Today’s movie is from 1997 and stars all people I had watched on tv before 1997- Joanna Kerns (Growing Pains), Grant Show (Melrose Place) and Christine Elise who was none other than Emily Valentine on 90210. Seeing this cast list made me want to watch this movie immediately but also surprised me that I didn’t see this back in 97. What could I have been doing that was more important?!? Oh, apparently I was moving to NYC where I lived without cable for like 5+ years. It’s best to not even speak of that dark time when I did more things and went to college and watched less tv. HORRORS.
“A woman finds a husband for her daughter but then decides he’s not the one and hires a hit man to kill him.” That sounds crazy, right? Well it’s based on the true story of Lee Goldsmith who actually did all of these things. That is bananas.
When it came to the posters they really killed it with the graphic design:
In addition to being a crazy story it also happened in Florida so maybe it started up Florida’s reputation for ridiculous crimes? For some laughs you should know that in real life the mom posted an ad in the newspaper about her daughter being a nice Jewish girl looking for a nice Jewish guy. Then they hired these very very white people to play all of the Jewish roles and changed their last names from Brownstein and Goldsmith to Cooper and Rogers. That’s how it’s done, yuck.
The beginning of the movie is the back of a blonde head getting a phone call and seemingly talking to a hit man about “being careful.” Then a shower starts and a baby coos. Jake from Melrose Place disrobes and gets into the shower with Emily Valentine so this movie heated things up pretty quickly.
She wants it to look like a drug deal gone bad. Does that work if he’s never dealt a drug before? The hit man says he’ll do it right, don’t worry. She says that when he’s dead and she sees it in the papers she’ll pay him the rest. Can’t her daughter tell her when he’s dead? What hit man would wait so long to get paid?
They have a small baby so this seems like a weird time to murder your daughter’s husband but this woman is cold-blooded and possibly a robot.
Emily Valentine is a nurse and she’s calling Jake from Melrose Place at work but someone appears to be holding him up so he can’t answer. He pleads for his life and says that he has a baby and not to do this but the gun goes off and the scene changes. DRAMATIC!
Mom is being honored with a woman of the year award and Emily Valentine is all dressed up but actually named Laurel in this. In my heart she’ll be Emily Valentine forever but I digress. Mom is beaming. Some dude smugly looks at her from another table.
The person presenting the award is none other than Lucille Bluth!
Smug guy is all “see you later” outside and then zooms off in his jerk-mobile and mom seems disappointed. Ugh, that guy looks like he has never seen a vagina up close, you made the right choice Laurel!
Then we see mom in Laurel’s condo all “dad and I would have bought you a bigger condo if we knew you wanted a roommate.” I guess her mom is pissed that she has a roommate instead of a husband. MOM IS OBSESSED WITH FINDING HER A HUSBAND. In like 2 minutes of this movie has that become clear enough yet? I feel like I already hate this mom so much that I’m not even being funny anymore and we’re like 5 minutes in. Mom brings up the personals in the paper but Laurel says no offing way will she be replying to ads in the paper.
Laurel is at work when the phone rings and the guy calling is Ted (formerly known as Jake from Melrose Place). He says that she wrote him a letter and she has no idea what he’s talking about. Oh, she deduces very quickly that her mom actually wrote that letter and he’s only minimally horrified but mostly finds her sooooo cute that he just wants to take her on a long walk. Wait, people actually go on long walks? That’s not just a throwaway line from made up dating profiles? WHY DID HER MOM GIVE HIM THE NUMBER AT THE HOSPITAL SHE WORKS AT?!! I know that I lived before cell phones but did everyone just call people’s work numbers back then? I don’t remember that but maybe? He somehow wins her over it looks like by her half smile.
Laurel goes to her mom’s ridiculous house that has a pool inside some kind of greenhouse to tell her she got a call from a stranger about a letter he got from her. Mom is all “you said you didn’t want to answer an ad, you never said I couldn’t!” Okay, shut up mom, I hate you so much and you haven’t even done your worst yet. Mom tells her that these are the best years of her life and not to let it die on the vine. Jesus Christ, if this was my mom I’d move away and never speak to her again. She’s exhausting.
Mom is all “so what does he do?” with a wink like “you’re welcome for the date” and Laurel just leaves.
