I searched in vain Saturday night to find a current movie I wanted to see in a local theater.
After this spring’s weak offerings, the summer can’t come soon enough for movie-goers desperate for some overpriced popcorn.
I’ve mostly survived the movie slump by watching the NBA and NHL playoffs.
But there is only so much hockey and basketball you can watch. At least that’s what my girlfriend has told me.
That is how I ended up watching a cable film shot in Buffalo last summer, “A Mother’s Revenge,” on Saturday night.
It really was quite educational. It made me discover that the Lifetime Movie Network (LMN) is on Channel 630 in high definition on Time Warner Cable. To be honest, this TV critic didn’t even know there were channels in the 600s.
I also learned that my DVR needs to be readjusted. But I’ll keep you in suspense on that one.
But back to the movie, which I DVRed 30 minutes before it aired to avoid commercials.
“How bad can it be?” I said to my reluctant and very smart girlfriend.
Our game plan was to watch the first 15 minutes of the film and answer that question.
It was really, really, really bad. It was one of those poorly-acted and plotted films that was so bad that you couldn’t stop watching.
But they had us at the first visual of the Hotel Lafayette. I lived there for a few years after developer Rocco Termini presided over its extreme makeover so we got a kick out of the scenes in the lobby and in an apartment that looked a lot like mine.
The beautiful visuals of Western New York almost made me forget how dreadful the plot was in the film.
Jamie Luner, who starred in “Melrose Place” almost a quarter century ago, played a mother coming to Buffalo to see her daughter graduate from a local college. The girl’s father, the ex-husband of Luner’s character, also came.
I quickly found another personal reason for watching. I teach at Buffalo State College and its quad was used in a scene to represent the college that the daughter was supposed to graduate from.
Here’s a spoiler alert for those people who want to ignore my warnings and watch when this film repeats at 6 p.m. Saturday, May 21. Stop reading if you don’t want to know what happens.
The daughter never makes it to graduation. She gets kidnapped.
It seems Luner’s character took the wrong bag from baggage claim and the suitcase she took was owned by a creepy guy with bad intentions. Viewers don’t find out what is in his bag until the final scene.
The creepy guy meets the ex-husband at a bar at the Hotel Lafayette. The Hotel Lafayette actually has more character than the characters, who have as much life as the closed hotel restaurant where scenes were shot last summer.
It was pretty clear after 30 minutes, that the plot was going nowhere. But so were my girlfriend and I. We stuck it out, enjoying the visuals filmed at the Niagara Falls Airport, the Aquarium in Niagara Falls, Coca-Cola Field, the Lodge restaurant and the Cave of the Winds.
And then there were the cameos. Mayor Byron Brown and local actress Mary Kate O’Connell performed at least as well as the paid professionals in their scenes. I also noticed that Paul Spitale, who recently was married on “Good Morning America,” played a desk clerk at the hotel in a few scenes. Local actor Steve Vaughn played a cable driver.
Film Commissioner Tim Clark later told me that Patrick Kalor of Visit Buffalo Niagara and Kathy Neville of the Niagara Bridge Commission also were in the film with the curious title.
After all, with the title “A Mother’s Revenge,” you expect some revenge.
The title – which Clark said was the third one -- made as much sense as the rest of the movie. The creepy guy probably would have saved a lot of trouble by just calling the airport, finding out if Luner’s character realized she had the wrong bag and made an exchange without a couple of clueless policemen getting involved and making Luner’s character a murder suspect.
I think you’ll probably figure out who was murdered by the above sentence.
I also don’t think you’ll be shocked to learn the creepy guy gets his comeuppance in the end and the daughter is saved from both his clutches -- and from a boring speech while attending graduation.
I’m kidding about missing graduation. It is a big deal.
After watching for two hours, my girlfriend and I were sort of left holding the bag.
TWC's clock must be off by a minute or so because my DVR timed out just as we were about to learn what was in the bag that the creepy guy was willing to kill for.
This was a tragedy. But I remembered the film was being repeated at midnight, so I DVRed it and the following movie to make sure to see the final 30 seconds or so that we had missed the first time.
It turned out there was a lot of real and counterfeit money hidden in the bag. The creepy guy apparently was worried that someone would find it.
No amount of money would force me to watch this movie again. I think my girlfriend would even agree to watch more basketball with me than watch it again on May 21, too.