Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig starred in a Lifetime movie, and it's called "A Deadly Adoption."
"What a hilarious premise for a hilarious comedy!" you're probably thinking, trusting deeply the comedic masterminds behind Anchorman and Bridesmaids. "Maybe he'll have Nick Kroll play Will's long lost brother, or something."
Oh no. You don't understand. They made a Lifetime movie. Like an actual Lifetime movie on Lifetime funded by Lifetime. Aside from the presence of Will Ferrell (with a REMARKABLE dyed beard situation) and Kristen Wiig, this movie would be indistinguishable from a serious* Lifetime film.
Turns out, their mere presence in this context is enough to make one of the funniest movies I've seen in a while.
SPOILERS AHEAD: DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU IMMEDIATELY OPENED A NEW TAB TO FIND THIS MOVIE ONLINE LIKE I DID (just do a classic watch+online+free Google search and you'll have your pick of Russian websites from which to stream)
I would normally do my commentary on a piece of media in a plot recap from start to finish, and I'm going to try. But here's the thing about batshit crazy movies: time gets a little whoozy. At one point, we even noticed that Will Ferrell's character Robert's computer clearly shows "11:24AM" at the top of the screen when it was "night" outside. It also had the name "Emily Miller" displayed at the top, which is not a character and in all likelihood is a crew member.
So let's just get the ball rolling and see what comes out of my head/heart.
The movie starts with Robert (Ferrell), who is a big-time author, lounging in his backyard with some extras. His wife, Kristen Wiig (I don't remember her character's name.) is super preggers with what is their second child. One thing leads to another and the deck collapses under Kristen. She hits her head and falls into the water.
We then see her in the hospital. She's alive, but it's as we suspected. She lost the baby.
Then some things happen and time jumps forward and suddenly Kristen Wiig is running a stand at a farmer's market that has a big sign that says "100% Organic" or something. She's happy! She jokes around with her insultingly one-dimensional Gay Friend. She's tryna keep things light.
Meanwhile Robert is doing a lot of brooding. You see, their first child has diabetic ketoacidosis and he is TERRIFIED that she's going to die. Ever since the dock collapsed, he's afraid of what's around the corner. At one point, he actually yells "YOU KNOW THE DANGERS OF DIABETIC KETOACIDOSIS!" at Kristen in an impressive show of (over)acting skillz.
Kristen Wiig is trying to make the best of things. However, when one day an Adoption Lady shows up with a candidate for a birth mother, you can tell that she's cautiously thrilled. Robert has rejected every single person they interviewed so far. But the difference with this one is that she's read one of his books and is INSANELY hot, if somewhat dead in the eyes.
She claims that she's been living in a town called Idaho Falls (yup) and now is living in a shelter. From my seat on the couch, I called bullshit. She's got a full face of makeup, and (we will soon learn) a wardrobe full of very current, well-fitting maternity dresses.
Robert and Kristen, of course, take her in immediately and plan to adopt her baby.
Once she moves in, there are a couple of scenes where they try to insinuate sexual tension between the birth mother, Bridgette, and Robert. It felt uncomfortable, like when your friend in middle school thought someone else's super old dad was hot. There's a great moment in the closet where they just kind of turn in place looking for something in a room that barely fits both of them and I have never been less turned on in my life.
She starts kickin it with their existing kid, a little girl who was named "Sully" for her parents' love of both Monsters, Inc. and airplane crashes. Sully's recitative delivery of her lines actually played well with the stilted hot-girl murmurs escaping from Bridgette's face. #acting.
Despite being 7 and probably old enough to know that doing this is weird, Sully walks in on her in the bathroom one day and sees that, GASP, Bridgette isn't really pregnant and is just wearing a big ole fake baby bump. They agree to make it their little secret.