Laurel goes to a restaurant and meets Ted. He’s handsome so she’s all “you don’t look like someone who’d put an ad in the paper” because this is back when meeting a stranger for a date was like signing up to be murdered by a serial killer. Today’s dating is essentially based completely on meeting strangers via media and assuming you won’t be murdered and that they can be handsome- what a difference 18 years can make.
They seem to be hitting it off and he admits that he didn’t put the ad in the paper, his mom did. SURPRISE! They both were raised by lunatics.
He shows her some space he’s renting for work and kisses her in the big warehouse while the lamest plinky plinky music plays. He has his own auto garage I think? I don’t even care.
Laurel goes home and her roomie/coworker asks how the date went and she says it went great but she doesn’t want to tell her mom that she was right about something. Yeah, don’t tell her. It will never possibly be worth it.
Sigh, she calls her mom. Mom is all “squealllllll when do I get to meet him!” My whole body is shuddering because I can’t take this kind of shit. It’s awful. A nightmare. Laurel says that on their next date she’ll bring him by. Why?!?! Don’t do that. Grosssssss, ew, so gross.
Mom asks what he does and she knows her mom is a super snob so she says he’s “in the auto business.” Mom is delighted.
Mom is out grocery shopping with Lucille Bluth and essentially telling her that Laurel has finally found a husband (after ONE date) and Lucille is all “did she finally land one of those doctors?” and mom is all “better! An auto executive!” and I don’t know where she’s getting that. Lucille thinks she should put out the fancy cheese when he comes over then so they get the petite basque because that is the cheese you serve auto executives. Everyone knows that.
Laurel is at her parent’s house and mom is telling dad that he works in an executive suite despite no one telling her that. Laurel says that he doesn’t work in an office and her mom ignores her. He’s late and covered in grease but he has a suit with him so he apologizes. THE REASON- Some old lady’s car broke down and he stopped and helped her and had to push her car like a mile by himself. Mom is HORRIFIED because he’s dirty instead of being psyched that he did something really nice. Mom stares at him like he’s covered in blood and admitting that he killed an old lady with his bare hands.
He goes to get cleaned up and while he’s gone mom is all “I can’t believe he lied about what he does! He’s at the bottom of the auto industry!” and Laurel is all “no, he told me what he does for a living and he’s really nice.” Let us all remember that in 1997 Grant Show was also a tv heartthrob for thousands and thousands of women’s fantasies so don’t be so uptight mom. He comes in all dressed up and says he’s grateful for the mom’s letter because it lead to them meeting and also apologizes for making a bit of a mess in the guest bathroom.
Mom is super rude and so they leave to catch their dinner reservations (he doesn’t seem to pick up on what’s happening). They leave and dad is all “he’s so nice” and mom is all “he’s a pathological liar, his ad said he was successful!” and storms out.
Then she goes into the guest bathroom and there is grease in the sink and on one hand towel. SHE IS HORRIFIED.
A few spots of grease are the worst thing this lady has ever seen in her fucking life. She loses it and is all “this monster will never touch my daughter!!” It’s so cartoonish that it’s hilarious. I should make a supercut of just Joanna Kerns losing it in this movie.
Back at Laurel’s house there is really bad light rock playing (wait, it’s “damn! I wish I was your lover!”) while he puts the moves on Laurel. I hope mom swings in through a window to protect her baby from his possibly dirty, blue collar hands. Mom must be horrified that she probably touches blood and pee and stuff at work… as a nurse… in a hospital… Does mom know that a nurse is also a gross job?
They kind of slow dance but it’s more a seduction dance if you know what I mean (they’re gonna dooooooo it). She’s wearing a belt that’s like chain or pieces of metal together. It’s terrible.
They’re in bed, making out and undressing when mom pulls up (the “damn! I wish I was your lover!” song is apparently blasting outside, what a party jam). Mom rings the doorbell and she tells him to ignore it. Mom peeps into the window (ew, this effing lady) and is all BUGGED OUT EYES seeing two wine glasses inside. Can you imagine?? TWO wine glasses!
Laurel answers the door and mom just shoves her way into the condo freaking out about how Ted is a liar and a loser and she shouldn’t like him. Laurel keeps trying to shut her up but mom doesn’t give two shits because she’s the most selfish person in the world. She finally yells that he’s in the bedroom and mom is quietly scandalized but runs out of there.
