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  • Here we have a story that starts slowly but develops into a tense emotional drama. Michelle Pfeiffer is not only nice to look at but she plays the role of a frantic mother in search of her abducted 3-year old with great passion and at times hysteria. Whoopi Goldberg who plays the part of top policewoman in charge of investigation gives a moving sympathetic performance. What I greatly admire in this actor is the clear enunciation of her speech. I missed not a word delivered with clarity and depth of meaning. The film explores the feelings of children and parents caught up in the problems associated with child adoptions. Where does this baby belong: with his biological mother or his adopted father? It's an interesting film because the problem is real and with us to-day. The ending may surprise you.
  • Ulu Grosbard has directed this fine adult drama adapted from the best-selling novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams portray Beth and Pat Cappadora, parents of three youngsters. On a trip to her high school reunion, Beth loses her three year old son in a busy hotel lobby. The boy is absent from the family for nine years, after which he is surprisingly returned to his birth family. This is just the bare bones of the plot. However, it is the touching performances of all of the principals which transcend the television movie-of-the-week sound of the plot.

    Michelle Pfeiffer adds another moving performance to her gallery of roles. If the film had been released in the fall of 1998, as was originally planned, she might have had an Academy Award nomination. Treat Williams' role is less defined, but it is alway a pleasure to watch this under-used and under-rated actor. However, it is Jonathan Jackson and Ryan Merriman as the oldest son and the lost boy who make this such an emotionally satisfying drama. Whoopi Goldberg adds some needed humor to the serious proceedings as the detective assigned to the case.

    Stephen Schiff, writer for the New Yorker, has done a lean adaptation of the novel. Grosbard has unpretentiously directed this fine cast. "The Deep End of the Ocean" is one of the best contemporary dramas to come along in quite a while.
  • At last a good movie for Pfeiffer. Great performance. If you're a fan of Pfeiffer-and not only-it's well worth this. The stories with illegal adoptions make some people feel uncomfortable. However, this is a movie with great actors. Goldberg as Candy Bliss is great and Jonathan Jackson as Vincent (16 years old) is a very talented young actor. Generally the movie has 2-3 very POWERFUL scenes, go and see it!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Kids don't just vanish up in smoke, kids don't just get lost, PEOPLE LOSE THEM!" Pat Cappadora (Treat Williams) yells in an argument to his wife Beth (Michelle Pfeiffer) about their three-year-old Ben being kidnapped while at Beth's 15-year reunion. It seems that seven-year-old Vincent (Cory Buck) didn't keep close enough of an eye. Beth's hysterical, and nobody knows what to do.

    Flash ahead nine years. The baby Kerry is now nine years old. Vincent (now played by Jonathon Jackson) is a rebellious teen with a knack for hot-wiring cars. Pat has his own resturant in Chicago (named Cappadora's). Beth has given up photographing. When a boy, Sam Karras (Ryan Merriman), offers to mow their lawn, Beth takes photos. And, lo and behold, it happens to be little Ben.

    Touching, superbly acted, well written, and emotionally moving. Pfeiffer and Williams give great performances. When Pfeiffer was hysterical, that seemed a little forced; other than that she was great. Williams delievered a strong dramatic performance, he was perfect in almost every way. The supporting characters delievered strong emotions and were very believeable.

    Deep End's sap isn't falsely given to you: it's done in a very believable way, even if it does seem a little over-the-top and unlikely at first. Not many movies can truly force-feed you emotion and lump-in-the-throats, but this one does.

    The plot twists actually were somewhat unpredictable. Actually, the movie was divided in half: the first half is when Ben is missing, the second is when Sam comes. When the finale comes in, I was surprised, even though they go for the "Hollywood Ending".

    It definately didn't seem scripted. The human interactions were very real, and the chemistry between everyone (especially Jackson and Merriman) were extremely believeable.

    The Deep End of the Ocean is a touching, sad, yet somehow satisfying yarn of family.

    My rating: 8/10

    Rated PG-13 for language and thematic elements.
  • Beth Cappadora is at a reunion in a hotel when her middle child of three goes missing. At first the search is informal but it grows increasingly frantic and official as they realise that Ben has been taken by somebody. The family never fully recovers and carry the scars for years. Nine years later the family have moved to Chicago to start a new life. When Beth has a local boy come to the block to cut the grass, she believes that he must be Ben because her looks just like him despite the age. The police recover Ben but is it fair to take him away from the people Ben now considers his family?

