The fuck did I just watch?
No, seriously. The fuck did I just watch?
Watch enough Lifetime and your garden variety insanity washes right over you like a soothing summer rain. It takes something truly bananas to even register. In some ways, this ill-advised project has turned me into a junkie, only instead of that sweet horse, I’m in alleyways sucking dick for another hit of some harried scribe’s night terrors. “C’mon, give me a story about catfishing that’s also about anesthesiologists that go broke playing online poker against stray dogs. You know I’m good for it.” What would a Lifetime junkie even wear? A sensible pantsuit and a stained #ImWithHer t-shirt?
Good god, I’ve got problems.
Well, if something like Driven Underground and Killing Daddy is the kind of H you buy from Eric Stoltz when suddenly the drug deal turns weirdly racist for no reason, then Blue Seduction is pure, uncut, black tar heroin. This is the kind of stuff you only get if you’re a warlord. Or it would be if Lifetime movies were a controlled substance, which at this point I think they kind of should be. No, you can get this thing on TV where anyone can watch it, and fall into the delirious rabbit hole that is Billy Zane’s waning career.
That was mean. Here’s the thing, I kind of love Billy Zane. I know that’s not something that should be a thing outside of his immediate family, and maybe his buddies from way back. But Billy Zane is secretly one of the best things about any bad movie he’s in, which, unfortunately is most of them. There is a movie so bad that I will never review it, because doing so would make me watch it again, the Adam Sandler “comedy” Going Overboard, which is proof positive that Adam Sandler didn’t suddenly get terrible. It’s more like he accidentally made a couple funny movies in the mid-‘90s. In that interminable film, which is only slightly less funny than puppies with terminal cancer, Zane shows up playing Neptune, the god of the sea, and for a moment, this comedy was actually funny.
That shouldn’t be an achievement, but believe me, it was. It was just as surprising if suddenly Mike Huckabee, out of nowhere, dunked on Lebron James. Nothing in his previous public persona prepared you for that, just like nothing in Going Overboard prepared you for the existence of laughter. Zane hilariously underplays the role as the Roman god of the oceans. He’s Neptune, but he’s not going to make a big deal about it. He kind of realizes how ridiculous he looks, too, but he’s cool with it. Zane exudes this aura that not just is he too cool for what’s happening, so too is the audience. He’s inviting us to laugh with him at him. Long story short, that’s why I’ll get arrested for trespassing on the Zane compound.
He lives on a compound, right? He seems like he’d have to. Or like an emu ranch or something.
Zane brings that same sense of conspiratorial fun to his role as aging rock star Mikey Taylor in Blue Seduction. Zane, whose biggest role was a decade behind him when this aired, had to see the queasy irony of casting him as a has-been. He lurches around the movie, looking slightly puffy in his laying around clothes, a wispy wig poking out of the beanie that might well be surgically attached to his head. He’s the kind of guy that gets recognized only when the muzak version of one of his songs is playing in a supermarket.
Mikey Taylor is under contract to write some new songs, but he can’t, because, you know, has-been. He’s a reformed bad boy now, on the wagon for drugs and alcohol, and married to a former fan who now supports him with her realtor business. In a normal Lifetime movie, she’d be the protagonist too, but she’s not. Why? Because this fucking thing is insane, that’s why.
Anyway, his producer brings in a new singer to help out, and it’s Estella Warren, who was briefly famous around the same time Zane was at his zenith (Zane-ith?). I think she’s supposed to be playing about ten years younger than she actually is, too. I mean, who cares. The point is, she’s a brilliant songwriter, and she’s totally willing to give him the songs. Just as long as he sleeps with her a lot, which they both can do fully clothed. I suspect witchcraft of some kind. Honestly, if the twist had been that she was an honest-to-god broomstick-riding witch with dick-permeable underpants, it would be less batshit than what we got.
She also gets him back on booze and drugs too, which lets Zane do some incredible drunk acting. There’s a scene where Matty (Warren’s character) breaks into his house and puts his hands on her breasts, and Zane mutters, “Boobies.” I’m not saying he’s a comedic genius, but I laughed. It’s funnier than his co-star Adam Sandler’s been in a long time.
So Mikey spirals out of control, and Matty starts fucking other people in his group to get her singing career off the ground. She’s also using Mikey’s wife as a realtor. Oh yeah, and Mikey’s mom — whose acting is so bad she looks like she’s reading off cue cards written by a dyslexic — has a stroke for no reason. Look, I don’t know. I’m just repeating what happened.
The story looks like a slightly deranged version of the Lifetime standard — the other woman tries to replace the wife in the heart of a damaged man. And side note, this thing was made in 2009, so it would help with the modern aesthetic a bit. The locations, though are actually lovely, these stark northern wetlands, and Zane’s house has more character than the later ubiquitous McMansions. Just want to shout out some quality when I see it.
Right, so eventually Matty kidnaps the wife and says she’s going to kill her, and Mikey flips out and goes to rescue her. But it turns out Matty is actually a hitman hired by the wife. Why? Why did she spend half the movie getting him back on drugs and fucking her? Why is she a musical genius? Why? Why?
Who the fuck knows? They stab Mikey to death — in the back! — then tell the cops that it was self defense. And the cops buy it because Estella Warren I guess? Well, all three of them are riding back to the hospital in the ambulance, because those are just noisy taxis now, and Mikey comes back to life. That’s the end. This fucking thing ends with zombies. Zane-bies?
Okay, not really, but it would make more sense. If you’re wondering about the twist, thinking I didn’t set it up enough, well, that’s the movie. This looks like it was written by O. Henry after a bad fall. Or else some harried scribe had to turn it in on Monday and couldn’t think of an ending. Or Zane shrugged and made it up. “Fuck you, I’m a zombie now. Zane, out.”
So what did we learn? If your hit song is called “Flash in the Pan,” you might not be around long. When hiring an assassin for your spouse, maybe pick one who doesn’t have a plan that takes months and months. And if possible, get some of those penis-permeable underpants. Those seem efficient.