I haven’t read any reviews of A Deadly Adoption, the supposed parody of Lifetime movies starring Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, and yet I know I’m not the first person to note this: What was the point, exactly? It’s an honest question. There’s little merit in or purpose to a parody unless you have a larger statement to make about something, but I don’t get the impression Ferrell and Wiig have anything to say at all here except, “Tee hee. Lifetime!” So why do it? It can’t be nostalgia-driven, because Lifetime movies still happen (Bella Thorne is in one this week, in fact, that appears to involve dancing and DRUGS and TEARS). It isn’t any kind of larger statement about the Women In Peril trope. There are a couple moments that appear to be poking fun, if you look hard enough, but otherwise it plays straight. And there’s the rub: The problem with aping a Lifetime joint is that you can’t do it with subtlety, or else it just plays… like a Lifetime joint.
Having said all that, let’s examine just how Lifetimey this sucker is.
Will Ferrell plays Robert Benson, which I kept shortening in my head to Bob Benson, as in the target of Pete Campbell’s snippy “NOT GREAT, BOB,” from Mad Men, and now I keep picturing this movie with James Wolk in it and mmm. Ferrell’s Bob Robert Benson is cloaked in the kind of hair and beard that bespeak the aging frontman of a Bee Gees tribute band who still plays at the local watering hole on the second Wednesday of every month. Our opening scene is shot in a bucolic family yard by the lake in a small town, where several friends gather as Will juggles a baby and flatly delivers information about his life: He’s an author and budding financial guru; he loves his daughter and his wife (“Nothing’s gonna pull me away from my family!”); there’s a baby on the way. Trope 1: Milquetoast, Smug Exposition About Personal Happiness That We All Know Is About To Implode.
Also, when someone asks where his wife Sarah is, he says cheerfully that she’s “always running around” and probably “digging in her garden,” in a way that suggests he thinks she is extremely simple. Trope 2: Old-School Sexist Dismissiveness About One’s Life Partner and Her Hobbies. Or old-school Lifetime, at least. Presumably Bella Thorne isn’t suffering this kind of malarkey in her Dance, Drugs & Tears: The Edna May Millerville Story. Which reminds me that this really IS lazy if it doesn’t have a triple-barrel name, and/or a rotating cast of Lifetime staples like Meredith Baxter (Birney) and JoBeth Williams and whatnot.
Meanwhile, Kristen “Sarah Benson” Wiig is dancing around on the boat dock calling for her husband, at which point Will tells everyone that the dock is rotting and they really need to get it fixed, and that he’d clearly better go get the little woman and throw her over his shoulder and save her from her own stupid stupidness. Trope 3: Using An Overly Jovial Tone While Being A Condescending Douchecanoe.
Speaking of boats, and things being bathed in water: