Instead of maximizing its tacky, over-the-top potential, MATERNAL INSTINCTS mistakenly insists that viewers be touched by the plight of its vengeful, infertile heroine.
Unhealthily obsessed with conceiving her own child, Tracy Patterson (Delta Burke) intends to compensate for the enduring emotional bankruptcy she feels as an orphan. When a top gynecologist, Dr. Eva Warden (Beth Broderick), prepares to surgically implant Tracy with eggs, she discovers a
cancer-ridden ovary. Without consulting Tracy, who is under anesthesia, Tracy's husband Stan (Tom Mason) and her best friend Sabrina (Sandra Nelson) coax the doctor to perform a hysterectomy. Already unstable and now barren, Tracy accidentally kills Stan by pushing him headfirst into a woodpile.
To get revenge on Dr. Warden, Tracy tampers with the pregnant, miscarriage-prone doctor's hormone injection; uses deception to land a job at the lab where Dr. Warden sends client specimens; and switches pregnancy results so that Dr. Warden and her partner face malpractice suits. Tracy then
wheedles a real estate position out of Sabrina in order to lure Dr. Warden's architect husband Gary (Garwin Sanford) out of town. After pitching an interfering Sabrina down a skyscraper shaft, Tracy fails to seduce Gary at a hotel, but does succeed in hitting him with her car and depositing his
near-lifeless body on Dr. Warden's doorstep. While Gary recuperates, Dr. Warden gives birth to a healthy baby. Tracy steals Dr. Warden's newborn and wheels the groggy doctor to the hospital basement, where she attacks a nosy mechanic and falls down some stairs while trying to kill her bete noire.
In a coda, psychotic Tracy vows to go baby-snatching again.
MATERNAL INSTINCTS does deliver one inviolable moment of camp greatness: the sight of Delta Burke busting up a cradle like a shopaholic who didn't find a bargain at a Macy's sale. Aside from this scene and other scattered, unintentionally comic violence ("See Burke smack a mechanic in the snout
with the world's biggest monkey wrench!"), MATERNAL INSTINCTS doesn't ooze with the cheap kicks suggested by its high concept.
Thrill-seekers tuning in for the promise of watching Burke voraciously chew the scenery will find their desires precluded by TV-movie stereotyping and hack direction that vacuums out suspense. They'll have to settle for yet another USA Network movie about a pampered woman settling a sterility
score; the only difference is how its serious, core issues of fertility and motherhood are shredded by the definition of its heroine as a deranged, mascara-smudged, spoiled brat who hurls ice cream at television screens when miffed and murders friends and family when contradicted.(Violence, adultsituations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Instead of maximizing its tacky, over-the-top potential, MATERNAL INSTINCTS mistakenly insists that viewers be touched by the plight of its vengeful, infertile heroine. Unhealthily obsessed with conceiving her own child, Tracy Patterson (Delta Burke) inte… (more)