their home single-and-unready twenty-something mom-to-be Bridgette (Lowndes, "90210") , six months pregnant and willing to give them an addition to their family. However, Bridgette has some ulterior motives, including a fatal attraction to Robert, whose ability to be close to Sarah has been wavering since the accident.
There's more to the plotline than that, but given that the main enjoyment of watching A Deadly Adoption is in how ridiculous the plotline gets, I'll let you have the few moments of temporary joy in discovering these twists for yourself. Outside of this, A Deadly Adoption is a ninety-minute joke that goes on eighty-five minutes too long past its comedic value, merely existing to point out the ridiculousness of Lifetime Original Movies by being one that is an ever-so-slightly poker-faced send-up of one. There are tells, but they are subtle, such as Sarah's assertion, said without even a trace of a wink, that her cookies taste so good that, "You'd never know they were organic," as if eating food with real ingredients should taste as good as those made with pesticides and hormones. Wiig can sell seriousness even in a ridiculous role, which makes the blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment funny if you're thinking about it. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell can't be taken seriously at all in this film, no matter how straight he plays it, which causes plenty of confusion on how to take the film.
Just chalk up A Deadly Adoption as a failed experiment that solely exists for fans of Ferrell and Wiig who are curious, and, of course, Lifetime Movie regulars who may not mind a film that both embraces and finds humor in the trashy domestic thrillers they feast on that they too see as entertaining for their luridness. However, the joke will likely fly over the heads of most audiences tuning in for the film's stars , who may grow restless that the film is a subtle mockery of a genre instead of an out-and-out farce, and will likely find themselves growing increasingly uncertain as to the film's intent, or the reason why they expended so much time on making it. The old adage, "If you have to explain the joke, perhaps it wasn't funny" comes immediately to mind here. Whether it's making fun of trash TV or is merely another example of it is often hard to distinguish, but regardless of how it's taken, you'll be hard pressed to find many other men who'll find this trash something to truly treasure.
©2015 Vince Leo