The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

Michelle Pfeiffer in The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

The Disappearance of Ben Cappadora

Having gone to her high school reunion in Chicago Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer - One Fine Day) has taken her three children with her but whilst there her youngest Ben (Michael McElroy) disappears. Thinking he is just exploring in the hotel lobby she goes looking for him but is unable to find him. With the police lead by Detective Candy Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg) searching Beth's husband Pat (Treat Williams - The Devil's Own) arrives. Despite thorough searching Ben cannot be found leading to Beth having an emotional breakdown and trouble in their marriage. Nine years later and having finally moved on from the tragedy Beth and her family have moved to Chicago where Pat has opened a restaurant. But the past comes back when a young boy by the name of Sam (Ryan Merriman) shows up at their door wanting to see if he can mow the lawn and immediately Beth recognizes him as her missing son Ben.

I read something amusing when I was looking for opinions on "The Deep End of the Ocean" as someone called it original. In fairness the person who wrote that may have not watched many movies but anyone who has a fondness for TV movies will tell you that the scenario of a child going missing only to be discovered many years later has been done quite a few times. As such "The Deep End of the Ocean" hits many of the same marks that one of these TV movies would do except with a bigger budget and bigger stars.

Treat Williams in The Deep End of the Ocean (1999)

As such what we get to see following the disappearance of Ben is everything from the initial search, the media frenzy, the emotional breakdown of Beth, her other son blaming himself as well as it causing troubles in the marriage as Beth struggles in the wake of the tragedy. The thing is that whilst it shows all these aspects, ticking the boxes if you like it never shows any depth to any of this as one minute we go from a search nerve centre being set up the next it being closed down when nothing comes of it.

It is the same when later on in the movie Beth meets Sam and immediately knows that he is her missing son. We get a lot more areas mentioned from who is to blame, what would be best but there is again no depth to this, no real examination of the consequences of what happens. It is where "The Deep End of the Ocean" is a let down and frankly I have watched TV movies which do a better job of delivering the depth of the situation whilst also the consequences of the events.

But what "The Deep End of the Ocean" has which your general TV movie doesn't have is money and with money you get more time to fine tune scenes and employ a better calibre of actors although Treat Williams is a frequent visitor to the world of TV movies. But the star of "The Deep End of the Ocean" is Michelle Pfeiffer and in a character which for me lacks development she does a good job of bringing the emotion of the situation to the fore from the feeling of emptiness when she returns home and the reminders of Ben are there to the level of depression which engulfs her whole body as she doesn't even want to get out of bed.

What this all boils down to is that on one hand "The Deep End of the Ocean" is a good movie yet it is also disappointing because as a big screen movie I expected more than what I would get from a TV movie other than bigger stars and a bigger production.