Was Lifetime Movie Prosecuting Casey Anthony Really Necessary?

Prosecuting Casey Anthony

It seemed about time for Lifetime to make a Casey Anthony movie. The network loves to take a controversial true story and cast actors who look nothing like the real people they’re portraying. Prosecuting Casey Anthony delivers that, casting Rob Lowe, known in the Lifetime world as Drew Peterson, as prosecutor Jeff Ashton.

If you’ve for some reason been living in a Nancy Grace-less world for the past five years, first of all, I’m sorry. Second of all, the film details the events surrounding the high-profile murder trial of “tot mom” Casey Anthony (played by Virginia Welch), who was accused (and found not guilty, against public opinion) of killing her daughter Caylee.

I went into this movie expecting some kind of new, fascinating insight into the case the whole country was talking about. Maybe some scandalous details about what happened behind-the-scenes, to figure out “what went wrong,” as the movie asks.

But then I started watching the movie and I realized that the whole thing is pretty unnecessary, because it’s basically one big reenactment of an event that a large percentage of Americans already witnessed firsthand on their televisions. Unlike other true stories, information about this case was very accessible to the everyday public, either by watching the hours and hours of live courtroom footage or listening to news programs debate the issues. Do we really need to see actors recreate what we already saw happening live before our eyes a year and a half ago?

Maybe it would be different if the movie gave us any new information about the case. The only new developments I gleaned from the movie were that Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane Burdick (Elizabeth Mitchell), the other prosecuting attorney, ate a lot of meals at restaurants, and Ashton at one point trimmed his Christmas tree with his wife. Thanks, Lifetime! I have a whole new outlook on the case now!

A big chunk of the film takes place in a perfectly recreated courtroom where the actors recite dialogue taken verbatim from the trial, and then, just like in Titanic, we find out what we saw coming all along: two people can’t fit on a floating door Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murder.

And it’s not even like this story happened so long ago that there are people out there who are just now becoming old enough to learn about it for the first time. It just happened! I don’t think there are any one-and-a-half-year-olds saying, “Mommy, I need to learn about the Casey Anthony trial I wasn’t alive to experience!”

Is Lifetime pioneering a new form of television entertainment called “let’s reenact a real event you can just YouTube”? Will their next project be a reenactment of the 2011 Oscars, with different actors playing James Franco and Anne Hathaway, but never showing what drama went on behind-the-scenes? Actually, put a pin in that, Lifetime, I’d still watch it.

It’s disappointing that this is all the film amounts to, because the main actors actually put in good performances. Once I got past the idea that I was watching Chris from Parks and Rec and Juliet from Lost, I came to the conclusion that Lowe and Mitchell did a solid job with the material. Kevin Dunn gives an emotional performance as George Anthony, Casey’s father. And Oscar Nunez manages to be appropriately unlikable as defense attorney Jose Baez. That might have been due in part to the fact that I’m quite angry at his character on The Office this season, but still…

Finally, Lifetime, I’d like to ask why Nancy Grace’s cameo featured the phrase “champagne toast,” when I distinctly remember the words “champagne jubilee” coming out of her mouth. If nothing else, you should have given me that.

(Image: Lifetime)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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    • jill

      I disagree. I didn’t follow the case that well because of the bits and pieces here and there coverage. Read more of it than watched. This put it together in one piece for me. There were some rather flaky parts, but aren’t there always? I was and am still appalled by the ending verdict. All I can say is she has to live with herself. Everyday.

      • Victoria

        Yeah, but something tells me a person who googled “Foolproof Suffocation ” the day the tot disappeared is probably a sociopath and doesn’t feel anything much except relief that the trial is behind her.

    • Sarah

      I agree—everything in this movie was info that we already knew…every other true crime movie that I have seen has been an improvement on this one as far as providing new info or insight as the above author has said. And, further, the case members really didn’t look much like the true life people at all….Linda Drane Burdick and George Anthony just sizewise didn’t appear anything like the people they are in true life and they could have at least grayed Rob Lowe’s hair to make it a little bit more realistic.

      • Sarah

        Actually, it’s not just the appearance of the characters that weren’t realistic it’s their appearances coupled with their personalities—neither truly matched the “real life characters”.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kim.m.rodriguez.7 Kim McCormick Rodriguez

        I will tell You Casey Anthony is a KILLER. God knows that Caylee

        Appearances have nothing to do with the real deal, CASEY Anthony is a KILLER!! . Let’s get real People!!!


      • Kait

        are you some kind of retarded? This article has to do with a LIFETIME MOVIE. Therefore, people are commenting on the tv movie….

      • http://www.facebook.com/kim.m.rodriguez.7 Kim McCormick Rodriguez

        REALLY?? Regardless of the charachters, She KILLED her DAUGHTER!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/maryetta.hinkle Mary-Etta Jean Hinkle

      Absolutely, it was necessary, and I can’t imagine why you would think that it had no benefit. It has tremendous benefit in keeping the public aware of what happened when CAYLEE received no justice for the crime done against her. Not everybody watched the trial, but many, who didn’t, will watch this movie. People don’t go scouring all over the internet to find material about the murder of a child.

    • http://www.facebook.com/DJhiQ Chris Larsen

      Who cares if its necessary, they’ll do what they want. Do I think full on onslaught of sandy hook coverage was necessary? Ask the parents of the 5 yr old in mt carmel PA who got interrogated for hours without parents and suspended for 10 days for aiming a hello kitty bubble gun at kids and saying I will shoot you all first then myself. Did I mention she was 5? Sick

    • Lydianette

      it was necessary for some people to make a bunch of $

    • tray

      Umm i didn’t watch the movie because a hoorror movie on syfy was on called tasmania devil and it was awesome so i have nothing to say about the casey anthony movie.

      • …her?

        Good call, that sounds like a much better movie.

    • StevO

      I’m actually glad she got off just to watch Nancy Grace explode. The sheer bitterness of that uneducated woman made it a pleasure to see Casey walk. Now she cant bite her tongue when someone calls Jodi “Hot!” Clearly she cant stand good looking people.

    • StevO

      And you cant tell me that Nancy Grace just LOVES Casey Anthony. It has made her a ton of money and something to spout hatred in her disgusting way.

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