We’ve had the Cleveland Abduction on our calendars for months. As our awesome friend Rachel said, it’s the “Kentucky Derby of Lifetime Movies.” Featuring
Raymond Cruz Tuco from Breaking Bad, as Ariel Castro, and Taryn Manning Pennsyltucky from Orange is the New Black, as Michelle Knight, (and a few other people we didn’t recognize) this was the Michelle Knight version of the kidnappings. Please forgive any unsympathetic tones in our review, this does not in any way reflect our thoughts on kidnapping. We are not in any way unsympathetic to the women who were victims of this monstrous crime, rather – we’re just reviewing this horribly exploitative trashy movie, from the network that doesn’t know the meaning of the words “too soon.” This movie was super fun to review, because it was on TV and we could be as loud as we wanted.
The movie starts with Pennsyltucky (Knight), a doting mother with a hard life, losing her son to the foster system. She meets Tuco (Castro) at a store, where she’s in a hurry to get to an important child custody hearing, and he lures Pennsyltucky by offering to give her a ride. He suggests they swing by his house first so they can pick up a puppy for her son, and after he promises that he can still get there on time, she agrees. I hope that this part was a dramatization and not what happened in real life, because that’s like the first thing they teach you about not getting kidnapped. Don’t get into anyone’s car, even if they offer you candy or puppies.
Paperback Purist: Is he luring her with PUPPIES? Does that really work? I guess so.
Cleone: Why are you going in there? That girl is real dumb. You are so dumb.
Mary: Why are there children yelling? Oh, that’s our children.
M: Why did they have to make him ethnic?
C: Because he was. He was Hispanic in real life. God made him that way.
Things go downhill pretty quickly when Pennsyltucky realizes there is no dog. Castro grabs her and wraps her up in an orange extension cord. He gets exceptionally creepy and then hooks the cord to a rope and raises her up to the ceiling in a perfectly executed, very complex harness. THIS was the most impressive part of the movie IMO. He seemingly threw some random loops of cord around her, puts it on a hook, and abracadabra, she’s in this crazy Kinbaku bondage harness. Was Castro actually a Japanese knot-tying fetishist, or was this just part of TV magic?
C: Is he jerking it on her? Now he’s going to put it on her. Like a glaze. Like a glazed donut.
PP: Oh wow, that’s a good hog tie. He really knows his knots.
M: I thought that was just a random tangle of rope. Wow, that’s impressive.
Tuco leaves Pennsyltucky suspended from the ceiling in her extension cord harness to go do stuff. Run errands and whatnot. She pees herself. He comes back after the commercial break (aka a long time) and tries to make her eat an egg McMuffin.
M: Tuco is not looking good. He’s put some weight on. That poor girl! She’s wearing wet jeans.
PP: Wet jeans are the worst.
C: They’re only sexy when Mal climbs into the bathtub with you.
He drags Pennsyltucky to the basement and R’s her, then ties her to a post, sticks a dirty washcloth in her mouth and puts a motorcycle helmet on her? It’s pretty awful. Tuco’s mom shows up with food and Pennsyltucky tries to draw attention to herself. She gets her hands free. I don’t know what the point of her getting her hands free was, because when he comes back downstairs she puts her hands back around the pole and never does any of the things you’d do with free hands. Tuco tries to make her eat again. It’s some kind of lo mein that his mom made? Then he has a FLAMENCO BAND PRACTICE? Pennsyltucky bangs around in the basement.
C: “What’s that percussion coming from your basement?”
PP: Wait what is he saying? Did we just miss something important? Stockholm syndrome what?
M: How has she not pooped yet?
At some point, after Tuco once again R’s her, he gets cuddly and cries about being bad. Pennsyltucky tries to talk him into letting her go, and he suddenly takes on a weird Oklahoma accent and carries her upstairs to a bed with no sheets, and chains her up. He lets her know that he’s not stupid and did she think he would just let her go? Ha ha, never! IMO, the bed is a slight improvement over the basement at least? Maybe?
M: Did he just say TUCO???
PP: To. Go.
C: All of these lifetime commercials look fantastic. Stockholm Pennsylvania????
Back from commercial, it’s Christmas. Pennsyltucky is not looking good. She’s wearing chains as underpants. Santa Tuco gives her a TV set, but forbids her from watching any TV shows with African Americans. I guess kidnapping rapist wasn’t unsympathetic enough, so they decided to make him racist as well.
C: So no Family Ties? No Urkel???
Time passes, they show Pennsyltucky and Tuco developing some sort of captor/captive relationship. A familiarity of sorts.
PP: Oh. They’re writing songs together. For his flamenco band. While she wears a bra and a chain.
M: I’m getting bored with this. It’s not very engaging for a kidnapping. We need the other women soon.
He has his family over while Pennsyltucky sits upstairs chained to a bed. She bangs the bed frame on the wall and Tuco turns up the music. This won’t end well.
C: She must be so bored. I feel so bad for her. He’s not even bringing her books! He could at least bring her a kindle. She gets toothpaste though.
(Tuco comes in with a cardboard box)
PP: Is he bringing her a puppy? Oh my god it is a puppy!
C: Wouldn’t you be excited about it if you had nothing to love? She’d better make it crap in the box.
M: Oh my god he’s a school bus driver! Oh he just raped her. Off to work now to pick up your children!
Tuco leaves her chains unlocked accidentally, and Pennsyltuckly tries to escape. She takes the dog with her. WHY IS SHE TAKING THE DOG? Obviously it’s a trap to see if he can trust her, and he catches her. He’s holds the puppy and makes a speech, and the whole time you know he’s about to kill the dog. He does.
PP: She’s really thin.
M: She’s not that thin though, not like you’d expect someone starving to look.
