[Contains stolen credit cards and SPOILERS!!!]
I missed the first season of ABC’s normal-family-move-next-door-to-wacky-alien-family sitcom The Neighbors, but I was swayed by The AV Club’s repeated recommendations, and decided to hop on the bandwagon when the second season started a couple of weeks back. Helpfully, the first episode began with an in-character summary of who everyone was, to help bring new viewers like myself up to speed, and I quickly found myself getting caught up in the story, as the parents discovered their respective teenage offspring engaged in a secret, inter-species romance, precipitating an emergency family conference in a hi-tech bunker beneath their houses. Unwilling to trust the voting process to determine the teens’ future in an acceptable fashion, the alien father cheats and calls for his son’s pre-assigned “soul-mate” to come down to Earth early, and use her irresistible (and totally literal) magnetic attraction on him. Boo! Undaunted, the boy continues to date his human amour, while his “soul-mate” (‘Jane’) sits outside on the curb, waiting patiently for him to embrace her, like an adorably perky blonde puppy. Bless. Jane’s played by an actress named Megan Park, who’s probably best known for her role as ‘Grace Bowman’ in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, but she’s also appeared in Diary of the Dead, and a Lifetime TV-movie called The Perfect Teacher (2010), which was shown on Ch5 last week…
Aside from seeing Park’s name in the summary, what really caught my attention was the super-trashy premise: “When a teenage girl falls in love with her teacher, she will stop at nothing to make sure they end up together.” And this is one of those rare occasions when an afternoon movie actually lived up to the promise of its pitch. Of course, the “sex and violence” side of things was a lot tamer than it might have been in a more lurid, late-night take on the same story, but it was still fun to watch the movie’s villainess (or heroine, depending on your tastes) graduate from manipulative sociopath to full-blown psychopath, and mow the teacher’s ex-wife down with an SUV! I was kinda hoping she’d go full-tilt GTA after that, and just keep driving over anyone who dared to betray or oppose her, but sadly that didn’t happen.
All in all, it was an entertaining blast of pulpy nonsense, and I thought Parks gave a good performance as the spoiled “mean girl” who could switch to sweet-and-innocent at the drop of a dime. I’m not convinced she can play “bat-crap crazy” though. They kept doing these prolonged close-ups of her staring at the teacher, and I got the sense we were supposed to see something scary and intense going on behind her eyes, but it really wasn’t there. I don’t mean that as a damning criticism of Parks though… I think she’s a very charismatic actress, and she’s clearly got the range to go from cartoony comedy to serious drama… I just don’t think she’ll be the next Nicolas Cage, is all.