    The plot summary gives the impression that this is just a standard weepy that would easily screen on a weekday afternoon. However the presence of a couple of well known names in the cast list suggests that this film will give the subject a more serious approach that acts more as drama than weepy. Partly the latter is true but not 100%, and the film is still essentially a sort of weepy that has a control of it's emotions and is actually quite stable but not to the point where it is an engaging debate.

    The material should be thought provoking but it isn't really. What I thought would be the main thrust of the film was really just mentioned in the final 20 minutes and it was not only obvious that it was coming but it was quite logically dealt with without real emotion - this is not a `Sophie's Choice' situation but something quite lacking. The start of the film is OK but it deals with the loss too easily and I never got overwhelmed with the emotions the family must feel. Towards the end the film does a good job looking at the effects the whole thing has had on the other son's character but even this lacks an emotional punch.

    The cast are good on paper but they seem strangely stilted. Pfeiffer is a good actress who sadly doesn't seem to get as much good work as she gets older. Here she tries hard but can't get across what her character must be feeling inside. Williams is an OK support for her and does OK. Jackson is quite good and his character became more interesting to me than the return of Ben itself. Goldberg hangs around but attempts to give her a character through one line of dialogue about her sexuality and security in her job are so out of the blue that I was left wondering where it came from.

    Overall this is not a weepy because it aims higher than that and doesn't wrench all the emotion out of every scene to get the audience. However it doesn't aim high enough or reach the level where it is emotional or thought provoking, the end result being an interesting film that is a notch above the level of daytime TV weepy but not as worthy or moving as it wants to be.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I actually found this movie by accident. I purchased a bag full of VHS tapes at a church rummage sale and this was one of the selections.

    I understand that this movie is based on a book. I have not read the book and will not speak of the movies ability to convey the original material from the book. To me, a movie should stand on its own merits.

    This is NOT the usual "kid goes missing" drama which is quite common. Its not based on any particular "true" story that I know of. It presents a somewhat unique situation of "what if a missing child is found, living a very well adjusted lifestyle where nobody is aware of the missing boys past;" except for the biological parents of course.

    What I found amazing was the total strength of character that was given to the boy who had been kidnapped when he was only 3. It is hard to find a more loving and caring child than the one we have in 12 year old "SAM" who's birth name was Ben. You would have to believe that such a child could only be a product of a very loving and caring family. However, One of these "family" members had a deep dark secret that she struggled with until her untimely death. Nevertheless Sam, was left with a wisdom love and understanding that most adults don't have. He never knew of the deep dark secret of his abduction or had long forgotten it at least.

    In contrast, his biological family struggled with their own "secrets" and feelings of guilt and blame. Each had their moments of seeming to get their lives together, but never really coming to terms with the "loss" of a young child. Each seemed dysfunctional in a different way, and the dysfunctional aspects clashed with each other much of the time. Suddenly the nearly "unimaginable" event happens. Their son is found and right in their own neighborhood.

    The question here is how do you integrate an amazingly well adjusted child, into a family who is still torn up with feelings of blame and guilt and loss etc. What happens to this miraculous child AND what happens to the person who he loves and regards as his father.

    Ryan Merriman plays Sam, the lost boy who is truly not "lost" as far as having his life together. He is nearly a picture perfect child. a parents "dream come true". I marveled at the strength of character he has and the maturity well beyond his years. "Sam" is like the glue that binds everyone else together. Merriman's performance is amazing.

