If you've ever wondered what shows like Weeds and Breaking Bad would be like if their drug-dealing stars were total wusses who couldn't even pull off looking cool while smoking a cigarette, then On Thin Ice (aka Breaking Through), a Diane Keaton vehicle from 2003, is the Lifetime movie for you. I'll watch anything starring Diane Keaton, even Mad Money or Baby Boom, which is frankly unwatchable after she leaves Harold Ramis and moves out to the country. So when I saw she was starring as a meth-head in this Lifetime movie, I assumed I would love it. She was Annie Hall, for God's sake! I even enjoy her as the mom in Father of the Bride!
Unfortunately, watching Diane Keaton play a meth-head is kind of like watching the mom from Father of the Bride play a meth-head. Her reaction to even seeing the drug is to start yelping like a mouse just ran over her foot (or Jack Nicholson just accidentally saw her boobs). And it only gets worse once she starts doing the meth herself. Smacking together pots and pans while you make exasperated laughing noises is funny if Diane Keaton is looking for a lost earring or something -- not so much when she's looking for any leftover crank. She ends up finding a baggie in the couch cushions and shoves the whole thing into her mouth, just as her kids come into the room to sadly shake their heads, failing to find her drug addiction wacky.
In typical Lifetime fashion, Patty is pretty much the worst mother ever, not only missing her teenager's first basketball game as starter, but making the little one cry. Her kids try to run away by convincing the guy at Greyhound that their mom is waiting for them in Chicago with money for their tickets, but Patsy stops the bus and slaps her son in a meth-induced rage. You can't help but wonder why no one's called child services, and wish that Patsy at least had the sense to try to keep them from being terrified of being killed by a drug dealer. At one point, she makes her kids lay down in the back of the car while she drives around muttering about how she doesn't know what they're going to do. Later she leaves them alone in their house, vaguely instructing the older one that his dead daddy's rifle is in the closet.
She makes an equally bad drug dealer. Instead of meeting druggies at their houses or in some hidden alley, she parks her conspicuous wood-paneled station wagon in the middle of a field and has them come up to the window and hand her a wad of cash. After counting it in clear view through the windshield, she hands them their drugs out the window.
Of course, you can't really blame her, because the guy who hired her ("Hopkins") isn't a very good role model for drug dealing. He has a policy that all of his dealers smoke meth, and if that isn't bad business strategy, I don't know what is! One of my favorite scenes in the movie is straight out of a script from DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). If you are a child of the late '80s/early '90s, you know these lines well, as we were forced to play-act scenarios in which we'd say "no" to drugs. We'd be given a piece of paper that had a technique on just exactly how to say no, like "The broken record (just say no)" and "Say you've already had some." The lucky kid would get to play the drug user who taunted the other kid with lines like, "C'mon, everybody's doing it!" and it usually played out just like it does in the movie:
Hopkins: I don't care if you never try meth again, but I have to know if I can trust you.
Patsy: Why would that make you trust me?
Hopkins: Because it would.
I feel the need to tell you that Hopkins is, of course, wearing an exotic bathrobe and his trademark red hat, and is drinking a goblet of wine, as all villains do. He's a pretty bad dude, and after getting his dealers hooked on meth, he gets mad when they then ingest some of the meth they were supposed to sell. Like, really mad.
One of these dealers happens to be Patsy's friend Carey, who got her into the meth game to begin with. Every time Patsy goes over to Carey's house, there's always a drugged-out extra sitting on the stairs across from the front door. But now, Patsy shows up and it's Carey's son who's sitting sadly on the stairs, and Carey wants Patsy to take him home with her. But Patsy refuses, saying she has to get herself clean first, and by the time she's done going through withdrawals (which, yes, looks exactly like what would happen if the mom from Father of the Bride was going through withdrawals), it's too late. And by too late, I mean that Hopkins has gone and killed Carey's entire family, and Patsy finds them in a scene that reminds us all that the only thing worse than a gory "they're all dead!" scene is a gory "they're all dead!" scene in a bad movie.
Patsy has no choice but to go snitch on Hopkins, and it turns out she's an even worse snitch than she is dealer or mother. When Hopkins leaves the room, she starts chattering to the police listening in on her wire, and then goes and reads the names of other drug dealers off of Hopkins' laptop (yes, he's really that bad of a drug lord). Apparently, this isn't enough to get the detectives a warrant, nor is the giant sack of meth he gives Patsy (drug dealers are so generous with their backpacks in the movies!). So the cops trail Patsy while she goes on the deal Hopkins has set up for her, which takes place, naturally, in a giant field.
As this is Lifetime, it's no secret that somebody's gonna shoot Hopkins in the movie, and it turns out it's Diane Keaton. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that, yes, it looks a lot like the mom from Father of the Bride yelling, "How does it feel!?!" while pointing a rifle at someone. Then she and the kids drive the station wagon off to the the Witness Protection Program of their dreams.
After watching this "film," I strangely wanted to watch it again and again -- but not with Diane Keaton in the lead. Instead, I think all actresses should have to take their shot at going from hard-working single mom, to drug-dealing addict, to frightened snitch all in an hour and a half (not counting commercials). Let's get Jennifer Aniston on in there, and J.Lo! (Do people still call her that?) Amy Poehler! Helen Mirren! Tia and Tamera Mowry! We all know we'd tune in to the Julia Roberts version, and that Meredith Baxter would do it best... pretty soon it could be a whole new Lifetime spin-off network.