Predictable as this movie is, here’s an obligatory spoiler alert. Trust me though, everything given away in this article is obvious enough that you would have figured it out anyway.
When spending time with my friends, I make a point to bring the natural rhythm of the conversation to a halt to tell them about their jobs, in case they forgot how they make their living. “Hey, Bob, you sure do work at that place where you are employed! And you have a family, too!”
Oh wait, I don’t do that! How silly of me. This movie does.
A Deadly Adoption is great for all the wrong reasons. First, the title is misleading, since this made-for-TV Lifetime movie does not contain a single adoption. Instead it tells the story of a happy couple, Sarah and Robert Benson (Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell), who hire a live-in birth mother since they can’t conceive after a terrible accident on a dock. Birth mother Bridget (Jessica Lowndes) is up to no good, and it’s painfully obvious right away. It turns out that she isn’t even pregnant; she’s actually just in love with Ferrell’s character since they had a brief affair years earlier. Bridget kidnaps the couples’ diabetic daughter Sully (Alyvia Alyn Lind) in attempt to pry Robert away from his wife and win his love. During the kidnapping she forgets Sully’s insulin medication and it becomes a race against time for Sarah and Robert to find her before it’s too late.
Can they repair this fractured relationship? Symbolism at its finest.
This movie is being noticed because of its cast. It’s surprising to see Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig in a Lifetime movie. As a veteran of so many goof-ball comedies, Ferrell must be aware of the kind of reputation these heartfelt, melodramatic films have. It’s hard to tell if he took the role as joke or if he is trying to play it straight, but his performance is reminiscent of John C. Riley in Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story. They both hit that note that says to me, I know these words sound silly, but I’m going to say them anyway. The same can be said for Wiig, whose talents are really underutilized due to the simplicity of her character.
There’s plenty of over-the-top, heartfelt dialogue running throughout, and it’s wonderful. There’s also a lot of interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that falling two feet into water instantly kills unborn fetuses? And that pregnant women can’t swim, for some reason?
She lands on her back, not her belly. Wait, how does she lose the baby?
What we do see in this film is at least an attempt at building tension and character. Sarah and Robert are introduced as the perfect couple; successful in their respective businesses, living in a picturesque home with their daughter; all that eye-rolling garbage. Fortunately the story takes some dark turns as we learn of Robert’s past. Of course the typical drunken wayward husband is boring and cliche, but this film puts a ridiculous spin on it. As a successful writer of self-help books about fiscal responsibility, Robert’s essentially an accountant. But when his new bestseller is released, he is invited on book tours that turn into drunken raves. It’s off the hook.
Self-help authors have groupies.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to Sarah. Her role is to be the ‘worried wife.’ Since the dock accident, her husband hasn’t been the same. He’s distant and overprotective, always seeing danger in every situation, and it bothers Sarah. She runs an organic food stand by the side of the road that must be doing pretty well because, partnered with Robert’s book income, they own a mini-mansion on a lake. She’s quick to forgive Robert for cheating and by the end of the movie, it’s like it never happened.
No, really. I’m homeless. Can’t you can tell?
Bridget’s turn as a villain is not in the least bit surprising. She’s introduced as a poor, pregnant homeless girl living in a shelter. So poor, in fact, that she has a decent looking smartphone and clean dresses everyday. She refuses to let anyone touch her belly, and then we’re supposed to be shocked to discover she’s not actually pregnant. When she does execute her plan, it’s convoluted and nonsensical. Her behaviour is psychotic. If she really wants Robert to love her, kidnapping his daughter is the wrong course of action. Why not just tell his wife about the affair? Then the angry Sarah would walk out on him, leaving the two of them to be together.
The film ends on a very positive note – we’re back where we started with the perfect happy couple, only now they’re even happier! Realistically any family would be traumatised. Not only does young Sully see Bridget shoot and murder people during the kidnapping, she also watches her own mother gun down Bridget, whose corpse then tumbles off a bridge and floats in the water. It’s extremely dark no matter what positive ‘6 months later’ coda you try to tack on.
I love a happy ending.
A Deadly Adoption is worth the watch if you’re curious, but consider yourself warned – this is about as mundane as you would expect any movie-of-the-week to be. The story has plenty of twists and turns, each as predicable as the last. The characters are uninteresting, worn out cliches that are clunky and obvious. There are a few laughs to be had if you consider the the sincerity of some of the performances, but otherwise, the movie is pretty boring. It certainly won’t go down in bad movie history anytime soon.