The Long Look
Elizabeth (Shelley Long - A Different Kind of Christmas) and Jack Porterson (William R. Moses - She Woke Up Pregnant) are typical parents, doing their best to bring their children up well and making sure they are safe. That is why when their daughter Cathy (Julie Marie Berman) is not where she is meant to be after going to the pictures with her friends they are prepared to ground her. And when their neighbour, Farley (John Ralston - The Calling), keeps on staring at Cathy, Jack confronts him. But despite their best efforts one day Cathy is kidnapped and Elizabeth won't stop till she finds her daughter as well as making sure her kidnapper faces justice.
To my knowledge there is no mention that "Vanished Without a Trace" is based on or inspired by a true story but it wouldn't surprise me if it was as it has that feel. But it also feels just like any old TV movie with nothing going on to make it stand out from the crowd. It makes "Vanished Without a Trace" one of those movies which will appeal to those who enjoy easy to watch dramas which are not overly realistic. But at the same time it will probably frustrate those who stumble across it by accident and expect it to be as good as a big screen movie.
Now in fairness there is one thing which surprised me about "Vanished Without a Trace" and that was Shelley Long as to me Long is best when thrown into comedies and often struggles in dramas. But for the first half of "Vanished Without a Trace" Shelley Long really impresses and brings to life the character of a protective mother who quickly becomes concerned when her daughter goes missing. Yes there is a lack of character depth to make us aware of why Long's character is so overly protective but still it is impressive up to a point.
That point is where the storyline switches from a mother frantic to find her daughter to a mother hell bent on getting the man who kidnapped her. At that point "Vanished Without a Trace" becomes far fetched and loses the grip on reality that it had during the first half. But I have to say one thing, if you pay just the smidgen of attention you can work "Vanished Without a Trace" out within the first 20 minutes and it becomes a case of waiting for it to confirm what you suspect.
What this all boils down to is that "Vanished Without a Trace" is just a typical made for TV thriller which will appeal to those who enjoy the easy watching style of a TV movie.