    I became very emotionally involved in the characters and the plot. I especially felt involved with Sam and his "father", George, who raised him. The movie was well acted and in my opinion it was well presented as to the storyline. I guess it may be a bit different from the book, but without reading the book, I had no preconceived ideas or expectations. In that respect, the storyline seemed fine as it was presented. I would like to have seen "George" incorporated a bit more into the ending. All in all, it was a very great movie and I plan to buy a DVD copy for my movie library.
  • Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer) is at her high school reunion when her 3-year-old son disappears from his brother's care. The little boy never turns up, and the family has to deal with the devastating guilt and grief that goes along with it. Nine years later, the family has relocated to Chicago. By a sheer fluke, the kid turns up, living no more than two blocks away. The authorities swoop down and return the kid to his biological parents, but things are far from being that simple. The boy grew up around what he has called his father, while his new family are strangers to him; the older son, now a teenager, has brushes with the law and behavioral problems. His adjustment to his lost brother is complicated by normal teenage churlishness, and the dad (Treat Williams) seems to expect everything to fall into place as though the family had been intact all along. It's a tightrope routine for actors in a story like this, being careful not to chew the scenery while at the same time not being too flaccid or understated. For the most part, the members of the cast deal well with the emotional complexity of their roles. Though the story stretches credulity, weirder things do happen in the real world. The family's pain for the first half of the film is certainly credible, though the second half almost seems like a different movie. Whoopi Goldberg plays the detective assigned to the case; casting her is a bit of a stretch, but she makes it work. All in all, a decent three-honky movie in the vein of Ordinary People.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Well made, superbly acted film about a family who faces the loss of a loved one to a kidnapping. He appears 9 years later, but he feels foreign to the family he once knew. Pfeiffer delivers one of his strongest, most deeply passionate performances as the emotionally torn mother of the missing child and she is complimented by Williams (his best in years), Jackson as a troublesome elder son and Goldberg, in a pivotal role as the detective who helps find the family's boy. The pacing is just right and the performances make you grab for the tissues at the pleasant ending.
  • I never heard of Deep End of the Ocean until it showed up on cable the other night. The whole time that I watched it, I thought that it was a made for cable movie. Pretty good performances--I think some of the other reviewers came down extremely hard on this movie. Not generally my kind of movie(emotional chick/family movie), but I was pleasantly surprised, even though I must say that it did have that "Lifetime Channel", feel about it. 7/10 stars
  • I think that I would have liked this movie a LOT more if I'd never read the book! If anyone of you have the chance, READ the book! Oh, it's AWESOME!!! In my opinion, the movie left out some stuff that would have made it a LOT more interesting!!! Some people seem to think that parts of the movie are unrealistic, but when you read the book and get all the detail and everything, it starts to become a lot more believable than it is in the movie. Plus, the older brother has a MUCH larger role in the book, which makes more sense than how they protrayed him in the movie. Anyway, I guess you can tell, what I'm trying to say is, READ THE BOOK!!!! :-)
  • The deep end of the ocean (1999) is a very touching portrayal of a family of 5 who lose their 3 year old son Ben at a reunion. Fast forward nine years later, when they are miraculously reunited with him. Michelle Pfeiffer gives a wonderful performance here as the lead. I also really enjoyed Whoopi Goldberg as detective candy bliss. The acting is strong all around, even by the child actors. The writing is pretty good, the deep conversations between Beth and pat are well written and near perfectly acted. The movie is slightly slow in the middle, but not to the point to wanting to give up on it. The movie really is all about relationships, dealing with tragic loss as a parent, and then learning how to rebuild once what is lost is found. And in my opinion, this film does a pretty good job of showing all of those things in raw detail. Bottom line: If you are looking for a film that shows these things I have mentioned above, and is strongly acted and very dramatic, then I would suggest this to you. But if you are looking for simple escapist entertainment, then steer clear of this movie. 7/10.
  • i have to admit that i thought this movie was boring at the beginning. but as the film rolled along, it turned out better than i expected. the acting was really good, especially from michelle pfeiffer and jonathan jackson. i would recommend this film for mothers, and it's also good for people who have gone through the same thing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Based on a true story, this film uses muted tones to express the story of a family coping when a child goes missing, then struggling even more when he returns suddenly to their lives nine years later, as a twelve-year old. The film benefits greatly from finely crafted, understated performances from Pfeiffer and Williams, as well as the moodiness of Jonathan Jackson as the older brother, Vincent, who is trying bitterly to hold things together. Look out also for Whoopi Goldberg, and for an early appearance by Alexa Vega. Prepare to cry several times during this movie. It packs a real punch, and the performances by Ryan Merriman as the abductee, and John Kapelos as his unsuspecting adoptive father, are truly moving.
  • This is an original and well-written story — unlike most movies, which have predictable and time-worn story lines. It's about real people with real emotions, decent people trying to deal with difficult situations.

