Last Saturday was the premiere of Lifetime’s newest original movie, A Deadly Adoption. Usually this would not be newsworthy, because on the scale of shit you watch when you actually deign to sit down for real, non-streamed TV, Lifetime falls down in the “home sick from school and all that's on is The 700 Club” zone. However, this particular Lifetime train wreck is an exception to the rule because it stars Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, and boy, did they go for it.
Before A Deadly Adoption I would have sworn that I was at my limit of things Will Ferrell could do on screen that made me uncomfortable. I’ve seen him shirtless in more ways than I could ever want to, watched him violently thrust into air, people, and inanimate objects, and been transfixed by his strangely pube-esque chest hair for as long as I can remember.
Needless to say, I am familiar with his work and would have laughed if you told me he could still shock me. But then I watched him be earnestly, painfully serious in only the way the lead of a dramatic, made for TV “inspired by true events” movie character could be for a full hour and twenty minutes, and I now understand that I was wrong. Watching Ferrell violently cry and then not have it immediately followed by a guttural “I’m in a glass case of emotion,” was a surreal experience to say the least.
With a title as ominous as Ferrell’s facial hair, A Deadly Adoption is the “true” story of Robert and Sarah Benson, a seemingly perfect couple haunted by a dark past. Change out the names of the characters and that tagline could apply to 80% of Lifetime movies. Robert, Sarah, and their sugar-sweet, diabetic daughter live in the almost Nicholas Sparks-esque town of Storm Lake. Robert is a successful finance author and Sarah sells homemade organic/gluten shit at the local farmer’s market that inexplicably runs every day because the residents of Storm Lake need their produce and sugar-free pumpkin bread, goddammit. Seems pretty picturesque right? But wait! It isn’t! Lifetime writers strike again!
A traumatic accident at Sully’s first birthday party resulted in a miscarriage for Sarah and a predictable (and yet still annoying as fuck) stick up the ass syndrome for Robert. Flash forward to five years later, and Robert is a recovering alcoholic who is unable to forgive his wife for having the audacity to be pregnant and stand on an unstable dock. Their marriage is full of cold shoulders and passive resentment, so Sarah decides the only way to remedy the situation is to bring an infant into the picture. This strain of logic has worked flawlessly for hundreds of years; 10/10 success rate, would highly recommend using a baby to save your failing marriage.
I guess Sarah’s one-foot fall into the possibly radioactive lake that makes up Storm Lake left her infertile, so the Bensons are looking to adopt. Enter Bridget, the super hot, clearly crazy birth mother that moves in with them for the last 3 months of her pregnancy. Literally everyone knew exactly how this movie would end at this point, but I’ll continue for those of you who aren’t experts at recognizing Lifetime plot devices.
Sign Bridget is crazy #1: In the single cleanest magazine tear I’ve ever seen in a lifetime spent collaging shit, Bridget rips a cover photo of Robert and Sarah in half, letting Kristen’s side drift to the floor as she whispers “Oh Robert, what a mess.”
Sign that Robert has for sure fucked Bridget at some point in his past #1: When his agent pressures him to go on another incredibly successful book tour (finance fans go HARD) he refuses, reminding her that he “blacked out last time.” Had I utilized this logic it would have prevented me from returning to college after the first weekend of freshman year, but you do you, Robert.
Sign that Bridget is crazy #2: She watches Sully (the daughter named in a post-Monsters Inc. era, and therefore with zero excuse) sleep.
Sign that Robert has for sure fucked Bridget at some point in his past #2: He admits to her that he resents Sarah for the miscarriage of HIS son and thinks that he “never will love her the way [he] used to.”
Sign that Bridget is crazy #3: She fucking kidnaps Sully.
After some snooping and casual lingerie fondling, Robert has the sudden realization that Bridget is familiar from somewhere, and that somewhere is the time he fucked her on his blackout finance book tour. Also her name was Joni then, so it’s like totally understandable why he doesn’t remember having sex with this super hot, incredibly out of his league girl who is now living in his home. Don’t question it okay?? He’s tortured.
A crazy sequence of events ensues where Bridget/Joni and her trash boyfriend plan to ransom Sully for some of Robert’s hard-earned book tour money. But wait, another plot twist perhaps? Lifetime, you dogs. Turns out Joni is lying to her swamp people boyfriend, and actually plans on murdering Sarah and running away with Robert and Sully to start their own, perfect family. She’s clearly a competent mother, since she has been feeding the diabetic 6-year-old candy bars to keep her blood sugar up. A couple attempted murders later and a brief cameo from what had to be the second least competent police force in television (after Rosewood of course) Robert and Sully escape Joni by jumping off a bridge and motoring down the river, symbolizing Robert’s acceptance of both his past and the unpredictability that is life. All’s well that ends well.
Six months later, the Bensons are leading a perfectly happy and normal life post-kidnapping and attempted murder by psycho-stalker finance fangirl. Everyone has conveniently forgotten that Will Ferrell cheated on his wife who did literally nothing wrong other than miscarriage a child, but it’s fine because he’s forgiven her. In the end, Robert Benson decides to remove the stick from his ass and trust his daughter to ride a bike without training wheels because she’s already been kidnapped and held at gunpoint so statistically it’s all uphill from here. Cue an uncomfortably long, campy family dance sequence around the kitchen. Lifetime strikes again.
Should you watch A Deadly Adoption? Despite the fact that I just outlined the entire plot for you, yes, you should. It’s worth the 80 minutes of cringing to watch Ferrell and Wiig go full method in a medium that they will (hopefully) never return to. It would also make for a fantastic drinking game, which I’m sure the Internet, or your imagination, could provide for you. Make sure you use something with 2% alcohol content, or you might not live to see the end.