Ok so then some more things happen, and the viewer starts to get a picture of Bridgette being super shady behind Robert and Kristen's backs. A guy shows up to find her who has Tattoos and Shaggy Hair and is clearly Bad News. He was ALSO hot, in a Jackson-esque sort of way (Joshua)
OH I forgot ok so Robert has been sober for six months, because before that, when he was on his last book tour, apparently things got out of hand every night. This was new for me because I always assumed book tours were a little less The Clash and a little more sweatervest. But Robert went hard. Too hard. Now he's on the wagon... but not without his temptations.
Now we've reached the point where Bridgette disappears and take Robert and Kristen's kid with her. Robert is beside himself, yelling at a very cool and collected local police officer who says things like "Sir, we're getting to the bottom of this." while sitting on Robert's couch drinking Robert's coffee and not doing a goddamn thing besides delivering his lines with gravitas.
Then there's some cutting back and forth between Robert and Kristen, and Sully and Bridgette (and Pacey). Ostensibly they're trying to blackmail the parents, which makes sense because Robert and Mrs. Robert are rich. The otherwise unsatisfying exposition at the beginning of the film did make that point clear.
Confoundingly, Bonnie and Clyde and Sully don't go very far away. Bridgette actually says the line "They'll never look for us on the other side of the lake." I mean to be fair, the sheriff is still on the couch.
Robert and Kristen are continuing to freak. Because you see, Sully needs her insulin. Which to be fair is a legit scary thing so I'll allow it.
Yada yada yada, Joshua Jackson ends up shooting Kristen's friend who goes looking for Sully and follows them to their hideout cabin. Our first casualty. You start to figure out that HER plan was to steal Sully forever and I guess kill Kristen Wiig so she could be with Robert, you know, as a family. But I'm not sure why she had to steal Sully to make that happen. Maybe to keep up the pretense for Pacey? Meh. Surprise: aspects of the plot don't really add up.
TURNS OUT: Six months earlier, Robert had gone on a bender after an urban Barnes and Noble appearance, which is basically a stadium show, and blacked out. Suddenly, while freaking out about his present-day kidnapped daughter, he remembers flashes of what happened. Turns out, he had slept with Bridgette, real name Joanie, out on the road and she had turned out to be insane. It all adds up! Kinda!
Joanie goes to rent a boat from a grizzled old man to return to the other side of the lake and kill Kristen and hook up with Robert.
Joanie pops up in the garage and gets into an altercation with Kristen. There's an amazing part of the scene where Joanie kind of lamely pokes Kristen's face with a gun for a WHILE while she delivers a monologue. They tussle, she chokes Kristen until she passes out. Then she puts Kristen back in the car, in the garage, and turns it on, leaving her to asphyxiate. Point Joanie.
Then she goes inside to confront Robert, who is inexplicably wearing a hoodie. So she shoots him. Not because of the hoodie, though it was really bad, but because Robert doesn't want to run away with her. After he gets shot, she assumes he's dead then runs back to the cabin to grab Sully and make a run for it (after also shooting Pacey. She's really big on the gun.)
Robert, lying face down after being shot, lifts his head. There is the funniest sound design I've ever heard for the blood dropping from his wounded arm. It's like someone peeing on a tin roof. He finds Kristen in the garage and revives her, by yelling BREATHE at her.
Empowered, HE now gets in a boat and speeds across the lake, face stoic and chest puffed like Washington crossing the Delaware. He lands on the other side, crawls up the embankment, and stands in the middle of the bridge over the lake, waiting for Joanie and Sully in a car to drive directly at him. I don't know how he knew to be there. Movie magic.
Finally, Sully and Crazy get out of the car for a final standoff with Robert. Quick thinkers, Sully and Robert jump into the water to avoid being shot. And right when you think Joanie is going to pick them off, the viewer hears one final gunshot as Kristen Wiig shoots Joanie in the back.
Then, as the end credits rolled, we sat in silence, trying to wrap our brains what we had just watched.
I give it a solid 9/10, in what is admittedly stark contrast to Rotten Tomatoes' 20%, but I stand by it. I'm mostly docking the full point because I felt that using the word Adoption in the title was misleading. There was barely anything about adoption. They don't even inquire about Bridgette's medical history.
Luckily, they over-delivered on the "Deadly".