    I liked the characters. I liked the realistic way they dealt with the situations. And there wasn't any overacting, like you see so often in movies. People didn't go around screaming or otherwise overdramatizing, and yet their feelings were apparent. It was well acted by all.

    Most parents consider their children to be their possessions. Some parents have no regard for their children's feelings. Only a parent who really loves his or her child thinks of the child's happiness and best interests above all else. This picture recognizes this fact.

    This is an excellent movie. I really enjoyed it.
  • THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN **** Jacqueline Mitchard's bestselling tearjerker is incorporated into this heartfelt, emotional motion picture about losing a loved one, rising above certain challenges from which point, and finally experiencing a saving grace. Ulu Grosbard's cast is exquisite, with Michelle Pfeiffer playing the mother of three kids who attends a high school reunion, and accidentally loses the younger son. A search for the little guy wasn't over for weeks upon weeks, until our family had to face facts that he wasn't coming home. But the most unexpected thing happens about nine years later when a boy comes up to mow the lawn, whom the family believes is the long-lost child. Treat Williams is great as the man-to-lean-on husband who wants to do the right thing. Whoopi Goldberg adds a nice touch as Detective Bliss. Amid its interesting theme, the character dynamic stands out - from how the players respond to each other through the horrific circumstance, to mutually reaching a place of forgiveness and comfort, with each other and in themselves. One of the more rewarding films I've seen lately.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I really don't have much to say on this film except that I didn't feel the least bit of sorrow for Pfeiffer or Williams when they lost their son. I really didn't feel anything for any character on any level in this movie.

    Let's see Pfeiffer's character spends 9 long years in wallow and self pity for losing her son. She then miraculously finds her son living only 2 blocks away from her, Pfeiffer's character should have played the lotto in the movie with this kind of blind luck. She then instantaneously recognizes him when he comes to ask to mow her lawn (yeah sure). A plethora of police cars then go to retrieve her son. You could swear by all of the police vehicles they are going to go capture a serial killer, but they are just going to get her son back. The police knock on the door only to find the adoptive father has no clue that the boy is not his son and he just allows his adopted son to leave with the police without so much as a threat of legal action!!!! The son then discovers that he has no emotional feelings for his real family two weeks later and Pfeiffer then just allows him to move back in with his adopted father?! What? She abused drugs, neglected her children and she finally finds her son and now she just accepts that he wants to live with his adoptive father? The cedar chest scene was also some of the lamest script writing I've ever witnessed. "Wait, I remember that smell". Yeah kid, it's a cedar chest and the cedar is used to keep moths away. What, did Pfeiffer lock you in the cedar chest when you were 2 years old or something? Let's see the kid didn't remember the stuffed rabbit, but he remembers playing hide and seek in the cedar chest?!

    I love Whoopie Goldberg in other movies, but like all of the other characters I did not understand her role either. For example, at the beginning of the movie when Pfeiffer goes to touch her in a gesture of kindness and Whoopie shoots back in her chair. Whoopie then states out of the blue that she is gay and this is the reason for her pulling away from Pfeiffer. Huh???? What relevance does her being gay have anything to do with anything in this movie???? Let's see Whoopie is the head detective and all she spends her time on is finding an abducted child? What, there's no drug dealers or murderers in Chicago?

