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Vice Blog

HEINOUS TELEVISION RECAPPING - CRADLE OF LIES

June 1, 2009, 3:44pm

Cradle of Lies

is the story of how when you meet and then marry a guy over the course of one weekend at a Best Western Lodge, he will eventually try to kill you for not bearing him a son, even though he is incapable of having children. Like all Lifetime Movies, it is a cautionary tale.

Haley is a school vice principal who goes to the aforementioned Best Western Lodge to relax. She promptly sleeps with and then marries the first dude she meets who is not gross. His name is Jack, and he proves he is not gross when he saves her from a gross dude in a sweater who was hitting on her. This guy's sweater was pretty special, almost Cosby-special, and of course he says something boorish ("I bet you're one of those cold, clammy types just waiting for a guy like me to warm her up") and she spills her drink on him and he shouts "my sweater!" That is the best line in the film. "My sweater!"

So Jack shows up and makes the gross dude go away. But oh no! He stole Haley's purse! All of her stuff is in it! Jack will make it better: he tells her to cancel her credit cards and cell phone, and he will get her a new room, because he is friends with the owner of the resort, Mr. Western himself. OK, but guys, the purse-snatching happened literally ten seconds ago, and you are at some sort of mountain resort lodge thing: the snatcher, Mr. Wet Sweater, is probably 100 feet away from you both right now, and even if he is hiding somewhere, drying his sweater off, he is most likely also staying at this lodge. Why not get the purse back before canceling everything? I know it's because this is part of Jack's plan to ingratiate himself to Haley, but is Haley so dumb that she doesn't think to just ask this gentleman to chase down the purse-snatcher? Yes, she is that dumb, this is a Lifetime Movie.

Jack and Haley have a candlelight dinner. She is divorced and wants kids! He was married once but she died while she was pregnant. That is a RED FLAG, Haley. He is going to murder you! ALL WIDOWERS ARE KILLERS.

Then he proposes to her. And she accepts. And we leave the lodge to return to Haley's regular life, where she's hanging out with one in what will be a series of sassy girlfriends who doesn't have a name. "OK, so, you go away for one weekend and you come back with a husband," sassy friend explains. "That is so romantic!" And he is a powerful lawyer! (That is a minor red flag: if you have a job in an office, in a Lifetime Movie, you will neglect your spouse and/or children.)

Now it is time for Jack to turn off the charm and turn on the evil. He is meeting with a shady friend at a shady bar. This shady friend--let's call him "Blackmail Pete"--is helping Jack blackmail someone. why or how or who doesn't matter, at all, this is just to establish that Jack is a shady motherfucker who is friends with Blackmail Pete.

Jack and Haley have sex after Jack explains that he really wants a son. The next morning, or a month later, or 20 years from now (time is very fluid in this film) Haley wonders to another sassy friend why her husband wants a son so much. There is a "social-logical reason" men wants sons, the woman says, and maybe she meant "sociological" or something but even if she had pronounced it correctly it still wouldn't have made sense.

Now it is time to meet Jack's sexxxy/bitchy legal assistant, Michelle. Michelle hates Haley for no reason, except that she's a sexy woman who wants to sleep with her boss, because hey...women, right? They are terrible! Even worse than men who murder their wives! (This is why Danny Gokey beat Allison on the Idol show.) Michelle makes fun of Haley for being a mere school vice principal, even though she is a secretary (come on), and then we're back at the lodge (?!?) for a scene of YET ANOTHER sassy friend giving Haley advice on how to get her husband of one commercial break to like her again, while he flirts with some lady one table away.

They go back to their room for sex, and they pop champagne, and if you drink even ONE SIP of champagne and you are the lady protagonist of a Lifetime Movie you will either embarrass your husband at an IMPORTANT DINNER PARTY or you will get taken advantage of in a sexual way. This time it is option b), as Jack undresses her and then has a "massage therapist" enter the room to creepily massage her while he sits in a chair, drinking from a tumbler of scotch (as soon as you go from "charming" to "evil" you are presented with a tumbler of scotch that never leaves your hand again). Masseuse moves up the legs and just when it's getting good she freaks out because she didn't even want an erotic service, she just wanted to fuck her husband. Too bad she drank that champagne! So the husband pretends to get mad and kicks the masseuse out. Then there was a commercial break with my favorite local ad.

