Tag Archives: Lauren Holly

Tammy’s Always Dying

Catherine (Anastasia Phillips) has spent a lifetime caring for her alcoholic mother Tammy, who has diagnosed herself manic-depressive thanks to the help of daytime television talk shows. Tammy (Felicity Huffman) isn’t a good person, but she is a good time, whooping and gyrating away in the bar where her daughter works, at least until the end of the month when the welfare runs out. Then there’s the monthly ritual of Tammy dangling off a bridge, threatening to jump, and Catherine rushing to her aid, assuring her that she’s loved and cherished and not a bad mother. Even though she kind of is, always demanding time, attention, greasy breakfasts, and cash, without offering anything back, like motherly love or pride or approval or even thanks.

Catherine is stuck in the same town where she grew up, tethered to a mother who is tethered to the bottle. She’s still fucking the same (married) guy from high school and working a dead-end job. Her only friend is fellow bartender Doug (Clark Johnson), who whisks her away to the city occasionally to live like other problem-free people for an evening. The cycle is starting to feel inevitable and unending, Catherine’s resentment growing, and she’s starting to feel like her mother’s suicide might not be the worst thing, except for the fact that it’s always been an empty threat just to elicit Catherine’s sympathy. So when Tammy is diagnosed with terminal cancer, it has a complicated impact on both of them, not to mention their dynamic now that Catherine’s become her full-time care-taker.

Tammy’s Always Dying gets off to a slow start but a strong lead performance by Phillips eventually sucks us into her world, which feels impoverished and inescapable. The mother-daughter bond is malignant, which makes for a painful reminder that we can’t always save the ones we love, or help loving those who can’t be saved. With confident direction from Amy Jo Johnson, Tammy’s Always Dying admits there are some things worse than death.

My Perfect Romance

Wes Robinson (Christopher Russell) has just taken over as CEO of the family business and he’s under pressure (mostly from his mother, played by Morgan Fairchild) to increase sales and make his mark right out of the gate, so he taps developer Vivian (Kimberly-Sue Murray) who’s been working on an algorithm that will be able to select someone’s perfect match based strictly on compatibility (no photos allowed). According to her “research” (go with it), this is the only real factor for long-term relationships, so she’s going to revolutionize the dating app industry by taking it back to E-Harmony days rather than Tinder. For the sake of the film, let’s pretend it’s legit.

Anyway, somehow it’s contrived that the only way the media will be convinced it’s for real is if Wes and Vivian use the app successfully themselves. Vivian’s friends help her make a profile, but all the men it matches her with are variations of awful. And while Wes keeps putting off his own profile, he certainly hangs around to tease Vivian about all of her dismal failures, almost like this isn’t their actual job and this app isn’t the only thing standing between the company and bankruptcy.

Anyway, the app really is a giant failure, as predicted by Vivian’s abysmal track record, but somehow this whole thing can turn right around if only Wes and Vivian, who you may remember have done nothing but push each other’s buttons up until now, confess their true feelings for each other on live television. Which, in reality would actually only prove that you should ditch the app and date your boss, but through the magic of television somehow means happily ever after.

Oh, and if Morgan Fairchild wasn’t enough enticement, Lauren Holly also co-stars as Wes’s long-suffering secretary.

And not for nothing: if you’re looking for some holiday romance that’s actually sweet and watchable, try Dash & Lily, a bingeable series, also on Netflix.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Enjoying a triumphant festival circuit, critics called this one “slow-building and atmospheric”; I call it long and boring.

Two Catholic schoolgirls (ugh), Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton), get left behind at their boarding school over winter break. ┬áThe nuns, rumored to be satanists, and to be naked and hairless (unnecessary details, perhaps?) under their ugly habits, feed them and watch them, but they’re not the ones we’re worried about.