Of course Ted is getting dressed because he heard all of this and feels like shit about himself now. She smooths it over and he says that if he had a daughter like her he’d only want the best for her too and I guess that’s sweet and not creepy?
Cut to dinner with her parents and also waiting on his mom. His mom is late because, HORRORS, she works. Can you believe this broad?? Working. The nerve!
His mom arrives and is super nice to everyone and apologizes for being late but mom is shitty yet again because she only has one speed and it’s THE WORST. Of course mom is all “too bad your husband couldn’t make it… oh right, you’re divorced.” Like being divorced is as awful as getting grease spots in a sink. How would a lady like this ever leave the house? Wouldn’t she be horrified constantly? If she spent five minutes with me and Chris she’d probably have a stroke.
Ted’s mom says her divorce was tame and jokes that Ted’s was much worse. Oh god, here we go. Mom is definitely filing this away for later. Ted’s mom can’t read the menu because it’s all in French and mom is all “yeah, I’m not surprised” in a very tight lipped, sing-song way. THEY’RE IN FLORIDA! How do you get to be this snobby in freaking Florida?!? They’re not in Beverly Hills or something. I haven’t seen any of those jerks speak French either- call bullshit on them, Ted!
In a very weird scene that comes out of nowhere Laurel has photos of her mom as a young person out in her condo and is calling her alma mater who says no one named Celeste Whatever ever went there. Laurel doesn’t get how this college could be so disorganized. COMMERCIAL.
Ted is at work and Laurel is bandaging his hand while his mom is talking about how much more the business made last month (she’s the bookkeeper at this garage). They’re all laughing and joking around because literally anywhere that isn’t her parent’s house is a much better place to be. What happened to his hand? SPOILER ALERT- We’ll never know.
His mom says that she’s planning a surprise birthday for him and asks Laurel if she wants to help- of course she does. She offers up her place for the party. Easy peasy when you’re talking to a normal person.
She goes into the garage and she and Ted have a ridiculous water fight in the garage where they throw big buckets of sudsy water all over each other and laugh and laugh.
Of course the sportscar driver from before shows up to pick up his mom’s Lincoln and it has soap all over and she’s all wet and he’s all “Laurel??” while looking like he smells poo.
Mom is shopping with Lucille Bluth and talking about some European cruise she’s going on with her husband to like 8 countries. Lucille asks if Laurel is going and let me stop you right there, lady. That sounds like the most hellish 2+ weeks ever even if she was single. Trapped on a boat with this lady?? Hell to the no. Mom says that Laurel can’t get that much time off work right now and Lucille drops the bomb that her son saw her washing cars in some garage. Mom is horrified and pretends not to hear this and just talks over her instead of having a conversation like a friend.
Cut to mom storming into Laurel’s condo where she’s cooking for Ted’s birthday party (which appears to consist of putting whole bell peppers into a skillet, deeeelish). Mom drops the bomb that she got her a ticket for the cruise so she can go with them (nope) and also got her some evening dresses so she can dress for dinner (nope) and also called her supervisor at work and got her the time off (TRIPLE NOPE). Laurel is horrified.
She says that she definitely can’t go now because she’ll look so unprofessional at work. Mom doesn’t seem to know how work works so she thinks having a mom call and ask for your time off is a thing that happens. I hate her so much. I want her squeaky, plastic leather blazer to catch on fire.
Mom stomps out all “you used to appreciate the things I did for you!” Oh no, the whole bell peppers burned or something because she dumps out the skillet with a sigh after her mom leaves. Mom takes the fancy dresses with her because Laurel apparently doesn’t deserve them anymore since you don’t have to dress for dinner when you’re dating a guy who fixes cars.
Mom gets a devilish look in her eyes and pops out a vintage cell phone though. She calls up a private detective apparently because in the next scene the detective is telling mom all this personal stuff about how he got a 90k loan from his ex-in laws.
Also in his divorce his ex wife said he beat her child and the detective even says these allegations were unfounded and dropped but she’s all “oooooh, not if it was your daughter.” How would you even present this to your daughter in a way that makes you likable? Run away, Laurel! Run far away!
It’s so weird to see Emily Valentine be the sane person in something I’m watching but here we are.
