Mother Knows Best (TV Movie 1997) Poster

(1997 TV Movie)

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Just protecting her daughter . . .
gatebanger26 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
A fine entry in what I call the 'Wacky Chick' genre, this movie is just made for everybody with overprotective and/or manipulative parents (mothers, especially). We have here a delicious case of people getting exactly what they deserve.

Rich-bitch Momma Celeste (Joanna Kerns), buys naive nice-kid Laurel (Christine Elise) everything she could ever need or want -- a college education, a condo, a car, you name it. But wait . . . something is terribly wrong here . . . Seems Laurel is very involved with her career and has absolutely no interest in dating the Jaguar-driving yuppie doctors, lawyers and other assorted phonies mom keeps throwing her way. So what does momma do? Why, she answers a personal ad on her daughter's behalf. Personally, I see no logic here, since rich guys probably don't place such ads (at least, not to find a wife!), but by this point in the film it's already pretty apparent that Momma Celeste isn't wound too tight.

A few days later, nice-guy Ted (Grant Show) calls Laurel at work. Reluctantly, she meets the guy. They hit it off and things are fine until mom finds out that Ted (ugh) works for a living. Seems the guy owns an auto repair business. No college degree! No MBA. No Har-vahd Law or Medical degree! The guy works his ass off, runs a thriving business and makes good money, but nothing he does is good enough for Momma Celeste. Despite her best efforts to sabotage the relationship, Ted and Laurel fall in love and get married. Happy ending for Ted and Laurel. No problem, right? Wrong.

A year goes by. Laurel is pregnant and tries to reconcile with mom. What does mom do? Recommends a divorce lawyer, that's what. When that fails, she tries to get the IRS to ruin her son in law. She can't face having poor Ted in the family. I mean, the guy actually knows how to change a tire! No, this won't do at all. When all else fails, mom decides to have the guy whacked.

Now, most female murderers seem to be cowards – they opt for poison or a knife in the back. Celeste, being rich, is a bigger chicken than normal, so she hires a local low-life (about whom she knows absolutely nothing!) to do the job. Oh well, nobody ever said you had to be smart to be rich.

That's the set-up. Any more would be a spoiler. If you want to see how it all comes out and have a couple of hours to kill, you can probably catch it on Lifetime.
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A Clever and Wicked Thriller
Saayman16 April 1999
I loved this movie. It was extremely entertaining, and featured an excellent cast. Joanna Kerns was wicked as Celeste, and Christine Elise was also great as the innocent daughter. If you don't know the plot of this story, here it is.

Joanna Kerns plays Celeste, a rich woman who feels that it's time for her daughter to have a serious relationship. So she places a personal ad in the paper. When a guy, played by Grant Shaw of "Melrose Place", answers the ad, it's love at first sight for him and the daughter, played by Christine Elise. But mother isn't impressed with daughter's new boyfriend, because he is a mechanic, and not a lawyer or a doctor. So she arranges for him to be murdered!

A Great little thriller. I Highly recommend it.

My rating: 8/10
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One of the best true crime movies ever!
hereshopin25 September 2010
My favorite genre of movies is true crime and this one captures beautifully the reason I enjoy watching them so much. I have seen it many times and could still watch it over and over.

Joanna Kerns plays the role of an overbearing society mother to perfection. The character she plays, Celeste Cooper, has a sense of entitlement and feelings of superiority that leads her into believing she has the right to do anything she wants. Even while plotting the most deceptive and evil schemes, she holds herself with grace and dignity. It's an excellent example of how money and status can warp a person's perception of reality.

The other actors also give quality performances but Kerns is the reason you are likely to never forget this show. I recommend it to everyone, even if you're not a true crime story fanatic like me.
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Great Viewing
suemartin2326417 January 2007
Viewing this was probably the most enjoyable two hours of my life.

I saw this a while back on Channel Five, and couldn't wait to get a copy, but sadly it's not been released on DVD or VHS, so I've hit a dead end. However, next time it's shown, I'll be sure to tape it! It's about a dominating mother who answers an advert in the paper from a boy who wants to find a date, and makes her daughter go out with him. What she doesn't know is that he's got a poor job (by her standards) and so, she sets out to split the two up, leading to inexplicable consequences.

Honestly, if you ever get the chance, give this one a look. You won't be disappointed.
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Excellent suspense thriller!
AndreaPomMom29 December 2002
This is one of my favorite Lifetime movies! I would highly recommend it, if you like suspense thrillers. Christine Elise (Emily from 90210) and Grant Show (Jake from Melrose Place) both star in this movie and they are both excellent in it, as is the mother (I forget her real name). This movie has an excellent twist as well! A must-see!
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She just did this for her daughter
mbg41113 March 2010
So I caught this movie today on Lifetime, on a rainy Saturday morning. For once, I'm grateful for the bad weather! When I saw the title "Mother Knows Best", with Joanna Kerns no less, I figured it would be some Lifetime movie about a mother taking off her apron and having to deal with obnoxious bratty children. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

Celeste Cooper is my idol! Joanna Kerns did an excellent job shedding her "everywoman" image. I was laughing out loud as soon as she placed the ad in her daughter's name. Grant Show and Christine Elise have some chemistry but I found their characters to be stale. Kerns steals the show here, that's for sure! It's funny how the only Lifetime movies that I like are always on at 11am on Saturdays. And those are the Lifetime movies that still run on the channel.
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cathyprincess8620 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It was really good! I really think that Ted Rogers from that movie was cute! I never thought a mother would do that! If my mother done that to my boyfriend or husband I would never talk or trust her again. I love the part that her daughter stood up to her own mother! It was hard but someone had to do it.

