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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is based on real events in Orinda, CA, during the summer and
fall 1984. It's important to remember the reality of what lies behind
the film: much like the gun-toting kids we see today, we have to
remember kids are cruel to each other and we all act like it is normal
and acceptable. It isn't.
I grew up with the victim's family, and this whole tragedy was hard on everyone in the community; however, the blame lies with all parties. Kids learn to be cruel to other kids from their parents. Good parents teach their kids to respect other kids and be kind to everyone. Orinda, CA, with a few exceptions, was not a place where good parents raised their kids. Many places with money are like this; many places without money are like this, too. Everyone focuses on the singular tragedy of something like this, and they fail to look at macrocosmic problem. Everyone wants to blame the lone nut instead of thinking how their own behavior impacted the situation. No one wants to imagine this could happen, but it does. And it happens because parents absentmindedly teach their kids it is alright to tease and mock those who are different or don't fit in.
Watch this with your child and use it as a tool for teaching them respect for everyone, not just for the "cool" kids.
"A Friend to Die For" was a very good TV movie. Based on a true story,
it tells the story of a young girl who murders a more popular
Both the young leads did a great job in their roles. The story opens with the actual murder and then launches into the story surrounding it. So effective in her role as the bitchy Stacy is the always attractive Tori Spelling that you almost start to lose sympathy for her as a victim as the movie progresses. It's a big change for her from her role as the sweet, perky Doanna Martin on 90210. Kellie Martin, who is both beautiful and talented, does an equally awesome job as Angela; she is a little too shy, a little too poor and WAY too eager to fit in with the "right" crowd. As wrong as her actions were, you find yourself sympathizing with her. Although she handled her anger and hurt in a very wrong way, the emotions brought on by her treatment at the hands of Stacy (which was also wrong) were real and understandable. By the end of the movie I found myself feeling sad for everyone involved and thinking how different things could have and should have been. IT makes you wonder what went wrong with these two girls that Stacy had no respect for those different or less popular than herself and that Angela felt so badly about herself that she needed Stacy's friendship and approval to feel worthwhile.
A little research will provide you with some interesting information on the actual case. I found it very telling that a friend of the "real" Stacy (Kirsten Costas) dismissed any suggestions that Kristen and her crowd were mean-spirited bullies with the comment "She was only mean to people she didn't care about." How sad that young people today have the attitude that it is OK to mistreat people you don't like. While Kirsten didn't deserve to die and the hands of Bernadette Protti (the "real" Angela), her superior "I am better than you and therefore I shall make you an object of my amusement" attitude is far too prevalent today.
This is a story that shows us how far people will go to avoid being bullied by their peers and belonging which occurs frequently in girls. We see Angela who is an insecure teenager that strives to be popular. Stacy is the classic bully, one who suffers from the "Princess Syndrome" and everything seems to go her way despite her behavior. This shows that bullying DOES get out of hand and that kids will go to any lengths to avoid becoming victims or targets of Peer Abuse. A really good film that exhibits Peer Abuse in girls during the teenage years.
I think Kellie Martin should have won an Emmy for this film. She plays Angela, a pretty but mousy-type attending a wealthy-area high school. She wants to fit in with the rich, snobby, popular crowd but is not like them herself. She comes from a large, devoutly Catholic family who "have what they need" but little else. Angela tries out for cheerleader and fails, for the Writers' Club and fails, even though she's a good writer, and this destroys her self-esteem. Add to that her wanting desperately to befriend the most popular girl in school Stacy (Tori Spelling), who is also the meanest and snobbiest, and being cruelly rejected as weird. You totally sympathize with Angela and see how she could have been driven to such a desperate act. Martin's riveting performance continues post-tragedy, as you see the guilt eating her up inside. This is truly an awesome made-for-TV movie. I highly recommend it.
When Miramount High School cheerleader Kirsten Costas ran across the street from her front yard in Orinda, California in June 1984 having been fatally stabbed by her schoolmate Bernadette Protti and seeking help from her neighbor she probably had no idea that this review would be written. The way it happened was this: Randall Sullivan of ROLLING STONE Magazine wrote a moving article about the case (focusing largely on Bernadette Protti's dramatic confession to the police) that appeared in print about a year after the murder had occurred and was published with the title "Death of a Cheerleader". The story got such attention that Sullivan was hired to write a screenplay for a made-for-t.v. movie after Protti was paroled, depicting the events fictitiously. It was first aired on NBC as A FRIEND TO DIE FOR, but has also been aired on cable television, both under its original title and under the title of the article that inspired it. In the film, Tori Spelling loosely por- trays Costas as snobby Stacy Lockwood; Kellie Martin loosely portrays Protti as Angela Delveccio and Orinda is replaced with the fictional town of Santa Mira, California. The murder is depicted in the opening scene and the action then reverts to the life of Delveccio over the course of about a year. Although she firsts tries to cover up what she did, the depth and sincerity of the remorse that she eventually expresses are very moving. This film is worth watching several times.
The movie A Friend to Die For, is an excellent movie for teens. I have used it in youth groups in our church (I am a minister) as well as to my Senior English students who really enjoyed the movie. Excellent discussions on popylarity and the price of it, meanness among peers, peer pressure, beauty is only skin deep, high schools for the elite and many more assignments that were first rate in responses.