    Save your money at the rental store on this one folks. I've seen some bad made for TV movies that are better than this trash.
  • When I read this wonderful novel by Jacqueline Mitchard, the book was so compelling I got through the whole book in 3 days. I thought it was wonderful. So when this movie came out I was quite excited to see it, however I was overall disappointed with the film. I do give the makers an "A" for effort. It's tough to make a movie about a child that disappears, the family moves away to another state, and just happends to find their child years later living in the same neighborhood. Joshua Jackson played the part of the older brother with an attitude problem right down to a tee. I thought Michelle Pfeiffer played the role as the distraught mother excellent as well. But overall these fine performances to not make up for the poor film. The book hit some tender notes with me, like the part where Mrs. Cappadora is explaining the loss of a child, and having to choose amongst her children she said "It's like having to choose between your mind and your heart." I expected and was hoping the movie would leave me a bit emotional, but it didn't. This movie wasn't really sad,suspenseful, or overall, very entertaining. Rent this one on .99 cent night at the video store. I give this 5/10.
  • In 1988, a woman attends a school reunion with her three young children. Even as she arrives at the hotel, a moment's distraction leaves her middle child missing. 9 years later, she still hasn't quite adjusted to the loss... Rather than examine the impact of an abducted child on the entire family, this unwisely focuses almost exclusively on the mother, and as the mother is played by Pfeiffer, all other characters become mere backdrops for her performance. With the odd exception, Pfeiffer tends to try too hard, especially in dramas, and here is a case in point. Practically every scene makes her the subject, her emotional state, her actions, her reactions. This quickly becomes tiresome, especially as we are asked to accept that her husband has adjusted much more healthily to the boy's disappearance without really being allowed to know how or why. Thus, Williams is given little to do. Jackson fares better, but again he mostly serves to allow Pfeiffer to 'act' and/or 'react'. Other characters are cardboard cut-out (wise-cracking, tough but tender cop, insensitive mother-in-law, two dimensional best friend etc.). This could have been a fascinating and harrowing study in loss and hope, but as a vehicle for Pfeiffer, it never really moves beyond TV movie territory.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At first impression, The Deep End of the Ocean can be a story of a mother's courage and all that, and it looks that there's no other way the movie can be but go sappy and mushy. Moreover, it will give anyone who has a rather not-too-good relationship with their mothers a gnawing amount of guilt. But screenwriter Schiff's take on the Mitchard bestseller and director Grosbard's restraint steers the movie away from the hackneyed themes substantially, though not totally. SPOILER ALERT The movie opens with mother Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfiffer) going to Chicago for her high school reunion with her two children, Ben and Vincent. Ben gets lost in the hotel's crowded lobby. Even with the help of police and detective Candy Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg), Beth and her husband Pat (Treat Williams) are not able to find Ben. While everything around her starts to get on with life, Beth languishes in guilt, anger and grief. She retreats into days of sleep and pills. Her social contacts remain confined with her husband and relatives though most ends in anger and resentment. In the process, she misses much of other things, and one casualty is Vincent (Jonathan Jackson) who becomes a teenager harboring resent ment against her. As life is beginning to go on--Pat opens an Italian restaurant, the youngest child Kerry is growing and they move to Chicago--Beth suddenly meets Ben (Ryan Merriman) after nine years. He has been raised by an adoptive father George (John Kapelos), goes by the name and has no memory of his real family. Here starts the crux of the film, revealing to us the pain and complications of Ben's integration. Different emotions beef up this part of the film: joy, disorientation, sibling rivalry, anger, etc. Here the film widens its emotional focus to include Vincent who develops his own take on the situation. Ben, on the other hand, doesn't do well with the Cappadoras, missing his adoptive father and running away at nights to sleep on his own bed. Eventually, Beth comes to realize that they are really giving the boy pain rather than being his shelter. She decides to give him back to George. But eventually Ben comes back and makes a reconciliation with Vincent Though, the film effectively plumbs the appropriate pathos and the meaning of family, it however decides on a snappy resolution effected more by a story's need for conclusion than a desire to depict life's process, which takes a rather long and quirky closure. Overall, Deep End's emotional dose is superbly measured, thus coming out effectively poignant, but not totally convincing. Let's tackle its poignant power. Besides the movie's innate tearjerking quality, Grosbard's manipulations do not fall into the sentimental pits, even though the movie is very similar to a better-quality television movie or special. The direction is what you call sober, that is serious in its intention in spaying out lives torn apart by emotionally turbulent events and not in desperately tugging the audience's emotional chord, playing with their feelings and excruciatingly coaxing tears. His style remains devoid of florid qualities, thus not impressing the audience with startling visuals, momentous scenes and high-grade effects. Thus, nothing is impressed into the viewer's mind visually, but it serves effectively the film's purpose of straightforward telling. Schiff, who was a film critic in Vanity Fair before turning to writing screenplays, adapted his screenplay from Mitchard's novel of the same title. He tries to portray and beef up as many characters in the movie as possible from the father to the delinquent son, which is okay, only these showings of characters and their interests and backgrounds do not do a lot for the film's focus and do not really contribute with the film's organic unity. At best, they are mere appendages. With these efforts, however, he fails to show the adoptive father's side adequately and to think, he strikes me as a most sympathetic character besides Beth Cappadora, the mother and the kidnapped son. Thus, we have this feeling of fullness after watching the film although he sense that there's something lacking we cannot put our finger into. Most probably it is, and it maybe very well is, the film's failure to completely convince. There are certain details left along the trail that is undisclosed and it can be tedious to enumerate. But we tend not to notice because they do not rankle, but still they left marks. And then caps that trail with a end dead. Because the movie must stop at one point, and Deep End does it and rather too neatly as to be abrupt and hurried, thus the unconvincing nature