Ted brings Laurel to a house that just went on the market that is super cute that he wants her to look at. She’s all “can we afford this?” He says they can.
Oh man, a puppy comes running up to her in the backyard and she grabs the puppy but on the puppy is a ring box and it’s an engagement ring! He’s proposing AND he got her a puppy. Pretty smooth, Jake from Melrose Place.
She wants to say yes but is afraid of her mother- totally healthy response. He says maybe they’ll just tell her mom they’re living together first to get her used to things first. She says yes to that because apparently she’s never met her mother before.
They have his birthday party and how long have they been dating? Less than a year if this is his first birthday since they’ve been together. So things are going a bit fast but still her mom should shut her stupid face. The party looks really fun and Ted’s family is all great. Laurel’s friends even had fun.
Remember that scene about her mom’s college from before that came out of nowhere and was never brought up again? Well Laurel called her mom’s high school friend today who told her that her mom never went to college but was working as a cashier when she met Laurel’s dad. Why is she looking into this? Obviously I like that her mom is a former regular person and has been caught but what started this investigation? Ted says there is probably an explanation and to just ask her but that’s how to talk to a normal person. Wrong answer, Ted.
Laurel is putting some boxes into her car when her mom walks up and I guess the cruise ended early because Laurel thought she was still on her cruise. Mom says nothing happened to end the cruise early (SPOILER ALERT- We’ll never know why they got home early) and asks if the roommate moved out.
Laurel says the roommate is moving in with her boyfriend and then slowly drops the bomb that she’s moving in with Ted. Mom shows her normal grace and FREAKS THE FUCK OUT and tells her that she’s making a fool of herself and no man will want her when this ends.
That’s how it works everyone, if you live with a person but then break up, it’s over for you. That’s it. No more relationships for you ever. Them’s the breaks.
Ted walks in carrying a giant plant and dumbly tells mom that she’s got it all wrong. He wants to marry her daughter but she doesn’t want to rush into anything to make her mom happy. Laurel is all “we should either do things right or not at all.” Mom is all “great!” and starts unpacking boxes but Laurel meant she was saying yes to the proposal and kisses him while mom’s head spins around like the kid in The Exorcist.
Laurel is at work and everyone is marveling that she told her mom because everyone knows this mom is the worst.
Mom calls Laurel to stand in a picturesque park to tell her about Ted’s shitty past.
Surprise- she knew about all of this because they’re a couple who, get this, talks about things and are open with each other. Mom is a bit confused by this because she doesn’t live her life that way. Laurel drops the bomb that Washington University has never heard of her and she’s been lying to her for her entire life about awards she won in college and some charity she started. Mom is all “Ted put you up to this!” even though that makes no sense. Laurel says that mom is the one who has been dishonest and walks away. Keep walking, walk to another state girl.
They’re moving into the house and Laurel asks Ted to take some box to her mom because she called and said she needed it back asap. Ted does as he’s told and takes the box to mom’s giant house. Why did mom need this measly box right away? And why request Ted? FISHY.
Ted drops it off and see’s Lucille Bluth on his way out. She goes in and mom is upstairs all “hurry! help!” and she’s in a robe all torn and beaten saying that Ted attacked her because he was stealing money from her charity to pay for their wedding. She also says that he threatened her before that she’ll never see Laurel again and she hasn’t seen her again. Don’t mention that you did something shitty and that’s why your daughter isn’t seeing you- save that tid bit for yourself.
Joan is horrified and mom vamps “don’t call the police! We can be the only ones who know!” so of course Joan calls Laurel to tell her what her mom is saying. Laurel sees right through this and brings her key back to her mom and says that she called her plastic surgeon who told her that mom got her eyes done yesterday and that’s why she has two black eyes. SNAP!
Mom just lays there dramatically. Laurel informs her that she won’t be welcome at her wedding now. DOUBLE SNAP. Mom says that if she leaves she’s out of the will. Shut your face you old crow.
They’re getting married and Ted’s mom is being extra nice because she knows that Laurel has the worst mom ever. Why hasn’t Laurel’s dad left her mom yet? They’re watching from binoculars in the parking lot and dad is being nice and wondering why things had to turn out this way while mom is all “SHUT UP!” See what I’m saying? Why is she still married?
