Confusion over Ferrell and Wiig’s Lifetime film

Is A Deadly Adoption a misjudged homage to Lifetime movies or an extended Saturday Night Live spoof? And why is it being broadcast at all?

Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell in A Deadly Adoption. Courtesy Lifetime
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The Lifetime movie that Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig denied would ever happen was broadcast on the US TV channel on Saturday night – and their denial is now easy to understand. It was lousy.

Or, if nothing else, it was broadcast on the wrong network. It belonged on Comedy Central.

It's hard to fathom what ­Ferrell, Wiig and their co-conspirators on A Deadly Adoption had in mind: was it a misbegotten homage to the cheesy melodramas Lifetime specialises in, or an extended Saturday Night Live spoof mocking Lifetime on its own airwaves?

Who could tell? Who cares?

The people responsible for Deadly weren't explaining. In fact, they seemed to want it to show without anyone noticing.

A few weeks ago, Ferrell and Wiig announced they were abandoning what they called the ­“secret” project after its existence was leaked.

Too bad it wasn’t. Lifetime swiftly acknowledged the film was in the can and would be broadcast. Why its stars misled fans was never clarified.

The film was not made available for preview – and no wonder – nor did anyone associated with it agree to an interview.

What Wiig and Ferrell did do was inflate their inarguable star power with an otherwise negligible story. It is inspired by a real-life story but that doesn’t save it from being a cliché: an expectant mother loses her child in a ridiculous mishap and, unable to get pregnant again, she and her husband welcome a pregnant young woman (Jessica Lowndes) into their home in the hopes of adopting her child.

The mother-to-be presents herself as a winsome goody-two-shoes but turns out to be a psycho seductress with her eye on Ferrell’s character, a rich and successful ­author.

Guess what? The young woman has been faking her pregnancy. Then she and her low-life boyfriend kidnap the couple’s 6-year-old daughter and hold her for ransom. Forget the rest. It got worse and worse.

Wiig is appealing no matter what she does and did her best under thankless ­circumstances.

The real blame for A Deadly Adoption lay in the script and, most dramatically, in Ferrell's performance. He didn't bother committing either way to the material: was he playing it straight and failing, or playing it ironically and failing?

Too bad this deadly dull film didn’t stay a secret from the viewers.