Kellie Martin did a masterful job playing the role of an awkward teenage girl desperately yearning for acceptance from the "In" crowd in high school. Two scenes that totally sold me on how convincing the role of Angela was played was when Angela was being dropped off for the ski trip and, in front of the other kids, Angela's mother goes to clean Angela's face with a handkerchief. Embarrassed, Angela moves her mother's arm and storms off to collect her bag. As Angela lifts her bag, she looks back to her mother and gives her a classic "Why did you do that, mom?" look that I think only Kellie Martin can make convincing. Finally, after being initiated by the Larks, Angela and the other girls go off driving looking for guys to kiss. Angela gets snubbed as she attempts to kiss an elder gentlemen sitting in his car. Reflecting on her public humiliation, Angela has a heart to heart talk with her sister about her wanting to be someone else. Kellie Martin played the role masterfully!
No, this is not the most unique film about bullying, alienation and
violence in high schools today. But this film is acceptable when you
note the hypocrisy of an American community when confronted with its
demons. The prosecution admittedly pursued the death penalty in a case
where it was not even applicable, to feed the PR flames and incite
headlines across America.
If the underlying theme had been more developed, there was a much more important story to be conveyed here. Other than the obvious, Angela Delvecchio (Kellie Martin) as the odd girl out, desperately attempting to be popular (Unfortunately, her parents and teachers never told her this would cease to matter in 2 years anyway), with Tori Spelling as the "popular girl" for that year. They may have picked a more sympathetic victim other than Spelling.
There is a brief role for Terry O'Quinn, as the pretentious principal; babbling about Santa Maria excellence and perfection. We see his dismissal of Delvecchio (Martin) and how important his approval and praise was for her.
Andy Romano and Valerie Harper portray Angela Delvecchio's parents, and paint a realistic picture of the community's hypocrisy- everyone in America wants to succeed, have a bigger house, drive a foreign car, and this all ties in with being a popular cheerleader in Delvecchio's mind, at least.
Kellie Martin is a sympathetic character, and does quite well projecting Delvecchio's despair. Maybe they should produce a follow-up movie, to see if things have changed in that particular school. Other films have more accurately dissected teen violence: "Bully", "Elephant" and "Bang, bang, you're dead", for example. But this film still deserves credit for addressing some of the less popular notions in America today: that something is amiss, values are distorted, and kids are being affected by this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the better made for TV movies out there, 'A Friend to Die For'
(or 'Death of a Cheerleader' as it's known in the UK) is an incredibly
touching film, with a brilliant central performance from the young
Kellie Martin as the teenage girl driven to murder by frustration and
torment, but it suffers in that it offers little sympathy for her
Based on a true story which makes it even more poignant, Angela Del Vecchio is a sweet, pretty and lovable girl who transfers from a Catholic school to a regular one and sets out to make friends with the popular crowd while striving to achieve as much as possible. The only problem is that another girl called Stacy not only keeps beating her at everything, but also mocks Angela and treats her like dirt, despite her best efforts to befriend her. And it is here that the film's main fault arises. Angela vents her frustration one night by stabbing Stacy to death, but at no point in the film does any sympathy arise for the murdered girl.
Angela on the other hand is an incredibly sympathetic character. She is tormented by her failures and perceived inadequacy in the first half and consumed by guilt and depression in the second. Throughout the entire running time, you just want to put your arms round the girl and give her a big hug and the scene where she finally confesses her crime to her mother is absolutely heartbreaking. Unfortunately, Stacy is considerably more one-dimensional and never presented as anything but a self-centred, arrogant ego-maniac, which jars painfully against the depth given to Angela's character. Given that she is based on a girl who was genuinely murdered in real-life, it seems pretty unsympathetic that while we feel plenty of empathy for her loved ones following the tragic event, the general feeling the movie generates is that the dumb idiot got what she deserved.
That said, the film still has much to recommend it. The central message of the extremes that children can reach if they take school too seriously is handled well, as is an issue raised in the second half about media sensationalism regarding the murder. Alongside this, Kellie Martin is simply phenomenal as Angela and her insecurities will have universal appeal to teenagers across the globe. It's just a shame that the treatment of the primary subject matter was not quite so black and white.
Angela Delvecchiois is a young girl who comes from quite a poor family. When
she moves to a rich town called Montevista with her family, she of course
wants to be accepted and to become friends with everyone, including Stacy,
the leader of the most prestigious clique at her new high school. Angela
really admirers Stacy. After Stacy makes fun of a strange girl named Monica
though, Angela defends her, which leaves Angela becoming Stacys target to
pick on. Still wanting to become friends with Stacy, Angela makes up a story
in order to meet Stacy. When they do meet, Angela tells Stacy that she
really likes her and than asks Stacy to come to a party with her. Stacy
refuses and tells Angela that she's going to tell everyone what a weirdo she
is. In rage, Angela stabs Stacy with a kitchen knife and ends up killing
her. The trial for Stacys death is of course very big, with no one knowing
who the real killer of Stacys is and many people assuming it was Monica. All
this at first, of course.
Tori Spelling and Kellie Martin play the lead roles here and they both do a great job, especially Spelling. Jenna Leigh Green also has a small role and is good too.
Death Of A Cheerleader/A Friend to Die For is a fact-based movie and it's really good. It just shows what people do just to fit in. I give the movie a 10/10.
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