Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The last time my wife dragged me over to the Mother-in-Law’s and she was surfing mommies Comcast Free on Demand looking for something to watch, I managed to convince her to click on the classic Blaxploitation creation ‘J.D.’s Revenge’ which of course was glorious. This time I wasn’t so lucky. My Brother-in-Law’s girlfriend… or ex-girlfriend… it’s complicated, blurts out that ‘Wisegal’ is GREAT! I know it’s a Lifetime movie and that and the word ‘great’ are mutually exclusive, so I desperately try to talk her into clicking on ‘The Indian in the Cupboard’ or ‘C.H.U.D. II’ or ANYTHING, except ‘Wisegal’, but alas my efforts were futile as On Demand fired up ‘Wisegal’, and though it certainly wasn’t ‘great’, and coupled with the fact that before it started I told myself that I’m going to force myself to watch it to write something up, it wasn’t all that bad.

Our film opens with narration by the youngest son of the main character Patty Montanari (Allysa Milano) talking about something along the lines of being touched by the devil. Hell if I know what he was talking about. His point was that his mom had a tough life and as the film begins we see Patty running away from her gangster boyfriend Frank Russo (Jason Gedrick) and pointing a gun at him through the door. But of course that’s near the end of our story which has to have a beginning.

A period piece, Patty was born in what I’m guessing is the 1940’s to a teenage mother who had chosen to leave her on a church doorstep, but found that leaving her baby was unbearable and snatched her back up with the young mother and child struggling in life going from shelter to shelter living hand to mouth. One day a nice police officer shows a young Patti some kindness and the two would begin a romance, marry, and have two children. Tough Luck kicks Patti in the ass yet again as her husband would die of cancer and at the funeral she would meet the owner of the funeral home, Frank Russo, who offers to cut her a break on the service that she can’t afford. Patti’s a tough one though and initially refuses the help, but eventually she realizes that a sister can’t get by on charm alone and takes a handout.

Patty would continually run across the Married Frank Russo who has her in his system and he tries to help her out here and there but she does resist, but when he offers her the chance to turn his struggling nightclub around she jumps at the opportunity, which eventually leads to the pair engaging in a torrid affair. Here the plucky brunette would meet Frank’s boss Salvatore Palmieri (James Caan) who sees even more potential in

the girl and for whatever reason chooses her to be his mule, transporting cash across the border between New York and Canada. Now things are going just swell for the Montanari’s as they have cash, Patty has love, though dude is still married, and she has the love of her sons though we know none of this can last. Soon Salvatore will become paranoid and start having folks whacked, Frank will become overly possessive of his goomah and the Feds are closing in tight. What in the world is a mother with a nine millimeter going to do?

‘Wisegal’ is a typical Lifetime movie through and through with its painfully predictable storyline, signature shooting style - no matter who happens to direct it - but it is pumped up considerably by a plucky performance from Allysa Milano… who’s freaking 36 years old. I mean how old am I that Allysa Milano is 36? I’m only a couple of years older than she is in reality, but it just felt like while watching ‘Who’s the Boss’ that I had to be at least twenty years older than Samantha, or that punk kid on ‘Commando’. But no, we were virtually the same age. Unfortunately one of us got hot while the other got fat. Anyways, also helping the movie was a solid performance by Jason Gedrick and of course having Sonny Corleone in your movie playing mobster is never a bad thing.

The main problem with this movie, one that is purportedly based on a true story, is how consistently inconsistent the character of Patti is throughout the narrative. Some dude asks her to sell cigarettes illegally, Patti yells at him because she doesn’t want to break the law, the next day patty is selling cigarettes illegally. FBI dude tell Patty that Frank is mobster, Patti yells at Frank for being a low down mobster, five minutes later Patti is running the club for the low down dirty mobster. Patti is pissed at Frank who works for Sonny Corleone, Patti yells at Frank because she’ll NEVER work for Sonny Corleone, five minutes later Patti is packing heat and agrees to traffic money across international borders for Sonny Corleone. It’s pretty much like that though the whole movie. On one hand they wanted Patti t be a ‘good girl’ on the other hand they wanted her to be a ‘wise guy’, but the two are mutually exclusive. There are other little silly things like Patty pulling out a gun on Sonny while telling a mob boss how it’s gonna be and other stuff like that I don’t think would really happen, but whattayagonnado?

As far as TV for Women go, a man can’t really expect much better than ‘Wisegal’ which did have some entertainment value. And instead of the usual poster art, we’ve decided to step out the box and insert of picture of the lovely Samantha Micelli all grown up. This is done just in case you’re trying to figure which one us eighties stalwarts entered 2008 hot as hell and which one us entered this year fat as f**k.

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