By B-Side and J-Unit
I never thought much about what my version of hell would be like, but after catching a very special (in both senses of the word) installment of the Hallmark Hall of Fame, I think I can safely imagine Hades without much difficulty. Yes, after weeks of nonsensical commercials featuring a frumpy Rosie O’Donnell and the dependably toothy Andie MacDowell, we were finally treated to Riding The Bus With My Sister, a schlockfest melodrama with a noticeable lack of volume control. Directed inexplicably by Anjelica Huston, this made-for-TV-movie’s subtle subject matter seemed to have collided head-on with the koosh ball of embarrasing over-acting known as Rosie O’Donnell. We never thought we’d say it, but this movie made Rosie’s work in Exit To Eden look like Shakespeare.
Of course, we here at TVgasm can always spot a train wreck miles away, and while we have the utmost respect for Ms. Huston as an actress, it is truly our duty and honor to completely tear apart her latest directorial misstep. A near minute by minute recap after the jump.9:00 PM
Okay, we’re off and running. So far, so good. Hey, that’s some swell rockin’ music. Nice to see the fellas of Foghat are still finding gigs.
A title reads “Executive Producer: Rosie O’Donnell.” Great. We might as well start the “cutey-patootie” count.
Thar she blows! The beast raises her curly head! Rosie wakes up from her deep slumber, ready to embrace the world in a loud, simplistic way.
Also waking up is Andy MacDowell, who judging by the Asian paneling in her bedroom, appears to be living in a Geisha house of sorts. What a cold bitch.
Rosie screams “GOOD MORNING!” to herself in the mirror. Wow. Two more hours of this shit?
Rosie – a.k.a. Beth – waves to a bicycle messenger outside her apartment. She informs him that her toilet seat is broken and loose. America instantly vomits in unison as viewers imagine Rosie O’Donnell sliding around on the can while she tries to drop a load or two.
Just in case we didn’t know how sophisticated she was, we discover that Rachel (Andy MacDowell) is dating an English guy named (I Am) Sam. Worse yet, he looks like Jeremy Piven. Man, this bitch needs some mentally challenged life lessons, STAT.
By the way, what are the chances that Sam won’t accept Beth into his life and therefore leave Rachel? And what are the chances that it’ll be a good thing because Rachel has found the true meaning of love anyway?
A fat hippo of a woman accuses Beth of running down the stairs like… a hippo. Not only is this moment random, but it’s entirely too meta-hippo.
Beth mentions her damned toilet seat again, says she might fall off the shitter. Seriously, this better not be a character arc.
Turns out Rachel is a photographer, and not only that, she HATES puppies. Honestly, why not type “BITCH!” on the screen and add about fifteen flashing arrows?
After some haters scoff at Beth on the bus, she notes, “I’m just a person!” Oh, I was wondering what the message of this movie would be. THANKS.
Beth tells an inspiring tale about the time she once used the employee bathroom at a restaurant. No word on the toilet seats though. Maybe this movie should be renamed, “Rosie O’Donnell Takes a Shit.”
We’re still not done establishing Rachel’s ice queen character. Now we see her back in her apartment where a bonsai tree, some smooth jazz, and a powerbook all seem to say “Sophisticated professional repressing emotion.” I WONDER IF HER HEART WILL MELT??
Wow, I really need Rosie O’Donnell to shut up for a moment. My ears are ringing. Anyway, Jesse the bike messenger is back, and now he’s shopping with Beth for, you guessed it, toilet seats! Can’t wait for the climactic moment when he has to plunge one of her turds!
Rachel and Sam enjoy a silent dinner out. Conveniently, the restaurant pipes in the same smooth jazz that’s so prominently featured in Rachel’s apartment. Meanwhile, Sam picks at his GIANT bowl of salad discontentedly. He’s already unhappy, and he hasn’t even met Beth yet. Nevertheless, Sam asserts that he and Rachel ought to seize the day. “We enjoy life,” she replies, adding “Yesterday I looked at my bonsai tree and repressed my emotions. It was a blast.”
“My oversized bowl speaks to my sophistication.”