    As for the actors, Pfeiffer emanates with acting brilliance, drawing us to a pain of a loss. After a couple of mother roles before this and she can very well carry on other roles that this, she is effective enough. Matching her is Jonathan Jackson who plays the delinquent son and the brother of the kidnapped-and then-found boy. He radiates with silent power in his character. Noticeable also is Goldberg, not because she steals the limelight, but because of her sparing appearance. The filmmakers likely know of her capacity to overwhelm and keep her at bay. Deep End is drama that can be a powerful drama, which is effectively played up but not to the extent brilliance.
  • This is one of the rare wonderful stories in movie history. It is greatly heart warming .I cried through almost all of the movie.I really felt what the characters felt. The story really touches on the relationship between siblings. I thought all the actors did a great job! Michelle was so wonderful.Rising star Jonathan Jackson was amazing. One of the greatest movies ever made...really.
  • SnoopyStyle28 February 2016
    Beth Cappadora (Michelle Pfeiffer) is in Chicago for her reunion. She loses her son Ben in the crowded hotel lobby. Police detective Candy Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg) investigates but he's nowhere to be found. Many years later, young Sam Karras comes to Beth's door to offer to mow the lawn. She recognizes Sam as her long lost son Ben. It's discovered that Ben was kidnapped by a disturbed woman who has since committed suicide. His new father didn't know about the kidnapping. Ben is reunited with the Cappadoras but life with the family is problematic. Ben wants to go home. His brother Vincent is rebelling. Beth and her husband Pat (Treat Williams) are cracking under the pressure.

    Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams are both great. Cory Buck as young Vincent does an admirable job. Jonathan Jackson and Ryan Merriman are in a tough situation as the older versions of the sons. So much is expected but they aren't given the tools. This movie tries very hard to get emotional truths but it only gets glimpses. There is so much ground to cover. It would have been better to concentrate mostly after the reunion. Losing Ben is too alluring and takes up half of the movie. The first half is effective and traditional. The second half feels thin and more original. The movie feels split between the two.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There's no doubt that this movie brings forth feelings of sympathy from anyone who watches it. You feel sorry for everyone: for Pat and Beth, whose 3 year old son is kidnapped; for Vincent, who loses his brother; for Carrie, who never knew her brother; for Sam/Ben, who was kidnapped and lost all memory of his birth family and ends up being torn away from everything he knows; for George, who unknowingly adopts Sam/Ben as his son and then loses him. Everyone in this is a sympathetic character. So, the movie pulls the heartstrings well, but in the end offered very little depth to either the subject matter or the characters. It came across to me as superficial - it introduces the issue but only scratches the surface. Maybe that's inevitable in a movie dealing with such a difficult subject, or maybe it was just the result of a poorly constructed movie that tried to give us a sense of everyone's feelings, when it might have been more powerful had it focused on just one of the characters, and how they reacted to this insane situation. Then, it makes the biggest mistake it could have made - going for the happy, sappy ending, which was just too easy. Yes, there was a sense of uncertainty to the ending, as Sam/Ben admits to Vincent that he doesn't know if his decision to move back with the Cappadoras is "permanent," but it still seemed too fairy-tale to me.

