Bad to the Bone (1997) Kristy Swanson, David Chokachi, Jeremy London
Sexually manipulative sociopath undone by poor financial planning skills.
Opens with Daniel Wells, in prison, answering the question, tell me about your relationship with your sister Frankie. “She used to cut my hair ...”
Cut to Frankie combing and cutting Daniel’s hair, while encouraging him to find a girlfriend and learn about the facts of life. “I can’t do everything for you, you know!” Thus introducing the queasy sexual undertone to Daniel & Frankie’s relationship that you can’t erase from your brain no matter how hard you shake your head, unless you’re dim bulb Daniel, in which case you are somehow a participant but never, ever an observer.
Frankie’s had about enough of her nagging mom, always wanting Frankie to get a job just because she’s been out of school for a year and expecting her not to stay out all night or accept presents from men in exchange for sexual favors and whatnot. Plus, mom never even acknowledges that her last husband was beating and molesting Frankie all the time. Mom gets shot at work by an unknown assailant, Frankie’s new boyfriend Waldo gives her an alibi, and they split to the city with the half-million dollars Frankie has inherited alone (because Daniel is a minor) from her evil stepfather via mom, and they open a nightclub.
But whoopsy, Frankie’s spent too much money on her loft and her Porsche and the nightclub, which isn’t bringing in enough money. She threatens to cut Waldo loose if he doesn’t get her money straightened out, and he threatens to rescind his alibi, so Frankie gives baby brother a call. Daniel comes to visit on break from college, and she tells him that Waldo had mom killed by his mob buddies to get at her fortune through Frankie, and that Frankie is a virtual prisoner in her fabulous loft, and also Waldo beats her. She sadly describes to Daniel how she clings to the memory of that one time when they got stranded in a cabin in the woods together and had to stay there all night, sleeping in the same sleeping bag, and just listening to the rain. “It was the last time I felt safe.” She convinces Daniel that the only way out of her predicament is for Daniel to kill Waldo. Later, she puts on her finest lingerie and comes on to Waldo. He wants to close the door, but Frankie assures him Daniel can’t hear anything. Cut to Daniel, bolt upright in bed, listening to the “rain.” Afterwards, Frankie appears at his door in the same lingerie and fills him in on the details about how he’s going to kill Waldo.
Daniel turns out to be a bit of a weak link (surprise!) in her brilliant murder scheme, which the police solve almost immediately after Daniel kills Waldo. Daniel loyally accepts all the blame while Frankie skips out on her bail and goes on a usually initially successful serial millionaire hunt (and who knew there were so many just lying around like that), but her plans keep foundering on the whole your-picture-on-America’s-Most-Wanted thing. Police finally succeed in convincing Daniel that maybe Waldo wasn’t a vicious mob thug after all and maybe his sister is a psycho who killed their mom and so forth, and he agrees to betray her. She comes to the end of her last dollar out on the run and places a call to a traceable number Daniel has left for her, and she is caught and arrested.
Daniel reflects: The thing that hurts the most was, he thought he was special, not just one of her guys. Oh ew.
This would have been an above-average Lifetime bad girl movie, except the incest theme sucked half the joy out of it by interfering so much with any possible vicarious enjoyment of the badness. You went too far this time, Lifetime!
Lifetime rating: **