While Beth fiddles with a vending machine, Chloë Sevigny rushes into the room frantically. Oh wait, it’s not Chloë. Turns out it’s a social worker, and she has bad news: Beth’s dad had a heart attack. This of course leads to one of Ms. O’Donnell’s more subtle performances: she screams like a madwoman, runs out of the building, charges onto a bus, and ultimately winds up rampaging through a hospital, yelling “WHERE’S MY DADDY!?!?!?” And the Emmy goes to…
The producers desperately seek indie-cred by casting a faux Chloé Sevigny.
After a tender (read: AWFUL) scene at her father’s bedside, Beth sits on an oversized bench. Seriously, it’s a rare bench that can make Rosie O’Donnell seem small. We watch entirely too long as Beth cries and noshes on a doughnut. Apparently the doughnut was Rosie’s idea.
Beth calls Rachel and tells her that Dad died. Rachel simply hangs up on her sister. Listen, she doesn’t have time for non-bonsai tree related business.
Dad’s funeral. The whole gang is here: Beth, Rachel, their Chad Lowe-ish brother, and even Jesse the bike messenger. The bus clique is there too, including Rick, the charming bus driver played by D.W. Moffett (most recently seen in Special Ed. He’s really cornering the market for these sort of flicks). Amazingly, one of the bus drivers even brought a bus to the funeral. Because we’re still unsure of who’s sophisticated (cold) and who’s just common folk (wise, omniscient), all the working class chums mourn casually in jeans and open-collared button-downs while the urbanites wear ties and suits. Yeah, I hate all those snobby city-folk with their “respectful” funeral outfits.
The funeral service ends, and mourners are told to throw dirt on the coffin. Rachel grabs a clump of dirt and angrily squeezes it. DAMN YOU, DIRT!
Oooh! The dirt leads to a dirt flashback! Perhaps Rachel’s first memory of her latent bonsai tree obsession? No. Just a guilt-ridden sequence involving a young Beth eating a clump of dirt. Move over, Prince of Tides! Your childhood sodomy can’t touch this shit!
At the shiva, Beth sits with Jesse, who looks shockingly like a young Isaac Hayes. We once again see the scathing social commentary as the simple folk from the bus enjoy deviled eggs while the rich, snobby jerks snack on brie and crackers. BASTARDS.
Another random flashback. This time we see a young Rachel watching as a young Beth has a seizure. Too… much… dirt…
Rachel reclines on a couch in her Celestial Seasonings pose. We suddenly get another flashback (when it rains, it pours) of young Rachel tickling young Beth. Okay, let’s just skip ahead to the sexual abuse and be done with it.
The producers show us some off-camera footage as Rosie O’Donnell asks “Are you sure you don’t want a doughnut?” Oh wait, that was an actual scene.
In a classic “Too Much Information” moment, Beth announces to a bus that she’s been sterilized — her tubes have been tied. Thank goodness. A woman with that annoying a voice shouldn’t be allowed to spawn anyway.
The bus driver happily waves to Jesse, the ubiquitous bike messenger. Man, gotta love those friendly working class people. They’d wave to a coughing wino if they had the chance. Note to self: move to Beth’s town.
“I like everything with marshmallows!” Yes, Rosie, we know.
Buckle your seat belts, it’s another torturous flashback! This time it’s ole Dad leaving the family. And wouldn’t you know it, the paterfamilias looks like Judge Reinhold. Man, this movie rocks.
The Chloë Sevigny-ish social worker is back, and she’s happy to explain that Beth’s friends on the bus are like her family. Oh really? Thanks for the elaboration. Later, we find out from someone that Beth “knows everything, everyday.” YES. WE KNOW. Surprisingly intelligent, heart of gold, everyone appreciates her but her sister – WE GET IT!
Rachel spurns her usual black pin-stripe blouse in favor of a blue tank top. It’s almost as if Beth’s mere presence has… let the color back in Rachel’s life! Anjelica Huston, you are a GENIUS!
Sam dumps Rachel’s newly-colorful ass after she calls her sister a “retard.” Well, she’ll always have the bonsai tree. We then cut to the bonsai tree hopping away in its pot.
