Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig are two of the greatest Saturday Night Live cast members in the show's history, and two established movie stars. Ferrell and Wiig have both starred in a string of hilarious and acclaimed comedies, but have also proven their dramatic acting chops in some more somber, dark comedies, as well.
So when it came to light that the pair were filming a domestic melodrama thriller for Lifetime called A Deadly Adoption, it was only natural for people to assume it would be a tongue-in-cheek satire filled with laughable, slapstick parody. Instead, what fans got was a straightforward, completely serious, and surprisingly dramatic tale that fit in perfectly with the usual Lifetime movie fare, only with more star power in the leading roles.
While the film was met with confusion from critics and fans who didn't know what to expect and didn't understand what they'd seen once it aired, it turns out that the whole thing might have been one of the greatest examples of surreal experimental comedy that either Ferrell or Wiig have ever managed to pull off.
Ferrell And Wiig Play A Married Couple Who Take In An Obsessed, Pregnant Stalker
From the first minute, the film embraces the standard go-to themes and character archetypes that have made Lifetime movies so many people's guilty pleasures for so long. The movie follows Robert Benson (Ferrell), a best-selling financial advice author, and his wife Sarah (Wiig), the owner-operator of an organic fruit and vegetable stand.
When the film begins, Robert and Sarah are the parents of a 1-year-old daughter, Sully (Alyvia Alyn Lind), and Sarah is pregnant with their second child. However, tragedy strikes when Sarah almost drowns in the lake near their home. While Robert resuscitates her, the trauma causes her to lose the baby. The film skips forward five years, and Robert is now recovering from an alcohol problem and struggling for inspiration. He's also intensely protective of their now-6-year-old daughter. However, Sarah and Robert decide that they want to adopt a baby for a second chance at expanding their family.
The pair end up taking in a young pregnant woman, Bridgette (Lowndes), who is in her last trimester. They welcome her to live with them when she reveals that she's homeless and has been living in a shelter. However, once she's in their home, it quickly becomes clear that she's not in her right mind. In fact, she's not even actually pregnant.
Bridgette Wants Robert All To Herself After A Hookup During His Wild Book Tour Days
As Bridgette's behavior escalates and her advances toward Robert seem to become more overt, Robert (creepily) rummages through her belongings when she's not around and finds a signed copy of one of his books. He's struck with a shocking revelation: Bridgette's real name is Joni (as he can see from his signature in the book), and they've also totally hooked up.
In a drunken stupor years before, while on a book tour promoting his financial management advice book, a young fan of his books came on to him and the pair ended up having an affair. Using some hair dye, some soft makeup, and a fake baby bump, Bridgette/Joni managed to go unnoticed by the man she slept with in a moment of brazen book tour depravity. With Robert now aware of who she really is, the obsessed stalker decides to step things up with her craziness.
She Kidnaps The Bensons’ Diabetic Child, Tries To Off Sarah, And Eventually Falls Off A Bridge
As the wheels fall off of Robert and Sarah's plans for expanding their family, the insanity amps up in a big way. It turns out that Bridgette/Joni wants to start a family of her own with Robert and his daughter Sully, and wants Sarah out of the picture. To this end, she kidnaps Sully and takes her back to a cabin she shares with her dirtbag boyfriend and accomplice, Dwayne (Jake Weary), who thinks their misdeeds all part of a ransom scheme and doesn't know his girlfriend is secretly planning on keeping Sully and running off with Robert.
Needless to say, stuff keeps getting weirder. Joni gets into a wrestling fight with Sarah in a garage and seemingly ends her, then fires at Robert after he refuses to start a life with her. She also ends up slaying Dwyane. All the while, Sully - who suffers from diabetes - has been without her medication for quite some time and starts to suffer from the effects of her ailment.
Eventually, a wounded-but-alive Robert rescues Sarah from the garage and revives her before going off to save Sully on his own and put an end to Joni's madness. After Joni tries to run him over with her van on a bridge, Robert and Sully escape to a boat on the lake below. Joni is about to fire at them both when Sarah arrives out of nowhere and puts a bullet in Joni's shoulder, sending her falling over the side of the bridge to her demise. Six months later, everything is right with the world and the family enjoys a dance party in their kitchen.
The Closing Title Card Says The Film Was 'Inspired By A True Story' (It Wasn’t)
The closest the film comes to having comedic moments is a celebratory family dance party during the film's denouement (despite all of the terrible events that recently went down). It's a bizarrely joyful moment of levity that really suggests that the events of the movie had no lasting psychological impact on the characters whatsoever, and the absurdity of the moment is truly funny.
However, what really serves as something of a punchline for what is otherwise a straightforward (albeit ridiculously over-the-top) melodrama comes when the film ends with a title card claiming it was "Inspired by a true story." Needless to say, it was not. However, it does seem to have been directly inspired by other insane Lifetime movies. Many critics have noted that the plot draws from, most notably, 2007's The Last Trimester, as well as the 1996 drama The Babysitter's Seduction, the 2000 drama The Perfect Nanny, and 2013's The Nightmare Nanny.