ONE YEAR LATER.
It’s a baby shower and Laurel is pretty pregnant. They’re getting a lot of presents and Ted’s family continues being the total opposite of Laurel’s. Her friends are also nice. This life seems so much better than the old life.
Laurel is sad when she reads the baby books and sees grandparent stuff. Her dad crashes the shower and it’s nice. He’s great. How did he end up married to a cartoon witch?
Her dad says that maybe things have changed now that Laurel is having a baby and she should be able to accept Ted now. Ted says she can try calling because he continues to be a nice guy who somehow doesn’t hate this woman.
I guess she calls because in the next scene she’s meeting her mom for lunch in… some sort of hunting lodge?
Mom is all “oh you poor thing, it must be so terrible.” Is she talking about pregnancy? It seems like a weird thing to say to a pregnant lady but okay.
Laurel offers up an ultrasound photo and mom is all “we’ll get through this” and it turns out that she assumes she has left Ted to raise the kid with her mother. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Laurel is so confused. Mom says that dad came home and said that she missed her mom and she put two and two together. Laurel gets up and leaves because she realizes that after a year her mom has only gotten worse, which is very impressive considering how terrible she was before. Mom yells that she’s now worried about her grandson’s safety as she gets her ass outta there.
Mom runs home and opens some mail and looks sneaky. Oh, she is turning Ted into the IRS for tax evasion.
The auditor asks if she knows he’s not paying taxes on his income and she says that she can guess so she must be right. That’s not how it works. She asks if he’ll be going to jail now and the auditor says that’s also not how it works. This lady is such a nightmare.
Laurel is going into labor as her mom is writing some note about wanting to be a family again and fluffing her hair. She tries to storm into the hospital room and a nurse stops her so she sits in the waiting room in a big ol’ huff. The nurse tells a pushing Laurel that her mom is outside and Laurel is all “UGHHHHH NO NOT NOW!” so Ted goes out to deal with her because he’s a saint.
He tells her that Laurel doesn’t want her in there and somehow she’s shocked. They have spent 2 minutes together in a year so I’m not sure how this could be a surprise. She sees that Ted’s mom is there and looks super pissed.
Mom goes home and cuts up the baby present as all emotionally stable grandmothers do. Dad is all “I’m sure it’s not that bad” and I get the feeling that he has no idea about anything that his wife has done pretty much ever. I wish someone would fill him in.
Some dude is cleaning her carpets and of course she freaks out and threatens to tell his supervisor that he stole from her (he did not) and he asks her not to because then his boss will have to tell his parole officer. LIGHT BULB!
People who have been in prison all know hit men or are hit men. It’s well known. She has been around the block so she knows these things. She hands him an envelope and says she thinks she knows a way he can make extra money.
A pretty big leap to assume that this person who spent a little bit of time in jail will kill for you. In the note it says that she knows someone who doesn’t deserve to live and that she’ll pay $10,000. He looks baffled while she looks very pleased with herself. Man, she is a very stupid rich lady who doesn’t understand that she just wrote an incriminating note on her own stationary in her own handwriting and handed it to a stranger. She thinks she’s very smart though because she told him to burn it because she knows she can trust him. He’s a murderer, not a liar!
After commercial they meet on a snowy mountain and she tells him total lies about how this guy kidnapped her niece after school one day and raped her and murdered her and the police couldn’t do anything about it so she has taken matters into her own hands. She’s as subtle as an Italian widow in this scene.
He says he will not help her and she gets all huffy but then he says he met someone inside who will take care of it. She asks “do you trust him?” and he says yes. Why do YOU trust this guy who you met once and were a total asshole to? He says he wants his own money and needs more details. She has photos with her so no problem.
Mom is having a big charity thing at her house when the hit man shows up and she’s all “oh, you’re outside?” and she just goes outside and meets with him in her car in the driveway outside her big party.
She looks into the backseat and the guy is black and she’s clearly nervous because she knows he must be a real tough criminal. How she jumps at the sight of him is so offensive.
The guy says that he wouldn’t normally do a job like this for a stranger but the other guy vouches for her. She cheerily tells him how easy it is to make it look like a drug deal gone bad and she’ll never change her mind because this person is evil and no one will ever miss him. The dude asks if she’ll be cool under pressure if the police question her and she’s all “they’ll never suspect me” as if she’s SHOCKED by this question. She likes to think that she knows a lot about crime but let’s face it, no one believes she knows anything about it.