Pin stripes update: After a brief flirtation with a colorful wardrobe, Rachel now wears black pin-stripe pants. Oh, she’s a frigid city bitch after all.
The movie takes another random turn as we meet up with Jesse practicing Tae Kwan Doe in the park. Yeah, we don’t get it either. Beth watches happily on the sidelines before stacking five or six Oreos together and announcing “I’m making a cookie mountain!” Actually, it’s more like a cookie obelisk, but hey, that’s okay.
After an hour of this crap, we learn that Jesse has a confidence problem. Suddenly, every time we see him now, he’s skittish and bumbling. Maybe that’s because late at night, he and Beth apparently “fool around.” Ewwww. Wait, is Jesse mentally challenged also?
Jesse is not only mentally challenged, but he’s the most mentally challenged of all! Even Beth has to look after him. How did we not notice this for a whole hour? I guess actor Richard T. Jones needs to work on his acting abilities. You’d think someone who’s played “Successful Black Man” in Guess Who? and “Traffic Cop #1″ in Collateral would have more talent.
Rachel, Beth, and Jesse eat ice cream cones and stroll under the moonlight. This leads to, yes, a moon flashback. The next morning, Rachel is passed out on the couch. Man, that was some hardcore ice cream. I hope she had a designated driver. Oh that’s right. THE BUS.
Rachel and Beth walk into the bus drivers’ lounge to use the women’s room. A fatass named Eugene screams that this lounge is for drivers only. Yeah, when you’ve got a fancy setup of tables, chairs, and undecorated walls, you’ve got to keep the riffraff out.
Rachel and Beth take a ride on Rick’s bus — aka the hunkiest bus route EVER! An obnoxious lady accuses Beth of not having a Zone 1 bus pass. Rick stops the bus, PAs the passengers, and then asks Beth what sort of pass she has. ZONE 1 BABY! In your FACE!
With the Zone 1 dust settled, Rick gets back to more important things: having eye sex with Rachel through the mirror. Wow. Sparks are flying. I haven’t seen this much chemistry since Liza Minelli and David Guest.
While walking on the street, Rachel and her sister are bothered by a sketchy sure-to-be-rapist who gives Beth a stuffed Tweety Bird. Apparently this is some strange guy who always gives such toys to Beth. That’s mildly disturbing. Well, I’m sure we’ll find out what the deal is with this guy later, right? Right?
At the laundromat, the two sisters gab about boys. “Will Smith is very hot!” exclaims Beth. “If he was here right now, Rachel, do you know what I’d do to him?” Yes, one of the more unsavory questions this movie poses.
“Where is Jesse anyway?” asks Rachel while making dinner. We then cut to Jesse inexplicably riding his bike down a dark alley. Odds for a random, West Side Story-ish fight? 2-1. Sure enough, a trio of street toughs pop out of nowhere and jump our slow-witted messenger. Luckily, Jesse is a black belt, and his martial arts moves — regardless of how slow and limp they look — send his attackers to the ground.
Doesn’t matter what your mental acuity is. Once you go black…
Beth wants Jesse to spend the night so that she can “take care of him” (instant shivers). Thankfully, Rachel makes the mentally challenged Ralph Maccio stay at his own place. This of course leads to bitterness the next morning as Beth peppers her sister with angry, passive aggressive remarks. We wonder how this will affect their relationship and more importantly, Andy MacDowell’s alarmingly large FUPA.
Don’t fight the FUPA.
Rachel and Rick have a romantically uncharged walk over what looks to be a rusty, condemned bridge. She says she’s not dating right now. “Just gotta keep putting yourself out there,” says Rick, who then suddenly plants a big one on her. Anjelica Huston HATES segueways!
After her nooner with Rick, Rachel runs into Jesse (seriously, with the rate that people bump into him on the street, he must have a few clones riding around). The messenger turns out to be just that as he delivers a heavy handed message for all us viewers: “My momma taught me that you do your best this day and see what the next day be like. Keep movin’ like that.” Rachel nods her head and says, “I’m gonna remember that.” No you won’t, you stupid bitch. That was the most inane piece of advice I’ve ever heard.
