Written by Riley Weston
Directed by Rick Bota
Over the decades, Lifetime has had hundreds of original movies with hundreds of characters who are stupid, crazy, vengeful, or just plain awful people. Yet Damaged features a main character who might be the dumbest person to ever exist in a Lifetime movie. Chris Klein’s Sam Luck makes decision after decision that make you question his judgement skills, endangering his marriage and his job, and everything ends in tragedy because he’s just a complete idiot. It’s a weird film where, while not sympathizing with the villain in the slightest, I feel the hero deserves almost everything coming to him. The only point of regret is his poor wife, who actually doesn’t deserve anything that happens to her (including being married to such a moron!)
I’ve praised Chris Klein’s acting in the past, he was the best part of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, rightfully knowing the film deserved only a ridiculously corny performance. He gives a similar type of performance here, making his character be oblivious and completely without a gauge to know appropriate behavior in public and in private. Sam Luck just sort of wanders willfully into bad situations, and then does his darnedest to pick the worst possible option that sets him up to fail both short term and long term. So let’s praise Chris Klein again, one of the few actors who could pull this character off successfully!
Sam Luck is an English teacher at a high school and is married to Kate Luck (Tasya Teles, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever ), who spends most of her time working. They get new neighbors, who turn out to be a teenage girl and her absentee father (he’s never seen). Sam has no problems with wandering into their house during moving in day and striking up a flirty conversation with the young girl, which is really not the sort of behavior you want in a high school English teacher, or most adult men in general. Even weirder, Kate then also wanders into the house and discovers him talking to the young girl, apparently sees nothing wrong with her or her husband entering into other people’s property without their permission, nor her husband’s behavior with a younger, attractive woman. Sam is the kind of moron who thinks Taran Hathaway (Merrit Patterson) is a college student, until she does a Pretty Little Liars and walks into his classroom later that day.
Sam’s car gets stolen, and he ends up accepting rides to school in Taran’s car(!!), later he cooks her dinner(!!!!), and offers to fix some plubming at her house(!!!!!!) Kate comes home during this and sees nothing wrong with any of this, even trashing her husband’s cooking as they end up ordering out instead when he ruins the pasta. Of course the plumbing fixing ends up with Sam spraying water all over Taran and her white shirt and neon pink bra(!!!!!!!!), and Kate then wandering into Taran’s house (uninvited, again), and still not getting suspicious(!!!!!!!!!!!!) Even odder, Taran gives a speech about how Sam doesn’t seem to appreciate Kate, not spending any time with her at all, and maybe she’s spending all that time at work to have an affair. Sam just laughs that off.
The following bad things then happen (imagine a bunch of exclamation points after each one):
- Sam pushed to have his English class all have iPads that sync up with his computer, and his computer is hacked to send porn to all those iPads.
- Sam is investing in a 50s diner with his childhood friend named Decker, and soon all the money he put up is missing and “Sam Luck Properties” has bought the diner out from under them, ending a friendship.
- Sam and Kate’s dog, Mattie, mysteriously dies
- Sam takes Taran bowling by themselves and many people see them
- Taran gives Sam a five-figure Rolex as a gift
- Sam is fired from work after an anonymous sexual harassment complaint against him that he has no recourse against nor is given any information about.
- Taran is the one that filed the complaint, but Sam will never know.
His wife doesn’t get suspicious about Sam acting weird until she finds the Rolex hidden in his clothes, and Sam doesn’t get suspicious about Taran until way later. But by then, events have been set into motion that can’t be taken back, and Sam will be boned no matter the resolution. Sam, being Sam, is obviously going to pick the worst resolution possible. And he does.
Damaged was a fun movie, but not because of the reasons it wanted to be. It was fun because it was cool seeing Sam Luck continually make poorer and poorer decisions, and you were compelled to watch to see if he could do anything worse than what he currently was doing. Sam succeeded every time! If you get angry when characters in films do dumb things, this film will make your blood pressure go up so high you will probably die, so Damaged is probably not the right film for you. But if you want to watch a ridiculous Lifetime movie with a stalker and poor reasoning skills, complete with a twist ending that works into Sam’s bad decisions, then Damaged will fill a hole in your soul you didn’t know was open.
Merritt Patterson was great as the disturbed Taran, switching from the nice girl to the vengeful girl to the girl who stands in the rain outside of your door spying on your house without missing a beat. It was also great to see Tasya Teles in a larger role, even if her character had picked up some of Sam’s bad thinking just by being around him so long. Writer Riley Weston is the Riley Weston who faked her age to get a job in Hollywood, which exposed some of the ageism in Hollywood we know exists while still being a scandal. The star is Chris Klein just being so stupid! The result is a film that can be polarizing, but it’s just the kind of thing I want to see on Lifetime, ridiculous schlock that is fun. I’ll take that over some paint-by-numbers baby drama any day.
Rated 4/10 (logo, poor doggy, creeped out student, angry principal)
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