Posts Tagged Lifetime movie

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B movie review


Aaliyah, the young, determined teen with a magnetic style and powerhouse vocals rose to fame quickly at 15 with her multi-platinum album Age Aint Nothing But a Number. It sold 3 million copies. The niece of Gladys Knight [Elise Neal], her uncle Barry Hankerson [Lyriq Bent] worked at Jive Records and started his own label Blackground Records. Aaliyah had connections but also talent or she wouldn’t have sold millions of albums. She dated and married R. Kelly who produced her first album. He was nearly twice her age at the time. She insisted on developing her own style which was a crop top, baggie low-ride pants and a thick headband. Very Gwen Stefani. Later she dated Damon Dash [Anthony Grant], eight years older than her but at that time Aaliyah was 21. She died in a plane crash while filming a video in the Bahamas at age 22. Lifetime’s Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B skims over everything. There’s no depth and not much to care about.


The R. Kelly [Cle Bennett]/ Aaliyah romance races past. One minute they’re in the studio, the next minute they’re married. Kudos to the production team for showing her parents horrified reaction to the union. Her father says: “I can’t understand that a grown man would be with a young girl. It’s statutory rape.” Her father forbids them any further personal or professional connection or he’ll have R. Kelly arrested. I wonder how many other young woman would’ve been saved from R. Kelly’s predatory actions if that had happened 20 years ago. Someone as driven and confident as Aaliyah certainly possessed qualities making her seem older than her 15 years but there’s no excuse for R. Kelly’s actions. She was still 15. This knocks Aaliyah into a funk for a while. But then for her second album Aaliyah insists on working with producers Timbaland [Izaak Smith] and Missy Eliot [Chattrisse Dolabelle]. Then unknowns. “It’s my career. It’s my album and I think it should be my decision,” Aaliyah stresses when her label balks at this request.

Alexandra Shipp turns out a vibrant, heartfelt performance as Aaliyah. She sinks into the role. It’s a treat to watch the potential. Everything falls flat outside her believable and invested portrayal. My top complaint is a typical one for Lifetime movies: it’s written and directed by men. A biopic about a young woman always turns out better with a female screenwriter and female director.

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B premieres Saturday, November 15 on Lifetime.

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Lifetime TV movie review: Taken: The Search for Sophie Parker

18-year-old Sophie [Naomi Battrick] travels to Moscow for spring break with her friend Janie [Jemma Dallender] whose father is the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Although her mother, NYPD detective Stevie [Julie Benz], worries about her a bit she knows that she’s staying at the embassy and should be safe. She tells her partner Jimmy Devlin [Jeffrey Meek]: “She’s grown up so fast. Now she’s wearing make-up and mini-skirts. I still have her Malibu Barbie Dream House . . . Seriously Devlin. What was I thinking sending my teenage daughter to spring break in Moscow?” Devlin reminds her: “It’s Janie’s dad they’re staying with. The point is it’s the U.S. Embassy they’re staying in. They have armed guards around the perimeter.”

Stevie and Devlin aren’t getting along so well at work. Devlin’s frustrated because he loves Stevie and wants more than the occasional hook-up and working together. He’s putting in for a transfer and tells her she needs to let go of the past, particularly her dead husband. Julie Benz plays emotionally damaged characters really well. I like this one better than her Dexter character because she’s a bit more independent and not as much of a doormat. Clearly Stevie’s got self-esteem issues and trust issues with men.


In Moscow after several days sightseeing, Sophie and Janie are restless to see a different side of the city. They meet a cute boy at a museum who gives them a card and his cell number and tells them he’s a concert promoter. “SMS me,” he says. That night the girls sneak out of the Embassy, head to the club where Bobby [Matvey Borushko] takes a picture of them and gets told by a shady dude working as the bartender that they’d garner twice the amount of money because they’re 18 and American.


He brings them shots and Janie drinks both of them without questioning the contents. Turns out they’re spiked and soon she’s almost passed out and tells Sophie she doesn’t feel well. Sophie helps her out of the club where some men surround them and put them into a van (later discovered have Russian mafia ties). Really liked that Sophie’s been well-trained as both a New York kid and the daughter of a police officer. When the men start to take her she dials her mom’s number and leaves the cell on while she uses self-defense methods to try to ward off the attackers as best she can. She also calls out the name “Bobby.” As soon as her mom gets that call, she’s in police detective and super mom mode– off to save her daughter in Russia.

Bobby, the young guy who befriended the girls, is handsome, charming so not someone who’d raise any red flags. It’s so important that young women see that anyone could abduct them. It’s not always some creepy, looking loner type. It could be someone they’d want to date. They both think he’s cute. They would never think he’d try to hurt them and that’s often how young women get into dangerous situations at nightclubs or fraternity parties etc. Well done on that casting Lifetime. A pretty face can be the face of evil. What scared me was that he took their picture and then went to consult with a guy at the bar and they said that they could get double the price because they were American and 18. Just chilling that people market people’s lives. That they buy and sell people without a second thought.


