How I Killed my Mother
With his younger brother in his arms Brian Hannigan (Neil Patrick Harris) calls 911 as he believes his adopted parents are dead. They are having been brutally murdered the night before with the finger of suspicion pointing at Brian's adopted brother Daniel (Johnny Galecki) who has been in Crownsville State hospital for a year due to his violent behaviour. With the police trying to build their case Brian speaks to Tom (Gregory Harrison), a lawyer and friend of the family about their parents, about growing up and what he and Daniel went through.
As I sit here writing this movie review it is coming up to 6pm here in the UK and the daily double bill of "How I Met Your Mother" is just finishing and "The Big Bang Theory" is about to start. I mention that because Neil Patrick Harris from "How I Met Your Mother" and Johnny Galecki from "The Big Bang Theory" are the stars of "Sudden Fury", also known as "A Family Torn Apart". They are not the only recognizable faces in the movie as there is also a young Eric Lloyd who went on to star in "The Santa Clause" movies. But what is partly interesting is that "Sudden Fury" is a TV movie from back in 1993 when Neil Patrick Harris was known for "Doogie Howser, M.D." and Johnny Galecki for "Roseanne". That is not the only interesting thing as it is an adaptation of Leslie Walker's "Sudden Fury: A True Story of Adoption and Murder" which covers the true story of a double murder.
Now "Sudden Fury" is one of those movies which is not about what it seems to be about, where what we watch basically builds up to what you think it is going to be about. By that I mean with the movie opening the morning after the Hannigans are murdered you expect it to be about the police investigation and a good guy lawyer trying to protect Brian and Daniel from being easy police targets. But it isn't because what we get is Brian opening up about growing up with the church going Hannigans, about when the rebellious Daniel came along and how the Hannigans were as parents.
Now initially that was a bit of a disappointment but trust me give "Sudden Fury" a chance and it evolves in to a compelling and hard hitting drama which features abuse before building to the actual murders. I won't divulge the story of Brian's life in detail but through Neil Patrick Harris's delivery it has you gripped with unsettling characters and plenty of drama as well as pain. And as I said it does come full circle to the murders and manages to be just as gripping as the plot thickens.
Now there is no doubting that the strength of the screenplay plays a big part in why "Sudden Fury" works and Matthew Bombeck has done a good job of adapting Leslie Walker's novel. But what makes the movie are the performances and whilst Linda Kelsey and John M. Jackson deliver intentionally uncomfortable performances as the Hannigans it is Neil Patrick Harris and Johnny Galecki who deserve plenty of praise. Harris's initially cold then emotional performance as Brian is both touching and powerful but then you have the raw power of Galecki as the rebellious Brian caught in a vicious circle of life. Trust me when I say "Sudden Fury" is worth watching alone for the performances of the young Neil Patrick Harris and Johnny Galecki let alone for anything else.
What this all boils down to is that "Sudden Fury" is a surprising gem of a made for TV movie with a compelling story and equally compelling performances from Neil Patrick Harris and Johnny Galecki. For those who discount made for TV movies as rubbish should seek this one out as it may change your mind.