It’s hard to watch Porches and Private Eyes without being reminded of Desperate Housewives. Both center on a group of seemingly ordinary housewives that get wrapped up in a juicy mystery and other shenanigans. From the opening titles to the whimsical musical score, there’s an undeniable correlation between Travis Mills’ film and Marc Cherry’s ABC dramedy. Porches and Private Eyes can thus feel like a television pilot with a premise that could’ve been elaborated on in further episodes. As a self-contained movie, however, it’s still an involving story with a few entertaining performances.
It’s hard to watch Porches and Private Eyes without being reminded of Desperate Housewives.
Taking place over the course of about a week, the film follows three suburban women. Elise McMurry stars as Jenny, a young woman who has all of her money tied up in a bar she purchased with her husband. Sounding and looking like Paula Deen with less makeup, Marlene Cupit plays Patsy, a woman who is ignored by her children and absent husband. There’s also Lynn Forney as Ann, a lawyer who just wants the truth. When a man named Jimmy mysteriously disappears, the three ladies begin to suspect that a neighbor might have murdered him. They set out to solve the case while also dealing with their own personal issues.
Porches and Private Eyes is at its best when it focuses on the mystery element. It’s a fun ride that delivers a couple inspired twists and turns. The film kind of lags, however, whenever the focus shifts to the home lives of our main characters. We just don’t care that much if Jenny will save her bar or if Patsy will reconcile with her husband. To be fair, Mills’ screenplay does bring all of these storylines full circle in a clever fashion. Even then, though, most the subplots here can still feel tacked-on.
The comedy can also be hit and miss. Much like Desperate Housewives, Porches and Private Eyes aims to strike a balance between melodrama and dark satire. While the film succeeds for the most part, there are certain moments that could’ve been a lot funnier. At times you almost wish the filmmakers would just go completely over-the-top and make a farce in the spirit of Arsenic and Old Lace. Even when a scene underwhelms, though, you can tell that the lead actresses are giving it there all. They ultimately turn in funny, dedicated performances, significantly elevating the overall project.
Much like Desperate Housewives, Porches and Private Eyes aims to strike a balance between melodrama and dark satire.
What we’re left with is an enjoyable little mystery that keeps you guessing. Porches and Private Eyes particularly comes together in its final act, which offers an unexpected explanation. Even if the explanation didn’t deliver, however, the film’s plucky heroines still light up screen and make the experience well worth our time.