When the Bough Breaks
2016, PG-13, 107 min. Directed by Jon Cassar. Starring Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Romany Malco, Michael K. Williams, Glenn Morshower, Theo Rossi, Jaz Sinclair.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Sept. 16, 2016
I don’t know about you, but when I settle in for a nice big slice of the latest Fatal Attraction knockoff, it had better take things above and beyond the hundreds of Lifetime movies that have come before it. This latest iteration in the “psycho third wheel” genre offers up absolutely no surprises, and is probably one the most dull and predictable films in this wasteland filmgoers call September. You think that house cat they keep cutting to is going make it through the movie? Oh, to be that cat.
Successful lawyer John (Chestnut, exhibiting an acting range limited to three emotions: seductive, annoyed, and pissed off) and successful chef Laura (Hall) have been trying for years to have a baby to no avail, so when ideal surrogate Ashley (Sinclair) comes along, they jump at the chance to inject their last viable embryo into her. Of course, Ashley comes with a sleazy, abusive boyfriend Mike (Sons of Anarchy’s Rossi, who is incapable of telegraphing anything other than trouble). He is dispatched posthaste, and Ashley is settled into the couple’s extravagant home in New Orleans. She begins to have feelings for John, resentment for Laura, and maybe this thing is a scam after all when detective Roland (The Wire’s Williams, looking bored beyond belief) uncovers Ashley’s past of sexual abuse, murder, and chicanery. Let’s not even get into how Ashley ruins John’s ascent to partner at his law firm, or the aforementioned cat. Let’s just cut straight to the part in the third-act climax where, after tussling about in John and Laura’s lake house (which they spoke about incessantly throughout the film, so no surprises there), Ashley stands, bleeding and vengeful, shotgun in hand, in front of John and Laura in a car, right in front of her: “I am sick and tired of this bitch!” Laura yells as she inevitably guns it. If only someone had hit the gas on the script. When the Bough Breaks could have offered some cheap thrills, but it ends up a neutered, paint-by-numbers snoozefest, not even worthy for cable syndication.