Plot: Melanie (Jessica Morris) has a good life, a family, a lavish home, and a great job, but she has little time to enjoy the fruits of her labor. When she is given a promotion at work however, the additional workload comes with a bonus of sorts, as she will be assigned an assistant to help out. She hires Phoebe (Ashlynn Yennie), who is perky and ambitious, but Melanie has no idea just how ambitious she is. Phoebe stalks her new boss, hides cameras in her home, and plots on how to use the assistant position to climb the ladder, even if that comes at Melanie’s expense. As time passes, Phoebe wins over people and impresses the big boss (Vivica A. Fox), but all the while, Melanie’s life starts to fall apart, thanks to Phoebe’s schemes. Can she put the pieces together in time to salvage her life or is too late to Phoebe’s plan of attack and in either case, what drives her to wreak havoc on her new boss?
Entertainment Value: This installment in Lifetime’s “The Wrong…” series is a fun ride, a thriller that doesn’t take itself too seriously and dials up the melodrama, all with some impressive talent involved. The story in this one is perhaps not that original at first blush, but as The Wrong Mommy unspools, some nice twists are worked in and the reveal is an effective one. And regardless of that, the plot sets up the melodrama and over the top performances, which are the real draw here. The ambitious assistant gaslighting her boss plays out well here, keeping us hooked in and the pace is brisk, so there’s no slow stretches. I love that the melodrama and craziness hit some high peaks, but it does tone back down at times, so don’t expect manic levels of drama from start to finish. But we have a likable lead, a capable villain, and Eric Roberts in a sleazy, fun turn, so there’s a lot to like here. I especially liked how everyone just turns on poor Melanie, it is almost comical in a dark sense, as she suffers so much here, mistreated in campy, over the top ways. I had fun with The Wrong Mommy and for Lifetime fans, I think this one is easily recommended.
In addition to cult cinema veteran David DeCoteau in the director’s chair, this movie boasts an interesting, eclectic ensemble of talent in front of the camera, with Jessica Morris in more or less the lead. She is given a typical Lifetime good girl role, a harried wife and mother overwhelmed and unable to see the red flags burning around her, but she is likable and turns in an energetic performance. She makes hapless fun to watch, which is about all you can ask here. As often happens in Lifetime thrillers however, the protagonist is overshadowed by the villains and that is the case here, as we have some fun ones. Ashlynn Yennie is ice cold as Phoebe, not as wildly melodramatic as some bad girls, but driven and a good villain. She’s able to convey a mask of sanity well, so we can see why she’s so well liked, then when she unleashes the darker side, she dials up the menace nicely. But Eric Roberts steals the show here as the sleazy Roger, with some of the movie’s most memorable lines. He runs with the slimy persona of his character and reminded me of his work on the Stalked by My Doctor series, where he also played a total creep with immense skill. The cast also includes Dominique Swain, Dee Wallace, Jason-Shane Scott, and Vivica A. Fox.