MV5BZDliZTA3ZDYtOTI3Yi00MzAyLTgzODItN2NhNTQ2YzVhYWM4L2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjEwNTM2Mzc@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1500,1000_AL_Upping the creep factor is a third young girl some distance away, perhaps an escaped mental patient named Joan (Emma Roberts) who gets picked up by an older couple who just want to help. Her destination: the very same boarding school where the first two reside…

Then there’s some very slow, deliberate attempts to send chills up your spine, via demonic possession, gory beheadings, and fabulously, a teenage girl calling a nun a cunt. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant to be funny, but it’s terrifically funny (though the nun would not agree).

I’m not sure if I was watching a different movie from anyone else, but this just didn’t make one tiny speck of sense to me. Plus the characters were so thinly drawn it took me a while to figure out there was a third, and then I was like: where did SHE come from (and not in a scary, haunting way, just a super confused but not really caring all that much way) (also, this movie so under-lit that it’s really not my fault and I bet not that uncommon). Now, the exorcisms and the buckets of blood demand that this film be classified as a horror and I don’t dispute it. I just didn’t find it scary. Like at all. And I’m a big, bawking chicken. Bawk, bawk, bawk. But I breezed right through this, not even a flinch.

It was filmed in Canada, sometimes pretty close to my own home, and for that I will apologize to Ms. Roberts. We were having the coldest winter on record when she was filming outdoor scenes. The foggy breath clouds are well earned. Which is why I felt compelled to watch a movie I would never normally sit through, but you know what? I’d rather take another 5 months of winter than snooze my way through this thing ever again, and I’m not just saying that because I’m currently sipping a daiquiri from the inflatable unicorn in my pool. Well, mostly not.

 

Miracle In Manhattan

The lovely Jewel Staite plays Holly, a woman caring for her nephew Gabe while her brother is deployed overseas. It’s…a challenge. She’s the hard-working marketing guru treated more like an assistant by her dress designer boss (Lauren Holly, for some reason). Holly’s got dreams of designing her own gowns but so far her boss isn’t biting.

Meanwhile, over in Manhattan, Jake (Eric Johnson) is struggling to impress his father at their family-owned department store. His father is all about the bottom line and refuses to celebrate Christmas, which makes marketing the toy department particularly difficult this time of year. His father is dismayed at the inventory’s lack of cheap plastic toys. Jake hasn’t even stocked the Intellytron robot, this year’s hottest toy. Instead he chooses tried and tested stuff, train sets and wooden toys, to line his shelves. But will that cost him his job if the toy department doesn’t put up big numbers?

The real question, though, is: who the heck is Mrs. Miracle? She’s the mysterious old lady who one day has just appeared in the toy department, claiming to have always worked there despite there being no evidence of this being true. Her nametag reads ‘Mrs Miracle’ (Doris Roberts) and it’s possible that’s exactly the business she’s in.

Even in a mediocre Christmas movie, Doris Roberts is a real sprinkle of cinnamon, elevating and enlivening (is that a word?) every scene she’s in.

This movie is very committed to returning to a simpler, more traditional holiday, and I know that’s a popular Christmas movie theme, but I also know my nephews have their eyes on all the lurid plastic toys they see on Saturday morning TV – preferably the kind that shoot smaller, harder plastic toys in the general direction of their little brothers. Can I substitute those with a little wooden duckie you pull by a string? I suppose I could, but not if I want to maintain my status as Cool Aunt Jay (or more realistically, the woman who usually travels with Cool Uncle Sean, who is not much of an ideas man or a shopper or a wrapper, but still somehow gets all of the credit). But my life is never going to look like a Hallmark movie: there’s no cookie baking montage, there’s a cookie baking marathon that leaves my kitchen a Level Orange Disaster Zone and my manicure in ruins. There’s no singing Christmas carols around the old piano, there’s a drunken karaoke attempt and a romantic duet sung inappropriately between blood relatives. No one makes movies about our sloppy paper plate Christmas where the pjs don’t match and Santa gets left Doritos instead of cookies. But it’s our Christmas and if it’s not quite perfect, it’s perfectly ours.