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The Kids Are Not Alright

Monday night I was at my local hangout (read: a bar), enjoying the last hours of summer, Sam Adams Oktoberfest in hand, when I begin seeing Joey, another Twitter friend and fellow movie geek (BTW: check out his blog, Movie MoJo, and you can see him talking television at Awards Daily TV!) ranting about the latest Lifetime TV movie about the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the popular 90's teen sitcom, Saved by the Bell. Here's how bad it got for him watching it:


Needless to say, I was intrigued by how bad the TV movie had gotten for him, so when I got home, I decided to give it a look. The last time I checked out a Lifetime movie, it was the universally panned Lindsay Lohan movie, Liz & Dick, a movie that made my year-end worst list of 2012. As laughably bad as it was, I couldn't completely hate it because you could tell that Lohan herself truly admired the late Elizabeth Taylor and wanted to do her justice, but the script and the acting around her did no favors. And considering that I've sat through movies like God's Not Dead, Transformers 4 and The Fault In Our Stars, I doubted that it could get much worse than those films. 

In a word: Wow.


The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story features some of the worst acting and dialogue I've seen/heard in any movie this year, and for a film that's supposed to be about what happened when then cameras weren't rolling, it's about as riveting as watching paint dry. It's based on the tell-all biography penned by one of the stars, Dustin Diamond, who played Samuel Powers, aka: "Screech"; his years growing up on the show, the in-fighting between him and the stars, and the crazy antics they'd get into - i.e drugs, drinking and sex. Many of the stars, including Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played Zack Morris on the show, outright denied the claims he had made; and it's narrated by a young Diamond himself. Yes, he breaks the fourth wall often, like his character does on the show; and yes, it becomes irritating each time he does it. We see the early struggles of the show to get off the ground before the teens catch on and become obsessed by it, the show taking off, and the individual actor's response to the fame and notoriety. Tiffani Amber Theissen and Elizabeth Berkley, who played Kelly Karpowski and Jessie Spano on the show respectively, leave to chase other projects (which would become Beverly Hills 91210 for Theissen; and the infamous mid-90's debacle, Showgirls); Gosselaar has a romantic relationship with Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle on the show) and can't figure out what he wants to do when the gig (inevitably) ends, and Diamond acts like a prick. No, really - that's the film: 90 minutes of bland  forgettable actors playing actors playing characters on a TV show, deciding what to do with their lives, and/or being unlikable sods in the case of Dustin.

Also, for a dramatized expose on Saved by the Bell, there isn't much content on the ins and outs of the show. We do see the a reading of the famous episode where Zack confronts Jessie's addiction to caffeine pills, but the film could have used more of that; seeing how the young actors handle difficult and funny material, and how they play off one another. Fans who grew up with the show are in for a real disappointment because The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story isn't just bad from a writing and acting standpoint. It's just simply dull to watch. 

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