The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas-Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1992)
The late Michael Ritchie never got his due as one of the more distinctive directors to emerge during the 1970s, but in films such as The Candidate and The Bad News Bears he carved out a niche by exploring the ways competition can corrode the human soul. His last great movie was made for TV--a tart, dizzingly self-referential retelling of the bizarre early-'90s scandal in which one Wanda Holloway solicited the murders of her daughter's junior high school cheerleading-squad rival and the girl's mother. (The plot was stopped with Holloway's arrest in 1991.) When the news breaks, the bleak oil town of Channelview, Texas, swarms with tabloid reporters and Hollywood dealmakers as everyone hustles to sell their story. Holly Hunter captures Holloway's manic drawl and mirthless, staccato laugh, but she doesn't simply chew the scenery. Aided by Jane Anderson's blackly funny script and Ritchie's smart direction, the actress shows Holloway as not just nutty but also a martyr for the sins of a petty, misogynist subculture (a theme Ritchie also worked in the 1975 beauty-pageant satire Smile). Cameo alert: Look for Anderson, playing a screenwriter who thinks Holly Hunter would make a good Wanda, and listen for Ritchie's voice as a pastor who preaches forgiveness.