Vows of Deception (1996) starring Cheryl Ladd, Nick Mancuso, Michael Woolson, Nancy Cartwright, Vyto Ruginis, Mike Farrell, Cady Huffman directed by Bill L. Norton Movie Review

Vows of Deception (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Cheryl Ladd in Vows of Deception (1996)

Vows of Obviousness

Having fallen foul to a birthday prank by his friend Clay (Mike Farrell) Insp. Matt Harding (Nick Mancuso - Under Siege 2: Dark Territory) decides some payback is on order by setting up Clay on a blind date with Lucinda (Cheryl Ladd - Crash: The Mystery of Flight 1501) who is not only several months pregnant and new in town but is on parole for child abuse. But Matt's plans backfire when Clay actually takes a shine to Lucinda and much to his dismay they get married. With Clay becoming concerned about Lucinda's lavish spending he asks her to curtail things which leads to her trying to seduce his grown up son Nick (Michael Woolson). When Lucinda suddenly starts complaining about threatening calls he has the phones tapped and to his horror discovers she has been carrying on with Nick.

Some may say I have given a lot of plot away but then "Vows of Deception" is based upon a true story and so its not like its hard not to know what happens although I have stopped short of giving it all away. But the thing about "Vows of Deception" is that whilst it is based on a true story it is quite an obvious drama, a typical made for TV production which not only features ordinary camera work but also doesn't know the meaning of subtle. As such this is not a movie for those who like clever thrillers or gritty true dramas but more for those who like easy to watch afternoon dramas which keep it simple and entertaining rather than real.

Nick Mancuso in Vows of Deception (1996)

Now I mentioned that the word subtle is missing when it comes to "Vows of Deception" and to give you an idea of how unsubtle it is to highlight how young and sexy Cheryl Ladd looks as Lucinda we not only have a scene of her in a micro bikini under a fur coat but also emerging from a lake in nothing but a clinging wet shirt. And it is not just Cheryl Ladd's body on show as to highlight her attraction to Nick we have scenes of Michael Woolson as Nick with his shirt off. It's not that it gets to the point of far fetched romantic fantasy but it certainly gets cheesy in trying to be sexy.

The focus on trying to be sexy dominates the first two thirds of the movie as we watch the extravagant Lucinda spending freely and then turning text book bitchy when Clay has a go at her lavish spending. The crime part of the story only presents itself during the final third and to give the producers credit they try to create some sort of mystery over what happened as we see Lucinda walking in on Clay dead in his chair with a bullet hole in his temple. But for those who know the true story will probably be amused by this and for those who don't will have obviously guessed what is going on. As I said "Vows of Deception" is as subtle as a brick and there is one scene where the cops talk to Lucinda where it enters "Basic Instinct" territory.

As for the acting well to be honest it is over the top from start to finish, from the minute we see a heavily pregnant Lucinda get off the bus to when the credits roll. In the end "Vows of Deception" ends up a movie which you might be inclined to watch because of the cast but in the end won't have been blown away by any of their performances although you might be impressed by the astounding shape which the forty something Cheryl Ladd was in when she made this.

What this all boils down to is that "Vows of Deception" is to be honest cheesy with its lack of subtlety and over the top performances. But as a typical afternoon made for TV movie it works.