Also I wouldn't blame my father if he didn't do anything. Her father did the right thing to stay out of it.

Its not her fault that her mother wrote to that guy in the ad. Also it was her mother's fault for pushing her daughter into marriage and maybe it was Celeste's fault for telling Laurel to get a divorce with Ted. I think Ted was a good guy.
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Delightfully wicked parent/in-law
caa82130 September 2008
A friend had seen this flick a while back and recommended it, and I happened to see it listed for a rerun on "Lifetime" today.

Glanced at the prior comments here, and after viewing this opus, would agree with their positive viewpoints.

Joanna Kerns' evil mom was as delightfully and completely selfish, obsessive and wicked a character as one is likely to encounter. "Mother-in-law-from-Hell" is almost too mild an adjective. Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction," and Jack Nicholson in "As Good As It Gets" could qualify to become trainees as mental health workers, comparing their problems relative to Joanna's personality disorders.

Sonny Corleone would exert more deliberation and examination of possible alternatives, before ordering somebody whacked, than this overbearing mother did in engaging a hit man.

However, overall, this was a relatively "quiet" flick, given the nature of the story and plot. I found this appealing, and there was little yelling, and no raucous knife-wielding climax, common to so many "Lifetime" offerings. This made it a better viewing, and the Kerns' character was all the better for her steady, unfailing, almost low-key way by which she portrayed her evil character's persona.

A worthwhile two hours' entertainment.
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Pretty good movie
alliesmom9725 June 2004
A not too bad Lifetime movie about a snooty, upper class mother who doesn't think her son in law is good enough for her little girl, so naturally, she decides to correct the situation by "getting rid" of him. Joanna Kerns was really good as Celeste, prancing along with a smile on her face as she pulled all her stunts to break up the marriage.

Without giving away too much, one of my favorite exchanges in this movie was:

"So, you ever met a cop?

"No, I don't believe so"

"You have now!"
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"The Mother-in-Law From Hell!"
hmcusn2944 July 2008
I am one of Joanna Kerns most ardent and loyal fans, and she was never more beautiful than in this movie. It is rated as a "thriller," but I would call it a "thriller/comedy," as it was one of the funniest "thriller" movies I have ever seen, thanks to the wonderful portrayal of the the lunatic mother-in-law by Joanna. She was perfect. I especially loved the scene in the automobile as she was paying off the bad guy. You have to see it to appreciate it. Joanna Kerns demonstrated her great acting ability in this movie, and her comedic skills are first rate. She turned an ordinary script into a classic of it's genre.

I have watched this movie several times and still enjoy it as much as I did at the first viewing. I give it a solid 9/10.
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Mother-in-Law Breaker
wes-connors14 May 2011
We open with the statement, "Although fictionalized, the following dramatization was inspired by actual events." The credits run over some forthcoming scenes, which seem to give away too much of the plot, but really make up for some lack of action during the early running (and give up nothing important). Until the drama picks up excitement, you can revel in the somewhat psychotic performance of perfect mother Joanna Kerns (as Celeste). A wealthy and socialite, Ms. Kerns has just won a "Woman of the Year" award for her charitable and charming good will. She worries about her desirable daughter's lack of manly attention, and places a "personal ad" for pretty blonde Christine Elise (as Laurel Cooper)...

At first Ms. Elise thinks her mother's idea will match her up with a "serial killer," but she goes out on a blind date with the respondent anyway. Elise is thrilled when the man turns out to be handsome entrepreneur Grant Show (as Ted Rogers). Coincidently, Mr. Show reveals his mother encouraged him to answer the personal ad. Elise and Show hit romance head on, and plan to marry. But, mother Kerns has decided Show is unfit for her daughter. He has his own business, but is an automobile mechanic. So, Kerns decides she must break up the young couple, by hook or by crook...

If this really happened, as revealed in the opening and closing, more than a little dramatic license must have been taken. It doesn't matter as this is one of the most fun (and suspenseful) TV movies from the "Lifetime" production team. Everyone is as perfect as Kerns' décor, with hired gunman Sherman Augustus (as Dick Cutler) and soundtrack contributor Patrick Williams standing out. Especially stick with it for Kerns' indignant comeuppance.

******* Mother Knows Best (4/12/97) Larry Shaw ~ Joanna Kerns, Christine Elise, Grant Show, Sherman Augustus
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A cut above the usual Lifetime fare, but what is that really saying?
blanche-213 May 2009
This is a surprisingly okay film that I caught on Lifetime - okay and Lifetime with regard to movies is usually a contradiction in terms, but not this time. Well-cast and directed with a light touch by Larry Shaw, as well as a halfway decent script, "Mother Knows Best" is both entertaining and absorbing.

