Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Upperworld: Under Scrutiny

While Andrea’s got the low-down on the Pre-Code principles, my specialty lies in the principles of Lifetime movies. I'm not ashamed of this and don’t you dare knock it till you try it – five minutes in to the melodramatic, poorly acted, write-by-numbers event you’ll be hooked, I don’t care who you think you are. Anyway, while Upperworld may have better acting (Hello! Ginger Rogers, much?), the general structure follows that of the made-for-TV-movie gem.

Watch any Lifetime murder mystery [read: any Lifetime movie], and you’ll notice that an average hour and a half storyline is broken up as such:
  • 40 minute to set-up
  • 45 minute investigation (It’s usually performed by someone other than the actual investigators, who have written the case off after an incorrect solution. Do these all take place in L.A.?)
  • 3 minute trial scene, bad guy gets it
  • 2 minute denoument and credits

I’d like to diagram pie chart, but I can’t figure it out. Regardless, unlike a master courtroom drama the likes of A Few Good Men (or My Cousin Vinny), the Lifetime movie fails to get to the really good stuff.

Absurd “not guilty” verdict and family trip to Europe aside, Upperworld unfolded in almost the exact same light: too much setup before the murder which was written off by the police as a homicide-suicide and investigated by the lone cop who suspected the right person only to see the courtroom as the jury was filing back in after deliberations, leaving only enough time to fade into a scene on a boat (after the Titanic but before transoceanic flight) where you see the happy family and a wife hesitant to enter into the world of social luxury ever again. It’s all her fault, after all. The end.

It’s not that I don’t recommend it but … well, hopefully our next venture to Film Forum will prove more fruitful. I can watch Lifetime for free.

No comments: