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Roeper: Drew Peterson movie coming to Lifetime as bad as it looks

Drew Peters(left) Rob Lowe character as former Bolingbrook Police officer.

Drew Peterson (left) and Rob Lowe in character as the former Bolingbrook Police officer.

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Updated: February 12, 2012 8:14AM



The young Rob Lowe made an impressive splash in films such as “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “About Last Night...” and “The Outsiders” — but it would have been no huge surprise if Lowe had faded from the scene by middle age.

Granted, Lowe delivered mostly solid performances in films ranging from good to kill-me-now, but nobody was saying he was a Sean Penn-level talent. He was as famous for his preternaturally handsome visage as his range. (As Jim Belushi says in “About Last Night...” “You know what your problem is? You’re too good looking. ...Best thing that could happen to you is an industrial accident.”)

What we didn’t know about Lowe in the 1980s was how sharp and funny he could be. He was hilarious in the “Austin Powers” movies, stellar in “The West Wing,” and now he’s a vital cog in one of the best ensembles in the history of TV comedy on “Parks and Recreation.”

But I don’t know if Lowe has ever been more hilarious than he is in “Untouchable,” the upcoming Lifetime movie about Bolingbrook’s own Drew Peterson.

High camp in Will County

When it was announced Lowe was going to play the former police sergeant suspected of killing his fourth wife and charged with killing his third wife, the odds were against “Untouchable.” Yes, great-looking people can transform themselves to play not-so-great-looking, amoral characters. (See Charlize Theron’s Oscar-winning turn in “Monster.”) But the first photos of Lowe as Peterson hardly suggested a makeover on the order of Tom Cruise in “Tropic Thunder,” let alone Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull.” As I noted at the time, if they were going to cast against type, Tim Allen would have been a much better choice.

But you can’t judge a movie by its promo shots — so when I watched a screener of “Untouchable,” premiering January 21 on Lifetime, I was hoping against hope the movie would do justice to the memories of Kathleen Savio and Stacy Peterson, and achieve something beyond high camp.

That hope died within 10 minutes.

Lowe’s Drew Peterson is nothing like the blustery, beefy, occasionally charming and often chillingly creepy character currently awaiting trial. With his over-the-top Bolingbrook accent, his relatively trim physique (though Lowe says he gained weight for the part) and that distracting hair and mustache get-up, this guy seems about as menacing as a kid playing dress-up on Halloween.

Even with the foreboding music, even with the talented actresses playing Kathleen and Stacy (Carla Buono and Kaley Cuoco, respectively) doing their best to seem terrified when feeling threatened by Drew, there’s not a single moment in the movie that conveys any real sense of the terror allegedly brought down by Peterson. When a next-door neighbor finds Peterson on her driveway, working her garage door opener and hissing, “I’m untouchable, bitch,” it’s an instant classic of unintentional humor.

SPOILER ALERT! The makers of “Untouchable” leave little doubt about Peterson’s guilt, up to and including a scene in which Peterson’s brother helps him dispose of a blue barrel. When Kathleen Savio’s body is discovered by a neighbor, Drew is outside with an evil smirk on his face. After Stacy disappears, even Drew doesn’t seem to buy his own story that she’s on a beach with some new guy. After Drew is arrested and taken into custody and told he must succumb to a strip search, he dances a striptease for police while claiming they just want to get a look at his “package.” Scenes in which Peterson is supposedly becoming unhinged, as when he covers half his face with an American flag bandana while confronting the media circus outside his home, are just ridiculous.

We never get a sense of why one young woman after another would fall for Peterson. We never get a feel for why he’s so jealous, so prone to fits of rage and alleged deadly violence.

Something tells me when Rob Lowe’s 75 and some organization is giving him a Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lifetime movie will be conveniently forgotten.



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