Based on a true story, the beautiful and talented Joanna Kerns plays Celeste Cooper, a socialite who doesn't like her daughter's husband. He's an auto mechanic instead of a doctor. So she hires someone to kill him. "I want him shot in the head," she instructs the hit-man.

Kerns really elevates this film with her glamor and no-nonsense line deliveries. She approaches the hit as if she's arranging for a catering job. Christine Elise is her daughter and Grant Show her husband, and both are appealing. David Spielberg is Celeste's henpecked husband. Watching his daughter from afar on her wedding day, he cries and says to Celeste, "She reminds me of you the day we were married." "Shut up, George," his wife says.

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The Positively True Adventures Of the Alleged Socalite Son-In-Law Murdering Mom!
cmvoger17 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I saw 'Mother Knows Best' when it was first run, and again as a daytime rerun. Looking it up recently, I couldn't remember the title, couldn't remember the names of the stars. No problem, I would approach it through the names of supporting players. However, the filmography of William Daniels didn't help, because David Spielberg had played that role (bride's father). The filmography of Anne Meara didn't help because the name I needed was Jeanette O'Conner (groom's mother). I won't bother revealing the blunder that finally got me to the right site, but I did get here.

In spite of my memory gaps about the cast, I do recall the plot points that help drive this very good story. On the bride's side, the social-climbing mother with a creative view of facts, and a venomous sense of entitlements. And a head-in-the-sand father who served as a passive accomplice to the mother. He is long past EVER telling the mother anything she doesn't want to hear. On the groom's side, the hard-working, good-hearted soul, his mother, who wanted to help the young folks.

The police-procedural part of the story -- making their case while avoiding any action that could be construed as entrapment -- makes this film a worthy companion piece to that story about a high-school cheerleading squad in Texas. Because they prevent the planned murder, it ends on a pretty lighthearted note, and there is some humor along the way. It would have done this viewer's heart good to have one more scene; the incarcerated mom scrubbing toilets or negotiating with the cellblock Bad Mama. But maybe the scriptwriters knew what they were doing.

Like others who have commented, I would like to have someone broadcast it again, so I can tape it. Eight stars.
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It was a great show and I would like to see another showing of it so I can get a copy of it.
Honkytonkbaby7200011 May 2002
I loved this movie! Not only because of Joanna Kearns, but also because of Grant Show, whom I last saw on the 1990 cop show True Blue. I love this man's acting. It is strong and he was just excellent for the part. I wish I could have been the lady he married in the movie. He is just a great guy. Thanks Lifetime for airing such a great movie. I hope you will show it again soon.

Sincerely Yours,

Marsha Kay Dollar
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Mother knows nothing
nightroses7 May 2018
This was tense, it's about an obsessed mother who hates her son-in-law only because he isn't what she wanted him to be. She couldn't face the fact her daughter Laurel was in love with a man who wasn't filthy rich and upper crust. Laurel loved him for who he was and not what he was earning. This film is good to watch on a rainy afternoon. It could've done without the silly background music, because the film is serious and not a comedy.
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Not exactly Hitchcock
callingbrian8 May 2005
A plot that is dumb beyond belief. However, that said, it must be admitted the lead actors go at their roles as though it were Shakespeare. And that is as it should be. It isn't their fault the writer seems to be in a coma.

Hats off to what is really a very cunning performance by Joanna Kerns. She proves that just because it isn't on the page doesn't mean a role can't be seized and dug into. And she does so with gusto. Good for her.

Ditto to Christine Elise who is called upon to be little more than confused and weepy, but goes way beyond what is asked of her by the script.

And to Grant Show as well. A graduate of daytime and prime time soaps (Ryan's Hope, Melrose Place). He is always versatile and underrated. His primary drawback seems to be his impossible-to-ignore good looks. He is a sturdy, well grounded actor capable of much more than he is generally given the opportunity to do.

The rest of the cast is basically window dressing.

The direction is adequate and the script, as I alluded to, is fairly idiotic.

Watch this one to enjoy three good actors in the leads taking delight in performing some much needed scenery chewing. It's fun.
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Kearns steals movie
geoffox-766-41846722 November 2012
First of all, Joanna Kearns walks off with this movie as a controlling mother. She finagles every trick in the book to keep her daughter, played very well by Christine Elise, from marrying beneath her. In a tour de force performance, Miss Kearns doesn't miss a moment on screen. She's brilliant, almost tongue in cheek portrayal of this dominating mama. Supported by an excellent cast, notably Grant Show as the husband, David Spielberg as the wimpy father, Jeanette O'Connor as the feisty mother-in law and a brief performance by the always wonderful Jessica Walter (remember her in Play Misty For Me?) If I had any other comment to make, I wish the film were longer and I could see this wonderful cast continue to perform. Well directed by Larry Show (any relation to Grant?) and well written by Lisa Friedman Bloch and Kathy Kirtland Silverman. Congratulations to all involved in making this an enjoyable experience for this viewer.
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