Jesse responds “You can learn a lot in one day.” He then suddenly adds, “Okay, bye!” and peddles away as we fade out to commercial. Smooth, Anjelica. VERY SMOOTH!
The announcer says, “In a moment, the conclusion of ‘Riding The Bus With My Sister.’” THANK GOD.
Another sentimental Hallmark commercial. This time it’s about a woman visiting her brother, played by a developmentally disabled actor. Wait a second. This commercial is all wrong. Why isn’t the brother yelling nonstop? Why is he cooking for himself? Where’s his Tweety Bird shirt? Am I supposed to believe that a mentally challenged person can be calm, resourceful, and well-dressed? Pssshh. I’m stickin’ with the brutally authentic Rosie version.
Rachel returns to her cold, bonsai-laden apartment. Gosh, she really misses her sister. Luckily, Rick is there to give her a call, let her know that Beth misses her. After thirty seconds in NYC, Rachel heads back to Beth-ville. Way to really milk that conflict.
Rachel finds Beth walking down a staircase with a quiet, less hippo-ish gait. It was Rosie’s most difficult scene.
Time for a makeover! Rachel takes Beth to the beauty salon so she can get a mullet. So long Jesse, hello Ellen!
This is actually just a photo someone took of Rosie at the hair salon.
Rachel and Beth board a bus where — SURPRISE! — the whole gang is there with a birthday cake. It’s Beth’s birthday, something she reiterates many times by yelling “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!” Shoot me now.
After the big party, Beth eats cake on her bed and cries (I’m sure this is an everyday occurrence for Rosie). This leads to the always appealing hysterectomy flashback. Rachel and her dad corner Beth and tell her that she’s got to get the tubes tied. “You could get pregnant if you’re not careful,” says Rachel. “And everyone knows you’re not careful.” Whoa, is Beth some sort of slut? Now THAT’s interesting!
With the flashback over, we return to Beth crying with her cake. Rachel tries to cheer her up by tickling her arm rather sensually. Rosie’s favorite scene: subtle girl-on-girl action AND cake!
Cake? Feminine groping? This is the role Rosie was born to play!
Rachel, Beth, Rick, and Jesse all hit the beach where frolicking and laughter ensues. Rachel has a giant smile on her face. Hahahaha! I sterilized my sister! Hahaha!
Hey, um, this movie only has a few minutes left. Are we gonna wrap up some of those loose ends? You know, like the random pervert or the hippo lady or Eugene or any of those jerks who make fun of Beth? Maybe Rachel can like, I don’t know, defend her sister for once?
Rachel and Beth meet with the social workers again. Fake Chloë Sevigny is back in full form. The workers ask if Beth is still riding the bus. “The bus? The bus is Beth’s life!” retorts Rachel. Uh, isn’t that what the social workers have been saying all along? Anyway, I immediately brace for the inevitable “She’s just a person too” monologue, but it never comes. The social workers just shrug and say okay. BREATHTAKING DRAMA!
Rachel walks Beth to the bus. As she boards, Beth tells Rachel “YOU’RE WEIRD!” Andie MacDowell flashes her patented “I understand now” smile and replies “So are you!” Beth then adds “But you’re cool sometimes too.” Rachel gets choked up. Why the hell is this scene so emotional? She’s just getting on a damn bus. Maybe they’re shipping Beth off to an institution.
Rachel has a party to celebrate an exhibition of her photography. And wouldn’t you know it? Instead of those cold models, she uses Beth and the locals of Beth-ville in her pictures. Sam suddenly shows up and sucks face with Rachel. She really doesn’t protest with the random kisses much, does she? Smell ya later, Rick!
Beth boards a bus and breaks in a new driver. She babbles incessantly and mentions that Rachel is pregnant. Then the movie arbitrarily ends. Um, okay. Who needs a third act anyway? Let’s just be happy it’s over.
We just tarnished our careers! Yay!
Update: Check out a montage of Rosey moments here.