Have you been introduced to "Garage Clothing" in Brooklyn? Did you ever think you could look this good?

Garage Clothing: For Men Only!

Right,

Cradle of Lies

. Haley wakes up--we are back home now--and Jack is already up, reading a book, even though it's the morning. Who reads books in the morning? He is reading a ridiculously large and thin book called

KENNEDYS

. He sets it down on top of a pile of similarly shaped books with these titles:

VANDERBILT

ROCKEFELLER

HEARST

Why is he reading these Time-Life guides to rich industrialists, plus the Kennedys? Where are his copies of

McDUCK

and

PENNYBAGS

? It's not about money, he explains. No, what these families have in common is "lineage." You know, like Lydia Hearst. And Patrick Kennedy. And Anderson Cooper. BTW he really wants a son!

So Haley throws herself a makeover montage, and she buys some sexy lingerie, and then Jack comes home from work and she says, "In here, Jack," and when she goes "in here" she approaches him from BEHIND, and that was just a minor thing but it really speaks to the care and attention that goes into these movies. She's wearing the lingerie and they have sex, and the next morning Jack invites her to dinner, but when she shows up, a stranger keeps going to her table trying to fuck her. She refuses his advances, and stranger goes back to the bar, where JACK IS WAITING OMG, and stranger is like "sorry bro your wife won't fuck me, this was a brilliant plan you hatched, though, to have me go try to pick her up in a restaurant where she expected you to walk in at literally any moment because you made the reservations, you fucking moron." Jack drinks from his tumbler of scotch and looks angry.

Then they have a fight about how since that sex scene a few minutes ago, he's become distant and mean, and he still wants a son, and then he says, "If this marriage fails, it'll be YOUR FAULT, not mine."

At this point I looked up who was in this terrible movie. Haley is played by Shannon Sturges. Shannon Sturges is the granddaughter of Preston Sturges. As in the famous and brilliant writer-director! This is depressing.

So Jack is now operating at full, 100% evil bastard, and he instructs his sexy legal assistant not to let his wife visit him at work. So, turned away from her husband's important legal office, Haley angrily goes to a store to angrily buy some sort of beauty product (women!) and when the cashier makes some comment about her age (women!) Haley trashes the whole store (women!) and gets arrested.

They have another fight after she gets out of jail about the son thing, and then, finally, in a really embarrassing exposition scene with Jack and his old family lawyer dude friend, the whole son thing is finally explained: Jack "must sire a son within a legal marriage or else." "Or else granddad's $50 million goes to charity." Not charity! And granddad is dying in 12 months!

So Jack switches back, temporarily, to loving, affectionate husband, and then he drugs his wife and when she wakes up he says she was so great at making love to him last night and then, of course, she's pregnant, finally, and when he gets home from work she breaks the news. He says, "A son? Are we having a boy?" She is six hours pregnant, Jack! Though, as we said, time is fluid in this film, because one abrupt cut later, Haley's fat and Jack is making her drink something he calls "herbal drink," because that is shorthand for how he's being all bossy about this pregnancy thing.

So a doctor tells Haley that she is probably having a girl, and you can guess where it goes from there. Jack is furious! "You taking your herbal drink every morning?" Yes, she is! And yet the herbs did not grow a little penis in her tummy! So he moves on to the next completely incomprehensible plan on his list of ways to sire a son in a legal marriage: fucking that sexy legal assistant who we viewers thought he was already fucking.

