Rob Lowe is Drew Peterson, the cop/ladies man whose wives had the bad habit of dying or disappearing, triggering a media circus and his eventual indictment. And that’s about all there is to say about “Drew Peterson: Untouchable,” a Lifetime movie that could win the Emmy for most distracting hairstyling. Aside from his blow-dried mop, Lowe affects an accent that sounds like he’s impersonating William H. Macy in “Fargo.” In any event, the ratings battle will likely be won simply by the title, even if any resemblance between this and an actual fleshed-out movie is purely coincidental.
Peterson is introduced atop his third wife, Kathleen (“Mad Men’s” Cara Buono), casually revealing his nakedness to his young son, saying it’s time the kid learned why he’s called “Big Daddy.” In terms of establishing Peterson’s prick credentials, it’s a convenient bit of shorthand.
Soon enough, the Illinois police sergeant is flashing a toothy grin at young Stacy (“The Big Bang Theory’s” Kaley Cuoco), and beginning a brazen affair, including trysts in his own basement. But his soon-to-be-ex is making life difficult, only to wind up dead in her bathtub, the convenient victim of an apparent suicide.
Stacy is inclined to believe the best of Drew, but his behavior becomes increasingly jealous and erratic, leaving her little recourse but to ask him to leave, which he refuses to do. When she disappears, the action shifts primarily to her neighbor Karen (“The Shield’s” Catherine Dent), who presses for an investigation; and Drew, who continues to mock and taunt media members who surround his home practically nonstop.
Written by Teena Booth and directed by Mikael Salomon, the movie pretty much ends for all intents and purposes with Stacy’s exit. After that, it’s mostly a recreation of media moments, extensively drawing on clips from “Today,” CNN and the like, with Drew occasionally shown watching himself on TV.
The incomplete nature of the story (based on a book by Joseph Hosey) doubtless handicapped the filmmakers, but even so, the movie withers due to its inability to get under Peterson’s skin — or ever make you stop thinking of Lowe as the made-up, made-for-TV version of him. His performance is all squint and swagger, never remotely convincing.
Due to those drawbacks, “Untouchable” doesn’t even quite succeed as pure trash. It’s too squishy for that — if perhaps destined to be remembered forever for the moment of pure kitsch when Drew gazes at Karen dismissively and says, “I’m untouchable, bitch.”
Fortunately for Lifetime, thanks to all the media attention Peterson’s case received, the movie might pay off as something the philandering Drew could appreciate: a mindless fling with someone who in hindsight is touchable — and very nearly unwatchable.