Meanwhile, a giant bear has shown up at Laurel and Ted’s house and Laurel is suspicious of it. She says it’s heavy when she takes it out of the box and I bet it’s full of drugs knowing what I know now. Ted gets home and, like always, he wants to believe her mom could be nice but she says something is fishy about this. He keeps picking up the bear and I keep suspecting there will be drugs popping out of it but so far nothing. The hit man sits outside watching this bear get picked up over and over. They should throw it out just to be on the safe side.
In the morning he goes to work and kisses the baby outside while the dog, now a black lab, barks at the hit man car. The hit man just follows him to work in broad daylight, cracking his knuckles in the car.
Ted gets to work and opens the garage and the hit man just drives in. Oh, is it Valentine’s Day? Laurel has a card at work from him that tells me it is. The hitman walks in and it’s the opening scene of the movie where he’s begging for his life for his baby and wife and then the guy shoots.
EVERYTHING GOES QUIET.
We come back into the room and the water bottle has been shot behind his head. What?
The hit man makes him get into his trunk instead and Ted is totally confused. The hit man calls Mom to tell her that the job is done and she says she’s waiting for the story in the papers and he says no effing way, he’s skipping town and she’s paying him now. She totally calls the police pretending to be a detective asking about the body that came into the morgue today and she delights in all of these details so much that it’s super gross. Is impersonating a cop also a crime? Probably.
Laurel is told at work that she needs to go home because something happened with Ted. Laurel gets home and the hitman is a detective named Cutler who plays the tape of her mom laughing about how thorough he was killing Ted and how happy she is. Laurel looks horrified.
Ted is in a hotel room with body guards and she gets to call him. She’s so freaked out and the acting in this scene is pretty good. The detective tells her that she needs to call some people and tell them that something happened to Ted so that the news travels and her mom goes to make the final payment.
Mom gets the phone call (from her husband, not from Laurel) and is so pleased. She runs right over to tell Laurel that they will be helping raise the baby and not to worry and then she leaves. It’s so hard watching Laurel try to be nice to her like she’s not a monster.
She meets the criminals at an ice cream parlor while the Goonies score music plays, I’m pretty sure. She pulls up in her Jag and puts on some lipstick for the big money transaction.
Gotta look good when you pay off a killer- what would Miss Manners think? This is what you get for assuming all black men are killers and not doing even 1 minute of background check on him.
While they’re in the car detailing the crime some Jeep drives by and ruins their signal because apparently Jeep radios once worked on CB signals? They’re not just cool cars, they’re true campsites or something. She laughs and laughs about how happy she is and laughs and laughs about how dead Ted is.
They get the signal back and she pays him and he’s counting it and she says that people who do things like this make stupid mistakes like bragging to people or telling someone who turns out to be a cop. He takes this opportunity to let her know that he’s a cop. Her reaction is: “YOU LYING BASTARD!!” like she is the one who has been betrayed in this situation. It’s really something.
Cops cars swarm her car and she’s so fucking pissed. This is an outrage! She’ll have your badge!
Ted comes home, Laurel and the baby are relieved.
Trial has started and it’s a media frenzy. At the court mom tells the news that she was protecting her daughter from a lying abuser. “I did what any loving mother would do.” This fucking lady.
She sees Laurel at the courthouse and begs her to tell the news that she wanted her to do this. Instead she says “goodbye, mother.” The chyron tells us mom got 5 years in prison for attempted murder.
This is pretty much how it happened in real life except for some little differences. It is still crazy to me that this is real. How could this be real?!?
Here is some news from the 90s: Mother, Daughter Face Each Other in Court After 5 Years
She was up for 30 years and got 5. I wonder if being a rich, white lady helped that happen?
This article is long and has a lot of bananas details that even this movie didn’t include:
The Old Lady and the Hit Man
That articles features this line: “So what we have here is something more than just another routine South Florida crime story.”
If only 1990 could see what the future would bring for Florida and crime.
Also, this line, which I’m including because it makes me laugh: “David had a beard. Lee Goldsmith believed that the only people who wore facial hair were beatniks, bums, the working class and rabbis.”