    The opening of the movie works. It draws you in as you share the growing sense of panic after Ben goes missing. Unfortunately, the plot ends up being driven by a device that's just too contrived - Sam/Ben and his adoptive father living just two blocks away from the house the Cappadoras move to in Chicago, and Beth recognizing him when he shows up offering to cut their grass. I also found Whoopi Goldberg's character of Det. Candy Bliss distracting and unnecessary - and why would anyone care that she was a lesbian? That revelation came out of the blue and served no purpose whatsoever. That does, however, serve as a good illustration of another overall problem with this. Some of the script seemed poorly thought out and had little purpose: either either too cliché for the situation or extraneous to the story. The basics of the story are interesting enough to keep the viewer watching, but as a two-hour drama, it's really not that well constructed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Directed by Ulu Grosbard, "The Deep End of the Ocean" stars Michelle Pfeiffer as Beth, a young mother whose son Ben mysteriously disappears. Nine years later Beth finds Ben living with another family, with whom he's formed familial attachments.

    "Ocean" boasts an interesting narrative structure. Its opening scenes sketch a ridiculously cheerful suburban idyll. Such idealisations are shattered when Beth's son goes missing. Henceforth Beth becomes suicidally depressed. Her domestic fantasies are rekindled when Ben returns. Henceforth Beth sets about (re)creating what is essentially a simulation: a facsimile of what she thinks the "perfect American nuclear family" should be like (or would have been). The film's big irony is that this facsimile, the very idealizations which bring Beth out of her depression, promptly forces her newfound son into depression; the kid misses his surrogate family, a family which his biological mom deems "fake" but which is nevertheless "real" to Ben.

    "Ocean" has fleeting moments of truth. Some scenes between mother and son, and between brother and brother, are genuinely powerful. The film also works well when touching upon the ways in which happiness oft depends upon shared delusions, and the ways in which what we deem to be "true love" and "true familial bonds" are subject to arbitrary social/environmental coding. Actress Whoopi Goldberg is also interesting as a lesbian police officer.

    Unfortunately, much of "Ocean" is also unbearable. This is a formulaic and safe film which too hastily rushes through its plot points and which becomes increasingly incredulous as it progresses. The way in which Beth ejects Ben's "surrogate" family from his life is also frustratingly tactless. Designed to whip up easy drama, this is a narrative gimmick found in many similar movies of the era, most of which saw families unnecessarily fighting over cute kids. Based on a novel by Jacquelyn Mitchard.

    7/10 - See "Birth (2004), "Like Dandelion Dust" and "Shadow of a Doubt".
  • All praise goes to Jonathan Jackson who saves this sticky sentimental crap movie. The screen lights up whenever Jackson enters as Beth and Pat Cappadora's oldest son Vincent. You can feel the torment in that adolescent body. Why the heck is it so hard for his parent to understand him?

    If you like the Vincent character I can recommend you to read the book by Jacquelyn Mitchard. It's about as sentimental as the movie (if not more) but interesting in the way that it is told through a shared view, with both Beth and Vincent narrating the story. In the book we learn a lot more about Vincent and his life, why he became who he is and what he thinks and feel about the whole situation. Most of the time seen from Vincent's view is spent at his psychiatrist Tom, a character they completely cut out of the movie. That's too bad, because that's where all the action really takes place. Vincent is a really messed up kid, and the scenes between him and Tom are both funny and thoughtful.

    In the book Vincent also suffers from panic attacks, something experienced by many teens and that could have been used in the movie as a good identification issue. Sadly, that was cut out too. Basically, what they have done is taken what is in the book a multilayered and very interesting character, and turned him one-dimensional and less inspiring. What we can be thankful for is Jonathan Jackson who I think does a great job with the little he is given. Ryan Merriman, who plays the lost son Ben/Sam is also very good.

    But otherwise this movie seems like a made-for-TV-sleeze-thing and I can't stand the bad acting put up by the adults. Michelle Pfeiffer can be really good in roles that are more toned down than this one and her overacting everything is annoying. Treat Williams is mostly just vacant. Whoopi Goldberg on the other side does a fine job as a minority within the majority: a black, lesbian cop that befriends the family. Basically: you can get a lot out of reading the book if you just skip the parts about Beth.
  • There's a lot of deep emotion in the film, especially where Vincent is concerned, that would be much better addressed in book form, where you can read his thoughts. As a mother, I could make a lot of intuituve guesses as to what's going on inside him, but it's never clear enough and they focus too much on Beth. The movie really should have been more about Vincent, less about Beth.
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