Mediocre: Cries from the Heart

Cries from the Heart, A.K.A. Touch of Truth (1994)
Directed by Michael Switzer
Written by Robert Inman
Produced by Linda L. Kent, Jack Grossbart, Joel S. Rice
Starring Melissa Gilbert, Patty Duke, Bradley Pierce, Markus Flanagan, Roger Aaron Brown, Lisa Banes, Peter Spears, Joe Chrest
Poised peckish and proximate across the menopausal rubicon, Gilbert and Duke reunite in this sappily stodgy drama addressing two of America’s most prevalent phenomena. One single mother (Gilbert) concludes that she can’t cope with the megrims and tantrums of her autistic son (Pierce), who she commends to residence at a school for developmentally impaired children. There, his pedagogue and communicational therapist (Duke) nurtures his self-reliance and capacitates him to type what he can’t say through the controversial and abusable practice of facilitated communication. His text on their laptop’s screen alerts her to sexual predation committed by his caretaker (Spears) after hours; whether it’ll suffice as admissable and credible inculpatory testimony in court is quite another matter. Switzer’s routine direction hardly curbs Inman’s hokiest dialogue, delivered with particular zest by dedicatedly dowdy Gilbert. She’s so invasively, irritably irrational as a beleaguered mother that anyone whose eyes roll at her senseless hysterics can’t help but notice that the molestation suffered by her pitiable offspring isn’t his only problem. It’s serviceably hypnagogic when Gilbert and Duke aren’t combatively clucking at each other.

Mediocre: Without Her Consent

Without Her Consent (1990)
Directed by Sandor Stern
Written by Ann Beckett
Produced by Frank Brill, Maureen Holmes, Don Goldman, Raymond Katz, Carla Singer
Starring Melissa Gilbert, Barry Tubb, Scott Valentine, Bebe Neuwirth, Crystal Bernard, Madison Mason, Robin Riker, Julie McCullough, Ashley Bank, William Allen Young, Richard Fancy
Heed of the following cautionary catalog might’ve prevented the miseries and inconveniences suffered by this televised flick’s characters, especially a couple of guileless high school sweethearts from Idaho, a daycarer (Gilbert) preceding her mulleted moviemaker (Tubb) in transmigration to Los Angeles:

  1. Don’t relocate to Los Angeles as every other ambitious rustic may; establish yourself in a safer, less populous city like Austin and exploit the opportunities of its hungrier local industry.
  2. Like the whole of L.A., Venice is crawling with creeps; since arrogant, unpalatably handsome white men constitute 100% of all rapists in Lifetime’s broadcasts, don’t accept a ride from an unfamiliar stage carpenter (Valentine) from adjacent Santa Monica who fits that profile.
  3. A rendezvous with the aforementioned lothario manque at his domicile to examine a furnishing he’s presumably proffered is no wiser, even if the prior ride seemed harmless.
  4. If you’ve been violently raped after failing to conform to 2. and 3., visit the nearest police precinct and submit to an examination by a physician equipped with a rape kit; don’t be dissuaded by women crazed by spousal abuse, shrieking at deskbound officers.
  5. Even if you don’t follow 4., refrain from laving away inculpative seminal matter before a rape kit is administered; reason, not ablution, dispels unwarranted shame.
  6. If your rapist phones you frequently to harass you, learn how to disrupt his calls and deafen him by playing melodies on your touch-tone phone; Mary Had a Little Lamb and Computer World are suitable songs for such renditions.
  7. As soon as your boyfriend’s arrived and settled, but before he applies for gainful employment, notify him of your violation and bid him to avenge it by larruping your assailant to incapacitation at first tactical opportunity; otherwise, he might resort to some imprudent shift, such as vehicular assault.
  8. If an antecedent victim visits you with an offer to join her criminal suit under the aegis of one Gloria Allred (adorable Neuwirth helmeted with a bobbed, Brobdingnagian wig approximating Allred’s weird crinal volume), accept it; hers is the disposition of every grouchy aunt at a mitzvah’s reception, but she’s an unexcelled litigator whose lust for publicity’s matched only by that for judicial victory.
  9. In the instance that 7. was disregarded, 8. is doubly dire, now that your boyfriend’s been arraigned for vehicular assault; your stupid aversion to conflict only exacerbated your situation, Melissa.
  10. Support one another uncondtionally; hugs help!
  11. As the district attorney (Young) trying this case, suasion of the rapist’s codgerly neighbor who witnessed the crime’s aftermath to testify is your obligation, not that of the boyfriend under penalty of a restraining order. Do your job!
  12. No matter how loco you are, if you’re a rapist on trial, any extenuative exposition of pathological rationalization will land you in prison, pervert!

As perhaps the best advertisement for Allred’s career, an insatiable vortex of publicity presently targeting the President of the United States of America, it’s also goofy enough for a quality casual riff with friends.
Instead, watch I Spit on Your Grave.