Lifetime gets ‘Wise’

If you were to check out the John Simcoe “about” page (which doesn’t exist), you’d notice that I freely admit that I’ll delve into a Lifetime Network movie without much complaining.

It’s not that I like the things, but I just kind of grew up with them. My mother has an addiction to “women in peril” movies and back then, there was only one TV in the house, so I’ve seen plenty.

With that, I’ve built a hefty invulnerablity to empowering tales of cancer, spousal abuse, kidnapping and drug addiction.
Yes, that pretty much encapsulates just about any “movie of the week” that ran on network TV from 1985 to the turn of the century.

But lately, Lifetime, the new “owners” of the movie-of-the-week genre, has been pushing itself beyond those limits.
Just a few weeks ago, Lifetime debuted  “Girl’s Best Friend,” a movie with Janeane Garafalo. It was a clevery and funny slice-of-life movie about a woman stuck with a dog.

This weekend, Lifetime offers “Wisegal,” the story of a young widow sucked into the mob life.
Starring Alyssa Milano, James Caan and Jason Gedrick, “Wisegal” shows the viewers Patty Montanari’s entry into the male-oriented world of the Cosa Nostra and how she has the moxie to survive.

Yep, it’s moxie — please ignore that she’s boinking one of the underbosses and admire that “go get’em” attitude. 

Milano, best known for “Who’s the Boss?” and “Charmed,” gives her Brooklyn accent the full-court press for the film and pumps out a believable performance.
If there’s anything to complain about, it’s the constant puzzlement of how a waif like her could be the mother of two.
Her costars, Gedrick and Caan, also turn in believable, if not stereotypical, mobster characters.

Since it’s a mob movie, there’s going to be violence.
You want beatings, shootings and drill-bits to the eye?
 ‘Wisegal’ has ’em.
Unfortunately, the most violent thing Milano does is tote around a big pistol.
It would have been amusing, albeit unbelievable, to see Milano putting the smackdown on a stoolie or something.
But the hardest thing to swallow is the situation.
The mob — or at least the mob as it’s presented in movies — isn’t exactly female friendly.
It’s hard to believe for a second that once Milano’s character starts sassing her Capo that she wouldn’t get a broken nose. And when she comes to him offering a deal, it would have been more likely to see her fitted for cement shoes than the ultimate outcome.

Sure, “Wisegal” claims to be based on a true story, but in the end, you have to wonder just how much truth was included.
I’m betting Lifetime upped the empowerment and played down the sad and gritty truth.


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