The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom

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The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom
Positivelytrue.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Written by Jane Anderson
Starring Holly Hunter
Beau Bridges
Swoosie Kurtz
Music by Lucy Simon
Cinematography Gerry Fisher
Edited by Eric A. Sears
Distributed by HBO
Release date(s) April 10, 1993
Running time 99 min
Country United States
Language English

The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom is a 1993 comedy TV movie produced by and for HBO. It was directed by Michael Ritchie and starred Holly Hunter, Swoosie Kurtz and Beau Bridges.

It is based on the true story of Wanda Holloway, a woman who tried to put out a hit on one of her daughter's classmates (and the girl's mother) to advance her own daughter's middle school cheerleading career. The movie also has themes connected to Operation Desert Storm, during which the real scandal took place.

This should not be confused with Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story, a 1992 television film produced by ABC that approaches the story in a more serious light.

Holly Hunter won the Emmy Award for playing Wanda Holloway and Beau Bridges won both the Emmy and the Golden Globe Awards for the supporting role of Terry Harper, Holloway's brother-in-law whom she contacted to arrange the hit.[1][2]

Plot summary[edit]

When Wanda Holloway was a teen, her father forbade her to try out for her school's cheerleading team. Many years later, when Wanda had a daughter of her own, she was determined that her daughter would fulfill the dream she was denied and become a cheerleader--which would allow Wanda to make up that part of her childhood by reliving it through her daughter. The film takes place in Channelview, Texas.

Wanda enrolls her daughter, Shanna, in various dance and gymnastics classes in order to enhance her prospects of becoming a cheerleader. She forces Shanna to practice for hours on end, despite sickness or injury. Wanda's best friend, Verna Heath, and her daughter, Amber, live next door to the Holloway family. Amber is the same age as Shanna and the two teenagers become friends. Verna had been a successful varsity cheerleader when she was young and holds the same ambition as Wanda for her own daughter.

Leading up to the cheer-leading tryouts, jealousy sparks between Wanda and Verna, despite the fact that their daughters' friendship remains solid. In the months prior to the tryouts, Wanda forces Shanna to concentrate completely on cheer-leading. At the tryouts, Amber impresses the judges but Shanna is unable to, despite all of her training. Amber makes the squad and Shanna does not, disappointing both Shanna and Wanda. The fact that Shanna did not make it onto the team causes Amber to end the friendship between Verna and Wanda. Wanda, however, does not give up on seeing her daughter become a cheerleader and decides to try again next year.

Every day until next year's try outs, Shanna practices frequently at her mother's command. When the time arrives, Amber makes the team and is even promoted to co-captain, but Shanna is disqualified, due to her mother's attempts to bribe the judges and other students. The shock of her daughter's failure for the second time puts Wanda into a mad fit of rage, anger, and jealousy. Wanda decides that if it was not for Amber, Shanna would have definitely been a cheerleader. She becomes obsessed with the notion that living next door to talented Amber had sapped Shanna's confidence and ruined her chances of success.

Wanda meets her brother-in-law Terry to take a hit out on Amber and Verna. However, Terry is horrified by Wanda's hate for a 13-year-old girl. He disagrees with the murder of a young vibrant girl - especially over something as petty as cheer-leading. After the rendezvous, Terry decides to turn in Wanda to the police. He meets Wanda again, this time with a tape recorder in order to obtain proof of Wanda's desire to commit homicide. Terry sends the recorded message, along with background information, to the police. Wanda is arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison, but is set free when it is discovered that a member of the jury at her trial was on probation. Wanda serves only six months for the attempted murder of Amber.

In the end, Shanna decides it would be best to quit trying for the cheerleading team. Presently, Shanna and Wanda reside in California, where Shanna is taking modelling, singing and acting classes. Wanda hopes that one day, her daughter will be a famous Hollywood actress, no matter what it takes.

Reception[edit]

Reception for the film was mostly positive.[3] Entertainment Weekly gave the movie a positive review, citing Hunter's acting as one of the highlights of the film.[4] Both Efilmcritic's Rob Gonsalves and Filmcritic.com's Christopher Null praised the movie, with Null stating "the movie gets its real kick when it comes time for everyone to sell their rights to Hollywood... with one writer remarking she has 'Holly Hunter' in mind for the lead."[5][6] However, People magazine's review stated that the movie "has two good performances" but that the movie "just doesn't seem to have much point."[7]

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