"I'm untouchable, bitch."
Those words, uttered by Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson in Saturday night's Drew Peterson: Untouchable on Lifetime (as well as in constant promotions leading up to the movie), are already immortal. At least, they're more immortal than the line, "You were getting too much love from Big Daddy."
That's what Lowe says in the opening scene of the movie, after his son catches him and his third wife, Kathleen, having sex. He gets out of bed naked, and before we can be disappointed that we can't see Rob Lowe's butt, we realize that his supposedly erect penis is right at eye-level with his wide-eyed little son. Kathleen tells the poor kid to cover his eyes, but Rob-as-Drew proclaims, "He has a right to know why they call me Big Daddy!" and the tone is set for us to be grossed out for the rest of the "film."
All Lifetime relationships move through four stages:
1) Initial love/lust
2) Wedding ceremony (yes, that's an entire phase)
3) Man becomes evil (usually some domestic violence is involved...if not, then he just goes off and starts murdering people).
4) I know you're thinking #4 is that the wife leaves, but it's not. It's that she starts spending all her time shrilly admonishing her husband for staying out late with his new girlfriend (which he is sure to have if this is Lifetime).
Kathleen (played by Carla Buono, aka Faye from Mad Men, whose talent is completely wasted) is, unfortunately, in stage four, which you can tell because she's always yelling things like, "I'm not going to take any more of your crap!" and "I am NOT crazy!"
When she attends a mixer at the police station where Drew works, he locks her in a cell after she says she won't have sex with him in it -- and that's the last straw! Yes, he locked her in there with a cocktail. But still, standing outside of the cell and laughing evilly was the last straw!
Luckily, Drew has already found a new lady to go through the four stages of Lifetime relationships with, and that is Stacy. Stacy's much younger than Kathleen, and admires Drew for his ability to handcuff a fat guy brandishing scissors who has been causing some hilarious trouble at the hotel she works at.
It's not long before he's showing up at the hotel on his Harley, revving his engine (no, really), and taking her on a slow-motion motorcycle ride that resembles a Pantene commercial gone wrong. The wind machine isn't strong enough to blow back Stacy's young, straight hair until she starts shaking her head, and Rob-as-Drew's gray pompadour (said to be the only thing Drew didn't like about the movie) barely moves. They speed past some cop cars, Top Gun-style, and the cops honk hello. Drew pumps his fist in the air. Drew Peterson Power!!
Drew and Stacy are clearly a power couple in Bolingbrook, Ill., but he still says he wants to be with her "on his terms." Stacy promptly announces that's she's pregnant, followed immediately thereafter by her Lifetime-mandated "And I'm going to keep it! (sans the 'A' word)" statement. Apparently no one bothered to use protection at all, because Drew doesn't seem surprised. Instead, he moves on to stage 2: The wedding.
While the last scene of Untouchable may be the best, the wedding scene is definitely the creepiest. Ethan, the guy who was among the survivors but not on the plane in "Lost," is there and suddenly, you sort of realize that he's been in the movie the whole time, appearing in the background of various scenes but not really saying anything. Yes, it's Drew's step-brother Thomas, who is known as "Glenn" in the movie and is completely unessential to its plot except for the fact that in real life, Thomas allegedly, sorta-kinda may have helped Drew dispose of Stacy's body.
Glenn and Drew are a picture of creepiness standing at the altar (have I mentioned they're creepy?). In an attempt to make himself look like Peterson, Rob Lowe somehow manages to both raise his eyebrows and squint his eyes at the same time throughout the entire movie. He looks kind of like a heavily made-up Rene Zellweger with a giant mustache. Add a big, gawky guy who you've only seen on TV as an Other, and it's pretty much the creepiest wedding you've ever seen... Until Stacy starts walking down the aisle toward them and Glenn leans over and says, "I don't know how you do it... getting these luscious women to keep marrying you!" As if that wasn't inappropriate enough, Drew then directs one of his sons to "tell Uncle Glenn that Big Daddy has it going on," and the kid dutifully does. EW.
Drew and Stacy are now ready to move into stage three (husband turns evil), but there's something in the way. Or rather, someone: Kathleen. The terms of their divorce are about to be finalized, and Drew is going to have to give half of his "riches" (that he earned as a cop) to her. Lifetime would never do something as libelous as showing Drew Peterson murder his wife, so the scene is dispensed with with a dead Kathleen in the tub, Drew saying, "How am I going to tell my kids?" and a distraught neighbor shoving his hands in his pits ala Mary Katherine Gallagher.
With that (and some more commercials) out of the way, Drew is in full-swing stage 3. Stacy wants to go visit their new neighbor and Drew shoots her down, then tells his sons, "It used to be a man could keep his wife pregnant and in the house." Stacy goes anyway, and meets another fantastic actress wasting away on Lifetime: Catherine Dent from The Shield. (As for Kaley Cuoco, who plays Stacy, I think she has found her calling on Lifetime... someone needs to cast her as a pregnant teenager ASAP!)
A walk around the block brings Stacy and her new neighbor, Karen, to the house that Drew shared with Kathleen. Since Stacy has already divulged the secret to her chili recipe, and that her mom disappeared when she was 12 (thanks for the backstory, writers -- and that pumpkin spice chili secret!), she informs Karen that that's where Drew's previous wife was found dead in the bathtub, and that he used to sneak her into the basement to have sex with her while Kathleen was home. "Stacy, that's wrong!" Karen chastises, in case the audience doesn't know where their morals are supposed to lie.
