2016. Rated PG-13, 107 minutes.
Michael K. Williams
Way back when, a little film called Fatal Attraction took the world by storm. You know, that movie where the crazy lady boils the rabbit. It birthed what is now a countless number of imitators, shameless rip-offs, really. Normally, something like that is cause for much rumination on lack of creativity and narrative diversity in film. In this case I'm forever grateful for all of the mindless drivel that sprang directly from the mentally diseased loins of Alexandra Forrest. Seriously, I just can't get enough of these psycho-stalker movies. These are definitely movies, not films, mind you. Each seems to be more ridiculous than the last and almost all of them are laughably bad. I love them for precisely that reason. This same reason led me to the theater to take in a viewing of When the Bough Breaks.
We jump into the plot immediately, always a good sign for mindless entertainment. It starts with us meeting wealthy married couple John (Chestnut) and Laura Taylor (Hall). She's a much sought after chef while he's a big time lawyer. We quickly find out they are unable to conceive a child and have been looking for a surrogate to carry their baby for quite some time. Lucky for us, they have just found "the one," Anna (Sinclair), a seemingly innocent twenty-one year old who says she wants nothing more than to do a great thing for some deserving family. Next, we meet her creepy boyfriend Mike (Rossi), see Anna become implanted with an embryo fertilized by John, and the stage is set for critical levels of nuttiness. Without taking you through all the detours it takes to get there, I'll just let you know Anna eventually winds up living with the Taylors and becomes obsessed with John. Throughout much of the goings on the family cat makes sure to appear on screen and be addressed directly by either John or Laura.
Dell: (noticing how prominently the cat is featured; whispering in a crowded theater) That cat is either going to die violently or save the day.
Mrs. Dell: (laughing) You're so crazy.
An hour and change later...
Dell: (laughing) Told you.
My point there is not to spoil the movie for you. Besides, I didn't tell you which happens. My point is to give you a glimpse into this particular movie-going experience. I correctly predicted just about everything that happened, yet, it was so wonderfully silly I couldn't help but enjoy myself. The main catalyst here was the overly obvious and hackneyed writing. The set ups are telegraphed far, far in advance. Anna just does things we've seen in so many movies I almost imagine there was no script, just viewing sessions of other similarly themed movies before filming began. I can totally see director Jon Cassar saying to Jaz Sinclair right before the cameras started to roll saying "Remember that scene from Obsessed? Do that." A little while later, he'd say "Cut! That was great. Now do The Hand That Rocks the Cradle!
Just to ensure Anna will have ample opportunity to terrorize the Taylors, John has to be dumbest attorney in the history of mankind. The dude does nothing that makes sense to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. I know many of you would just be beyond frustrated with this and dismiss the movie without a second thought, I just laughed giddily and waited anxiously for the next stupid thing he was going to do. It was never too far away. The only downside to this is it apparently required his wife to be literally out of the movie for long stretches while he fumbled around with the situation at hand. What makes this work is Morris Chestnut. He gives us such a perfectly bewildered nice guy you're dying to reach into the screen and hand him a clue.
Our two main ladies, Jaz Sinclair and Regina Hall give a pair of fun performances. Sinclair is a relative newcomer who is served well by her youthful, innocent appearance. It seems she has to work hard to vamp it up. This quality really enhances her character. Hall is a performer who has been around for quite some time, but has rarely been afforded the opportunity to do something other zany comedy. This won't win her any Oscars, but hopefully it will earn her a few more dramatic roles.
Then there's Michael K. Williams.
For a change, Williams doesn't play a thug of some sort. However, I almost feel bad for him. Almost. Dude probably got a handsome paycheck for this, after all. Anyhoo, my feelings stem from the fact he doesn't really play a character. Technically, he plays a private detective hired by John who appears late in the second act. In reality, his job is to walk onto the scene and explain the movie to us. It's rather comical watching him guide us through the third act. It's simultaneously hilarious and sad he does this. The reason he has to is something I made note above: bad writing. In other words, the movie never properly develops Anna into the villain the movie needs. Instead, here comes Michael K. to fill us in on Anna's motivations and then tell John what to do next. Poor guy says his lines with all the excitement of someone who just found out their cat got killed.
Unfortunately, all my fun had to come to an end at some point. However, since the end is just as goofy as the rest of the movie I was cool. The credits roll because those damn writers wrote themselves into a corner and couldn't figure out how to get out of it. At least it seems that way. They just kind of cut it off in the spot they can best play it off like it's a happy ending and throw in a line of dialogue to try and convince us of the same thing. I promise you, I laughed very loudly the moment the last words are spoken. The silliness of it all was only one reason for my, probably annoying, guffaw. The other is the collective sighing of the rest of the audience, Mrs. Dell included, as they realized that yup, it ended like that.
Hearing people talk as we exited the theater, I gathered some of them liked it overall, but hated the ending. Others hated it all together. Mrs. Dell falls into the first category. She waited until we were in the car on the way home to ask me the magic question: "Did you like it." Then it was my turn to sigh. I followed that with a smile. As my words made their way from my mouth to her ears I saw her face contort into a visage of confusion. I would have to explain what the hell I meant when I said "It was so bad it's awesome!"