Sophie’s mom gets on the next plane to Moscow and starts searching for her daughter knowing — as with most missing persons cases–that she only has about 48 hours. CIA agent [Amy Bailey] assigned to the Embassy helps Sophie and quickly matters become dangerous as they involve both the Russian mafia and possibly the police. The movie goes off the rails when the CIA agent and Stevie started talking about the men they cared about but didn’t have much time for due to their careers. Not leaning in apparently. The CIA agent mentioned her Navy Seal’s last name and that it was almost a deal breaker. Really? You realize you don’t have to change your name. And then she asked Stevie about her guy and his last name and said it was a good last name for her name. Oh, Lifetime, you’ve come so far and yet still have so far to go toward the advancement of women and women’s empowerment and women’s equality. I guess what do I expect when popular shows include Devious Maids and Dance Moms?

This is a fast-paced, effective movie about the dangers involved with young women traveling abroad in Eastern Europe and Asia where sex trafficking’s become a massive money making industry where people’s lives are the commodities. People’s lives are ruined. People are treated as property. It’s scary and disgusting.

The U.S. State Department estimates that 27 million people are victims of human trafficking, many forced into sexual slavery and many never heard from again.

Taken: The Search for Sophie Parker airs on Lifetime, Saturday September 21 at 8pm ET/PT

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Lifetime TV movie review: Sundays at Tiffany’s

Every Sunday, Jane Claremont [Alyssa Milano] would go to Tiffany’s with her oblivious, self-centered mother Vivian [Stockard Channing]. She would always bring along her imaginary friend Michael. Based on the best-selling novel by James Patterson, Sundays at Tiffany’s presents a sweet fable about a precocious girl who outgrows her imagination.. But has she truly forgotten that inner-child? Now Jane appears to be engaged to a vapid actor [Ivan Sergei] who’s using the marriage to advance his theatrical career.

Jane and her mom run a highly successful theater. Instead of pursuing her dream of writing, Jane stepped into the family business. On the surface of course, her life seems enviable as she’s dating a sought after star, appears on Page Six and lives in a fabulous apartment. One day, seemingly out of nowhere, a grown-up Michael appears to assist Jane in deciding if this marriage is truly what will make her happy. They spend time planning Jane’s wedding, talking until all hours of the morning and playing in the snow and around the city. Sure the story is a bit hokey. Just suspend reality here and it’s cutesy. Without Milano, Sundays at Tiffany’s would fail. She articulates her character’s doubts through quirky tics and physical humor. Sundays at Tiffany’s proves to be quite delightful.

Premieres Monday, December 6, 2010 at 9pm ET/PT on Lifetime Movie Network.

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Lifetime TV review: Bond of Silence

Inspired by a true story, Bond of Silence details the quest for truth of Katy McIntosh (Kim Raver). Katy’s athletic husband mysteriously dies when he tries to talk to a neighborhood teenager on New Year’s Eve at an out-of-control house party. In the picturesque and protected community, the teenagers stick together and refuse to disclose any information. Their parents collude to protect their children and prevent Katy from discovering the truth about her husband’s death. Stress and guilt start to wreak havoc among the close-knit group of friends. Along with a local detective (Greg Grunberg) Katy attempts to break up the bond and unravel closely guarded secrets.

As the ostracized mother of young twins, Raver exudes a quiet perseverance in this role. It’s a heartbreaking story that deals with hope and forgiveness in the end. While somewhat predictable (as Lifetime movies can be), Bond of Silence details what can happen when teenagers binge drink and parties escalate beyond control.

Bond of Silence premieres Monday, August 23, at 9 pm (ET/PT) on LIFETIME

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Lifetime TV movie review: The Devil’s Teardrop

“Just be a kid. Stop worrying. That’s my job.”

Wondered what happened to That Thing You Do’s Tom Everett Scott? The adorable actor is here in a Lifetime movie. The Devil’s Teardrop, a DC-based thriller by New York Times best-selling author Jeffrey Deaver, stars Scott as retired FBI agent and handwriting expert agent Parker Kincaid. Though his custody agreement requires him to work from home, he gets called in to consult on a serial killer case by Special Agent Margaret Lukas [Natasha Henstridge]. The plot barely matters as the script and acting are the weakest I’ve seen in some time. For a thriller, there’s little urgency and intrigue. This might be due to the lack of character development. The movie remains empty between the bangs. There’s no tension. Henstridge may as well be a cardboard cutout. Scott also looks to be collecting an easy paycheck. He’s not even trying to play a credible or involved FBI agent. Both appear to be reading off cue cards. The Devil’s Teardrop [which is a teardrop-like way to dot an i] lacks any real hook to draw in an audience or make anyone care about its outcome.

Premieres: August 8 on Lifetime Movie Network at 8pm EST


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