And so Jack moves out and files for divorce and he will take the house and everything else because of a pre-nup and Haley responds, rationally, by maxing out all of his credit cards and draining his bank accounts. This is supposed to be amusing and empowering, because we know Jack deserves it, but in reality this is psycho behavior. It is another of the many important life lessons in this film, though: don't have a joint account with the lady you married after one weekend at the Best Western Lodge in the hopes that she'd deliver you a son. Haley also steals the secretary bitch's purse in order to break into her apartment and leave a threatening little message behind (a photo of Jack and Haley sliced in half with a razor blade), which is, once again, supposed to be proof of moxie and spirit but it is actually theft, felonious trespassing, making criminal threats, etc. etc. etc.

Not that we need worry about Jack having a coherent, reasonable response to any event! He breaks back into his house to trash all the stuff Haley bought with his credit cards, instead of, say, trying to return any of it, and then HE is arrested.

Both of the protagonists are arrested in this film, and both times the charges are summarily dropped, and yet characters keep referring to how each of them now has "a police record," as if getting arrested but not charged with anything actually led to a criminal record. Maybe in Canada? (This was maybe shot in Canada. It is pretty gray and depressing looking every time they go outside.)

Then there was a commercial for a Lifetime program called "Cook Yourself Thin!"

Now Jack is meeting up with our old friend Blackmail Pete. Hey, he wants Blackmail Pete to hire someone to kill Haley! Maybe if you had put this scene before Haley's little crime spree it would've helped her seem less psychotic? Whatever. Blackmail Pete says "History repeats itself, eh?" And the audience is supposed to be like oh shit he killed his first wife too, but we all knew that as soon as we learned he was a widower.

Michelle, the sexy legal assistant, decides to go steal Jack's Cadillac from Haley. Coincidentally, she peels off in the car just as the hitman pulls up to kill Haley! What a crazy turn of events! He pulls up alongside her and shoots her at point blank range, as she listens to a wonderful (Canadian?) hip-hop song on the radio about drowning in wealth.

Not that we know very much about "real life" hitmen, but in better movies, they are usually provided with, at the very least, photos of the intended target. Otherwise how do they actually know who they are supposed to kill? Right?

Whatever. Now, finally, the helpful black detective, the only cop who believes our heroine, arrives to announce to Haley that he's been investigating Jack (poorly) for a million years, ever since he killed wife number one. But there wasn't any proof. As part of that investigation, helpful black detective learned that Jack is infertile. And the dead wife wasn't even pregnant when she died! Which raises a lot of questions about why Jack had her killed, really, but before Haley can ask any pertinent questions (such as: Why and how did you test my husband's fertility in the course of an investigation into the murder of his not-pregnant wife?) we cut to Jack drinking from his trusty tumbler of scotch, talking to a painting of his grandfather. It is basically a preemptive homage to James Franco's performance in

Spider-Man 2

. And then Jack kills Blackmail Pete! The only likable character!

What's that? Nothing is even close to being resolved in a fashion that would make any sense? That means there must be about eight minutes left of this movie. After another "Cook Yourself Thin!" commercial ("avocado really does take the place of mayo!"), Jack breaks into Haley's house (if you are a woman alone in a house, a night, you will be invaded) to play her a video of some dude he hired having sex with her while she was drugged. Jack narrates the tape, of course, in as creepy a fashion as possible: "Yeah, that's it, nice and slow, yeah, do your stuff...."

And then, like the unmasked murderer at the end of a

Columbo

episode, he carefully explains his motivation for every crazy thing he's done. He needs a son, for the inheritance money! Why not adopt? This is never addressed. He attacks her and she stabs him as soon as the cops pull up and he is sent to DEATH ROW and he's now like Norman Bates crazy, of course, and then Haley gives birth.

Are you ready for this? She gives birth... TO A SON. TWIST. A son!! Oh, shit, wait, another twist: this means she gets all the inheritance!!!! Fuck you, "charities!" This unstable idiot gets all your moneys! Even though it is not Jack's biological son, as was established, and also they are probably divorced by now.

The lead IMDB review is headlined, of course, "I routed for the husband."

ALEX PAREENE