The Two Mr Kissels


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is a Lifetime basic cable movie, and it was produced by Uncle Jessie from Full House, who also stars in it.

"That doesn't sound very promising, Scoop, either for quality or nudity. Why are you fuckin' around with it?" 

Good question.

I noticed the film somewhere and remembered the story of the two high-flyin' Kissel brothers, both murdered, within about three years of each other. I was curious about how Lifetime would portray it, since one brother's murderer has never been determined, and the other murderer, while admittedly having committed the act, is still alive and appealing her sentence, hoping to change her conviction from murder to manslaughter. The movie is a reasonably accurate account, albeit a safe one which gets around legal liability by using some fictional characters, some characters who are composites of several real people, and at least two characters whose names have been changed.

The film takes a clear-cut position on the murder of Rob Kissel. His wife admitted to the murder, but argued that she was a battered wife who was defending herself against yet another violent assault. The movie completely ignores the arguments made in her defense and presents the prosecution's case as its narrative. There's nothing wrong with that, actually. First of all, the overwhelming weight of the evidence pointed to premeditation, and her behavior after the murder supported that conclusion. Second, her testimony was filled with inconsistencies and she got caught in several outright lies which were confuted by physical evidence. It is reasonable for the screenwriter to have assumed that her entire self-defense story line was concocted from half-truths and misleading inferences, and that her version of the story was created simply because she had no other possible defense against the charges. After all, what else was she going to say after it had been established that she smashed in her husband's head by clobbering him several times with an enormous paperweight?

The film didn't do as well with Andy Kissel's murder. The film's hypothetical explanation (suicide for hire) is far-fetched, to say the least, especially considering that one man in this case, the brother of Andrew's assistant, Carlos Trujillo, has already pled guilty to manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder, and that man is never even mentioned in the film. He, however, says he did not actually plunge in the knife. Still unresolved to this day is the matter of who actually committed the stabbing, as well as the actual involvement of Carlos the assistant, who is in prison, and whose trials are still going on. Carlos's brother says they plotted the murder together. Carlos's defense is that his brother is lying about the conspiracy. Carlos has two things going for him: (1) to this day, nobody has been able to supply a credible motive for why Carlos would have been involved; (2) the police have never determined who exactly did the stabbing.

At any rate, it's a typical Lifetime: pedestrian and "safe," so it and seems more like a TV show than a movie, and there is way too much narration, either in voice-over or via the dreaded "characters' heads addressing the camera" cliché.

But ...

... the actual story is interesting enough to maintain viewer involvement. I found it quite watchable.

You cynics will have to wait for your schadenfreude. In the starring role as Andrew Kissel, actor Uncle Jesse was quite charismatic; and in terms of choosing and shepherding a project, producer Uncle Jesse spotted a winner. The lad done good.

Bare-bones DVD:

  • no features
  • no widescreen






  No major reviews.


6.1 IMDB summary (of 10)


Made for basic cable

It was quite successful. The first airing drew 4.2 million viewers, more than ABC's Sunday Night Football or the entire NBC line-up!




  • None, but Robin Tunney showed about as much as allowable on basic cable. She came within a couple of millimeters of all the critical areas, and there may be a very brief, arty flash of her butt.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is not deep, but is quite watchable, and far above average by cable movie standards.