C: Well he feeds her and she doesn’t get any exercise. She’s like veal.
Tuco arrives with Amanda Berry. He tells the girls they can’t talk to each other, then he R’s Amanda with the door open. It’s all really horrible. Afterwards, Pennsyltucky tries to convince Amanda that there’s hope now that there are two of them. They need to plot! But Amanda is all, I was just kidnapped and raped, I’m still too upset to think about escaping, please don’t talk to me, I’d rather not wrap up this horrible day with a beating.
PP: Oh look, now she has a friend! (Amanda Berry)
C: I think I’d be selfish. I’d be like, “Oh stay! It’s nice here. I’m so bored!”
Pennsyltucky is obviously pregnant. Tuco comes in and asks her a very rhetorical, “Why are you getting fat in only one spot?” Even though he’s pretty fat in one spot, ahem. He beats her with a hand weight and forces her to miscarry, and it’s horrible. This movie is really tough to watch.
Commercial break. We are reminded that Fifty Shades is now out on video, and we should re-watch it and give it the review it deserves.
Oh no! Gina shows up. Tuco brings in Pennsyltuckly to cut her hair. Gina is all, “WTF there are THREE of us? Oh shit, I’m fucked.” Pennsyltuckly, ever the optimist is like, “Hey, now there’s three of us! We have to be able to get out of here now!” Tuco is getting progressively crazier, and he’s like, “Aww, my whole family is together at last.” Tuco shows up to the candlelight vigil for Gina, and comforts her mom. Then he makes sure Gina watches it on the news so she understands how hopeless it is. It’s the saddest thing ever.
PP: “Look at the look on your mom’s face?” Oh god he’s the worst!
M: I will say this though. The rape scenes are very tasteful for lifetime.
Lots of time passes, Gina and Pennsyltucky bond. Pennsyltucky has dance parties with her to keep Gina’s spirits up. Amanda berry’s mom dies.
The chains come off, they’re all at the table having family dinner. Tuco has an important announcement to make: Amanda Berry is pregnant, they’re going to have a baby! Pennsyltucky looks like she swallowed nails, because obviously Tuco has been making her miscarry every time she gets pregnant. Fast forward, Amanda is in labor. Tuco brings in a plastic kiddie pool for Amanda to give birth in, and puts on flamenco music so the neighbors can’t hear her screaming.
C: There’s no water in that pool. It’s a dry birth.
Pennsyltucky sees the new baby and she’s sad. She misses her son, and they show her putting up numbers on the wall for each of her son’s birthdays. She has missed a lot of them. This movie is super sad. There’s a scene where Tuco feeds real food to Amanda berry and her daughter, and literally garbage to Pennsyltucky. Things are getting bad for Tuco. He has no money and can’t support this family of five.
Finally: Tuco leaves the door unlocked. The little girl tells her mom. She signals to the neighbors and tells them she is Amanda Berry. They’re like, “You can’t be Amanda, Amanda is dead!” I hope that was really what that neighbor woman said, and that we’re getting a direct quote. Amanda and her daughter are rescued. Meanwhile, Pennsyltucky and Gina hide from the police. Pennsyltucky is remembering the “Incident with the Puppy,” and won’t fall for that one again! Finally, they find Pennsyltucky.
Gina: “I’m Gina.”
Shocked police woman: “OH MY LORD!”
Cleone: You’re the only one we’re actually looking for!
The home styling they’ve been doing is not doing Pennsyltucky any favors, she finally leaves the house and her hair is really bad.
C: Whatever. She could still try. She could plop it. She could ask for a tee shirt and good conditioner to maintain it.
M: Pennsyltucky is a terrible actress.
C: She’s hill trash. Like in Heaven!
M: It’s daddy Pope! Command!
Jake Serrano, FBI aka
Joe Morton Rowan Pope (Command of B613) from Scandal, takes charge of the case. He brings Pennsyltucky some more stuffed animals that people have sent her.
Pennsyltucky: “I swear we need to give some of this away!”
M: She’s really making herself out to be a saint.
Pennsyltucky: “Joey would love this.”
PP: No he wouldn’t. he’s a teenager.
C: “Sorry hon, your son is a grownup now. He’s lost in the system.” He’s probably in juvie. Not that we’re stereotyping or anything.
Daddy Pope has brought her some food from Steak and Shake and a milkshake from DQ – why he made two stops and didn’t just bring her a milkshake from Steak and Shake is a mystery, because their milkshakes are really good. Pennsyltucky sees the napkin that Daddy Pope has, and has a PTSD freakout, remembering the napkins that Tuco used to stick in her mouth at the beginning of it all. We kind of lost interest at this point. Something something. Daddy Pope brings her to a bedroom.
C: Oh are they going to do it now?
C: Romance books have ruined me!
We’re getting close to the end. Gina cuts ties with Michelle, which is sad for Michelle, but kind of understandable. I don’t know if I’d want to hang out with my kidnapping bff and be reminded of everything either. Joey’s foster parents won’t let him see Pennsyltucky. They don’t think it would be in his best interest for there to be any contact with his mom. It’s pretty shitty of them to not even allow her a visit…
M: Michelle’s looking good. She got her hair did.
C: She has mom hair, like Kate Gosselin.
Finally, there’s a trial. Tuco went bald really quickly. Why’s he wearing a bald cap??? His beard looks like it has milk spilled down it. Then there’s a voice over, Pennsyltucky is using her experience to help people around the WORLD, by passing out balloons and other helpful things. There’s no updates on the other girls. We’ll obviously just have to read their book.
PP: I can’t even listen to her voice any more. She’s got a mouth full of marbles.
C: Now she’s got all those new teeth. The prison system worked for her. (wrong show)