Unforgettable

unforgettable-rev

Unforgettable  (2016)    Warner Bros./Suspense-Thriller    RT: 100 minutes    Rated R (sexual content, violence, some language, brief partial nudity)    Director: Denise Di Novi    Screenplay: Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson    Music: Toby Chu    Cinematography: Caleb Deschanel    Release date: April 21, 2017 (US)    Cast: Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, Isabella Kai Rice, Cheryl Ladd, Simon Kassianides, Whitney Cummings, Robert Wisdom.

 

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 I predict that someday the suspense-thriller Unforgettable will be regarded as a bad movie classic like Mommie Dearest, Showgirls and Enough. It’ll be the kind of movie that people watch just to mock the overacting, dopey dialogue and ridiculous scenes. But that’s a ways off, a good five-to-ten years I’d say. Right now, I have to consider how Unforgettable works as a serious thriller. It’s not good.

 As a thriller, Unforgettable is as formulaic and predictable as any given Lifetime movie dealing with jealous ex-spouses going after the person they think is replacing them. In this instance, it’s Tessa (Heigl, Knocked Up), one of those perfect Stepford wife-types that never has a single platinum-blonde hair out of place. Always perfectly poised and immaculately dressed, she’s a textbook example of high-strung. It stands to reason this chick is also completely psycho. She’s never been able to accept that her marriage to David (Stults, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell) is over. She’s jealous that he’s found happiness with Julia (Dawson, Sin City), a boho-chic sort who leaves her life in San Francisco behind (i.e. job, friends, dark secrets, etc.) to move in with him and his young daughter Lily (Rice) in his stately house. Tessa makes it her life’s mission to destroy Julia by any means necessary.

 unforgettableThis includes, among other things, setting up a phony FaceBook account in Julia’s name and contacting her abusive ex-boyfriend (Kassianides, Agents of SHIELD). Until recently, she had a restraining order against him. She makes the mistake of not renewing it after she moves to San Francisco. Tessa also criticizes the way Julia interacts with her daughter, clearly her prize possession. She’s the type of mom who micromanages every little detail of her child’s life. Julia has no experience with kids nor did she have good adult role models growing up. She’s a damaged person and Tessa exploits it. It all leads to Julia being set-up for the murder of her ex and a climactic showdown between the two women.

 Unforgettable is pure trash albeit not the worst kind. We’ve seen this same basic story in different forms. This time, it centers on the ladies while the guys stand off to the side (best place to watch a catfight). It’s directed by Denise Di Novi, her first outing in that capacity. She produced her fair share of female-centric movies including Heathers, New York Minute, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Monte Carlo and Catwoman. The screenplay is co-written by Christina Hodson (last year’s Naomi Watts horror pic Shut In). It’s pure 100% estrogen.

 For years, Heigl toiled in rom-coms like 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, Killers, Life as We Know It and The Big wedding. It never seemed like a comfortable fit to me. It always looked like she’d rather be doing something else. She’s ideally suited to play a character somebody describes as “psycho Barbie”. She walks around with an icy stare that cuts deeper than any sharp kitchen utensil. Her performance teeters on the edge of camp until the end when it crosses right over. Dawson is good as Julia, a woman hiding the truth about her dark past. The two girls face-off a few times in the movie but don’t really cut loose until the end with Tessa wielding a fireplace poker and Dawson finally kicking into bad ass mode in a fight scene where no priceless object is safe. Cheryl Ladd (one of the original Charlie’s Angels) shows up as Tessa’s Botox queen mother and we see why Tessa is like she is. With all the constant criticizing, it’s a wonder Tessa didn’t fly off the rails sooner.

 Unforgettable has several scenes that can be described as ridiculous. In one scene, Tessa pleasure herself with sexting (as Julia) with the abusive ex. At the same time, Julia has sex with David in a public bathroom during a dinner with friends and business colleagues (he has his own microbrewery). It wants to be sexy but instead, it’s silly. There’s also a scene where Tessa cuts her daughter’s hair short as punishment for dissing her in front of “Lovey” (what she calls Ladd’s character). It recalls a similar scene in Mommie Dearest except the older movie’s camp factor is higher thanks to Faye Dunaway (the queen of high camp). Other times, Unforgettable is just weird. Comedian Whitney Cummings (she used to have her own sitcom) co-stars as Julia’s bff, the obligatory wise-cracker who comes to her aid when things are at their near-bleakest. It seems odd to have comic relief in a movie dealing with domestic abuse but whatever.

 I’m not saying that Unforgettable is a terrible movie. It’s not. It’s bad but strangely watchable. You know exactly where it’s going but you stick with it anyway because of how stupid and silly it all is. Sadly, Tessa doesn’t boil any bunnies but a hamster is put in harm’s way (we never do find out what happens to that critter). Like I said, Unforgettable has future potential as a bad movie classic. Right now it’s simply mediocre and not all that memorable. Maybe naming it Unforgettable was a bit presumptuous.

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