Stacy and Karen are soon BFFs, hanging fake ivy from a pot rack together, making margaritas after Drew throws Stacy into the TV, and other gal-pal activities. Drew continues to act like an inappropriately flaunted erect penis, freaking out if Stacy doesn't pick up his calls by the third ring, watching her mow the lawn from his cop car across the street because she's a blooming flower "putting her scent out everywhere," and flying into various rages. But one of the freakiest moments is when he tells his new baby daughter, "Daddy's not going to let any of the dirty boys have you." Second only to when Rob-as-Drew, wearing a dowdy sweatsuit, pins Stacy to their bed and threatens her. Stacy enters stage 4 of their relationship defiantly, telling Drew that she's going to tell everyone that he wasn't home the night Kathleen was killed, and she caught him doing laundry. (Like any Lifetime man, Drew never does laundry unless he has a lot of suspicious blood stains to take care of.)
Unfortunately, like many women in stage 4 of a Lifetime relationship, Stacy ends up crying on her front lawn, being comforted by Karen. "I'm already dead," she tells her, and it isn't long before her sister shows up at the house wondering where she is. Drew blames her disappearance on her menstrual cycle, but nobody's convinced. What I didn't tell you is that the last stage of a Lifetime relationship, stage 5, is when one spouse kills the other. Frankly, I like it much better when the wife kills the abusive husband, and the movie is told in flashbacks while she sits in jail. But unfortunately, this movie is told in flashbacks while Drew's gleefully telling his story on a news show.
It's too bad Lifetime didn't give Untouchable more than two hours, because one of the most compelling things about the Drew Peterson case -- and media frenzy surrounding it -- is the amount of time it went on before Drew was sent to jail. If you lived in the Chicago area between 2007 and 2009, you couldn't get away from this crass douche (and his lawyer), who were willing to appear on every TV and radio show that would have them. They do show the "Win a Date with Drew Peterson" contest, and have Rob Lowe re-enact some of the best clips from Drew's Larry King Live appearance, but they don't show how eerily comfortable he was chatting with Matt Lauer, or the time he dragged his and Kathleen's sons on TV to defend him. And one of the film's biggest failings (camp-wise, of course) is not including the father of Drew's would-be fifth wife in its cast. When Drew finds another easily manipulated woman to keep him in the media spotlight by getting engaged, the movie doesn't include the fact that news cameras were there watching when her dad showed up in some stoned-washed jeans and a Teamster jacket to pound down Drew's door.
Most Lifetime movies have a scene or two where the cops are shown to be completely worthless. (Something like, "Well, he's your husband, lady... so you should probably just go back home!") But since the cops in the Drew Peterson case were so worthless in real life, that part is mostly glossed over in "Untouchable." Instead, the twists and turns of the case -- like that Stacy allegedly told a priest that Drew killed Kathleen, and that Drew's step-brother was somehow involved -- are all discovered though the Nancy Drew detective work of Karen (who, when she's not slinking around the perimeter of the Peterson's yard, is erecting a shrine to Stacey that is complete with flowers, a rainbow pinwheel, and a lawn flamingo). This fictionalized version of the neighbor is OK with me, though, because it gives Drew a nemesis. And without her as his nemesis, he can't show up in her driveway, open and close her garage door until she comes out of the house, and then announce, "I'm untouchable, bitch."
Well, at this point there are only 15 more minutes left in the movie (including at least one commercial break). Typically, that would mean that a gun was about to be waved in someone's face during a emotional confession about stalking. But Drew has already done all his murdering, so this Lifetime movie had a lot to live up to.
With the clock ticking, Drew's step-brother is taken in for questioning while Drew is busy getting ready to go to Vegas to star in a porno or something. One of his kids is feeding the baby, which I think we're supposed to take as Drew being neglectful, not that he's taught his kids how to be resourceful and nurturing. He tells them he's headed out to buy luggage, but before he can get very far he's descended on by the police and their usual cadre of reporters. (In real life, the step-brother's confession had nothing to do with bringing Drew in, because he was indicted for Kathleen's death, not Stacy's -- but no matter.) Rob Lowe spouts out every weird thing Drew Peterson ever said to a reporter post-arrest in one long string, and is taken into custody.
Even though Rob Lowe gained a pot-belly for the role and wears jungle-print shirts almost exclusively, I couldn't help but think Untouchable's greatest fault may be in the casting such a handsome guy as the leering Peterson. No longer considered menacing for that whole statutory rape thing, Lowe just can't pull off the douchery needed for lines like, "It's been a long time since I banged a girl in the bathroom." I've known a few beer-bellied, blue-collar misogynists from the Midwest (in case I can't say "creepy" enough in this review, creepily, I grew up one town over from Bolingbrook, Illinois), and none of them seemed remotely doable when saying things like, "How's the hot dog situation out there?" And with Rob Lowe carefully articulating every word in a twangy, more-Indiana-than-Chicago accent, he just can't exude the baffling idiocy that everything that came out of the real Drew Peterson's mouth did.
But all was forgiven during the completely made up last scene of this already-classic Lifetime wonder. Rob-as-Drew is taken into a room and told, "You know the drill. Strip."
"Now I get it," he says, "You just wanted to have a look at my package!" Stripping off his shirt and singing a little tune ("humming pathetically," the closed captioning tells us), he turns his beer belly away from the camera and starts to gyrate in slow motion. Nice back, Rob Lowe! I mean... Drew Peterson Power!! You have the right to show those officers why you call yourself "Big Daddy."